The Media Resource Centre (MRC) in Adelaide has been around in a range of different incarnations and locations since 1974. In 1992 when the Lion Arts Centre was established in the West End the MRC merged with Co-media (SA’s community Media organisation) and relocated, simultaneously opening the Mercury Cinema. The MRC undertake a range of activities including professional development for entry-level to ‘emerging’ film, video and digital media creators; equipment hire (including a suite of Final Cut Pro equipped Macs); and production initiatives that support emerging filmmakers to make a number of early short films in various genres, including webisodes and music clips. Through their community and youth activity they also deliver a number of bootcamps and digital storytelling workshops both as MRC programmes and as service to NGOs. They have 2 cinema exhibition spaces available for launches and have an excellent curated programme of local and indie screen product.
I interviewed current Director Gail Kovatseff about the MRC’s role in the participatory media landscape in SA. Gail spoke a little about the sense of distance from activity on the eastern sea-board that manifests in occasional feelings of isolation for SA based screen practitioners and organisations. While she noted that the MRC are not actively engaged in a national debate about the state of play for community media, they’re very busy servicing a demand for ordinary people and communities to tell their stories. Gail was passionate about the successful entrepreneurial activities and initiatives the MRC undertakes with communities and highlights the differences between their approach and what she sees as the traditional, expensive and slightly stultifying community development (CCD) process, characterised by immersive and lengthy development that can thwart actual productivity.
“[In the past] we have actually gone to a community and said if I can get the money for this, do you want us to do it with you?”
Gail noted that ‘co-creativity’ is not a frequently used term at the MRC, but they speak in more general terms of ‘empowering people to tell their stories’. She also spoke at length about the aesthetics and professional standards that collaborations with professional filmmakers can bring to media productions and sees it very much as a process of helping storytellers make their stories as compelling as possible, something they can be proud of. In some case participants have received support not just in how best to script their stories but also media training on how to talk with journalists. A MindShare initiative designed for people living with mental illness encouraged storytelling in multiple forms (digital stories, blogs, audio, photos and interviews) across multiple platforms including a customised website and the local Messenger Press. I asked Gail about uses of social media in general and she noted that, apart from the requirements of specific initiatives (like MindShare and other projects like Big Stories, Small Towns) the MRC use social media and online spaces mostly for promotional activities rather than story-sharing space. That said, the MRC web site is undergoing ongoing expansion and they are simultaneously addressing a lack of people power by working towards employing a youth worker and eventually a community development officer.
You can find out more about the MRC’s suite of activities and programmes at http://www.mrc.org.au/ visit them in person at 13 Morphett St. Adelaide or call 08 8410 0979.