Forged from Fire – the documentary

We need your support to finish our film. We’re producing a broadcast length documentary that tells the story of The Blacksmiths’ Tree and what is means to Black Saturday fire affected communities and beyond. Thousands of people helped to bring the Blacksmiths’ Tree into the world. Some of those folks are contributing to our film.

Why do we need financial support?

Pretty much the entire film has been shot. We have around 35-40 hours of footage, countless stills and videos donated by blacksmiths, professional and amateur filmmakers and photographers. We now need to assemble this material into an hour length story. Doing so, and doing so at the highest quality we can muster will ensure Forged from Fire can be seen on both small and big screens everywhere and anywhere. We also want to pay our team of local producers, technicians, composers and musicians who up until now have volunteered their time and expertise.

We need to raise $70,000 to make this happen and we’re doing so with the assistance of the Documentary Australia Foundation.

You can support Forged from Fire by sharing this article, by organising local screenings when we’ve completed our film or by contributing to our fund raising efforts with the Documentary Australia Foundation. Pledge your support here.

Forged from Fire is produced by film-makers, artists, musicians and volunteers from Black Saturday fire affected communities.


Screening at Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

The exhibiting documentary version of OUR TREE – Forged from Fire premiered at the 2014 Human Rights Arts & Film Festival. The season opened Saturday 10 May at 6pm at the Big Screen, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Amanda Gibson and Andrew Garton at Federation Square, launch of the exhibiting documentary. Photo by Kerry Cross
Amanda Gibson and Andrew Garton at Federation Square, launch of the exhibiting documentary. Photo by Kerry Cross

For more information about our screening events at HRAFF here’s our catalogue entry.

Our Tree in the making

It’s been around three months since I’ve received photos and videos from Our Tree project contributors. At last count 708 individual photos and a handful of videos, mostly from the 30 November 2013 public unveiling of The Tree, have been sent through.

With The Tree being prepared for its life in the open I took the opportunity to shoot some additional interviews and as much detail of The Tree as possible. This I was able to achieve the Our Tree’s Director of Photography, Mike Wilkson. Mike was keen to work with me after seeing The Tree at the Whittlesea Showgrounds. We’ve literally forged a unique collaboration that will see us work together for this and I suspect many other projects to come.

Mike shot some of the loveliest detail you will see of The Tree using both 50mm and 100mm lenses and a Cineslider.

Detail of copper and stainless steel foliage.
Detail of copper and stainless steel foliage.
Detail of one of the branches.
Detail of one of the branches.

A couple of weeks ago I was grateful to have been given a box of mini-DV tapes, footage shot by local film-maker Warwick Page, covering the around the first two years of The Blacksmith’s Tree in the making.

Ten tapes all up, eight of which could be viewed and digitized. An unusual error prevented me from seeing two of these tapes. In spite of that, there’s 127 gigabytes of video to work with.

There’s video covering the first public events blacksmith’s held in St Andrews, Hilderbrand Road and Eltham. Including the first meetings with engineers and interviews with key personnel and the individuals from Black Saturday fire affected communities.

Doug Tarrent, St Andrews, 2009.
Doug Tarrent, St Andrews, 2009. Courtesy Warwick Page.

I’m currently working on an Our Tree 10 minute micro-doc which will comprise one of three video channels for exhibition. With a core team now working with me, including emerging producer Laura Emerick, and colleagues at the City of Whittlesea, Dunmoochin and The Tree Project itself, I’m hoping the micro-doc will be a precursor to a full length documentary covering both the local and international stories that have given life to The Blacksmith’s Tree.

Andrew Garton

Aerial shots

At the public unveiling of The Blacksmith’s Tree we had two aerial cameras available. Here’s a sample of stills from that day.

i-Drone's Brett preparing his rig to shoot flyovers of The Tree.
i-Drone’s Brett preparing his rig to shoot flyovers of The Tree.


Photo by Brett Chilton (courtesy i-Drone)
Photo by Brett Chilton (courtesy i-Drone)


Placing The Tree onto the Whittlesea Showgrounds.
Placing The Tree onto the Whittlesea Showgrounds.


Courtesy of Brett Chilton, i-Drone.

How to get involved

Hi! I’m Andrew Garton, a community media arts producer, and I’m producing a unique documentary about The Blacksmith’s Tree Project with the good folks at the City of Whittlesea and The Dunmoochin Foundation.

The documentary is made by us, by those of us who have been involved in The Tree Project, either directly or indirectly. You can be involved in this participatory documentary project by sharing the photos and videos you may have taken at any stage of the creation of The Tree Project, in particular the public unveiling of the completed Blacksmith’s Tree on Saturday 30 November 2013.

Tree Project Launch

You may have used a smart phone… That’s acceptable. You can email your photos to me, publish them online (e.g. Instagram, Flickr) using the hashtag #ourtreedoco, or share you files here.

What we’re looking for?

We’re looking for your personal interactions with The Tree. We’re also interested in what you have to say about it too.

What will happen to your photos and videos?

We can’t promise that everything you send us is will end up in the final work, but we should have at least something from everyone compiled into public exhibition of video and sound.

All photos and videos submitted to the project will only be used for Our Tree which will be screened in public, within galleries and available on the Internet.

As The Blacksmith’s Tree was made collectively so too is Our Tree. We can tell the story about how it was made through the eyes of all who had recorded the many facets of its creation.

Share your files now.

…tells the story of how an Australian and international community of blacksmiths, welders, artists and volunteers responded to the devastating Black Saturday bush-fires by creating perhaps the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – a three tonne, 9.8 meter tall stainless steel and copper gum tree – The Blacksmiths' Tree.