Year 12 student Lawson Green, from St Mary’s Catholic Collge, was one of the animators for the digital movie

August 5, 2022

Blackbutt artist and author Janet Skinner has brought her “Janagatha” illustrated children’s story to the big screen thanks to a unique partnership between local artists and a videographer.

Tina Torrens, from Torkit Business Solutions, joined with Saint Mary’s Catholic College art student Lawson Green and Nanango artist David White (the man behind Nanango Showground’s bull statue) to bring to life the story of two orphan children, Annabelle and Andrew, and their Janagatha dogs.

The story is set in 1806 England. The grimy poverty of the era is leavened with whimsical magic provided by a wizard and wizardess and the children’s dreams of one day moving to Australia.

The 70-minute movie made its debut recently before a packed house at the Kingaroy Cinema.

Tina filmed Janet at her home reading her book in front of a green screen.

This allowed Janet’s paintings – which illustrate the first book in her Janagatha series – to come to life around her thanks to the animation by Tina, Lawson and David.

Unfortunately Janet, who has multiple sclerosis, was not well enough to attend the premiere but a bunch of art students from St Mary’s Catholic College plus other invited guests filled the cinema for the occasion.

The students have been doing digital art at school which sparked Lawson’s interest in the project.

Attendees at the opening had the opportunity of winning a lucky door prize – one of Janet’s original paintings valued at $950 – and receive a full set of Janet’s three illustrated Janagatha storybooks.

Tina told that the project had taken about 10 months to complete.

It was filmed in short stints because of Janet’s health and Tina controlled the cameras at a distance to minimise risks during the pandemic.

“It’s been a great journey,” Tina said.

Speaking later, Janet said the paintings in the book had taken three years to do, and it had taken two years to write.

She has now completed three books: “Janagatha – The Australian Dog” (the book that was filmed), “Janagatha and the Family Tree” and “Janagatha and the Kosciusko Wizards”.

“There are 68 illustrations in each book,” Janet said.

She had another three books in the series “roughed out” which she hoped to complete one day but at the moment she was concentrating on preparing for the opening of her new gallery in Blackbutt early next year.

Blackbutt artist and author Janet Skinner reading in isolation in front of the green screen (Photo: Tina Torrens)
At the premiere … Kingaroy Cinema’s Lisa Wilson, who donated the cinema space for the premiere, video producer Tina Torrens and St Mary’s Catholic College art teacher Bronwyn Martoo
Four of the Year 12 SMCC students who cam along for the premiere … Teagan O’Sullivan, Bella Hams, Ally Kemp and Molly Anderson
Lawson Green interviews Wondai Art Gallery curator Elaine Madill for a video about the premiere

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