Welcome to the LAWS On Trial Blog

Below is a synopsis of our first newsletter sent out to supporters in January, 2022:

Here are the major developments in point form:

  • LAWS wins 1 of 4 spots at AIDC Doc.Labs Workshop
  • Co-producer and editor signs on
  • Documentary Approach

LAWS wins 1 of 4 spots at AIDC Interactive Doc.Labs Workshop

Lethal Autonomous Weapons on Trial: The Future is in Your Hands has been selected to join world-class creative studio ANAGRAM (UK) and three other selected program teams in developing a blueprint for a new non-linear or interactive work at the Australian International Documentary Conference on March 6 this year.
During the immersive storytelling lab with world class creative studio Anagram (UK), documentary filmmakers will present an initial concept, how they would like to develop their idea in non-linear storytelling and work with Anagram to create a blueprint which becomes their roadmap of how to successfully develop their projects in this space. Anagram will provide guidance and workshop how to successfully translate their content into a non-linear or interactive medium, whether that is through VR experiences, gamification, immersive experiences or other innovative forms.

What does this do for us?

This opportunity allows us to gain development funding, which is crucial to getting us off the ground. It will allow us to be showcased to major streaming and interactive broadcasters, which is crucial to our cause. And, of course, it will help us translate this project into a successful audience experience.

Why interactive documentary?

I strongly believe that interactive narratives circumvent the emotional chasm that develops between traditional well-intentioned call-to-action films and the audience (leading to a loss in potential action). I have practiced, researched and published on transmedia and audience engagement as an academic researcher (I can send you a couple of papers – please ask if you’re interested in reading). Informed by the Kino-automat (the world’s first interactive movie, screened at the Czechoslovak Pavilion at the Montreal World Expo ‘67) the audience-as-jury engage as stakeholders in the narrative, allowing them the unequalled opportunity to deliberate on and influence the course of justice, and the future.

The intention is to use “Dark Design,” i.e. using darkness as an “antidote to naïve, techno-utopian narratives”, to engender critical debate and potentially action towards designing responsible and ethical “automated” futures. Driven by optimism and idealism, “Dark Design,” makes it possible for us (humans and in our case, the audience) to believe we can think our way out of trouble with design as an active accomplice – all is not hopeless.

Importantly, the data gathered from the audience participation can serve to indicate levels of public awareness and public opinion of the implications of the engagement of lethal autonomous weapons by Australian and international militaries.

Bobbi-Lea Dionisius joins the fray as co-producer and editor

I am delighted to welcome Bobbi-Lea as a co-producer and editor of the production. I have had the pleasure of working on her documentary on women’s health and on the Flying Arts project. She is the newly minted president of Women in Film & Television Australia’s Queensland chapter. WIFT is a Not-For-Profit organisation dedicated to achieving gender equality in the Australian screen industry through research, advocacy, education, and support for female-identifying screen industry practitioners. She knows her stuff. Here is her bio:

“I deliver health/science space and social issue factual content.

I was the first Australian to be awarded the John Darling Fellowship and spent 7 weeks in Indonesia, working with the impact media NGO, EngageMedia to assist my research in impact producing. I have been an SQhub recipient for the past two years with Screen Queensland.

My industry credits include the roles: Producer of Marketing and Distribution for Peter Hegedus’ award-winning theatrical feature documentary ‘Lili’, Producer of Marketing and Distribution for Jaina Kalifa’s award-winning broadcast documentary ‘Happy Android’, Production Manager for Trish Lake’s theatrical feature documentary ‘Love Opera’, and Editor for the broadcast documentary T’he Ability Trek’.

I am a Griffith Film School Alumni, specialising in Documentary and Impact Producing, and was awarded the LiveLab Award for Academic Excellence.  Bobbi-Lea also works at the Griffith Film School and LiveLab as a sessional supervisor for student projects.”

Current projects include producing and directing an impact documentary on women’s health and producing a broadcast documentary and 360-VR short film recreating a moment in time during the Holocaust, as well as project managing a 360 immersive art project for The Flying Arts organisation.

Documentary Approach

Like many contemporary documentarians, I work collaboratively with participants. Drawing on my years as a researcher, I will meet with participants on Zoom or in person to talk over the project and take notes about talking points we think are relevant. Participants will be asked to sign a release form. Then, we will film the interview. My technique is collaborative, it will be loosely scripted with the opportunity to explore new topics that may come into consideration during our conversation. I will make a few different photographic portraits of participants. I will supply each participant with a transcript of their interview so they can suggest changes and if there are any clarifications that need to be made. This means that I may be visiting again. I want to get this right.

Heather Faulkner 

writer/director/co-producer

Technology is not neutral. We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us. We’re living in a world of connections – and it matters which ones get made and unmade.
Donna Harraway
A Cyborg Manifesto, 1985

Links to information on Lethal Autonomous Weapons: