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"This is Port Adelaide" more about community than footy

Entertainment

Adelaide-based production company 57 Films is set to release a documentary celebrating the 150th anniversary of South Australia’s oldest professional football club.

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Directed by Nicole Miller, This is Port Adelaide is described as an “exploration of identity, belonging and passion told through the history of a working-class Australian Rules Football Club and the people at its heart”.

Executive producer and founder of 57 Films, Paul Ryan, said the film was “about a third” into production when COVID-19 hit South Australia in 2020.

“2020 was about wrapping up the narrative around the current team and support base,” Ryan said.

“The club itself… even in all that adversity, [they] were just growing incredibly strong as a force and a team. So our attention not only went from the 150 years prior, but really starting to drill into the year that was.”

As COVID-19 protocols were introduced, the production team had to introduce social distancing measures, but Ryan said a more difficult issue to overcome was the Australian Football League’s (AFL) quarantine ‘bubble’, as players took part in strict quarantining for the national football season to go ahead.

“This is Port Adelaide” director Nicole Miller, second from right, beside 57 Films founder Paul Ryan and the production team.

“Port Adelaide’s in-house media department would bring an extra camera to certain things so we could do remote interviews,” Ryan said.

Fortunately, while football does feature prominently in the documentary, Ryan said the film has more of a “human slant” so the production team did not need to film too much at the club itself.

“The film is much more expansive, it’s about… a heartbeat, the DNA of fans, the community, what it is to live and be part of Port Adelaide.”

Ryan emphasised the importance of the Port Adelaide club being able to play during 2020 for its thousands of hardcore supporters.

“Port Adelaide supporters say ‘it’s not life and death, it’s bigger than that.’”

“It’s really integrally important to them, their world, their life, so if nothing was happening all year, it would have been very difficult,” he said.

This is Port Adelaide was meant to conclude filming in August 2020 in order to take part in the Adelaide Film Festival, but the production continued to film because Port qualified for the AFL’s preliminary finals in October.

The documentary will now premiere on February 6 as a pop-up Adelaide Film Festival event at Odeon Star Cinema in the Adelaide suburb of Semaphore, after which it will be released nationally through Australian cinema companies Wallis Cinemas and Palace Cinemas.

Ryan hopes the film will be eventually be picked up for online streaming, both nationally and internationally.

“It is a very niche film but because it’s about community, and belonging, and passion, and tribalism to a certain extent. It’s relatable because it’s a story you can cookie-cut over a baseball team or Manchester United.

“And 150 years of a continuous club is quite unique. That’s still a record of world standard.”

The film’s relatively smooth production also serves as a reminder of the South Australian film industry’s resilience during the pandemic.

“As a business, 57 Films has hired staff, not laid any off, so it’s been a positive period for us thanks to This is Port Adelaide and a few other things. I think the future is strong here in South Australia in the film industry,” Ryan said.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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