Re-release: Screening the Second

As an event, the re-release screening was always going to sit in the shadow of the Premiere: a smaller budget, a shorter evening, a more intimate venue, no catering and fewer frills…

But this second screening on 27 February 2015 matched – and in some ways even outshone – its sister event of the previous year, with tickets selling out a week before and the personalities on board bringing as much warmth, life and sparkle as was enjoyed at the Premiere.

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What a treat to have Lyn Beazley, WA Australian of the Year & former WA Chief Scientist, sharing her words, wisdom and zeal and Fletcher Young (pictured later), founder of social enterprise Australia’s Bridge, hosting proceedings with his humour and charisma!

And I found out with mixed delight and alarm that we were in some illustrious company from the audience too, with former WA Governor Ken Michael, Engineers Australia WA President Francis Norman, TCCP CEO Judy Hogben and Dreamfit CEO/founder Darren Lomman among an audience diverse in age and background.

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And the event, from my point of view?

Murphy, it seemed, appeared to have cut me some slack since the Premiere. Hurrah! We weren’t terrorised by neighbouring rock concerts. Hurrah! People weren’t greeted with empty plates by the end (although admittedly thre was no catering this time…) Hurrah! I hit play and the documentary actually played…

Murphy, it seemed, appeared to have cut me some slack since the Premiere.

Things were definitely looking up!

But of course, in my experience of events (and this project generally) there’s never a perfect run, and it dismayed but hardly surprised me that my only two regrets of the evening occurred at my own hands. I record them here for posterity – and I guess, some plea for redemption in disclosure.

…there’s never a perfect run…

1) The forgotten thank you: corporate friends

Woe betides she who doesn’t consult her paper!

After thanking nearly everyone involved in the documentary and the screening I forgot a small but very special shout-out I’d planned to make: to all the friends who had helped promoted the screening within their companies.

They’d stuck up posters around their office kitchens or hijacked their companies’ bulletins by slipping in spiels about my project, and I just wish I’d remembered to acknowledge them for playing a part in increasing the doco’s visibility and making the screening the sell-out that it was.

2) The understated thank you: Engineers Without Borders

I could – and should – have promoted Engineers Without Borders Australia more strongly. I owe this organisation a great deal: they not only introduced me to the concept of humanitarian engineering, but more germane to this screening they delivered me the grant that refreshed the film from raw green original to the more polished product we enjoyed on the night of the 27th.

With their warm hearts and cool $6,000, the awesome folk at EWB enabled me to dive back into editing and production when I’d thought it all over in May 2014 – this time not alone but with Wendi and Noah of Balthazaar Media availing the pro tools and knowledge to make the film better than I could’ve ever managed on my own.

…the awesome folk at EWB enabled me to dive back into editing and production when I’d thought it all over…

Thank you all so much. My gratitude is all the keener for my failure to justly express it on the night! But these painful self-recriminations fade as we learn to forgive ourselves, and what remain are the moments of delight. And there were many that evening indeed…

1) Lyn’s address

Lyn’s address bubbled with enthusiasm not only for the documentary (incredibly humbling) but more importantly for the rich scientific heritage and assets of WA, a whirlwind tour on which she took us, refracted through her wide-ranging passions of science, technology, zoology, maths, physics, women in STEM, community wellbeing, sustainability…

And let’s not forget that splintering, solar smile! She was pretty much bouncing at the lectern. What a “fine lady”, as she calls everyone else!

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And let’s not forget that splintering, solar smile!

2) The new edit

I’m yet to meet someone who thinks that the documentary was better without the motion graphics, tighter editing, crisper audio and improved production values that distinguished the second version. Kudos again to Wendi and Noah for their hands in this!

3) The conversations that followed

Humanitarian engineering as a concept naturally ignites with people, I think, because it is at once so beautiful and so sensible. This was apparent among many an inspired audience member I talked to after the film, and I hope that these dialogues will continue and evolve.

After all, the desire to explore ideas – have conversations, ponder the role and meaning of humanitarian engineering – is where it all began, and those outcomes as far as I’m concerned are the project’s only important measure of success.

Did the documentary inspire people? Did it give them pause for thought? Did it make them feel proud or challenged or reflective, and did they sense the paradigm shift afoot in the engineering world: that we see ourselves every inch as “humanitarian” as the professions more typically associated with a people-centred approach?

Humanitarian engineering as a concept naturally ignites with people… it is at once so beautiful and so sensible.

4) My wonderful events team

Nicola Lazaroo and James QZ were so helpful and generous in the lead-up and on the night; Fletch was fantastic as MC; and Eesha Patel’s papp skills let us to capture the night as more than just memory. Thank you guys!

5) The audience

A great mix of engineers and non-engineers attended, elderly and as youthful as 1 month old, students and professionals, retirees and academics, people near/dear to me, acquainted with me, utterly unknown to me and vaguely familiar… a real mosaic of a crowd!

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So that’s the wrap on the second release! And I think I can call CUT on this take at last…

…but then again, it’s the same sense of gratitude and closure I felt after the Premiere (at least as far as production’s concerned) so who knows what lies ahead of The Humanitarian Engineer?

Anyone have another 6k?