Australian-Made Film 'Just A Farmer' Sheds Light On Mental Health In Rural Living

Australian-Made Film 'Just A Farmer' Sheds Light On Mental Health In Rural Living

A new movie that has just come out called 'Just A Farmer' is written, directed and starring Victorian Farmer Leila McDougall. 

McDougall, who plays one of the main characters Alison, discusses the film which serves as both an artistic exploration of farming life and an advocacy piece highlighting the struggles of family farmers. 

McDougall's journey into filmmaking was unconventional; with no prior experience, she and her husband embarked on the project to shed light on mental health issues in rural communities, drawing parallels between the problem-solving nature of farming and her approach to filmmaking. 

McDougall's dedication to authenticity shines through as she shares the inspiration for the film. Having volunteered in mental health advocacy for over a decade, McDougall aims to generate conversation about the often-overlooked challenges faced by farmers. 

"We've been promoting it and trying to generate conversation, and then we were thinking, you know, how's a way that we can generate more conversation and shine a light on it and get the message to people that aren't necessarily in the farming world or living in rural Australia." 

The filming process was rapid, taking place over six weeks on her family farm, but post-production extended to a meticulous eight months.

"The filming is actually the quickest part of, the editing process, that is a massive process." 

Despite the steep learning curve, McDougall expresses pride in the film's quality and the renowned Australian actors involved. McDougall also discusses Live Rural, the not-for-profit organisation she founded to encourage mental health conversations among farmers

One key event she highlights is Mellow in the Yellow, which promotes mental health awareness in the agricultural community. 

"We started an event called Mellow in the Yellow, which is, you know, a big gathering, a day gathering in a canola crop," she explains, emphasising the positive impact such initiatives have on rural mental health. 

The film "Just a Farmer" is available for streaming, and McDougall hopes it resonates not just in Australia but globally, given the universal nature of farming challenges. 

Looking to the future, McDougall expresses her eagerness to continue storytelling about regional Australia and possibly expand her work to include New Zealand's farming narratives. 

Listen to the full chat between Leila McDougall and Dominic George above.

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