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Development   /  Tom Zubrycki

The Carnival

Three generations of the Bell family battle to keep Australia’s oldest show on the road.

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Impact areas

ARTS

HEALTH & WELLBEING

WOMEN & GIRLS

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Isabel Darling

  • PRODUCER Tom Zubrycki

Synopsis

DURATION: 85 MINUTES

Family carnivals and shows have been in Australia since the mid 1800's. Today over a hundred multi-generational show families are still operating in Australia, running their own shows and carnivals across the country. This is the story of one of these families: The Bells.
The Carnival is an observational documentary, filmed over the course of 8 years and capturing the most intimate moments of this one family and its workers. We’ll follow them as they haul their convoy of 30 trucks and rides across the country with their workers in tow where they’ll face the elements, shutdowns and bushfires as they battle to keep their show running and on the road.
This is the story of not only the carnival itself - a nostalgic and much-loved place that has thrilled Australian families over the years - but a story about the salt-of-the earth people everyone is curious about: the carnival workers, the showies. They live in a different world, in a parallel universe where the old world meets new world, where technology is changing their lives not always for the better. This is a family drama underpinned by a quest to uphold their ancestors' traditions and to ensure that the carnival never dies.
The Carnival is a sticky, colourful place filled with happiness and screams of laughter - but underneath is a darker side, one filled with pressures and expectations. Now, as the insurance industry pulls out of Australia, hundreds of show and carnival operators no longer have the ability to insure their rides, leaving families like the Bells on the potential brink of collapse.

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60.00% funded
  • $50,000.00

    FUNDING GOAL
  • $30,000.00

    FUNDS RAISED
  • July 2022

    PROJECT ENDS
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Donations

SHARK ISLAND FOUNDATION $30,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

A dwindling sub-culture in Australia is at peril - carnival families across the nation are seeing a drop in numbers, shows being cancelled and a new culture of technology taking over. One of the biggest threats facing these family-run operations is the lack of insurance coverage. International re-insurers including Lloyd’s of London have collectively pulled out of covering pubic liability for the traveling ride and attraction operators leaving more than 1000 mainly family owned concerns in the lurch. Without this insurance these businesses won’t be covered against accidents and when your business motto is “thrill don’t kill ‘em” - you sure do want to know you’re covered. This is an ongoing drama which has had national press coverage. Along with the bushfires, the cancellation of nearly all agricultural shows and events in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid19, this industry and every family within it faces an immense challenge to survive.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The documentary should receive a high level of exposure through television broadcast, and potential festival and non-theatrical screenings. The publicity generated through traditional media outlets and social media coverage will have two impact goals:
- Encourage operators of carnivals and show operators to share their stories.
- Bring these issues to the notice of local, state and federal representatives to change the way the sector is regulated in order that the industry remains viable.

Outcomes

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

The documentary should receive a high level of exposure through television broadcast, and potential festival and non-theatrical screenings. The publicity generated through traditional media outlets and social media coverage will have two impact goals:
Encourage operators of carnivals and show operators to share their stories.
Bring these issues to the notice of local, state and federal representatives to change the way the sector is regulated in order that the industry remains viable.

Activities

How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The withdrawal of insurance coverage poses an existential threat to the carnival and show industry. Solutions require collaboration between insurers, small business operators and government. The documentary will have achieved its outcome if such a collaboration were to take concrete institutional shape.

Stakeholders

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

Not as yet

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Discuss and share

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Carnival operators want to look after themselves by setting up a Discretionary Mutual Fund proposed by industry groups like the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association, along the lines of schemes used by local councils. Discretionary Mutual Funds are an acceptable form of alternative risk transfer and can be used for a myriad of risks including property, liability, medical as well as accident and health. And they’re not subject to the same capital and prudential requirements as traditional insurance. These Funds would certainly be a life-saver for show families like the Bells.