"Finding Joy" -- An Independent Autralian Feature Film

Life Wasn't Quite A Melody . . . Until She Met a Dog


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Finding Joy
Synopsis

Joy Brown (Billie Dean) is a 40-something woman with little confidence, less self-esteem and a burning desire to realise her dream of being a singer/songwriter. But she can’t sing.

When Joy takes in a stray dog, Raffi, her life immediately changes. Her best friend, the tarot card reading Tessa (Janet Watson Kruse), moves in, Joy changes her name to Luna Starr, and meets Peter Wolfman (Andrew Einspruch).

When Peter encourages her to perform with him at the local pizzeria’s folk music nights, Joy sings – sort of – hiding behind masks of wigs and silliness.

With Peter by her side, Joy blossoms – until ex-wives, ex-husbands, frightening performances, and bucket loads of doubt all get in the way. With love suddenly in question, can Joy find the strength to touch her dream?

Set to the backdrop of the folk music scene in an arty country town, Finding Joy celebrates universal themes of friendship, low self-esteem, love relationships, and the joy of dogs.

. . . . . .


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Finding Joy
Key Creatives

Producers – Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

Billie and Andrew are a husband and wife team who have produced theatre, music videos, docu-dramas, documentaries, and programming for cable and experimental television. Finding Joy is their first feature production.

Writer/Director – Billie Dean

Billie’s background was as an actress and stand-up comic during the 1980s, performing both in Australia and overseas. As the comedy duo Einspruch and Dean, Billie and Andrew performed their successful show Random Thoughts in Australia and the USA. Billie has directed theatre, corporate videos, docu-drama and documentaries, including Mamay Ourmore Shushima, (All Life is Precious) (1993). Billie is often in front of the camera as well as behind it.

Billie is also a professional writer, beginning her working life as a journalist, writing about everything from movie and music reviews to natural therapies and personality profiles. Billie has written for theatre, including revues, her play "The Reluctant Soul", and stand up and sketch comedy material.

The Einspruch and Dean team has also written extensively for television and the print media. They have published 25 children’s books and more recently wrote for the Aria and Logie Award winning children’s show Hi-5 and another children’s show, Cushion Kids for Australia's Nine Network.

Finding Joy is Billie’s first feature film.

Director of Photography – Anthony Jennings

Tony studied Cinematography at the AFTRS in 1993, winning the Fuji Film award for the short film “Falling”. On graduating he stayed in Sydney working on a variety of productions. In 1995 he was accepted as one of three Cinematographers in the Camera Operators Encouragement Awards run by Panavision and Kodak. Since then, he has shot many productions including music clips, documentaries and television commercials.

Tony has lost count of the number of short films he has shot and worked on, but in the last decade he has won seven awards for his work, including three Australian Cinematographers Society Gold awards. He was a finalist in the PanaVISIONS awards and won first prize in “The Competition”, a Kodak run National competition. Finding Joy was his second low budget feature.

Editor – Martin Thorne

Martin has worked in the film and television industry for many years, starting as a camera assistant on news and late night tape operation. He is also an active filmmaker, involved in many independent productions local to Sydney. From 1996-99 he helped run an association of filmmakers, IndyFilms, that educated and encouraged community film productions.

In 2000, Martin’s short film Habirth was a finalist in the national film competition Nescafe Film Awards. As well as writing and directing, Martin edits and in 2001, he completed post production on two television pilots. Finding Joy is his first feature film.

 

Cast

Raffi

Raffi was a homeless dog who turned up at the dog-friendly household of Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch one cold June day, just as Billie was beginning to write Finding Joy. He became the couple’s sixth dog. Willow, the other dog in the film, is the seventh. Raffi was chosen to play the dog in the film because of his uncanny ability to look depressed or happy on cue. Finding Joy is his first film – that we know of.

Joy Brown and Peter Wolfman – Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

Billie’s background is theatre, where she worked mostly as a comedian in both her own and other people’s plays (although the role of Tiny Tim in a “Christmas Carol” could hardly be considered humorous). Billie was a stand up comic when she met her husband, improv whizz Andrew Einspruch, and found it much more fun being part of a comic duo in a show which combined improv, songs and sketches.

