29 Years & Eight Days is an intimate portrayal of a friendship, an obsession, the quest for artistic success, loss and longing in love but most of all it is about the making of an artist in our time. Matt Doust was an internationally renowned portrait painter from Australia who died suddenly from an epileptic fit in 2013. He lived with an innate sense that his life was to be short. It was this sense of brevity that made him paint with extreme conviction, commitment, passion, focus, motivation, love and heart. This documentary chronicles his life through observational footage filmed by his friend - director, Mat de Koning, over 16 years. It also includes excerpts from his visual diaries, art works in progress, short films, completed pieces and poetry from his journals. His work is interspersed with interviews with key people in Matt’s life including fellow artists Jodee Knowles, Stormie Mills, Joe McKee (Snowman); Will Ferrier (from Will Stoker & The Embers) amongst others. The documentary also chronicles the key exhibitions of Matt’s career including his Archibald piece: The White Cocoon a portrait of model Gemma Ward; Recollections & Obsessions; Unravelled and the final exhibition of works which were exhibited posthumously.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Philanthropic foundations concerned with supporting the arts in Australia will find that this documentary meets their aims to:
- reinvigorate a passion in the arts
- draw new audiences to the arts (painting, poetry, film and music)
- educate young generations about the artists of Australia and their collaboration and reciprocal support of each other
- analyse the sociological environment in which artists in Australia operate and that their works reflect
- contribute to Australia’s cultural identity and history
- demonstrate the artistic process
- assess the importance of art and artists in culture and provide emotional, meaningful and cathartic experiences for audiences
The documentary will also provide an opportunity to create awareness around the experience of epilepsy.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
The primary objective is to contribute to Australia’s artistic history in adequately portraying the portrait painter Matt Doust and his contribution both locally and internationally. We can see already that Matt has been a huge inspiration to many and we seek to acknowledge his contribution and expand upon it.
In addition, we aim to inspire, move and give meaning to a new audience. We want people to walk away from the documentary feeling as though they have experienced something pertinent, meaningful and that the documentary contributed to their life in some way.
We also hope we encourage others to explore their creativity and pursue their talents. Matt demonstrated that anyone, from anywhere in the world can have a measure of success with dedication and commitment to their talent and passion. We hope to inspire others to push themselves to see what they can contribute to the world and achieve.
We seek to educate about Matt’s art and the society in which it was constructed. Matt was concerned about the reflection of self. Given the social media environment we live in it is a very socially relevant analysis. Hopefully, giving way to a better understanding on how we are shaping our world and the ways we can work to foster better lives for ourselves.
We also seek to provide awareness and education around the experience of epilepsy. The experience of epilepsy is not often portrayed in media and this documentary provides us the chance to creatively and innovatively explore, through Matt, this ailment.
Finally, we seek to develop our own skills as documentary filmmakers and provide opportunities for our collaborators who will be musicians, interviewees and other artists - in doing so we seek to encourage a community. As such, we aim to give a voice to Australian artists in an international space.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
Our education and outreach strategy has a staggered process. We will commence with a poetry book, followed by an art book, then an exhibition in Los Angeles, followed by the release of the documentary and the soundtrack that will be supported by an exhibition in Australia.
Each of the stages will work to educate on a particular aspect, for example – the release of the poetry book will draw attention to the importance of written word as a form of expression. Many of the poems look at relationships, love, epilepsy and the experience of the artist and can therefore offer insight and inspire others in these areas.
The chronology of his life and works will be prepared in such a way that it can be used as an educational tool for Year 11/ 12 Curriculum in High Schools across Australia.
The documentary itself will help to raise awareness about the importance of art and its ability to reflect on the culture we live in as well as the experience of epilepsy.