Shot over 17 years, MEET THE WALLERS follows an Australian family living in Lennox Head NSW; great conversation starter around issues of gender behaviour in Marriage; parenting girls; depression and its links to early child-hood trauma; ambition; artistic obsession; life in regional Australia; melanoma and the tricky issues faced by families living with cancer; the ironies (often missed by the film's protagonists) of living in the lucky country.
MEET THE WALLERS is a common story but one hardly ever seen in as raw and truthful form as this. We find in this long-form, long-observed personal documentary no call to arms or activist agenda and yet the issues embedded here have a genuine, compelling and universal appeal.
MEET THE WALLERS is a decade’s long, true family story, offering a platform for conversation on an impressive number of issues of interest to philanthropic foundations. The main characters, Mark and Nic, jerry-rig a family life in coastal NSW where Mark, the struggling artist and ragged-trousered philanthropist, is an oft-disappointing bread-winner while Nic endures insecurity born of her own childhood.
Questions of the economics of a life of art are front and centre here. Is it possible to follow the artist’s life and raise a family in a small community? Should a struggling artist follow his philanthropic instincts and build a school house in the Solomon Islands, as well as give to charity all his working life? Who has the right to be a philanthropist? Is it a privilege reserved for the very wealthy? Or can a struggling artist give away the little he has and inspire others to join him? And how does Nic cope with a husband who is all about his own dreams?
Mark surfs, paints and lives his enviable life, seemingly immune to the pressures of supporting the middle-class life-style these residents of ‘the lucky country’ have come to expect.Then melanoma strikes. Mark has a near-death experience that profoundly transforms his reality. Nic copes by writing a book for families living with cancer while he writes his own book coming out his white light experience. Confronting his disease brings the family to the edge and offers a fresh perspective on cancer survival.
This is a story of art and marriage that every aspiring artist, spouse of an artist, marriage counsellor, philanthropist and cancer survivor won’t want to miss.
Aims & Objectives
Deep in the human spirit there is a desire to do good. Mark Waller is the epitome of this desire and yet he faces obstacles at every turn. The quality of care and nurturing we are given in our early years stands us in good stead for life, but for Nicole who had a disturbed upbringing, being married to an artist with a young family presses all the wrong buttons as far as security is concerned.
Art and life come together in MEET THE WALLERS at so many intersections. The outcomes we expect to see are conversations around the many issues embedded here, convictions argued over, gender roles debated, and compassion and philanthropy discovered.
Through regional and city community screenings, some accompanied by Mark and Nicole, we expect these conversations to convert into action in a variety of ways. Screening sponsors can be beneficiaries; communities learn about the benefits of art; cancer sufferers are listened to, their families helped; a relationship on the rocks could be informed about the variety of ways needed to survive.We expect foundations and issue-driven groups to use the film each to their own measure. Such outcomes are measurable and conspicuous.The social media universe of the film is huge. Mark’s following is already 60,000 on his weekly E-zine and youtube painting tutorials is over 3 million views.
Given the range of issues and conversations the film will generate, we expect MEET THE WALLERS to be used and consumed as VOD and DVD for many years as its reputation grows. Measuring such growth via algorithms and close attention to comments and requests herald a long life for the film.
We plan a first release strategy via festivals followed by a period of regional community screenings, bouncing off publicity and critical acclaim garnered at festival level. Community screenings will involve introducing the Waller family in person to audiences at Q&A screenings. These are followed by taking the film into schools via classroom screenings where a variety of issues can be discussed by each class, using an ATOM study guide written in consultation with teachers and the filmmakers.
Given the variety of issues that could be discussed via this strategy, we will hone and target educational screenings according to the needs of teachers as they arise. Segments of the film could be used in this way to highlight separate issues such as depression, art as a community activity, the career trajectory of artists, melanoma, its causes and current treatments, gender roles in marriage, living with cancer, childhood trauma and more. With such a variety of talking points, educational outcomes are not always driven by teachers’ agendas but also by the various needs of communities where the film will be shown.