Case studies

Big Stories, Small Towns

A multiplatform documentary project (2009 - 2015)

Big Stories, Small Towns is an ongoing, online and participatory documentary series that explores community life in small towns. The project’s producer is Big Stories Co. and principal funder is Screen Australia.Filmmakers-in-residence live in a small town for several months, working with locals to capture the stories of the community.

Filmmakers run workshops so local residents can contribute their own content for the Big Stories website. Photo essays, oral histories, and community-created footage populate the Big Stories website. The goal of the collaboration is to create “local stories with global impact.”

The project is shaped through extensive local consultation and participation to create stories made by both filmmakers and community members – full of love, humour, family and belonging. Through workshops, exhibitions and screenings the story making process is a catalyst for discussion, reflection and inspiration.

“At the heart of Big Stories is collaboration between communities and filmmakers-in-residence. Stories are made with—not about communities.” – Martin Potter, Producer

In 2013 the small community of Strathewen, Victoria—which was devastated by the 2009 Victorian bushfires— worked with Big Stories Co. to create community stories as a companion piece to Celeste Geer’s documentary Then The Wind Changed (2012). The series featured towns from across Australia and the Asia Pacific region as part of Big Stories: Asia Pacific.

Big Stories focuses on those caring for and creating their own community. The project aims to build a diverse and inspiring global portrait of country life and to showcase some of the extraordinary tales of resilience in small towns.

Big Stories, Small Towns was created by a collective of filmmakers from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. The creative director and initiator of the project was Martin Potter and the co-producer was Anna Grieve.




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