Pieces of me: a film journey

Pieces of me from Christina D on Vimeo.


Project statement

Pieces of me was conceived thinking about multi-dimensionality and the idea that we energetically leave pieces of ourselves everywhere. This proposition is current in both quantum science and cosmology; as physicists grapple with our concept of time and the possibilities of a multi-dimensional reality. The exploration of our relationship to time and place and the creation of our personal narratives was foundational to this piece.

Pieces of me continued to pursue George Ella Lyon’s idea of ‘Where I’m From’ and took on board the expanded criteria to look at the idea through someone else’s eyes. I asked my daughter Kya to write a poem about where she’s from. What she wrote was a list of places and events that she identifies herself through. During the filming, we went back to some of those locations; back to Bondi where we lived till she was three; back to our first house that we left due to domestic violence and back to the city streets, before returning home to Bradbury (Campbelltown). The experience of temporal confusion was described as “weird” by my eleven-year-old daughter. Everything feels so familiar and yet a lifetime away.

The whole idea was born some time ago from the memories I have embedded around the city. While sitting on a train at Central Station, I looked out the window, in my mind’s eye could see myself walking hand in hand with my Poppy—chatting happily. The relationship between place and living memory is one that may transcend the grave as spoken about in the theory of cellular memory.

Technically I wanted the film to remain simple and lively. The film was about an eleven-year-old girl’s view of the world, so the vision was for the piece to be uncomplicated and clean and to communicate Kya authentically.

The entire film was shot on a Canon DSLR with an external directional Rhodes microphone. In the opening shots, the ocean was sped up to express the subject’s temporal relationship to place. The continuity of light within this piece was not important as it was not a linier storyline within the film—as with the tonality. It was meant to be a patchwork of places and people with the elements of continuity being the narrative, the image of Kya, the beatbox track within the soundbed and the films fluid treatment of time. The few shots that are not of the subject, make use of the Kuleshov effect to bring the meanings of freedom and connectivity to theme and place, to Kya’s spoken narrative.

I decided to use the ambient sound from the shoot throughout the majority of the sequence to bring the audience into the different spaces and add another aural dimension. My daughter has this oral fixation and always is making noises with her mouth. I translated that into the piece and recorded her beatboxing, which was layered within the mix. Voiceover narration was used over the entirety of the film apart from one break where Kya spoke direct to camera, this was just the choice to speak directly to the viewer, the real-time moment creates a moment of discontinuity.

The filmmaker Bernado Bertolucci has always influenced me in the way that he allows what is, to just be. He sees the details of life and then pays attention to them with the camera’s eye, such as the way someone’s hand falls when they are sleeping or the way people look at other people when they don’t know they are being watched. This intention made its way into my film. A lot of what made the cut was the accidental cutaways, such as crossing the road, or Kya watching the dancing at a community BBQ. It is the natural laughter, smiles, intrigue or loneliness that is interesting and beautiful to watch.


Sounds good

This week at uni was thematically sound bound. Much like my work on musique concrete in other audio engineering subjects, this was an exploration into manipulating sound.  The only difference in focus with this topic is that the compass is pointing to film down the road.

So the soundscape below is simply a quickly edited soundscape of sounds collected around the university campus on a Zoom mic and edited in Adobe Audition.

Now the scope of this project is towards producing a poetic soundscape that expresses the poem written in response to George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From project.

Stay tuned as the plot thickens.

Where I’m from

Girl staring straight at camera

A statement

The act of translating my poem inspired by that of George Ella Lyon, involved the condensation of large diverse ideas and large temporal space into a small  simple form. Coming from the earth and from nature my daughter, the child, represents an innocence and a primal journey that has travelled through many wombs. The water to the earth, the earth to the constructed world. From my personal experience, it is an indigenous and slave story of coming from the land to be place of walls not of our making. Using my daughter as the actor, feeds into the cyclic nature of where I’m from through a multi-generational lens.

From a Statement 

I am from vodka and orange

Jim crow, murder, running numbers and blood between thighs.

I am from lynchings and too-out-loud-laughter,

drummed out rhythms by helicopter blades and

saved by the holy ghost and hollowed lead.

Blessed by the father, the son and the caramel-complected mistakes.


I am from orchestrated famine, bile vomit and tall ships,

angry drunk men and hard-working,

too-sober women

who know how to turn a blind eye and get on with it.


I am from blood soaked coal, broken promises, vegemite sandwiches

and hot summer sticky Gaytime chocolate broken hearts.

From lost languages, artful speech spat out in the tongue of an oppressor

and weaved into spirituals sung by mud-soaked trees that hang low

over slow moving water.


I am from free minds and strong hearts,

life with sin and without forgiveness.

I am from freckles, red hair and the bluest eyes,

apple butter, beans and potatoes

over-cooked greens and crushing hugs that restore.


I am from the gum trees and sycamore,

golden pom’d acacia and a river that falls through a mountain

to be cupped in two brown wrinkled hands.


