As Head of Production for Melbourne-based production company, Monster and Bear, Sarah Hickey is no stranger to daily challenges. Looming deadlines, tight schedules, client expectations: all in a day's work. Piece of cake.
So, when Sarah came to write her first short film, perhaps she was hungry for a real challenge – for better or worse. Barren is the story of a woman who survives a traumatic loss. As she struggles with her grief, she makes the decision to pack a bag, pick a direction, and simply walk. To better understand her protagonist, Sarah made a similar decision.
She decided to walk from Melbourne to Adelaide. Equal parts pre-production research and personal challenge, the 780km would be Sarah's first multi-day hike. Initially, she was in a world of pain. Despite investing money in a pair of sturdy hiking boots and investing time in breaking them in, a heel spur and blisters joined her within an hour of the first day's walking. Through tears and constant, acute pain, Sarah walked.
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And she kept walking. Eventually, the blisters calloused and the heel spur healed. Sarah was able to shake the distracting discomfort of constant walking. She began to take in her surroundings, let her mind wander, and finally think about the film. She saw and recorded potential locations for shooting. She reflected on her initial physical and emotional challenges and let that inform her vision of the main character.
Looking back on the walk, after 780km and 31 days (the entire month of August), Sarah is glad it is over, but glad she did it. Breaking the routine, stepping out of the ordinary, she gained perspective on everything outside the sphere of her comfort zone and it is an experience she highly recommends to others.
The only piece of advice she has for anyone considering a similar feat is to choose your shoes carefully.
For more information, visit www.barrenfilm.com
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