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A chat with Producer Jenny Friend of 'Raising Joey'

Jenny welcome to S.O.F.A; how did the project 'Raising Joey' first come about? Was this your first venture into the film world?

I work in theatre and film, ‘Raising Joey’ was my first experience producing a documentary style film. I was introduced to Alex Cearns and visited her studio; she has many photos on display of all kinds of animals, I knew there was a story there but which story was the question! The City of Vincent and Revelation International Film festival were offering three filmmakers $5000 to make a film about a city of Vincent resident; this was such an opportunity and I really liked Alex and what she does, I looked at a few different ideas but I was brought up watching the TV series called Skippy, I was fascinated with Kangaroos and here I had the opportunity to film them! I just had to apply!

What was Alex and Lyn’s first reactions upon being approached to make the film?

Alex decided that I should meet Lyn and discuss the possibility of capturing what her and her carers do, then the bush fires happened and it all got very serious.

What do you think ‘sold’ the City Of Vincent on the idea of making ‘Raising Joey’ therefore giving you the grant?

I can’t really speak for them but when I commit to do something it has to mean something to me, so my pitch to them came from the heart.

How difficult was it to co-ordinate and put together the shoot especially as Covid -19 decided to intervene?

It was difficult because we started filming then had to stop, we had two joeys that we were following, by the time filming commenced, those joeys were grown up into Kangaroos and ready to move onto the next stage of their recovery. The joeys all have their own personalities; we then had to wait for the tiny joeys that had been rescued from their mothers’ pouches from the bush fires, to grow strong enough to be filmed. We had to put all Covid safety precautions in place to commence filming. For an 8min 55 sec film it took 11 months to complete.

How did the crew handle seeing the devastation to animals and wildlife? Had they worked on wildlife films before? It must have been hard looking and being in the middle of such destruction but learning about it in-depth even harder.

Our Director/Cinema photographer Stephanie Senior, had worked with animals before but not wildlife, it was quite confronting for Stephanie and James Brock (Sound) they handled it by being professional but also sympathetic to the carers, we all became very supportive to each other, it was very much team work.

What is your favourite memory of your involvement in the project and do you have any behind the scenes stories you'd like to share?

I think previewing the film to Alex before it would be screened to an audience was the most terrifying experience. It was important to me that I represented the work that Alex does in an honest way. I always had it in my mind that I had to take an audience on a journey. It was more terrifying though to sit next to Lyn and her carers in a full cinema; I knew they were very nervous. I too had to think about their story that they wanted to tell, the joys of Documentary filmmaking! It was so rewarding though to get that applause from the carers and the audience, I am so proud that they are proud! I did also have the support from the Revelation International Film Festival Team.

You did an amazing job bring across the amazing, dedicated work they do; a film to be proud of. ‘Raising Joey’ has been accepted in some of the most prestigious film festivals worldwide, quite an accomplishment; what message do you hope people will walk away with?

I did my job and the emotional rollercoaster ride I had been on was all worth it. It feels good to highlight to the work that Alex, Lyn and the carers do. To hear the musical composition for the first time that brought the footage to life was an amazing experience, and when a team come together you can create wonderful things. I hope this inspires other filmmakers or others to take up filmmaking. I have had such interest in Raising Joey.

I’m sure it will inspire others to tell their stories and raise awareness on film, we shall certainly be encouraging it. Do you have any future films planned to continue educating on how precious and important our wildlife is? If so please consider it a given you will have S.O.F.A as a future screening platform and congratulations on making such a heart-warming, emotional and eye-opening film.

I will definitely consider continuing on. It has been an absolute pleasure working with you at S.O.F.A I still don’t think I have completely processed what we have achieved.

It has been a real pleasure working with you too and we look forward to a continued collaboration. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.


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