Einspruch and Dean were most applauded for their ability to create positive, clean humour, which all the family could enjoy, and for their New Age characters, David and Joanna, who had people from Australia and the USA cackling at their earnest antics. Billie and Andrew worked as presenters and performers in corporate videos, and cable and experimental television, notably on shows such as “Instant TV” and “Our Effect”, before taking the leap to act in their first feature film, Finding Joy. Oh and Billie says she can sing marginally better than Joy – but only marginally.

Tessa – Janet Watson Kruse

Janet is a rising Melbourne actor, who has appeared in numerous short films, including Vicious, For Better For Worse, Harold, and Refuse, and educational videos for various organisations.

Janet has been involved in numerous theatre productions over the years, including “Whoever So Believes” by Kiera Lindsay, “The Bacchae”, directed by Michael Cathcart, and more recently “The Seventh Seal”, an Ingrid Bergman screenplay adapted for the theatre by David Symons.

Sally – Rebecca Barratt

Rebecca has worked extensively for television and film appearing in such films as Mission Impossible 2 and Pick Ups, and such high rating series as All Saints, Water Rats, GP, and Wildside. She’s not a naturopath in real life but a very dedicated actor who continued her acting studies in New York after she made Finding Joy.

Matt – Todd Dwyer

Todd began his acting career in 1995 with regular television work in such high rating series as Water Rats, All Saints and Murder Call. He also took the lead in the musical stage production “Numurka”. Finding Joy is his first feature film. He does like dogs, and all animals and is not a bit like Matt. Shortly after making Finding Joy he took in a homeless dog who is now a much-loved member of the Dwyer family.

Nick – Cameron McCauliffe

Cameron has had an illustrious career in both stage and screen. He appeared in the feature films Holy Smoke and The Venus Factory, as well as numerous appearances in short films, television commercials and theatre. He’s another actor who started his career in improv, notably Theatresports.

Tarquin – Tamsin Dean Einspruch

Tamsin was five when she made her acting debut in Finding Joy. Tamsin is the daughter of Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch and loves performing, riding her pony, reading books and playing with her large menagerie of real and invisible animal companions.

Kris Quaid – Angry Anderson

Angry shot to fame as lead singer of Australian band “Rose Tattoo”, and has released numerous albums both with the group and as a solo artist. Angry appeared as Ironbar in George Miller's film Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome. He was also in the 1992 Australian Cast of the play "Jesus Christ Superstar" as King Herod.

Tracey Fielding – Jenny Morris

Singer/songwriter Jenny Morris is one of Australia’s most consistently successful recording artists, with over 500,000 albums sold, including multi-platinum for ‘Shiver’ and Platinum for ‘Body & Soul’. Jenny has toured with INXS and Paul McCartney, and has been awarded Australian Female Artist of the Year several times by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Her recent album, the first with Yep! Records, features the single "Home".

. . . . . .

 


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Finding Joy
Credits


[Opening credits single title cards]

Laughing Owl Productions
presents

FINDING JOY

BILLIE DEAN

ANDREW EINSPRUCH

JANET WATSON KRUSE

REBECCA BARRATT

TODD DWYER

CAMERON MCAULIFFE

ANGRY ANDERSON

JENNY MORRIS

And Introducing
TAMSIN DEAN EINSPRUCH
and
RAFFI

Director of Photography
ANTHONY JENNINGS

Editor
MARTIN THORNE

Executive Producers
BILLIE DEAN
ANDREW EINSPRUCH

Producers
ANDREW EINSPRUCH
MARTIN GUINNESS

Written & Directed
by
BILLIE DEAN


[Closing credits single title cards]

Dedicated To All Homeless Animals
Aho Mitakyue Oyasin
(In honour of all our relations)
May You Always Have Respect and Dignity

Music Director
Additional Arrangements and Composition
PETER HAYDON

Sound Design and Music Editor
ASHLEY KLOSE

[Closing credit roll]

