Three questions answered

25 Nov 2016


8 years in the making, documentary film Defiant Lives explores the history and stories associated with the disability rights movement in the UK, USA and Australia.

The Churchill Trust recently had the opportunity to catch up with film-maker and Churchill Fellow Sarah Barton.

1. Since embarking on your Churchill Fellowship in 2010, in what areas of your work did your research have the most impact?

Having the opportunity to meet leaders from the disability rights movement face to face and build rapport was extremely important. Of course I also took my video equipment so I recorded interviews for my film which was crucial in getting the film made.  If I’d just done research I don’t think I’d have come back with enough to get the film made.  The Fellowship and the people I met through it really gave me some expertise in the who’s who of history of disability rights and what the important issues were.  The story I came back with was actually quite different from the one I expected to find.  I thought I was looking for Vietnam veterans who lead this rights movement in America but that’s not at all what I found.  I found a whole range of other disabled people who worked tirelessly to change the world we live in.  Their impact on our everyday lives is extraordinary.  Of course there were a few important places I didn’t know that I should have put on my itinerary - I’m thinking mainly of Denver where the important story of Wade Blank came from - but I managed to pick up enough information in other places to cover that story.   I came back with a fabulous collection of recorded interviews that really form the backbone of my film. 

2. Now that this documentary is complete, what’s next for Sarah Barton? 

Well the process with the film is really only half way there.  I’ll probably spend the best part of the next year or so promoting the film, hosting community screenings and engaging with the community.  It’s a really important part of the process.  If I don’t work hard to promote the film then no one will see it and it won’t have the effect I want it to have.  We’re aiming to have a general release for the film around the middle of 2017 - up until then we’ll be busy preparing trailers, posters, building social media, a website and so on.  There’s a lot to do.  I do have my eye on a couple of other creative projects but they are very early days so I can’t really say much about them as it’s impossible to know if they’ll eventuate or not.

3. On 30 November, we will be announcing our 2016 Churchill Fellows – what is one key piece of advice you would offer them?

Be prepared to do a lot of planning before you do your trip.  If your trip involves a number of destinations make sure you get to all the places you need to.  Ask lots of questions at the planning stage and make sure you allow enough time to meet everyone you want to and need to because you really only get one chance to go on this trip and you want to make it count.  

Defiant Lives will be released in selected cinemas in Australia, and around the world in the latter half of 2017.


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