Marking the end of a ten-year odyssey, Award Winning Filmmaker Phillip Donnellon tells a story of almost mythological proportions about the removal of the humble conductor from the city’s trams and with a group of former and current trammies discusses a vision for the future.
What shall it profit a city if it loses its soul?
Tram Conductor’s once known as the soul of the city were replaced by an automated ticketing system during a period when politicians and economic rationalists worldwide were transforming Societies into Economies.
Former tram conductors and tram passengers discuss the roles the connies played aboard the trams and a new vision for the future. The subjects of this film hope the reintroduction of a next generation tram conductor will not only right a wrong from the past but will help stem the rising tide of civil unrest as our community travels into an increasingly uncertain future.
Ten years ago Phillip Donnellon approached former tram conductors Paul Bateman and Roberto D’Andrea to help make a short film about the tram travelling community’s sadness over the removal of the connies. That film, Return Trip went on to play at the Melbourne International Film Festival and led to the making of another pro-connie short film two years later called Alouette. Along the way this small collective has grown gathering the support of corporate sponsors such as Dattner Grant, The Alliance Francaise and Crumpler Bags to help with the filmmaking process while numerous local councils such as the City of Port Phillip, Darebin and Hume have supported the former connies to protect them from falling off the critically endangered species list.
The inception of Bring’Em Back! the documentary came five years ago when Donnellon was undertaking research with a view to making a dramatic “Connie” feature film. He found that while he was enjoying the scriptwriting process he was enjoying more the company of the characters he was meeting during the developmental process. Following some timely advice from mentor Jan Sardi, Donnellon began taking not only his camera to his meetings with the trammies but also his tripod and a proper microphone.
Over the course of the past five years, in addition to his meetings Donnellon has been handed boxes of personal archives by trammies he’s both met and got to know as well as from trammies who he’d never met before; Boxes of VHS tapes, cassette tapes, photographs and memoirs. Donnellon has also dressed as a tram conductor and followed the connies performance troupe around various festivals, where while dressed as a connie, ex-conductors, many featured in Bring’Em Back! have made an approach and expressed their interest in telling their connie stories.
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