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14th July, 2011
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 14th July 2011

Melbourne filmmaker Genevieve Bailey gives Giorgi a video lesson in Bulgaria!  Photo by Henrik Nordstrom.

Kids in Kerala, India - all photos by Genevieve Bailey and Henrik Nordstrom.

11-yr old Billy gets a laugh - London, UK.

Left - Goh,  in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

11-yr old Jamira has aboriginal lineage and lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Once in a while The Design Files deviates slightly from the prescribed 'design' focus... bear with me :)

Many moons ago I studied film making, amongst other things... and during that time I knew and worked with a talented and incredibly driven young film maker named Genevieve Bailey.  Inbetween juggling many other film projects, Gen has been passionately plugging away for the past 5 years on one very special project in particular.  This project has taken her on a self-funded film making mission across the globe - from India to Morocco, Bangkok to Amsterdam, from New York City to her hometown of Melbourne.  The result is I AM ELEVEN - a truly beautiful independent feature film, which premieres this month at the Melbourne International Film Festival!  What an incredible achievement.

I Am Eleven - trailer from I am Eleven on Vimeo. If you subscribe to these posts by email just click through to see the trailer online!  Directed by Genevieve Bailey, incredible music by Nick Huggins.

I URGE you to watch the trailer (above), after which you will be completely compelled to see the movie in full!  (I was!).  I AM ELEVEN is screening twice as part of MIFF - and those tickets won't last long people!  Info and ticket sales HERE.

Genevieve has been interviewed to death this week but LUCKILY for us, she squeezed in a few more questions about her experience making this extraordinary movie.  Thanks so much Gen!  Here goes -

what inspired the concept for 'I am Eleven'?

I AM ELEVEN's genesis was the result of several factors.  I have been inspired by many other films - the  Seven Up series, To Be and To Have and in particular, Spellbound for its brilliant use of close ups and its eccentric, charming and focused characters. I wanted to produce a film that would energise audiences in the same way Spellbound did; giving insight into the lives and ideas of children on the cusp of adolescence around the world. I had so much confidence in this premise that I set off around the world with a new video camera and a lot of faith.

As a Melbourne filmmaker about to leave Australian shores for the first time, I wanted to create a project that forced me to work in every city I went to. I am obsessed with making films and challenging myself creatively. I was teaching film and video at two Universities in Melbourne, and working on the news desk at a major newspaper.  I felt overwhelmed by the amount of bad news that seems to dominate the media-sphere.  I wondered what it must be like to be an 11-year-old in today's world, with so much more access to information - internet-enabled, tele-connected, media-savvy. Are they as optimistic, blissful, carefree, and perhaps naïve as I once was?

My first stop was Tokyo, and everything I had imagined this film could be started to present itself.   From them on I have not looked back, shooting across 15 countries in 12 languages, exploring the world today through the eyes of those who will inherit it.  5 years later we are set to release this refreshingly optimistic and energetic cross-platform project.  I cannot wait to share their stories on screen with audiences internationally.

How long has is taken to make this film?

I started shooting I AM ELEVEN in September 2005. I spent a few months away every year shooting around the world.

Post production was a lengthy, challenging and exciting process, seeing footage from 15 countries spoken in 12 languages come together and shaped in to a 95 min feature. I edited the film myself and cut out so many scenes I loved but it has to be done, doesn’t it?!  I am excited that our online platform - which offers a space for even more kids to be included. We are also really excited about inviting kids from around the world to submit their own content to the site in our next stage of development.

Rather than ask one designer to create the whole look for the online platform, we invited a range of designers (from graphic to fashion backgrounds) to contribute a page for each individual child. For example Dana Lenko saw footage of Billy from the UK, and created his gorgeous colourful profile page.

I AM ELEVEN Profile page of Billy, London, by Melbourne designer Dana Lenko

We have more kids pages going up in coming months, and would love to invite any interested designers to contact us about collaboration - ATTENTION graphic designers and illustrators!  Do get in touch with Genevieve if you're interested in being involved!  - Lucy

What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?

I hope the audiences takes away a number of things from I AM ELEVEN. I set out to make a universal film that was insightful, creative, colourful, energetic, honest and optimistic. I love being energised and inspired by a great documentary and I feel the children in I AM ELEVEN have the capacity to really engage and charm audiences through their honest and unclouded thoughts on our world. I love the resilience they show, the willingness to express themselves without worrying if it sounds ‘right’ or ‘cool.’ I love that the kids welcome us in to their world and that their ‘blinkers’ are off.

I have always been a curious person and been interested in cultural difference. I hope I AM ELEVEN encourages children and adults of all ages to be inspired and intrigued by our differences rather than fearing the unknown. I want to empower children’s voices, encourage them to be heard. I have many aspirations and goals for the I AM ELEVEN project, and I cannot wait to share it with audiences around the world.

What have been the most significant challenges for you in making this film?

This is a tricky one to answer, because I would like to avoid the obvious angle that most filmmakers would lament over, the lack of finance and struggle to produce without funding… I have embraced every creative challenge along the way, because I think these challenges can make me a better filmmaker. I have worked hard because I really want to, not because I had someone telling me to. I guess that is what makes us independent filmmakers  a funny breed, our craft is an addiction we are drawn to regardless of the barriers in our way. I’ve guess I have become a good hurdler, which is funny because I was great at hurdles when I was 11.

Kids in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

What's next for Genevieve Bailey?

My partner in crime and co-producer Henrik Nordstrom and I will be very busy with the premiere of the film here and then internationally. I have a number of projects in development that I am really excited about including a feature and new documentary.  My passion for music videos and the awesome Melbourne artists I am in love with right now such as Oscar + Martin means I will be able to create some more clips soon which will be fun. I love everything Melbourne artist run label Two Bright Lakes put out. Music producer Nick Huggins wrote the soundtrack for I AM ELEVEN and I think everything he touches turns to gold! And I want to start learning drums and start writing my first rap album I have been joking about doing with Henrik! Exploring the world through the eyes of 11 year-olds for over 5 years has been great in that I feel really energised by each and every one of them. They remind me to dream big and smile along the way.

I AM ELEVEN screens as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival on Saturday July 23rd at ACMI, and again on Tuesday August 2nd at Greater Union Cinema in Melbourne.  Tickets here.

Genevieve and one of her 11-yr olds, Jamira in Melbourne!

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email