CAST (in order of appearance):

Raffi
RAFFI
Joy/Luna
BILLIE DEAN
Tessa
JANET WATSON KRUSE
Peter
ANDREW EINSPRUCH
Kaz
GINNY KEELEY
Psychic
JOHN WEEKS
Tongue Stud Girl
SASKIA DONKERS
Morag
JULIE REYNOLDS
Suzanne
FRITH KENNEDY
Cindy
JENNY SPEARS
Seminar Participants
GABRIELLA GIACOMIN
MAIJA ZUNDE
JOHN GRACE
LINDY BANCROFT
VIRGINIA GRIFFITHS
Tarquin
TAMSIN DEAN EINSPRUCH
Tracey
JENNY MORRIS
Nick
CAMERON MCAULIFFE
Kris Quaid
ANGRY ANDERSON
Compère
PETER GILLESPIE
Matt
TODD DWYER
Sally
REBECCA BARRATT
Willow
WILLOW
Dog Extras
TALA, TWYLAH, LOUIE, SUKI, CEDAR
Braidwood Choir
RICHARD ALLEN
MARY APPLEBY
GILL BURKE
JILL COLLIER
VICTOR GLEESON
BERT JAGGER
PEG JOB
BEVERLY LIGHTFOOT
ANGELA MARSHALL
JOE PARK
KATE PARK
GORDON PRITCHARD
JULIE REYNOLDS
BARRY WATERS
JENNY WOLSWINKEL
Malumba are:
DAN EFFRAEMSON
THOMAS DEXTER
CHRISTOPHER THWAITE
ZOE HAUPTMAN
The Gillespie Girls are:
HANNAH GILLESPIE
IRENE GILLESPIE
BRIOHNY GILLESPIE
with NIGEL MCLAUGHLIN
 
First Assistant Director
ANNE ROBINSON
Second Assistant Director
ROWAN PEACOCK
Additional Assistant Director
KATARINA SKOUMBAS
Continuity
JULIA BOROS
Production Co-ordinator
LISA BEEDHAM
Production Assistants
JOS WILSON
JADE McEWAN
DOP/Camera Operator
ANTHONY JENNINGS
Camera Assistant/2nd Camera Operator
ADRIAN REINHARDT
Sound Recordist
TAMARA MILLER
Boom Operator
GREG PENNIKET
Grip/Gaffer
LEROY PAGE
Art Director
KRISTEN ANDERSON
Additional Art Director
ELSPETH CAMERON
Standby Props
DAVE OLDE
Wardrobe
ANGELA MILLER
Make-up Artist
SASKIA DONKERS
Stills Photographer
GREG PENNIKET
ADRIAN REINHARDT
Catering
MARGARET FAIR
KARUNA BAJRACHARYA
Drama Coach
ANNIE SWAN
Vocal Coach
BARRY WATERS
Runner/Wrangler
MICHELLE TAYLOR
Nanny
HELENA MARJANEN
Gospel Coach
ALISTAIR HUNTER
Graphic Artist
ANTHONY D'ANGIO
Choir Support and Massage
ANNE HUNTER
Laundry
JUDY SHEPHERD

Facilities:
Camera Equipment from Ozcam
Online Facility from Frame Set Match
Rentals from Caradel
Skin Care Program By:
Reviva Labs

Guitar on “Educated Kind of Thing”
NIGEL MCRAE
Accordion on “Educated Kind of Thing”
NIGEL MCLAUGHLIN


“Finding Joy”
Written by Rick Grossman
Performed by Rick Grossman

“We Sing Together”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by the Braidwood Choir

“Raffi’s Song (‘Ah’ Version)”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by Hannah Gillespie

“Ash Plant”
Traditional, Arranged by Katyusha
Performed by Katyusha

“Searching for the Spark”
Written by Merrilyn Simmons and David Jones
Performed by Merrilyn Simmons

