A Batemans Bay film director has taken a major step towards releasing a feature-length documentary based on the lives of show families.
Isabel Darling, founder of Batemans Bay based Torchlight Media, has been working on The Carnival for almost six years which has now been accepted by the Documentary Australia Foundation.
This means people can now pledge money to the production as a tax-deductible donation, and Ms Darling hopes to have the film released in 2023.
"We're on the cusp of getting more funding from screen agencies and a broadcaster, and then we'll keep filming up until mid-2022," Ms Darling said.
"We'll then go into a three-to-four month edit with an editor in Sydney with a plan to release for Festivals in early 2023, and then hopefully be on the big screen after that.
"We're hoping for a theatrical release - I feel like this film will do really well across regional Australia because so many people connect with carnivals as a part of their young lives."
An official synopsis for The Carnival, first known as In For the Ride, says the film is an "observational documentary ... capturing the most intimate moments of fifth generation carnival family, the Bells".
Ms Darling said she came up with the idea after walking into the family's camp at Batehaven in 2015.
"Curiosity sparked it all," she said. "I wondered where these people came from each year and where they went when they packed up.
"I'd never seen a film about this subculture, or had every really known about it.
"I just walked into their camp one day in 2015, and they invited me into one of their caravans where I asked if I could start filming some short films on the people working there.
"Over the years it's developed into a much longer story once I realised there was a rich history and culture behind this family.
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"It's a subculture that hasn't had much of a voice, and there's been particular interest from broadcasters because it's a culture that's always been there for Australians, we just haven't seen much about it.
"What's fascinating about this family and other carnival families is the way the business is handed down to the next generation.
"Elwin Bell Sr is 79, and his dad was Roy Bell who started the Roy Bell Boxing Tent back in 1924.
"This rich history of providing entertainment to people is in their blood - they live it and breathe it, and you can see why it's hard for anyone to get out of it."
Since that day in 2015, Ms Darling has spent almost six years travelling around the country on-and-off with the Bell Family.
"I've been directing and filming all of the content so far," Ms Darling said. "I've dropped in and out of their lives; I've met up with them in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine, Mt Isa, all over the country.
"There have been times I've tried getting a bit experimental, and at one stage I attempted to go on the Hurricane with my big camera, but that didn't end well.
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"Now that we're getting funding to make this film, we are brining in another director of photography and an extra sound operator."
Ms Darling moved to the Eurobodalla from Canberra in 2014 and has a passion for telling regional stories.
"I have a background in tourism and event videos and short documentaries," she said.
"In 2017 I had a short documentary called Corey the Warrior which had a really successful Festival run and took me to Cannes.
"I've wanted to direct films since I was a kid and just tell stories of all different types. I want to create regional stories people can escape into.
"I've been really lucky to get some great support from organisations such as ScreenWorks, and I'm really hoping to create more local stories using local crews."
If anyone would like to donate to The Carnival, follow this link.
"We need a budget of about $700,000," Ms Darling said.
"We'll get most of that from agencies and the broadcaster, but every bit counts and it will all help tick us over until that funding comes through."
The Carnival is produced by award-winning producer Tom Zubrycki, who owns property in North Rosedale.
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