Indigenous representation in the media can be so wildly inaccurate and offensive, and more often than not, the inaccuracy stems from filmmakers writing objectively without actually experiencing what they’re portraying.
When GOAT spoke with prodigy filmmaker, Dylan River, who spoke on the evolution of Indigenous representation and being true to his roots. Dylan also highlighted the reason stereotypes are so prevalent in past expressions of Indigenous media.
Over the past 30 years, there’s been an extreme push from the Indigenous filmmaking community and things have changed. Before the 1990s, there were no films by Aboriginal people with Aboriginal people in it- they were all made by white fellas, about Aboriginal people, that’s why we had cinema with extreme stereotypes.
Dylan spoke about the success of accurate and passionate storytelling in film and television, now that Indigenous people have been able to take back the power of their own stories.
Now that we’ve taken the power, we’ve taken power of our own stories. You’ve seen the success of these films internationally, you’ve seen how Aboriginal filmmakers are punching well above their weight, in terms of storytelling, and you see the stereotypes- not disappear, but definitely become a lot less.
As well as acknowledging the past, Dylan realises how fortunate he is to be creating in the present.
There are still people out there taking advantage of Aboriginal stories and not doing it justice. I’ve stepped into this being very fortunate, and it’s kind of up to me and up to the other filmmakers of this generation to really keep the hard work going and to not feel complacent.
Dylan River has had the chance to flex his creativity on his new series, Robbie Hood. which challenges stereotypes and misconceptions through the lens of a young boy living in the Northern Territory in Australia.
A lot of my films have used the innocent misunderstandings of the average Australian coming from cities to Alice, and their experiences of what they thought it’d be like versus what it’s actually like. This series is definitely about foster carers and prejudgement of Aboriginal kids, and what their living situation is like.
There definitely is major issues and disadvantages here in the Territory and Robbie Hood really is a comment to that but it’s not like, one shoe fits all.
Nailing Indigenous representation has been, and will continue to pose a challenge to filmmakers because there’s not one story that covers an entire people. Robbie Hood is inspired by Dylan River’s story and as long as stories like his exists, Indigenous representation is in the right hands.