“Light the Fire”
Written by Merrilyn Simmons
Performed by Merrilyn Simmons

“Faeries Hornpipe”
Traditional, Arranged by Chrys King
Performed by Chrys King

“India/D”
Written by David Pendragon and Bill Hall
Performed by Tribe

“Humm-Man”
Traditional, Arranged by by David Pendragon
Performed by Tribe

“Hole in the Sock Blues”
Written by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

“Life Goes On”
Written by Merrilyn Simmons
Performed by Merrilyn Simmons

“Pebo Mabo”
Written by David Pendragon
Performed by Tribe

“Pantheistic Wailing”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by Peter Haydon

“Om Namah Shivaya”
Written by Peter Haydon and Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Peter Haydon

“The Edge of the Green”
Written by Dan Efraemson
Performed by Malumba

“Evening Star”
Written by Tom Dexter
Performed by Malumba

“Gravel Walk/Tamlin Reel”
Traditional, Arranged by Dan Efraemson
Performed by Malumba

“Bermagui Moon”
Written by Richard Steele
Performed by Richard Steele

“Reflections”
Written by David Pendragon
Performed by Tribe

“Case of Your Love”
Written by Andrew Einspruch and Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch

“Blues Café”
Written by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

“Stuck in the Sixties Blues”
Written by Andrew Einspruch, and Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch

“Radiance”
Written by Tom Dexter
Performed by Malumba

“Incidental Guitar”
Written by Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Andrew Einspruch

“Far Away in Australia”
Traditional, Arranged by the Gillespie Girls
Performed by the Gillespie Girls

“It’s OK to Love”
Written by Billie Dean, Andrew Einspruch, and Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch and Billie Dean

“Little Bit of Everything”
Written by Merrilyn Simmons
Performed by Merrilyn Simmons

“Make It Real”
Written by Merrilyn Simmons
Performed by Merrilyn Simmons

“Victims/Volunteers”
Written by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

“Victims/Volunteers (Rock Version)”
Written by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch
Performed by Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch

“Music at the Glen”
Written by Chrys King
Performed by Chrys King

“Noises in the Bedroom”
Written by Andrew Einspruch, Billie Dean, and Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch and Billie Dean

“Talgoxen/Zglbom”
Traditional, Arranged by Katyusha
Performed by Katyusha

“House of GMO”
Written by Andrew Einspruch and Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch and Billie Dean

“Educated Kind of Thing”
Written by Andrew Einspruch and Peter Haydon
Performed by Jenny Morris

“Nature of Love”
Written by David Pendragon, Ben Mansfield, and Bill Hall
Performed by Tribe

“Spirit of the Tribe”
Written by David Pendragon and Wayne Miller
Performed by Tribe

“Raffi’s Song (Campfire Version)”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by Andrew Einspruch

“Sunbear/Ohm Mani”
Written by David Pendragon and Wayne Miller
Performed by Tribe

“Losing Raffi”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by Peter Haydon

“Searching for Raffi”
Written by Peter Haydon
Performed by Peter Haydon

“Suddenly”
Written by G. Anderson, A. Chicon and K. Beamish
Performed by Angry Anderson
(Mushroom Music Publishing)

“Raffi’s Song”
Written by Billie Dean and Peter Haydon
Performed by Billie Dean

“Raffi’s Song (Rock Version)”
Written by Billie Dean and Peter Haydon
Performed by Billie Dean

SPONSORS
We gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of:
Maton Guitars
Harlequin Mills & Boon
Sweet William Chocolates
Australian Bush Flower Essences
Mysterys of Balmain bookshop
Witchcraft Magazine
Brindabella Hills Winery
Laura Ashley
The Doncaster Inn, Braidwood
Reviva Labs skin care products

