Darlene Johnson, Director of Bluey; winner of the Australian Directors' Guild award for Best Director of a Short Film for Bluey; Bluey also won the 2017 Audience Award at Australian Short Film Today in Boston and Austin
The story of Bluey is a very personal one to me and came about from exploring key characteristics that I have been interested in developing thematically for a feature script I was writing. Bluey was inspired by my mother whose nickname was Bluey. Just before she passed away in 2013 she told me how she was given this nickname as a young child growing up in the bush. Her feisty spirit inspired me to develop a female character who had similar characteristics: a fighting spirit, anger, vulnerability and shame.
Once I started to develop these qualities further, it opened up possibilities for exploring a rich, complex character but contained within the short film format. Another aspect of the story I was interested in exploring was the world of boxing and how boxing can enable a transformative process.
Even though Bluey is a fictional story, the genesis of the idea comes from a real and personal connection to my mother, her and my experiences as Aboriginal women, and those of many disadvantaged Aboriginal teenagers living and growing up in the community of Redfern. It’s a culmination of many experiences and observations over the years.
I really wanted to make a simple story but one that was emotionally complex and affectingly resonant. The subject of an Aboriginal protagonist whose life has mainly been on the streets of Sydney and in correctional institutions and who needs to learn a few lessons in life is something that is rarely seen or understood. I really wanted to explore all of this in a short dramatic film -- something with heart, emotion and authenticity. I’m thrilled it has been received so well.