I am from elephants in rooms

draped in freshly ironed heirloom tablecloths

set for imagined families with six children that pray to a deity

carved of brimstone

that remains trapped between the beads of the first and second decade.


I am from trust and betrayal

from the branch that falls and

rock-a-bye baby that tumbles.

From unworn red dresses and from silences that are complied with

but never acknowledged.


I am from what has been

what is ever—becoming

and what is


I am

by Christina Donoghue © 2018

Knowing where we stand – film history 101

I fell asleep in the lecture. That’s how I started my week in film studies. Always good. Aaron (lecturer) set a film to play for twenty minutes. Let me be clear, I’m a single mother of two young children and a full-time university student sitting down and listening to what can only be described a dull and droning voice over was never going to end well. To my credit though I had already watched what was played. The series The Story of Film by Mark Cousins is brilliant and a comprehensive history of film. After I finish studying and when I can afford food again I will definitely be investing in the series.

In class we looked at a collection of fine art photographs. We used the photographs to study the composition of the frame. The use of perspective etc. I was actually surprised and delighted at the discussion that a class full of quite young students had about their selected artworks.

Heading outside we shot moving portraits. Paying attention to the composition we used our phone to capture the ‘moving still’. I’d never seen this sort of thing, but I really like this idea.

Hmmm #bcm115 #movingportrait

A post shared by Christina Donoghue (@cherokee_flower) on

We headed out then to film emotions with a still frame video camera. The ideas came quick and fast. I would have liked to have the frames organised before I went to film. But, in this case it worked better just to go out and let the environment inspire.

Stay tuned the edit is coming this week and I’ll sit down and do the plan for my first assignment.

Bed and MKR is calling otherwise I’ll be falling asleep in tomorrow’s lecture as well.

The stop before motion

Place. In a lecture hall with the vertical ascent of the Andes I am placed with a crowd of first year students. I am tasked with the idea of starting again—again. Revisiting cinema as a global language, and Marshall McLuan’s global village, I’m excited and it’s all up to me.

How do global issues affect what we watch in a world where military spending and consumerism out-spends basic utilities such as food, water and education?

The moving image still is credited with having the largest influence on the planet, so what can we do with this medium. What have others done and where can we take it from here?  Now this is lofty speak for a first year film class, but never-the-less it is my starting point.

In the class exercises we (new pal Laura & I) went walk about with a Pentax (not sure what model) and took picks around campus to make sure that we had the camera in hand.

Here’s some of our lovely stills here taken around the UOW Innovation campus (please note, I have not touched these up at all).

So now we’re professionals (*cough, *cough) we moved on to the moving image. These are just fixed camera shots. The upside down moment is Laura’s Avantguard inspiration, so here in a time when we are free to experiment… let’s do it all!!

These little experiments not only gave us practice with the equipment, but got me thinking about all the different factors that affect the viewing of material not only as creator but as independent viewer. Also how the subject watches or interacts with us as the creator or facilitator of the recorded image.

Stay tuned… fresh out of Black Panther the movie I have plenty more “research” to relay in the coming episode.

Dancing with Ernie dingo: Identity, minority,media

I sat there in the movie theatre with tears falling down my face and onto my neck and chest.  We were watching Annie (2014) and the gratitude I felt that my daughter sitting next to me could experience an Annie who looked like her was overwhelming.

When exploring the media space in Australia it was only natural that representation of minorities (or lack thereof) came to mind.

So I sent out a survey about people’s experience of media representation of minorities in Australia.  The short movie below gives a snapshot of the survey responses and video responses.

More detailed survey results can be seen here.


When absence says it all: minority representation in film and television

Growing up in Australia was a very different experience as a member of a minority. I was the only black child in a white family, so when I came home trying to explain how I was treated different, it was just my imagination…apparently. When people stared at me walking down the street or touched my hair with wonder it was “just because you’re beautiful…like a doll.” So not feeling like I fit in was how I felt…ALL the time.

Garry Pankhurst, Skippy & members of the Aboriginal theatre in Yirrkala in Arnhem Land

When it came to watching television or movies, I can remember Gordon on Sesame Street and maybe the odd Aboriginal tracker on Skippy… Mostly people that weren’t white just weren’t there.  As I got older and met so many other African-American/Australian bi-racial children, who also didn’t have any contact with any other black people, I watched how they derived much of their black identity from television and film portrayals of black characters and from music.  So when we were asked to research the spatial nature of media, its (film and television) affect on identity of minorities came to mind.

So here’s what I’m doing, I’ve put together a quick survey on film and television. If you’re not from Australia, feel free to answer also (as I found a number of really old Hollywood Films made in Australia), I’d like as many responses as I can get.

For those who have something to share I also have requested video responses.

Where you can either post me a response on Youtube or send a video clip to my email: cherokee_flower@yahoo.com

This small qualitative study will be compiled into a movie and blog as part of my university work looking at media and audiences.  I also have a wide network of people online, so it’s a fantastic time to educate through storytelling.

I would love to listen to your thoughts. And if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comment box below. I always read them.