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Production   /  KATE GLOVER

On Colour

In the Opal mining town of Lighting Ridge, 'On Colour' explores if addiction can ever be healthy?


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Sit back and listen to a few yarns and meet the community of Lightning Ridge. A community shrouded in mystery, addiction, truths, lies, tall stories and secrets.

People from over 52 nations all around the world are drawn to Lightning Ridge with the hope of striking it rich.

‘On Colour’ asks the question of whether addiction can ever be healthy?

Giving everything up in search of a stone might seem like an unhealthy habit but this is a town addicted to their jobs, hard work and intensive labour. Their new lifestyles have replaced more unhealthy addictions and helped people establish unique lives.

Dreamers, outcasts, drop-outs, philosophers and inventors have created a community in which they can find their own place. Here this addiction has given birth to one of the planet’s largest off grid communities, all born out of addiction to opal.

‘On Colour’ invites you into the world of the notoriously tight-lipped town of Lightning Ridge. Here you will meet the characters that have left it all behind to be their own bosses, living more simply, more self sustainably - off the grid and part of a community where local FM radio is still a major news source. This is a portrait of a town that might sound like it’s a relict of the past but this might be a glimpse at a town of the future. With increasing pressures on climate and resources - here is a peek at the survival guide.

So sit down and enjoy the philosophies of the truly unencumbered characters of Lightning Ridge and you may even learn a thing or two about simplicity both in living and innovative thinking.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

‘On Colour’ needs to be made to address issues that affect a lot of small towns in Australia.

University of Canberra's ‘Dropping off the Edge’ report revealed the town of Lightning Ridge to be in the most 'disadvantaged' category. There is no public housing, taxis or transport. The majority of the residents are an ageing population who live solitary lives on camps with no running water or electricity. The film seeks to shine a spotlight on the creativity and the resilence of the town and promote the Government to support community managed programmes.

These programmes would promote sustainable living, provide public transport, preserve Indigenous stories and raise awareness of drug addiction and mental health issues that affect the miners.

The town has been affected financially by Covid19 with tourism decline so the film will aim to attract visitors back to the town.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

‘On Colour’ will challenge stereotypes of people living on the fringe and raise awareness of the sustainable ways modern day miners are living on ‘Off-Grid’ camps.

The film will address what lack of resource might really look like in the future, drawing attention to mass consumerism and driving home the crucial point of reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, reimagine.

We also hope to highlight the impact of the way community has positive effects on mental wellness.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

- To show a modern viewpoint of the Australian Opal Miner
- To provide a platform for a diverse group of voices from a large socio-economic group that are often ignored or stereotyped.
- To provide a positive narrative about a town that was listed as one of the most disadvantaged places to live in Australia.
- To show that people can live more simply and more ethically to assist the advancement of climate change by explaining solar, water tanks and cooking without electricity.
- To elevate First Nations voices
- Create audio visual materials to preserve the Yuwaalayaay/Gamilaraay language to be shared with schools as a classroom resource.
- To encourage tourism and visitors to the town to promote growth after Covid19.
- Support advocate organisations working in regional communities like drug addiction, mental health awareness and aged care.
- Support the newly built Australia Opal Centre by promoting its fundraising.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The town of Lightning Ridge relies on tourists and has taken a knock during Covid19, with visitors reduced by over 90%. Many of the miners substitute their mining with second jobs in tour companies, restaurants and running B+Bs. We would love to encourage people to be curious about the town and the Opal and our characters.

We would love people to come away rethinking their own views to how they live, and potentially embracing a more sustainable life. We would love to teach people about how to live off-grid with a display in the town highlighting the changes of the Opal Miner's camps.

We could also provide instructions on how to use solar, water tanks and pumps and cheats to set up your own dwellings and encourage residents to utilise sustainable ways of living.

We would love to encourage people to support the new Australian Opal Centre which is being designed as an energy efficient building without being connected to the mains power or water.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We will collaborate with the Australian Opal Centre to help them fundraise. We would love to use our documentary to bring people to the town.

The Centre will house the world’s premiere collection of Opals and will also create employment opportunities for the community. We would love the film to be a snapshot and historical portrait of the Modern-day Opal miners and to give the opportunity for Indigenous miners to have a voice and share their own history in the Opal mining which was one of the first equal rights workplaces for Indigenous people in Australia

We would also like to go out wider by playing in film festivals to promote the town.

We would also like to team up with local mental health charities like the Men’s Shed in Grawin to help raise awareness and financial support so they can continue to assist the miners and the community.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

1. Visit Lightning Ridge and support the community by visiting and buying Opals direct from the source.
2. Donate to the Opal Centre to help create jobs.
3. Encourage people to seek help for mental health issues.
4. To preserve Indigenous language and culture by exploring Indigenous stories of the Opal and the role of the indigenous miners.
5. Learn about sustainable living and potentially change lifestyle habits.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Indicators that 'On Colour' has achieved its impact statement is more people living off-grid, installing solar panels or other self-sustainable energy solutions.

Other indicators would be by working with the Lightning Ridge information centre to monitor increased tourists to the town.

Through our website and social media - we would also love to ask viewers if they have learnt about off-grid communities and if they would be willing to adopt some of the habits in their own lifestyles.