Filmed on location in Braidwood, NSW, Australia

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
ScreenSound Australia
Regional Arts NSW
Southern Tablelands Arts (STARTS)
Majors Creek Folk Festival
Braidwood Folk Music Club
Majors Creek Anglican Church
Country Women’s Association, Braidwood
Eureka Pizzeria
Michelle and Andy Taylor
Elrlington Hotel, Majors Creek
Margaret Fair
Peg Job
Andy Townsend and Suzie Bleach
Bill and Maria Grant
Leigh Graham
Cheryl Durst
Sonia and Mark Horan
Helen Bennett
The Boiled Lolly, Braidwood
Braidwood Central School
Entertainment Personnel
Maurice Murphy
George and Cheryl Kesteven
Regina Nengerman
Annette Moore
Cheryl Wood
Mark MacDonald
Rosi Pletzer
Gabbi Giacomin
Caroline Pope
Ricky Corcilius
Gini and Rhea
Liz Tilley
Anna Marzotto of Axis Hairdressing, Canberra
Peter Bain-Hogg
David Pendragon
Graeme McCutcheon
Peppa’s Business
Peter Farmer
Jessica Woodhouse
Lizzy Ray
Min Flipo
Richard Walker of Daniel Walker
Braidwood Veterinary Surgery
And
The town and people of Braidwood

No animals were hurt during the production of this film.

The persons and events in this motion picture are fictitious and any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional.This motion picture is protected under laws of Australia and other countries. Unauthorised duplication, distribution or exhibition may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.

© Finding Joy Productions 2002

. . . . . .


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Finding Joy
Director's Statement
by Billie Dean

If you’ve ever been anxious, had a bad hair day, fallen in love with a dog, or been too scared to follow your dreams or your heart, you’ll journey right along with Joy Brown in my first feature film, Finding Joy. This is a film of our times, and reflects my personal feelings that we need good, uplifting, heart and soul films which present new vision and solutions.

The inspiration and drive behind Finding Joy was threefold. As a professional animal communicator I wanted to begin to express the truth about animal companions as I understand it. In Finding Joy, Raffi the dog is subtly suggested to have an angelic intelligence which helps people turn their lives around. His presence isn’t always on screen – but he is the core of the movie and touches the lives of all the main characters. It’s my hope that audiences come away from Finding Joy feeling good about themselves, and feeling good about their dogs.

I’m also deeply saddened by the number of innocent animals who are killed each year – just because they are homeless. I’d like to think I could change things by helping people become more aware of the gifts that animal companions truly are – regardless of the type of journey they take you on. Animals are souls who need to be treated with dignity and respect, and they are far, far more than the ‘dumb pets’ many like to think they are. At home I’m blessed with seven rescued dogs – all of whom have taught me many spiritual lessons – and all of whom make an appearance in the film.

Secondly, I’d read astounding figures of the number of people who were depressed and taking anti-depressants. Depression is at epidemic levels, but what we need today is the emotion of joy to enter the new age or new dimension. A state of joy is the key to “walking in beauty”. So I called my film Finding Joy because that’s what it’s about – finding self-love and joy through the unconditional love of a dog. Self-love is the key to a healthy self-esteem, which is what our character Joy lacks by the bucket-load, because low self-esteem is another Western epidemic.

I wanted to make people laugh at themselves, through Joy, and give them a different perspective on their problems. So I made a film which is like a big cup of hot cocoa, with great music, some laughs, some tears and a story about a woman who’s like you or someone you know. I wanted it to look naturally beautiful, and be inspirational and life affirming. I feel we’ve achieved that.

Finally, I was inspired by the very natural and warm–hearted storytelling that is so often found in English and Irish films. I love their lush landscapes, gentle humour, and realism. I wanted to capture that feeling on an Australian canvas. I cast the town and countryside of Braidwood in NSW, as a character who shapes the identities of the people who live there and the emotional intensity of the incidents which happen. This is life in a small, arty, Australian country town peopled by city folk making a go of their dreams. I could have shot this story in the centre of the city but backgrounds talk and Braidwood has a lot to say. I wanted to share that with my audience.

Music added to the heart of Finding Joy in post-production. We found almost all the music locally, unearthing huge talents in the process, and reflecting our love of traditional Irish, up-beat, soul-filled folk, and world music. With the soundtrack album we’ve been able to give more generous helpings of this music and compliment our vision for the film.

Finding Joy works on different levels - as a romantic romp, or as something more mystical. It’s the first of the kind of films I like to make; visually beautiful, quite esoteric, and funny.

