About the project

Big Stories, Small Towns is a participatory, multi-platform documentary project gathering small-town stories of innovation and resilience and sharing them with a global audience through the bigstories.com.au website. Big Stories is a unique model of community engagement and participation. Professional film-makers live in a small town and work with local people to bring their stories to the screen. Stories are made in different ways. There is a mix of photos and documentaries made by the film-makers and by community members. Film-makers deliver workshops, training, and collaboration with local people to create many of the stories. The film-makers produce other stories themselves with strong community consultation. We make stories ‘with’ not ‘about’ people and shine on people caring for and creating their community. The project started in South Australia in 2009. By 2015, the project will span fourteen towns from five countries across the Asia Pacific with local film-makers and artists in each country shaping context-specific programmes and stories. Big Stories has been featured at more than 30 international film festivals including IDFA (Amsterdam) and DocFest (UK) and won Community Champion at SXSWi, 2012. More than 500 people in regional and remote communities have participated in a Big Stories workshop and more than 6000 people in the towns have attended a Big Stories exhibition or screening programme. With stories such as the Men’s Shed, Recovery and Two Villages, the project showcases local social innovations replicated in other settings. With stories like Wami Kata we create tools for advocacy that have changed policy through powerful first-person stories and with sustained media training programmes we facilitate the development of local media collectives.

About the artist

Big Stories, Small Towns is created by a collective of film-makers from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. The creative director and initiator of the project is Martin Potter and the co-producer is Anna Grieve. Together they run Big Stories Co.  and make cross media, participatory projects. Our interest is in working with local communities to produce stories that are central to their lives and relevant to the world.