Hocus Focus film making magic

SWAN HILL has it's very own collection of movie makers and if the cards fall in their favour they could be jet setting to Hollywood with a chance to access a film training experience in Los Angeles.

Hocus Focus Media (HFM) are a local film making group made up of seven young adults with intellectual disability who share a love of film making and performance. As part of the curriculum, students were required to participate in planning, writing, acting and filming a five minute short film that was entered into the national NOVA Focus On Ability film contest. The movie was shot earlier this year at the Pioneer Settlement and according to HFM founder Meagan McGregor, the students have amazed her with their commitment and ability when it comes to all aspects of film making.

"About 18 months ago I was approached by Jeanette young about starting up a film making class," she said.

"Jeanette came with extensive experience in the field of disability and is a talented performer and I'd always admired her work so I was keen to find out more.

"I was initially nervous about what to expect from the students and just how much they would be able to absorb the concepts.

"But I was literally blown away by their talent, their eagerness to learn and their ability to not only pick up new concepts but actually expand upon them in ways that I would never have thought about myself."

The group is funded by Pioneer Advantage Inc a local trust provided by parents of the students. Through projects, the group is directed in film making processes by Mrs McGregor while Jeanette Young focuses on the on screen performances. They are provided with their own video cameras so they can keep honing their skills outside of class times.

Ms Young said the two day film shoot took place in March on the worst day of the year the region had experienced weather wise.

"We had everyone dressed up in period costumes and the heat was really bad," she said.

"Then the wind came and it was hot and dusty but the guys were completely professional and continued on.

"The fact they were able to complete the film is a credit to them."

Kye King is one of the film making group members and he said he was amazed when he heard the news that the film had been selected as a finalist.

"I was so happy because we worked really hard and I was amazed to think that it was considered good enough to be a finalist," he said.

"The whole filming process was enjoyable but you spend a lot of time waiting around in costume and that can be hard but you start to expect that - it's just part of it.

"It will be amazing to be recognised for doing so well and it's very satisfying really.

"I would ask that all of Swan Hill community get behind us and wish us luck."

The film is called Different but the Same and the film crew are asking for the communities support to vote online.

"There are two major prizes in our category," Mrs McGregor said.

"One is the judges choice which awards an opportunity to a student to study in L.A but the other is voted by the public.

"First prize for most online votes is $10,000 and that would just mean so much to our budget conscious group.

"We are asking everyone to take a look at our film and if they like it we hope they will take the time to cast a vote."

The film also stars 12 year old Mitchell Blaine who plays the part of Billy lid, the catalyst for the films plot. 

"We are so thankful for the support we received in making the film," Mrs McGregor said.

"The Pioneer settlement allowed us to film there and opened up areas that are usually locked so we had the most amazing set to work on.

"We also had a string of volunteers who helped on set to ensure we could complete the film in a very short period of time."

To view the film or cast your vote click on the link below.


Hocus Focus Media have their sights set on a trip to Hollywood.

Hocus Focus Media have their sights set on a trip to Hollywood.

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