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‘Homesick’ Doco Turns to Crowdfunding

24 October 2013 at 8:47 am
Staff Reporter
Funding the final stages of a documentary around the controversial issues homelessness and moving from the chaos and violent world of rooming houses to find a place to call home is proving more difficult than expected, says housing worker cum filmmaker Mick Cummins.

Staff Reporter | 24 October 2013 at 8:47 am


‘Homesick’ Doco Turns to Crowdfunding
24 October 2013 at 8:47 am

Funding the final stages of a documentary around the controversial issues homelessness and moving from the chaos and violent world of rooming houses to find a place to call home is proving more difficult than expected, says housing worker cum filmmaker Mick Cummins.

Screen shot from the documentary 'Homesick'.

In 2008 I was working as housing worker with a community housing organisation in South Melbourne where we had recently moved 40 of our rooming house tenants into a brand new block of flats. As the weeks went after they’d settled in to their flats I began to realise that their new accommodation was having a profoundly positive effect on their lives.

The main thing I noticed was the dramatic reduction in the number of times they were presenting to the office with issues arising from conflict in their lives.

The sort of conflict that can be a daily occurrence in the chaos of rooming houses and the world of the homeless; the sort of conflict that is a direct consequence of a person with an alcohol, drug or mental health issue sharing the same kitchen and bathroom with up to 20 other people with similar complex issues.

They may not be sharing the same sleeping space but there is often only a thin wall between them and the sound or threat of violence.    

After seeing the positive effects moving into this new accommodation had on our tenants I wished we had recorded it in some way so we could show this story to politicians and policy makers and all those people who have little awareness of what it means to be homeless.

So when we had the opportunity to make a film about the upgrade of three South Melbourne rooming houses into independent living bedsits we jumped at it. It was an opportunity to tell this important story about the importance of a having a place to call home and how it can be achieved.

The first thing we did was to choose our characters so we could follow them through the process from homelessness into a place where they could create a home.

With a small grant of money from South Port Community Housing Group we began making Homesick, a feature length documentary film about four homeless friends whose lives take a turn for the better when they are told they are to be part of a bold new housing initiative.

After living for years in the chaotic and sometimes violent world of their South Melbourne rooming houses Sue, Grant, Lee and Ingrid are given a chance to create a home where they can re-build their lives. Their compelling story is based on the central dramatic question; will having a place to call home be the catalyst for positive changes in their lives?

Over the past four years we have been attempting to raise the funds to keep filming and to commence editing. We initially approached the ABC to see what interest they had in the film but unfortunately they couldn’t see where Homesick would fit into their programming.

A quick look at a television program guide confirmed this with a complete absence of any spot for a narrative one-off documentary, especially one dealing with a social issue such as homelessness.

Early on we did receive some development money from Film Victoria but since then we have worked hard identifying those philanthropic organisations that support films. There are quite a few who support projects overcoming homelessness but very few who will support a film about this issue.

It has been a hard slog raising the funds to complete the film to the 84 minute rough cut stage we are now at.

The Mercy Foundation and the RE Ross Trust have been very generous as has South Port Community Housing Group and the Department of Human Services, however most of the budget getting to this stage has been covered through the “sweat and equity” of us the filmmakers.

Many days have been spent filming and editing without funding because of our commitment to and belief in the film.

We are now faced with the task of raising the $30,000 we need to complete a fine cut of the film and to pay for the sound mix, colour grade and titling. In order to achieve this we have done what so many other filmmakers are doing and that is to start a Crowdfunding campaign.

That campaign ends on Friday, November 1 and we have our fingers firmly crossed that we will be able to finish Homesick soon and get it out to the audience we have always intended it to reach.

Our fundraising campaign is at

About the author: Writer/Director Mick Cummins has been writing plays, feature films scripts and documentaries for over 20 years. He wrote the award winning "Thomson of Arnhem Land" and co-wrote “Menzies and Churchill at War” and “Monash the Forgotten Anzac”. He also wrote and directed “The Woodcutter’s Son” and “Portrait of a Distant Land”. All these films screened on the ABC. He has lectured in screenwriting at Berwick TAFE, made many short films for the community sector, and had plays produced in Hobart and Melbourne.  

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

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