I hope you enjoy, Finding Joy.

. . . . . .

See also: billiedean.com


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Finding Joy
Production Notes

IFinding Joy first came into being when Billie Dean (writer/director) entered the Sunrise Pitching Competition in 1999. The 500-word concept about a woman who wanted to be a singer but couldn’t sing was one of 10 finalists out of 535 national entries.

Encouraged, Dean and Andrew Einspruch (producer) raised enough money from friends and supporters to make a decent short. However, understanding that character-based stories lend themselves to low-budget filmmaking, they felt they could make a feature without compromising the script.

“The secret to working with low budgets, is to use what you have,” said Einspruch. “We had a beautiful location in Braidwood and a great dog.”

The story of Finding Joy came to Dean when Braidwood’s monthly Folk Music Nights were held at the Eureka Pizzeria. Dean wondered what it would be like to be someone who wanted to be a singer, but couldn’t sing.

“Joy is a compilation of many of my comic characters from when I was a stand-up comic,” says Dean. “Low self esteem is as big an epidemic as depression in the Western world, and I felt lots of people could relate to her because of that.”

“What I do in my humour is to simply reveal the things unspoken in our society. In the 80’s I talked about first night nerves with a new man, orgasms and cellulite. Today it’s aging, perimenopause and menopause.”

“Joy doesn’t have much confidence in herself but she’s not afraid to have a go. She can’t believe Peter loves her – especially when she finds out the truth of his marriage and past. Joy was married to a successful singer, and his success stifled her own creativity to the point where she had to leave him. It crushed her love and her spirit because she wasn’t secure enough in her self.

“Her insecurity stemmed right back from when she was a kid, with a bright and beautiful older sister. I’m sure we all know people like that.

“Is Joy like me? Sure, I’m sure there’s a part of me in Joy. I love dogs and like Joy I’ll give things a go even when I’m scared. But there was no fear in my heart when I met Andrew. Neither of us had the emotional baggage that keeps Joy and Peter apart. We met, fell in love and that was it.”

Peter Wolfman (Andrew Einspruch) is a love interest with a difference in Finding Joy.

“Peter is typical of the men friends Andrew and I have around us. They’re caring, they love their kids, and they’re either into saving the earth or being creative. Peter’s a lot like Andrew in that way. When I first met Andrew he was a maniac comic improviser. The press called him the ‘mad scientist of the stage’. So to me he was perfect casting for a charismatic, yet sensitive performer.

“Besides I didn’t want to kiss anyone else.

“Peter’s big fault is that he isn’t completely honest with Joy from the start. He doesn’t lie, he simply omits the truth. But women are intuitive and Joy ‘knows’ there’s something not quite right. It builds a wall between them without them ever realising it and fuels Joy’s insecurity.

“But Peter and Joy are soul mates, and I purposely had them dress in similar colours and styles so that the audience would be aware subliminally that they were meant to be together.”

The big star in the movie is Raffi the dog who’s unconditional love helps Joy to find her strength and turn her life around. Coincidentally, Raffi turned up at Dean and Einspruch’s old farmhouse, just when Dean was thinking about the story for Finding Joy. Right away she knew he was the right dog for the part.

“Raffi has an appeal that I knew would transfer well from the screen to the audience. He also turned out to be a terrific actor, hitting his mark for the camera every time and looking depressed or joyous on cue,” says Dean.

“We didn’t bother to train him, we didn’t have to.

“My original idea was to try and make people aware of dogs as gifts to be treasured, not thrown away in the pounds when they get a bit naughty. Many people don’t even realise that dogs need exercising. If they had a good run in the morning it would solve a lot of ‘problem behaviour’.

“I got the line ‘You should go to Toy’s R Us for a pet’ from an animal rescue worker when she complained to me about people who get dogs and then dump them in backyards, expecting them to already be well behaved and perfectly trained.

“Dogs are pack animals and love to be with the family. I tried to make the characters in Finding Joy good doggy companion role models. Raffi pees on Peter’s guitar and he doesn’t dump him in the pound or lose it with him. He simply takes him for a run.

