Bold student film turns grief to life

A group of Victoria University community services students tackled the confronting subject of organ donation by producing an engaging and informative film as part of a class assignment.

The 16-minute film, Turning Grief into Life, explores the distressing decision to donate a loved one’s organs, told through the story of a mother and her dying 14-year-old daughter.

First-time director and Gisborne-based student Brian Spaull used his connections as a freelance film producer and writer to make the film as professional as possible.

His fellow students on the project, Esther Nima Sung, Dung Thiphuong Ngo, Germaine Gatchessi, Nick Plazek and Satta Allie, worked for more than six months with a volunteer cast and crew of more than 40 people to produce a quality film on a shoestring budget.

Simulation hospital rooms used by VU nursing and health students at St Albans campus were used as the set for the film.

“We chose to look at organ donation because at least 1500 people in Australia are on organ waiting lists,” Brian said. “Many people think about donating only during a time of crisis when they are overwhelmed with grief.”

The broad message from the student filmmakers – who adopted the name Donum Productions (Latin for gift or donation) – is that people need to gather their loved ones to discuss the topic before it’s too late.

The film was launched at a Southbank studio in mid-November at an event that included script adviser and Western Health donor coordinator Kylie Chalmers.

The budding filmmakers, who just completed VU’s Certificate III in Community Services Work, plan to enter the film in several short film festivals.

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