Premiere: BARREN

April 28, 2019
A short film inspired by one filmmaker’s 800km journey on foot.

For those who followed the journey of Sarah Hickey back in August of 2015, you’ve probably been waiting quite a while to cast your eyes on this beautiful film.

After its world premiere at the prestigious Portland International Film Festival last year, Sarah (and her production company Monster & Bear) are now ready for the world to see the 21-minute labour of love online.

The film itself – a fictional story – is a beautiful tale of grief, chance… and a little pink bear. It’s a story of a young mother named Charley, played by a heartbreaking Vanessa Crouch, who experiences the loss of a loved one and seeks a healing process by packing a single bag and walking. But what’s just as intriguing is the film’s origins.

Sarah Hickey, writer and director of Barren, recalls the moment she wanted to “pack a bag and run away” herself a few years back, and admits she didn’t necessarily know what would come of the journey (that inspired the film). A journey that would see her walking 800 kilometres from Melbourne to Adelaide.

“It wasn’t a well thought out plan at all. I was at an interesting place in my life – very run down by my small business and at the tail end of a 10 year relationship – and I was definitely in a rut. I felt like I was in a hole that I’d never get out of, so I wanted to shock the system, do something that made me feel alive again, and set a goal that was extremely difficult… but achievable.”

Over the course of the 31 day walk, walking an average of 30kms a day, Sarah admits that she spent a confronting amount of time with her own thoughts. The healing and therapeutic nature of putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out on those long days on the Western Highway, is the crux of the theme within the film she would go on to create. It was this ambition that caught the eye of Barren’s to-be producer Jessica Pearce.

“Before I’d even read the script, we talked about the concept and where it had come from and I just thought “Wow.” That is what first caught me. I just want to be involved. The dedication that she’d shown in taking that journey was just inspiring.”

After Pearce came on board, the challenges of a location and logistics-heavy film started to become a reality. The 21 minute film, scripted at 11 pages, would end up taking a whopping 12 days of filming due to the rural nature of the setting and a three-minute split screen journey in the final output.

There were many people who banded together to make this one crazy filmmaker’s vision a reality, including a huge community of Kickstarter supporters, many location providers as far out as Grampians and Horsham, countless volunteer cast and crew members and third party suppliers, and those who hosted Sarah – giving a meal and a roof – on the original long walk from Melbourne to Adelaide.

“I am, to this day, overwhelmed by the support of those who – pardon the pun – took this journey with me. I wrote this film with my heart, not a producer’s mindset, so these were long hard days of filming, which spanned over many months, and everyone really followed through every step of the way (again, no pun intended).”

Sarah, Jess and the team at Monster & Bear have since worked on numerous successful narrative projects, including Network 10 acquisition Dee-Brief.

And for the full story behind the story…

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