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Interview with Grant Thompson

Winner of the Excellence in Community TV Award 2015

Each year the CBF support the Excellence in Community Television Award as part of the Remote Media Awards held at the National Remote Indigenous Media Festival in partnership with IRCA and ICTV. The Award aims to award excellence in community television production with $5,000 to support the producer's next endeavours.

The 2015 winner of this award is Grant Thompson for Bla Mela Langgus, a documentary on saving local languages around Ngukurr. You can view the video online.

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What inspired you to make Bla Mela Langgus?

Wal, wanim bin inspaiya mi bla migi dis filim Bla Mela Langgus, is kalturul sibaibul im beri impotin. Pipurl araun mi en yang kids garra bigis stragul garra mela langgus en ai wandi dali dis stori bla main pipurl ma, hau melabat bin lujum mela langgus. Bat wi ya la Ngukurr Langgus Senta mela duwing enijing wi ken bla seibim mela langgus. En ai laigi dalimbat stori thrru filim dumaji nau ebirribodi luk telebishin.

Well, what inspired me to make this film ‘for our language’ is that cultural survival is very important. People around me and young people have a big struggle with our language, and I want to tell this story for my people, how we lost our languages. But we here at Ngukurr Language Centre are doing everything we can to save our languages. And I like telling stories through film because these days everybody watches television.

How did you go about making the video?

Fes melabat bin tok la detlot pipurl bla intavyu alabat stori en hau thei bin grouwap, abumbat had taim, kiping alabat langgus. Ai numin bin abu storibod. Kos ai bin sabi olredi, wani ai garra dali. Ebirrijing kam from insaid, hau ai bin dum dis filim. Kos if yu garra stori ba dali, dali bla yu oun laif en wani yu pipurl bin gou thrru, tharrkain stori mi laigi dali la pipurl olaran da wel. Laik sheya melabat stori. La wan pat ai numin abu bum pol, sou ai bin lafta yusi spiya! Yu sabi shotgan maik? Wal ai bin gulum spiya maik.

First we had to talk to those people to interview them and how they grew up, having difficulty holding onto their languages. I didn’t have a story board, because I knew already what I had to say. Everything came from inside of me – that’s how I made this film.  Because if you’ve got a story to tell, about your own life and what your people have been through, those kinds of story I like to tell people all around the world. Like sharing our story. At one stage I didn’t have a boom pole, so I had to use a spear. Do you know shotgun mic? Well I called it a spear mic.

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How did you go about recording the song Ngukurr Shine for the video?

Ai bin abu olredi dis song. Ai bin sing bla dislot traib ya la Roper. Det song ai bin meigim bla nyu bigining bla main pipurl mob. Dumaji wanim mi min bai seing melabat we came together as one in that song, melabat bin gaman mijamet na, wanbala mela bin gulum mijal – Yugul Manggi. En wanim mi min ba tok, ‘Ngukurr Shain’, im min main pipurl bin jidan na wanbala, en mela bin migi dis pleis shain. Dumaji melabat bin seek a new beginning.

I already had that song. I sang it for all the tribes here at Ngukurr. That song I wrote is for a new beginning for my people.  Like what I mean when I say we came together as one in that song, I mean we came together, we call ourselves one – Yugul Manggi. And what I meant when I said Ngukurr Shine is my people came together as one, and we made this place shine. Because we sought a new beginning.   

What got you involved in community broadcasting?

Fes ai bin statof pleipleibat myusik, en main fes instramen bin bi beis gida - a red Yamaha. Ai bin yustu slip garra det gita. En myusik imin bi main hobi from ja.

Bambai wen ai bin gu la skul la kolij la Darwin ai bin stadibat ats en myusik. En dumbat rikoding en bla main set tu ai hed tu dum myusik birriyou bla main fainul eksem. En ai bin rili laigi dumbat det myusik birriyou.

Ebirrijing bin ol nyu la mi ja. Bat ai bin laigi. From ja na ai bin stat migimbat birriyou. Wen ai bin living la Minyerri dei bin abum festibul ja wantaim en wan men burru gabmen dipatmen dei bin abu fanding bla migi vidiyou. En ai bin abu aidiya bla migi birriyou. Shot filim. En imin kol ‘One World, Two Laws’ bat mela bin tjeinjim intu ‘Gamo’, dumaji det mein ekta, bla im skin neim bin Gamarrang. En im Gamo fo shot. En imin bi la Fist Full of Films, la Darwin. Ai bin kambek la Ngukurr na. Fyu yis leida ai bin stat weking la Langgus Senta. Ai bin wandi len main langgus, Ngandi. Es ai bin weking na, ai bin lenlenbat ebirrijing. Ai bin faindat hau impotin langgus im. En det stori na, ai wandi dalim, hau melabat bin lujim mela langgus, bat stil melabat ya, wekwekbat rikodimbat, dokyumentimbat en titjimbat melabat langgus en ebirriwei mela ken. Mi rili leigi dis langgus wek. En garrim main skil bla migimbat birriyou ai gin dali lorra stori bla main pipurl alabat en melabat langgus en koltja. Ai bin faindaut migimbat birriyou im  fan wei bla lenim melabat biginini alabat and to embrace our culture.

First I started playing music, and my first instrument was bass guitar - a red Yamaha. I used to sleep with that guitar. And music had been my hobby from that time. Then when I went to school in college in Darwin I was studying arts and music. And doing recording Cert II I had to do a music video for my final exams. And I really enjoyed doing that music video.

Everything was all new to me there. But I liked it. From then on I started making videos. When I was living at Minyerri they had a festival one time and one man from a Government Department had funding to make video. And I had ideas to make a video. A short film. It was called One World, Two Laws, but we changed it to Gamo, because the main actor, his skin name was Gamarrang which is Gamo for short. And the film was in Fist Full of Films in Darwin. I went back to Ngukurr then. A few years later I started working at Ngukurr Language Centre. I wanted to learn my language Ngandi. As I was working, I was learning everything. I found out how important language is. And that story that I want to tell, is about how we lost our languages, but we’re still here, working, recording, documenting and teaching our languages in every way we can. I really like language work. I have skills to make videos and I can tell a lot of stories for my people and our language and culture. I found out making videos is a fun way of teaching our kids and to embrace our culture.

What is next for you and how will you use the award money?

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Garra dis awod mani ail baiya birriyou kemra, leptop en nyuwan sofwe – laik Final Cut Pro, o det nyuwan iMovie, en bla pei fo treining. Ai garra dum lilbit risetj fes, sou ai gin faindat hau matj dislot ting ebirrijing dei kost. Ai garra gaji edbais bla wijan ikwipmen im gurruwan. Ai neva bin abu main oun bidiyou kemra o kompyuda. Dis mani wil kikimof mi bla dali lorra stori. Seimwei laik dis dokyumentri Bla Mela Langgus.

With this award money I’ll buy a video camera, laptop and new software – like Final Cut Pro or that new iMovie, and (I’ll use it) to pay for training. I will do some research first and find out how much these things cost. I’m going to get some advice as to which equipment is best. I’ve never had my own video camera or computer. This money will kick start me to tell a lot of stories, like this documentary Bla Mela Langgus

Anything more you would like to add?

Thengk yumob sou matj bla album mi bla dalim main stori. Im min bigis mob la mi bikos main stori im brabili impotin la main pipurl mob. Thengk yumo. Ma, jabony. Kip lukinatbat bla main neks stori. Neva nou, you might be in it too!

Thank you all so much for helping me to tell my story. It means a lot to me because my story is very important to my people. Thank you mob. Keep looking for my next story. You never know, you might be in it too!