Swinburne filmmaker captures the lives of those living with Parkinson's

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Cast of Stupendous - Dancing through Parkinson's

Two Dance for Parkinson’s classes formed the cast and were invited to play an active role in the creative process.

In summary

  • Andrew Garton’s short film raises awareness of the benefits of dance therapy for those living with Parkinson’s
  • The cast consisted of local dance artists Paris Wages’ and Katrina Rank’s Dance for Parkinson’s classes
  • Four Swinburne students assisted on the shoot and gained valuable film skills

To broaden awareness of the benefits of dance therapy for those living with Parkinson’s disease, film maker and Swinburne adjunct fellow, Andrew Garton has created a short film in collaboration with local dance artists.

Along with dance therapists Paris Wages and Katrina Rank and a film crew of four Swinburne students, Mr Garton directed the short film ‘Stupendous – Dancing through Parkinson’s’, funded by two community grants from the Boroondara and Bayside Councils.

Ms Wages’ and Ms Rank’s Dance for Parkinson’s classes were brought together to form the cast of the film and were invited to play an active role in the creative process.

Mr Garton says the participants had rich stories to tell, aside from wanting to promote the benefits of dance therapy.

“The film doesn’t focus on their Parkinson’s. They want to be remembered as gregarious, audacious and in the world. The end result is a story unrelated to their disease that they would prefer their families to remember them by,” Mr Garton says.

Learning new skills on set

Andrew Garton and student crew for Stupendous - Dancing through Parkinson's
Ms Kerr and Mr Vadhani were camera operators, while Ms Aldred and Mr Yee handled sound production.

Mr Garton says the project has been highly valuable to the students involved, who were hands-on from the beginning of the shoot.

Lin Kerr and Jennie Aldred are in their final year of a Bachelor of Film and Television, while international students Ujjwal Deepak Vadhani and Cheng (Jason) Shen Yee are completing a Bachelor of Media and Communication.

“Mr Vadhani and Mr Yee took up the roles of second camera operator and boom-handler, while Ms Kerr and Ms Aldred helped to instruct them using the skills they’ve learnt in their film and TV course,” Mr Garton says.

“Not only had Mr Vadhani and Mr Yee never worked on a film set, they’d also never met anyone with Parkinson’s. They were delighted to work with such a wonderful group of people and to learn new skills on set. It was a really moving experience for everyone.”

Mr Vadhani says being involved in this project has allowed him to learn new skills and gain valuable, real-world experience on a film set.  

“As a second camera operator, my involvement was very practical throughout filming. I learnt new skills such as script writing and was exposed to the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of a film shoot,” Mr Vadhani says.

Mr Garton says this project was a simultaneously challenging, rewarding and uplifting experience.

"In spite of some discomfort and waning energy, I was impressed and amazed at the resilience, determination and patience of the cast whenever another take was required. It gave me a lot of hope to see how beautiful and engaging these people are,” Mr Garton says.

‘Stupendous – Dancing through Parkinson’s’ premiere screening will be held in AMDC Lecture Theatre 301 at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, 6.30pm, Wednesday 18 July.

“Filming ‘Stupendous’ was a wonderful shared experience and I think the night of the screening will be another beautiful moment for the participants to see the film in completion for the first time.”