Lauren Beck is a Melbourne-based writer and director, and is the creative mind behind ‘The Long Road’, a film commissioned by the Judith Neilson Institute to launch its Asian Stories initiative.
Earlier this year, she won AIDC and JNI’s Asian Stories Short Film Competition, and received funding to make a short film about journalism in Asia. The Long Road is the result of that work.
The film is narrated by Malaysian journalist Aidila Razak and tells the story of a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police, less than 500 metres from his home, while his family slept.
The film was commissioned by JNI to launch Asian Stories, a multi-year, multi-dimensional effort to help Asian and international journalists tell the region’s most important stories in compelling ways.
Lauren said Aidila Razak’s tireless approach to creating quality journalism was an inspiration.
“It’s really important that we acknowledge the continual, brave work of journalists in helping to hold institutional powers accountable for their actions,” she said.
Working around COVID-19
The main part of the film was filmed in Kuala Lumpur, but also required multiple shoots by separate film crews across Asia. The process was helped by Josh Woo, one of Malaysia’s leading cinematographers, and was directed by Lauren in Melbourne.
“Plans were often stalled due to COVID precautions, and each scene required us to wait for the previous scene to be uploaded from one country before the next country could start filming,” she said. “Ultimately it required an incredible amount of communication, planning, testing and re-shoots; it completely changed the way I direct films.”
Lauren said she was grateful to be able to partner with JNI and to gain an incredible insight into the field of journalism.
“During the process of interviewing journalists for this film, I was blown away by the moving stories I kept hearing,” she said.
“I am now developing a series about the plight of independent journalists worldwide, which I have been filming remotely throughout lockdown.”
Plans to expand internationally
Lauren has previously worked on projects in North and Central America. She was the creator of the documentary ‘Havana Meets Kingston’, a story about a collaboration between leading Jamaican and Cuban musicians.
Earlier this year, Lauren was selected for AIDC’s ACCESS program this year, which includes paid work placement with Beach House Pictures. She intends to work in Singapore, once international borders reopen.
“My long-term career goal is to find new ways to promote diverse Australian content to international markets,” she said.
The Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) is Australia’s premier event for documentary, factual and interactive non-fiction screen content. Serving both the commercial and creative needs of the industry, AIDC organises a marketplace for documentary and factual product, showcases the work of Australian and international producers, and creates a forum to discuss content, craft, technology and future directions. The next AIDC will take place in 2021 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne.