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DOCUMENTARIES

Development   /  Rebecca Barry

Troublemaker

A Port Arthur Massacre survivor and a filmmaker form an unlikely bond, in a desperate search for solace, closure & truth

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Impact areas

HEALTH & WELLBEING

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Jared Nicholson

  • PRODUCER Rebecca Barry

Synopsis

DURATION: 170 MINUTES

28th April 1996. Wendy Scurr arrives at work at the Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania. What transpires moments later changes her and Australia forever.

That day became one of world’s worst mass shootings in modern history leaving the deepest of scars on our national identity... and on Wendy Scurr. Wendy’s actions on that day save many lives and elevated her to hero status. Meanwhile, Australia’s gun laws are radically overhauled. The killer is sentenced, never to be released.

But with society moving on and the Coronial Inquest into the event abandoned, the victims are given no opportunity to heal. Wendy falls into a vortex of PTSD and paranoia. Vulnerable, she is embraced by those who are willing to listen to her story - extremist groups who pedal conspiracy theories. Her unanswered questions and distress are fuel to the growing fire of lies and confusion about the massacre. Wendy becomes the face of Australia’s ‘Port Arthur conspiracy’ and lives out her final years in self-imposed exile.

In 2015, filmmaker Jared Nicholson discovers Wendy’s story and convinces her to share her story with him. By now, it’s 20 years after the massacre but Wendy is living a life of paranoia. Jared immerses himself within Wendy’s life and social circle. As he delves deeper into this murky world, he finds himself suspending logic and questions what’s real and what’s not. This subplot twists and turns, offering a microcosm of the insidious and seductive allure of the conspiracy mindset.

Wendy dies suddenly in December 2018, and Jared is left examining his beliefs and the roller-coaster relationship over the past few years with Wendy. He struggles with his mental health and ongoing anxiety - ripple effects of the paranoia.

This documentary is not an exploitative look at the massacre or promotion of the conspiracy theories, but an exploration of a survivor of a traumatic event who was taken in by people who validated her but ultimately used her for their own agenda.

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  • $100,000.00

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  • August 2022

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

While audiences are familiar with the tragedy of the Port Arthur Massacre, Troublemaker provides an unexplored story and new perspective. 25 years on, this story holds a magnifying glass up to our current culture, particularly around how we as a nation deal (or don’t deal) with tragedy and how conspiracies thrive post events.

We will ask the big questions about why as Australians we still find tragedies such as the Port Arthur Massacre a taboo subject to talk about and why it is difficult as a nation to address our troubled past and how we approach trauma and healing.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Troublemaker will create a mind-shift in how we as a society deal with trauma and how we can do things better to promote healing on and individual and national scale.

Outcomes

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

FOCUS AREA: Community Outreach
The Troublemaker impact campaign will inspire individuals and the broader Australian community to understand that testimony, reflection and acknowledgment of traumatic events is essential for individual and national healing.
- We will do this by engaging with mental health groups specialising in trauma and healing to utilise the film for community screenings and workshops.

FOCUS AREA: Education
The Troublemaker impact campaign will inform and educate high school students to understand and critically evaluate significant traumatic historical events.
-We will do this by creating education materials, made in collaboration with experts, to inspire critical thinking in regards to conspiracy theories.

Activities

How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

- Develop a coalition of partners in the Mental Health space with a particular focus on trauma and healing.
- Pre-release key influencer screenings who are active in the trauma and healing space.
- Media and social media campaign in collaboration with partners to create public awareness.
- Creation of education materials that invite students and educators to explore critical thinking principles in regards to dissecting conspiracy theories.

Stakeholders

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

We are in early development and in discussions with numerous partners about collaborating further on the series.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

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Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

• Favourable review from press
• Shift in public attitudes towards trauma and healing
• Pre and post screening survey.
• Cinema on Demand figures – number of screenings and attendee’s overall
• Social media footprint