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Community | Disability | Health & Wellbeing | Human Rights | Welfare
Making Emmaus

22

$35,220 Raised of
155,000
Goal
Synopsis
This film follows a group of adults living with mental health challenges as their photographic portraits are displayed publicly for the first time at the new wing of Emmaus Community in Perth. Interwoven through their stories, the audience comes to understand the motivations of Emmaus founder Al Archer, a musician whose life was transformed by a powerful experience in a Los Angeles church.

This is a story about opening your heart to issues and to people that most wouldn’t normally open their hearts to. It’s a story about human connection and the power of love.

Psychiatrists and community nurses have spoken about how Emmaus is able to reduce hospitalisation and dependency on the mental health system. Residents who live at Emmaus speak about how it's changed their lives completely, and family members of those who live there have painted pictures of just how much Emmaus has had a positive effect on their sons, brothers, daughters and friends. 

Emmaus was founded by Al Archer - a tattooed, quirky, ever-smiling, croc-wearing brother who saw a need in the mental health system and set out to create a way to fill that need. Al is a central character in this film because his own transformational life change led to him starting a new life that positively changes others. 

Al was born and raised in Kenya. He went from singing and performing on stage in Sydney, London and Los Angeles to a record contract with the same record label as INXS. After making an uncommon visit to church in Los Angeles one Saturday night, he was struck by something he'd never experienced before and his life did a complete turn. He returned to Australia to work in a 500 bed homeless men's shelter in Kings Cross and from there, created Emmaus Community in Perth. 

Emmaus Community is not only a shining example of positive community living for adults dealing with mental health challenges and homelessness - it's much more than that. It's a timely reminder of how the fundamental principles of love, trust and respect can change lives.

The intimate stories of its residents, and the challenges they face living daily with mental illness, provide a heartfelt opportunity for viewers to connect with and understand mental illness in a way that we hope will reduce the stigma associated with this disease.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”  ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Philanthropy

How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?

Many philanthropic foundations understand the importance of mental health and well-being and seek to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness. This documentary seeks to raise awareness of the issue of mental illness and what it means to live with mental illness and as such, to do its bit to help reduce the stigma that still exists around mental illness.

It also seeks to highlight how Emmaus Community is an example of how dependency on the mental health system can be reduced and lives improved.
Aims & Objectives

What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?

Mental illness and homelessness are issues that are timely and relevant to Australian society. There are 105,237 people homeless in Australia. 56% are male and 44% are female. On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless. $9 billion was spent on mental health in 2015-16. This figure is increasing. 

7.3 million or 45% of Australians aged 16–85 will experience a common mental health disorder (e.g. depression, anxiety or a substance use disorder) in their lifetime. Almost 64,000 people have a psychotic illness and are in contact with public specialised mental health services each year.

This documentary seeks to raise awareness of the issue of mental illness and what it means to live with mental illness and as such, to help reduce the stigma that still exists around mental illness. 

It also seeks to highlight how Emmaus Community is an example of how dependency on the mental health system can be reduced and lives improved.

This film hopes to:

1. Reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by providing an understanding of what it's like to live with mental illness through personal stories

2. Shine a light on a great example of how the mental health system in Australia can be improved by showcasing the Emmaus example

3. Inspire policy makers in mental health to make decisions to support the real and positive changes that places like Emmaus Community can make

4. Generate discussion and understanding about mental illness and homelessness

5. Inspire people around Australia to open their hearts and minds to help others through Al Archer's remarkable and motivational story

Strategy

What is your education and outreach strategy?

Film festival release will be our first priority and from there it's hoped we might secure a broadcast acquisition. Discussions are underway with ABC Compass who have requested a proposal.We will seek a sales agent with the aim of extending broadcast distribution outside of Australia as well as distribution across schools and universities around Australia and preliminary discussions are already underway. Lara Damiani attended AIDC 2018 and now has a list of direct contacts across the spectrum of broadcasters and distributors which will be used for our distribution strategy. We will hold a launch screening in Perth with residents and staff of Emmaus, and with the filmmakers, providing an opportunity for an intimate Q&A session after the film. We will invite journalists and media personalities from WA to attend and aim for publicity about the screening and the film post event. We will also invite politicians and executives from the mental health system and hope that this film will help to offer them ideas for an alternative system of mental health housing that can benefit everyone. We will look to establish partnerships with organisations like SANE Australia to see how the film and associated activities can support their advocacy work. SANE Australia is a national mental health charity working to support four million Australians affected by complex mental illness. Beyond this, we will continue to come up with ways to extend our education and outreach as widely as possible.
Director
Lara Damiani
Producer
Lara Damiani
Total budget
$155,000
Length
60 Minutes
Stage
Development