PUSHING WOMEN TO THE FOREFRONT
4 MIN READ
CLAUDIA SANGIORGI DALIMORE
MICHELLE GRACE HUNDER
Filmmaker Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and photographer Michelle Grace Hunder were tired of listening to the constant conversation about gender imbalance and inequality in the Australian music industry. So, they came together to change it, by empowering the women who have shaped the industry as we know it to speak out, and showcasing them as role models for the next generation of artists.
Her Sound, Her Story is the culmination of two years of discussion with over 50 women spanning five decades of Australian music. As performers like Tina Arena, Kylie Minogue, and Julia Stone share their stories, it's a stark reminder of the inequities they've faced, but also a celebration of what they've achieved in spite of them.
Here, Claudia and Michelle tell us about their creative process, why they felt it was so important to tell these stories, and how the experience of making the film changed them.
When we began Her Sound, Her Story I had very little room and appreciation for women. I'd spent much of my youth turning towards males for validation and acceptance, and in the midst of that, compromising my own sense of worth. I had to start unpacking a lot of conditioning to create the narrative for the film.
Michelle and I have really individual ways of creating, and much like our skill sets, the cross collaboration of all these elements were complementary to each other. When we interviewed the women it was just us – no other crew – asking the questions and not being fearful of any emotions that might arise from them. Holding space to be angry, sad, or even disinterested.
The women we met were our driving force. When times were low we would go along to another shoot, another interview, and we'd leave fully charged and inspired.
I reflect on the day it dawned on me that all these stories were a reflection of my own. I found solace in all the women standing together in their collective, unspoken pain. They gave me strength to see the film through, because if hearing their stories could change my life, perhaps the film would offer refuge to others like me.
After 55 interviews we still had no cohesive storyline. I was left with over 40 hours of rushes and no idea how to create a narrative from that.
When I went into the edit I was really trying to listen to all the stories these women had gifted us over the two years. I began trying to sift through and pull out the strongest narrative that was representative of all the different facets of the female experience. It was always important to show diversity by showing many different faces, so anyone watching the film could, in some way, draw a link between who they were seeing on screen and themselves.
One of the most potent messages in the film was about the importance of women banding together. So, in the process of making a film where this sentiment is placed at the highest regard, we too had to embody it. I would constantly turn towards Michelle and find new ways to see her, and love her for her differences to me.
The night we launched Her Sound, Her Story with the photographic installation of the portrait series in Melbourne, we ended up turning my house into an AirBnB for a lot of the artists we'd brought over for the concert we were presenting two nights later.
That night I was the last one to go to bed, still up editing until 3am. There was a gentle lul around the house; all these gorgeous women asleep under the same roof. You could feel the magic.
That's the first time we were able to bring these women together, and it was in those few days I began to understand the depth and importance of the work we were doing.
Making the film changed both mine and Michelle's lives – changed who we are as women. Collectively it's been about cultivating a sense of community amongst women, and bringing them back to the essence of what that really means.
Shellie Morris gently shared her wisdom with me, "sit still ... it will come". That's been a beautiful mantra to live by in what often feel like a very fast and loud existence.
My advice for pulling off an epic project? Dream big! You are only as limited as your imagination will venture.
I've worked in male-dominated industries my entire career. My experience in shooting – predominantly in hip hop – was always very welcoming, but it wasn't until I embraced our latest project that I started to realise that even though my experience has been positive, it's not the norm. The hurdles for other women have been quite enormous.
Often people see these huge projects as something they could never do because they are so huge, but the steps start to appear as you go along. I constantly saw the discussion come up in the media and would say to Claudia, it's really important all these women's voices are collectively heard.
I remember when I saw Claudia's first cut. It was maybe four hours of talking, but I was in tears. I knew it was going to have a big impact. The message of being true to yourself and your art came through really loud and clear from these wonderful women.
I think women coming together and not seeing each other as competition is paramount. We work really well in groups, supporting each other and learning from each other. It's a big part of the equation of moving forward.
Interviewed by Emma Startup
FOLLOW ALONG ON THE 'GRAM