“The issue of dogs is central to the themes in Finding Joy. If a man treats his dog right, then you know he’ll probably be a good dad and husband. That’s what makes Sally so nervous about Matt. Like many people Matt says he’s an animal lover, but he doesn’t embrace the caring for them like Sally wants him to. And after the death of her dog, she learns to stand up to him and say what she really feels.”

Dean dedicated the film to all homeless animals because she wants to help raise awareness of the problem in our society.

“Hundreds and thousands of dogs (and cats) are killed every year in shelters because people lack commitment. We have seven dogs and each one is an irreplaceable gift. The idea of them being thought of as a disposable commodity is completely foreign to me. I find it cold-hearted and shocking."

The Shoot

The casting for Sally, Matt, Tessa and Nick was quite extensive and local auditions in Braidwood attracted over 70 people trying out for the minor roles.

“As a director, one of the biggest compliments I get is ‘oh you just got a bunch of your friends together’. Other than Andrew and Tamsin, I knew none of the other key cast and it means that the chemistry is indeed working,” says Dean.

“I met Janet Watson Kruse at a screenwriter’s workshop in Melbourne and immediately thought of her as Tessa. I was delighted to find out she was an actor.”

Actors had a week’s rehearsal with Dean and to familiarise themselves with the local culture of Braidwood. “Braidwood’s culture is unique. It attracts a lot of city people and artists, but it is still very down-to-earth,” she says.

“One production designer we were considering wanted to make the sets all up-market and Berry-like, which is a tourist town on the south coast of NSW. He wanted Joy to wear dresses and I’m sure he pictured someone beautiful and willowy. He was shocked to hear I was playing the part – and in jeans and work boots.

“But it was set in Braidwood and I wanted it authentic. We didn’t end up with a production designer at all.”

Dean wanted to try shooting with a digital camera so she could minimise crew, and do maximum takes for performance. She also wanted to experiment with low light conditions.

“I was very influenced by the naturally shot, small stories of England and Ireland, which are about real people living in small towns, and their culture. In these films, you feel the warmth of support from friends, there’s humour, and there’s stunning photography of the landscape in which they live. I felt I could do this, painting the landscape with an Australian brush.”

Dean worked a lot on gut instinct and one that paid off was her desire to shoot in March 2001, before they were properly funded. Straight after the shoot, the country fell into the worst drought the country had seen for over 100 years. Two years later it still hadn’t recovered. Shooting when they did, meant that Dean had her lush scenery in the can.

“We were blessed with some incredible movie magic during the shoot,” says Dean. “I always visualised Joy in a blue VW, but we didn’t have one. Then one of the crew turned up in one. And another crew member had a JOY number plate. So Joy got her car – with personalised number plates!”

Shooting was done on a professional Sony DSR-500 and took 19 days.

“The shoot was tough on us financially,” says Einspruch. “Our car died, and we were out of work for a while afterwards, living on home-grown tomatoes and wild fat hen, an edible weed.”

“We didn’t get the support from the industry we expected and had to finish the film out of wages. We’ve had a very, very quiet lifestyle the last couple of years and made good use of the library.

“We payed for the sound design from public screenings, using the digital format and decided to go ahead and self distribute as well.

“It hasn’t been an easy journey. We’d rather be making the next film. But audiences are finding Finding Joy and responding so well to it, that it makes you want to go the extra mile.”

Finding Joy is one of the first Australian features to be screened digitally in select cinemas around Australia and it is also the first Australian feature to have its trailers screened digitally as well.

Einspruch pioneered relationships with emerging digital cinema advertising agencies (who install digital projectors at no cost to the theatre), to help them give their clients additional value by screening features using their equipment.

It is this kind of tenacity and lateral thinking that makes Dean and Einspruch two of today’s truly independent film makers.

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Finding Joy
Movie Poster

Click the thumbnail to see a high-resolution poster.

Finding Joy

Poster designed by Anthony D'Angio.

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