A film about drought which aims to raise awareness about mental health and suicide in rural communities is being filmed in the Moree area this week.
Drought is a short film which focusses on the lives of young farmer Rob and his wife Sophie, played by Matt Oxley and Jacqui Buchanan, as they struggle under the relentless pressures of the Australian drought.
Rob and Sophie are strong together but when their livelihood is threatened, their relationship begins to suffer. Rob believes he must remain positive for Sophie, which in turn leaves him with a tremendous weight on his shoulders. As the pressure slowly gets to him, he is left with a choice that no-one should have to face.
"The idea of the film is to create awareness about mental illness within farming communities and to create a story that doesn't pull any punches and shows it for what it is - devastation when farmers take their own lives," director Nathan Colquhoun said.
"I wanted to tell a story that encapsulates that and shows audiences the brutality of what happens out here."
The Sydney-based director said he was inspired to create a film after hearing about the devastating impacts of the current drought during the media coverage last year.
"I started Googling things and came across the severity of not just the drought but what it was doing to farmers' mental health," he said.
"Farmers are known for being positive ... but everyone has their limitations.
"Delving deeper and talking to farmers, every farmer I talked to knew someone or was related to someone who had ended their own life on farm.
"That shocked me, so I started writing a script."
Every farmer I talked to knew someone or was related to someone who had ended their own life on farm. That shocked me.Nathan Colquhoun, director
That was about four months ago, and this past week Colquhoun and his film crew have been filming at John Wilkinson's 'Muldoon' property, just south of Moree and Dougal Burke's property at Spring Plains.
"When we came up here and met with farmers, they were more than happy to let us film on their properties," Colquhoun said.
Colquhoun said this area was chosen because one of the crew members has an uncle here who had direct contact with local farmers.
"What better place to do it than here," he said.
Filming began on Saturday, May 6 and will wrap up on Friday, May 12.
The film will then go into post-production and when it's complete it will be entered into a number of international short-film festivals.
Not only does Colquhoun hope the film will bring to light the issue of depression and suicide in rural areas, but that it brings greater awareness to city people about the impacts of drought on rural families and communities, as well as the blood, sweat and tears that it takes for food to end up on supermarket shelves.
"We hope to make a compelling story that tells an emotional, but honest tale," Colquhoun said.
"We want to get the issue out there and for people to be invested in these characters enough to want to look more into it and help where they can.
"Mental health and suicide are often topics pushed under the rug; they're still taboo topics, especially in rural communities. Through film, it's a medium that can capture people at a deeper level.
"We also want a city person to think about it more when they go to the supermarket, rather than taking it for granted where their food comes from."
For more information about the film, and to watch the film's trailer, go to www.droughtshortfilm.com.au