Unique TV show shines a light on ability

Published 11:00am 26 September 2023

Unique TV show shines a light on ability
Words by Jodie Powell

A short documentary taking viewers behind the scenes of a revolutionary television show is a finalist in an international film festival.

Launched two years ago, Redcliffe-based ROPE TV delivers community stories, interviews and news each month.

It’s hosted by participants from ROPE, which provides support, education and life skills training to people living with intellectual disabilities.

Trending Media Australia, which produces ROPE TV, entered the documentary about the initiative into this year’s Focus on Ability Short Film Festival, which challenges film makers to ‘focus on the ability’ of people living with a disability.

Co-founder and director Jesse Ellis says creating AbiliTV was an important opportunity to showcase ROPE TV.

“The concept when (ROPE CEO) Wes Bleakley came to us was a short series of showcase videos,” Jesse says.

“We said ‘why don’t you look beyond that?’.”

Creating opportunities

ROPE TV launched in August 2021, with each episode hosted by ROPE participants introducing segments from ROPE reporters highlighting activities and programs and Trending Media Australia co-founder and director Aaron Lucas says it’s broadened its focus in the past two years.

“The first year of ROPE TV was all about the amazing things ROPE participants do, and now we look at all the good things in the community,” Aaron says.

“ We spend time sourcing opportunities and film the segments over a few months and then once a month we get them together and film the linking segments.”

ROPE CEO Wes Bleakley says the opportunities created by ROPE TV are unique, giving people living with disability the chance to host a television show and work in the media.

“From what we understand there’s nothing like this in the disability sector in Australia,” he says.

“I think when we say to people ‘we have a Rope TV program’ a lot of them think it’s one of our support staff or me sitting there on an iPhone filming it and making some casual thing.

Showcasing community

Unique TV show shines a light on ability

“But once they jump on and have a look, the look of amazement and shock on their faces is something really incredible.

“There’s nothing like it in Australia - it’s not just about disability – it can be about anything in the community,” he says.

“It’s a community-based process, which is awesome.”

Regular hosts Ashleigh Pickering and Cale Buzza are joined by roving reporter Brandon Johns and have interviewed a diverse range of people, including Broncos legend Petero Civoniceva, National Disability Insurance Scheme Minister Bill Shorten, Redcliffe State MP Yvette D’Ath, City of Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Flannery and ABC Radio host Loretta Ryan.

Behind the scenes

Unique TV show shines a light on ability

Ashleigh says she’s really proud of how the program has evolved since its inception.

“It’s a ground-breaking show that’s giving people like Cale and I the opportunity to be on TV while also showcasing some really great people and organisations,” she says.

Brandon says he loves going the extra mile for the show and has overcome initial nerves to settle into his role as a roving reporter.

“I like interviewing and going to different places, including the time I went to the Ekka – well, behind the scenes at the Ekka - and I’ve been to Sea Life and even a jobs expo,” Brandon explains.

“I got to swim with seals at one point – it was a bit chilly and I was like ‘brrr’.

“But anything for TV, as they say, so even if it results in me being a bit chilly.”

Variety of talent

Unique TV show shines a light on ability

Cale says even his mum’s been involved, filming a segment as part of the AbiliTV documentary.

“Mum got interviewed – she was explaining my disability – and I was filmed from when I got up in the morning.”

He enjoys meeting a variety of people in his role as co-host and says it’s been fascinating to watch ROPE TV’s evolution.

“I think it’s amazing – I’ve got to meet some well-known people.

“I went to the Day for Daniel and met his parents – they were really nice.

“As the years go by, I can see (ROPE TV) getting a lot more interesting.”

The winners of the Focus on Ability Short Film Festival will be announced on November 5.

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