Review | Jane Castle shares what happens ‘When The Camera Stopped Rolling’

When The Camera Stopped Rolling | Dir: Jane Castle | ★ ★ ★ ★

It wasn’t an accident that Jane Castle became a cinematographer. When her mother was pregnant with her, she was filming a wildlife film which was one of the 40 films she directed in her lifetime, at a time when there was little recognition of women in the industry.

Jane was seventeen when they picked up her father’s 8mm camera and they felt safe to be able to view the world with the camera putting a frame around the chaos which was their life. They did give up filmmaking for a while but got back into it in their thirties at art school.

Now an esteemed cinematographer, having worked on video clips for Midnight Oil, U2 and Prince, Jane reveals that the happy family movies of their childhood did not reflect what existed when the camera stopped rolling. As the writer, director and narrator of this documentary, Jane has pieced together the fragments of their childhood memories solely using footage filmed by her family members.

In part, it is a celebration of their mother Lilias Fraser, who had a phenomenal career in filmmaking that included working for the Commonwealth Film Unit (now Film Australia), making documentaries for commercial companies such as Hamersley Iron and making her ground-breaking 1970 documentary to fight for Aboriginal land rights. Lilias also taught the next generation of filmmakers at AFTRS.

As well as honouring their mother’s life work, Jane narrates how there were many gaps in their mother/daughter relationship due to Lilia’s frequent absences, increasing alcohol use and fights with her husband over increasing debts. Jane remembers barely coping with a mother who was barely coping.

Jane admits that they became a cinematographer to become closer to their mother but it was not until the cathartic journey of making this documentary that they could “make something that is horrible and traumatic into something more beautiful”.

When the Camera Stopped Rolling is screening at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival with the short film Welcome to Womanhood. Jane will be attending a Q&A on 16 July – 12pm at Luna Leederville. Tickets available here.

Lezly Herbert

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