Family Rules is an up close and personal series that gives an exclusive insight into modern Indigenous family life through the eyes of nine sisters and their mother. The girls try and navigate their way though adolescence and adulthood as their mother, Daniella, tries to teach them life lessons. You can catch all six episodes at SBS On Demand but of course - When the camera's are turned off there's bound to be insider stories too good not to be shared.
The behind the screen legends we have to thank, not only for the production, but for spilling the beans on their favourite off-scene snippets are Noongar woman Karla Hart, who is the Co-Executive Producer and Field Director on ‘Family Rules’. Executive Producer Renee Kennedy who is an award-winning producer of factual and documentary content. And of course, A filmmaker with more than 20 years’ experience in telling Indigenous stories, Gillian Moody who is the Series Producer.
We decided to start production with a 'test shoot day’ before our official first day of filming on Survival / Australia Day 2015. Aleisha, the third youngest sister and the star of episode one, was going shopping for her ball dress, so we thought that this would be a simple shoot to ease our crew and the family into filming. So off we went to the dress shop, with two camera operators and sound recordists. Aleisha, her friend, Daniella and four other sisters soon joined us! It became so challenging to squeeze everyone into the small space that our sound recordist had to hide in the dressing room and record sound from there! Incidentally this dress shop was used in episode one - so much for easing yourself into filming.
Family Rules is ‘real-life’ TV - we observed the family-members going about their everyday lives so this meant that the crew had to remain flexible. Our crew’s daily ‘calls’ constantly changed. For example, crew A would be scheduled to film with Daniella and the younger girls at their home and crew B would be scheduled to film with Angela and Shenika at the shops. Then suddenly Helen would arrive unannounced at Daniella’s with Amalia and baby, John, Shenika and Angela (with their children) would decide to stop by Daniella’s after they completed their shopping. The family is like magnet - if they get too far from each other their attractive energy pulls draws them back again. Anyway, this often meant that our crews, each comprised of about three or four people - would be squashed into Daniella's household with 10 women and five grandchildren! The camera operators would constantly need to maneuver around each other so they weren’t crossing each other’s lines and the sound recordist would often be hiding behind furniture of in other rooms so that they were out of shot! It was ‘Beautiful Chaos’ and although a little stressful at times, it was always fun!
Laugh Out Loud
The Rule family is hilarious and they often use humor to diffuse difficult, tense and often sad moments. Our crew had to learn ways to hold back their laughter because so many moments were just hysterical. The pray scene in episode three when Nan Doreen demands that they say a prayer before they leave for Badjaling or the ’Stick Legs’ moment in episode five between Shenika and Daniella. Believe us when we tell you that it was very, very difficult to hold back the laughter at times.
Rule Family Takeover
In episode six, the Rule family returns to Norseman, in their father’s Nagju country. Norseman is about 720km south east of Perth; about an eight-hour drive. To get all the family members, their children and Nan Doreen plus 10 crew members there, we needed five vehicles. The cars needed to travel in convoy as we were filming the journey and each had to be equipped with walkie-talkies so that we could keep in contact and relay logistical information to each other. It didn’t take long before the Rule family hijacked the walkie-talkies, and to keep everyone amused on the long drive, started to give orders for endless coffee breaks and “kaka” stops when their babies needed nappy changes. Our first day of travelling was from Perth to Kalgoorlie and instead of the drive taking 6.5 hours it took our convoy 10 because of the number of times we needed to stop! The drive took a lot out of the family and crew so needless to say that the ‘walkie-talkie’ fun and the number of stops dropped off considerably the next day when we drove from Kalgoorlie to Norseman.
Family Rules airs tonight on NITV Ch.34 @ 7:30pm
You can check out all the episodes at SBS On Demand