Amissa Anima is set in 1980’s St Kilda, Australia, when a network of paedophiles preyed on street kids as young as 10 years old.

The characters are fictional but based on true events and the writers’ personal experiences.

This occurred worldwide and took place before child protection laws and awareness were as strong as they are today. (See the 1981 German film Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo). It is still a major crime today, but manifests differently with technology.

David Markin and Tatiana Doroshenko grew up together in St Kilda, they are close to this story, witnessing the long-term effects of child-abuse and neglect across generations. This project is a voice for those silenced by shame, ignorance and pain.

We aimed to give a humanity and authenticity to these stories and crimes that is difficult to access via mainstream media. The historical content and sensitive subject matter called for a classical, black and white visual execution and who better to achieve this than the highly experience veteran cinematographer Ellery Ryan. Ellery and the more experienced amongst us mentored young and emerging crew and actors, many have since spring boarded their careers from this project.

Making this film has been a long emotional journey, an ordeal but greatly rewarding. It was difficult to make on many fronts not only due the production restrictions imposed by working with children on the difficult subject of the exploitation of vulnerable children living on the streets, but also the personal connection to the subject for the creators.

Thanks to a formidable team of committed, generous and wonderful people who believed in it and stuck with us to the end we 'made it'. A special mention to the City of Port Phillip who endorsed it. A lot of hearts went into its making so hopefully, some of that will reach our audiences.

Director's Statement
Background and story development

The story treatment was written by David Markin. He showed it to Tatiana and she was shaken and moved as it solved mysteries haunting her since her teens, and it was simply a great story, so they set off on a journey to co-write the screenplay.  Tatiana and David worked intensely together to evolve the story and screen vision, strengthening plot, and finding the right places for David to write further dialogue. Tatiana adding her signature touch like the psychological hallucinations and finding the kids home under the jetty.  

After a first draft, script editor Charlie Carman helped trigger the writers to bring the character dynamics to the fore. Tatiana and David drew on their memories, working through tears at times, next to the thrills of watching a smashing script come to life, such is the rocky road of storytelling. It was an intensive and rare collaborative experience; both say it was like they were 'as one' as they wrote. 

The locations were scouted at the script stage, one of Tatiana's favourite parts of filmmaking.  A look and feel image sequence was created, very easy to do as we had all of the City of Port Phillip to play with, having grown up there, we know its secrets.  Once we had a strong script to pitch we developed a pitching video to crowd fund. We tested the cinematic style and locations in the video: a mention here to the fine work of make-up artist Ale de la Rosa, the moving performance by her son, and the great work of DOP David Williams.  

Tatiana enticed old movie pal Katrina Mathers to produce the film, they’d worked together when Katrina acted in a related 1980’s story at the same toilet block location 13 years earlier; multimedia drama ’Shot’. Then, thanks to an introduction by Ale at the St Kilda Film Festival, Tatiana met Bernie Clifford and he said yes to coming on board as an additional producer, and the rest is history.

The historical content and sensitive subject matter called for a classical, black and white execution and who better to achieve this than experienced veteran cinematographer Ellery Ryan. Tatiana worked closely with Ellery to realise the cinematic vision and artistic style, both had the same ideas and creative vision for it so it was a remarkably seamless collaboration. In pre-production, David advised the art department on details of costume and tattoo design and led the hunt for the child cast.  David's and Tatiana's choices for auditionees aligned easily and the final casting decisions had a 100% agreement, including the producers. 

The adult-themed material with a lead child cast, meant we had to work with the child employment office on every aspect of the script, and that also meant sections of the script that were contained in the original version of the screenplay (which had attracted some screenplay awards prior to filming), had to be edited or removed. It was a difficult and painful process but we’re so grateful to our associate producer Julian Pocock for his support on so many levels, and to our cast and crew, for their incredible flexibility to help bring the story to life. And a special thanks to Libby Thomas, Brendan Campbell and Tristan Barr who helped with fundraising and publicity.