This afternoon I saw This is Gonna be Big at Melbourne International Film Festival.
Directed by Thomas Charles Hyland, This is Gonna be Big is the coming of age story of students at Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Specialist School’s Bullengarook campus. The film documents the school performing a John Farnham themed musical – we see auditions, character development, rehearsal, set making and all the nerves and the excitement involved in a high school musical. The musical is about time travel, celebrating four decades of John Farnham, including his mullet.
The film focuses on a few lead performers – Josh, Elyse, Chelsea and Halle, and also features many of the students in supporting roles. It also highlights the dedication of the school’s teachers and the students’ parents. The film is filled with humour, love and encouragement. The disabled people are leading the way – both in the production and how they’re depicted in the film. They’re funny, honest, clever, reflective, driven and determined. There’s no inspiration objectification here.
The film was inclusively made, in partnership with Bus Stop Films. There was a line in the film where Josh said he wants the performance to help raise people’s expectations of disability, to see we are capable of so much. And the performance, and film, sure did that. Brilliant. This is Disability excellence, leadership and pride.
This is Gonna Be Big won two awards at MIFF – the Audience Award and Schools Jury Award. Congrats, everyone!
I can’t wait to see what the young people in This is Gonna be Big do next! Superstars! And I can’t wait til the film is screened widely so more people can see it.
Visibility is possibility and I hope that drama and film schools, and production companies, see this film and give these talented young people a chance.
Image: an illustrated poster of This is Gonna be Big film – featuring four young people – Elyse, Chelsea, Josh and Halle. Planes and musical instruments surround them. The background is beige.