The goal for me in sharing this story is to give the viewers a glimpse into the unique story telling method 'WE', Indigenous Peoples, use in the Northern Territory/ Australia to teach the younger generation.

Interview Justin Rhys Grant

A PIECE OF US

My name is Justin Rhys Grant I am a Walrpiri/ Jawoyn man and a film director. I began my career in the film industry 11 years ago. Initially as an actor with a Diploma of Theatre Arts from Victoria University; I then went on as a writer and progressed into completing my Masters of Film and T.V. also at Victoria University. I graduated in 2018 with Honour Marks and won special Recognition Award for my graduating film – A Piece of Us. I was also nominated for a Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts Award in 2013 for Dingoes Baby which I acted in. I was born in Katherine – NT and grew up listening to my Elders sharing with me their dream time stories from a young age. They always taught me that a story is gifted to you and you must honour it’s life and respect it as a gift to you in your life journey. I am now a story teller for Film and T.V.; currently I’m working on five short films in Adelaide and a music video clip in Melbourne. I have started my own company called Witchenini Entertainment. Within this company we offer Indigenous protocol training for all staff in order to gather and collect traditional stories in the right way, following the lore of communities. We hold high the cultural protocols and respect for each and every Indigenous People treating them as individuals.

What did inspire you to talk about those feelings?

A Piece of Us is inspired by the real-life events of loss in my family. After losing my cousin to suicide I felt angry and sad. I went to myself as ‘poor me poor me’. It wasn’t until I lost my second third cousin, she was 12 years old and passed from cancer, that I realised my grief is nothing compared to a mother and father losing their child.
A little piece of them fading away in front of their very eyes. I realised I don’t have that feeling – of having and losing my own child – but the thought of losing them scared me. So, I wrote this story with the thought of losing a child as it is a connection we all share; black and white people alike, no matter what colour our skin is we all have the same colour heart.

How did you feel directing this movie?  

The feeling of directing this movie would be one of honour and trust in my crew to find their connections to the story in order to come together to paint this picture.

Films that inspire you to become a filmmaker?

I never thought I would become a filmmaker, I just wanted to learn how films worked so I could be a better actor. It came as a surprise to me that people liked my film. But the films that inspired me to become a filmmaker was the films I saw at my first film festival viewing. I saw them and thought I could do it with a different perspective, because of my Aboriginal Heritage that made me a storyteller, and here I am just telling a story with different insights than the ones I have seen.

Any future plans to tell us about? 

I wrote my first ever film which turned out to be a feature film. It’s about my nan and pop falling in love; see, my pop is from England and my nan is Aboriginal and they met during a time of severe racism in Australia, but they fell in love and survived together.  This would be my dream project to get up and running to honour the recent passing of my grandfather.