A Merimbula Lake oyster farm is the setting for a documentary showing the effects of climate change on a local family business.While people’s eyes may glaze over at talk of climate change, film-maker Kim Beamish is hoping a film about its effects on a Merimbula oyster-farming family might wake them up, writes GLEN HUMPHRIESFor a long while now theMerimbula oyster-farmingfamily of the Boytons have had cameras following them around.
Nanjing Night Net

Dom Boyton and his family agreed to feature in a documentary by long-time friend and film-maker Kim Beamish.

The reason? They’re the focus of a climate change documentary being made by a longtime family friend Kim Beamish.

Dom and Pip Boyton are second-generation oyster farmers, running Merimbula Gourmet Oysters.

Film-maker Kim Beamish tapped his friend Dom Boyton on the shoulder to appear in a film about climate change.

They and their two sonSol and Eddie will also see themselves on the big screen sometime soon once Beamish finishes filming and editing.

Beamish is an award-winning Canberra-based film-maker but every six weeks he has been heading south to Merimbula with his cameras to film the Boytons at work.

Pip and Dom Boyton checking on their oysters in Merimbula Lake.

Beamish said the film –dubbed Oyster –was planned to be part of a bigger project. But once he realised he wasn’t going to be able to pull that off, he focused on his old mate Dom.

“I grew up with Dominic, our familiesare very close,” Beamish said.

“So I used to spend the school holidaysdown there in Merimbula. We’ve known each other all ourlives.”

Sacks of oysters from the Boyton family’s farm bound for restaurants on the South Coast and in Sydney.

But he still needed to make sure his friend would be okay with having someone with a camera following them around for days on end.

“I was in Egypt workingon my last projectbut I knewI was returningso Igave Dom a call and told him whatI wanted to do,” Beamish said.

“I told him that it would mean thatI’d spend a lot of timewith him up close and personal with my camera.

“He was fine with that and the Boyton familyhave been so goodin allowingme to be there aroundgood and and indifferenttimes, things that people possiblydon’talways want cameras to be involvedin.”

Beamish says trust is a crucial component when making a film like Oyster, and he had it with Dom and Pip and the family because he’d known them for ages.

But sometimes, maybe, there was too much trust. Enough to make the film-maker a bit self-conscious of what he was doing to his mate.

“I certainlyfeel the pressure of that trust and sometimes filming some of the things that go on, I feel a little awkward,” he says.

“And I won’t film everything – I knowmy limits and I’ve also said to them, ‘if it’s way too much tell me to bugger off’.

“Initially they told me to bugger off a lot, now they’re more relaxed and they know what I’m doing.”

At first glance, a film about oyster farmers seems a bit of a change of pace compared to Beamish’s previous films.

Before he started work on Oyster, Beamish was inEgypt working on The Tentmakers of Cairo-a documentary detailing the end of the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

That filmwon the2015 Margaret MeadFilmmaker Award as well as recognition at last year’sVisions du Reel in Switzerland.

He has also made a documentary about 24-year-old Australia Van Nyugen, who was hanged in Singapore for heroin trafficking.

But there’s more toOysterthan just the tale of a family farming a sea-grown delicacy on the South Coast.

For Beamish, the oyster farming is a different way to tell the story of climate change and how it is affecting the livelihood of one family.​

“Rather thanputting them out there with facts and figuresandscientists talking and all that kind of stuff, which people are starting to vague out over, we wanted to bring characters that were a bit more identifiable.

“So a family – a mum, dad and two kids – and how they’re directly impactedby these effects. Howthechanges in water temperature impactson the kinds of diseases that affect theoysters.

“And obviously massive death of the oysterscomes back to the family in terms of lost profits and wages.”

The Boytons feel strongly about addressing the issue of climate change as it is directly affecting their business.

“Agreeing to be in this documentary wasn’t something we took lightly,” PipBoyton told Fairfax Media.

“It does make us very vulnerable but I think the message outweighs the awkwardness.

“We need to focus on looking after our waterways, we live in a pristine environment and its our job to maintain it for future generations.”

Getting films made costs a lot of money, which is why Beamish has turned to crowd-funding site Kickstarter to raise $25,000 to help make Oyster.

“The money raisedis to match the offer that we’ve been given by Screen Australia,” Beamish says.

“They’ve essentially provided50 per cent of our funding, but that funding is based on the fact that we can raise the other 50 per cent.”

The Kickstarter effort is not the total amount of that 50 per cent and Beamish said, if the crowd-sourcing didn’t result in getting the funds then it wasn’t the end of the road.

He said there are other funding options that could be pursued tohelp getOysteron the big screen.

The Kickstarter page forOystercan be found by searching the site for “Oyster–its about protecting our waterways and estuaries”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.