Thursday, June 28, 2007


In the late eighties I was still living in Western Australia and I got approached from some women who were working up in the Argyle Diamond Mines. This was run by BP a major mining company, and some of the local independent filmmakers in W.A. had knowledge of Aboriginal communities being moved off thier lands - or else the men of the community agreeing to sales and use of 'dreaming' sites that were actually sacred to women of the area. BP were adament they were working collaboratively with the local Aboriginal community and even employing many of them in the mine. Others were convinced that the mining companies were just exploiting the locals for the resource and that the local people had no idea how many millions of dollars they were giving away in their engagement with them. I went up there with a crew to document a kind of social experiment. BP had a new strategy led by an innovative thinker and strategist from Melbourne, Michael O'Leary (no relation) but he was convinced that by putting together a group of people from traditional mining knowledge and experience (25 % essentially hard core, usually macho miners who were not used to women workers) ,50 % of men who had had a variety of jobs (from cooks to bar managers to singers and farm hands etc.) and 25% of women - that a kind of social experiment could take place.
This film was the culmination of that hot pot - hard core miners and itinerant Australians looking for a quick buck meet hard core dykes in a remote countryside who wont take any crap from men... an interesting social experiment.
The film is a mixture of a training video meets EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) in the outback of Northern Australian in 40 degrees in a high tech enviornment. The deal was , 14 days on, 14 days off. Nothing inbetween. A satellite city.
Interesting dynamics.
Groundwork dealt with sexual stereotypes in the workplace, new technology with women geologists leading the way, enviornment reconstruction led by Aboriginal managers and a community in conflict with the presence of the mine. Women not necessarily consulted...along the way. 1989. The Kimberleys. Australia.

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