Bus Stop Films is a school like no other. Since 2009, the Sydney film school has been working with people with intellectual disabilities and people from marginalised communities to teach both the theory and craft of filmmaking.
Alongside practical workshops, specialist tutors offer supportive mentoring which can help open up doors to industry placements and future employment. Jillian Wade is a tutor at Bus Stop Films who specialises in screen writing. She says the film and television industry need to include more people with disabilities.
“The same opportunities need to be given to people with disabilities as everyone else,” says Jillian. “People with disability don’t want any special treatment, they want an even playing field.”
Bus Stop Films has everything on site to teach students about filmmaking, including two films studios, editing suites and full camera and audio equipment for a variety of projects. “I want people to know how passionate our students are. They have important stories to tell,” says Jillian.
A student with many stories to tell is Ricky Kremer who has been attending Bus Stop Films for the past two years. For Ricky, the experience has opened many doors. “I’ve never had the chance to show what I can do. Bus Stop has made this possible for me,” says Ricky. “I love that they put that belief in everyone. They don’t hold your hand, they give us control.”
Working as a producer, Ricky has been trained in production and in working behind the scenes. “I do the production side of stuff, making sure things are running on time. I have also been hands on with animation,” he says. “We did clay animation and I got to move the clay and take the photos.”
By working on a variety of films, documentaries and theatre projects, students also learn practical skills about how to work with others and how to collaborate on set. “I like that I can share my ideas with the rest of the crew and use their ideas as well to come up with something amazing,” explains Ricky. “I can do a lot on my own, but I like sharing with other people.”
In 2019, Ricky worked on an animated film about the moon landing called ‘One Giant Leap’. The film was screened at Vivid Sydney as part of the inclusive space ‘Tumbalong Lights’. “It was an amazing experience. Every area in the park was inclusive,” recalls Ricky. “They had light-up tracks, installations and used treadmills for people in wheelchairs to feel like they were walking on the moon.”
During another film project, Ricky had the opportunity to direct a scene in the documentary ‘What Was it Like?’ which looked at the challenges faced by families of people with disability. “We had to interview our parents about our disability. We talked about what challenges were involved and how they were treated,” he recalls.
“This helped people to know how they can be treated by the appropriate people and how to understand people with a disability better. It broke down the barriers, I loved it. It was my favourite project that I’ve done.”
At the end of the year when the documentary was screened, Ricky says everyone who watched was moved by the experience. “Everyone went quiet and cried because it was beautiful and emotional,” he remembers.
In future, there are more exciting projects on the horizon for Ricky. After his work opportunity with a leading production company, including time on the set of an Australian drama in Melbourne and a reality TV show in Sydney, was postponed due to COVID-19, Ricky says is keen for more challenges. “I find myself saying yes to most things,” he says. “If you hesitate, I think it just closes the door.”
If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning about filmmaking, visit busstopfilms.com.au. To view films produced by Ricky and other students, visit the Bus Stop Films YouTube channel.