Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forget Me Not: Beginning the Story

How do I begin to describe the creative process that has gone into the production of my film Forget Me Not and the people who have inspired and helped me along this journey? The story is too long, the history too vast, for one article. So I have written this article ‘Forget Me Not: Beginning the Story’ as the first installment of several more to come about the film.

Do I begin by describing that fateful afternoon in August 2010 at Urban Bites café in Newtown, Sydney, when I unexpectedly bumped into Rob Coleman (currently the Animation Director at George Miller’s Dr D Studios) after which I went home and penned the entire Forget Me Not fairytale within an hour? Or perhaps I begin by recalling my animation presentation on Alzheimer’s Disease during Ian Brown’s Animation Directing class at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School a few months prior? Or do I trace it as far back as my undergraduate days when I discovered the power of storytelling while writing my Honours thesis under the mentorship of Professor Richard Waterhouse?

The answer is – as many answers often are – a little bit of this and a little bit of that. But undoubtedly and predominantly, what affected me to make this film and what stayed foremost in my mind throughout the creative process, was the recent passing of my godparents – Brian and Suzanne Ridley.

I will always remember with great admiration their cheerfulness of heart, fortitude of spirit, and gratitude for each and every day in spite of the most difficult hardships following Brian’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s Disease and Suzanne’s ill health. I will always remember the way in which they continued to be a support for one another, their family and friends, and the community of my hometown, Bungendore NSW, in the face of extreme challenge. I will always remember the many long stories and endearing poor-taste jokes they shared with me and my family over Christmas dinner every year. And I will always remember, with fondness and cheer, them as they were before illness took hold of their lives. Yet I can never forget, with the utmost humility and respect, their bravery and strength of character throughout those final years.

Alzheimer’s Disease is so often overlooked in contemporary society as it is a slow killer – perceived as an issue of the aged – but its effects are heart-breaking and traumatic to those diagnosed, their family and friends, and sends shockwaves to all generations.

I am humbled that my little film Forget Me Not has the power to speak to so many others and I thank everyone who has been supportive of the project over the past year. As always I thank my wonderful creative team without whom the film would not have happened and I look forward to continuing the story of Forget Me Not.

Emily Dean
Dir. Forget Me Not