Jacob shows shear truth

Jacob shows shear truth


AFTER growing up in a Mid North farming community, an aspiring filmmaker is endeavouring to rewrite the shearing industry's story.


Saddleworth-born filmmaker Jacob Sandor Tamas harbours hopes of clearing up misconceptions about the shearing industry, and so far, farming families across the state have rallied behind him.

A chef by trade and a self-taught filmmaking enthusiast by choice, Jacob elected not to take on a shearer's life despite "basically growing up in a shearing shed".

"A lot of my family and friends are shearers, and I think it is a very misrepresented industry," Jacob said.

"I want shearers to be recognised for more than they have been, because it is disappointing what they have dealt with throughout the years."

Initially Jacob planned to use documentary filmmaking to showcase the lives of SA's "hardworking farming families".

But a new desire to use the platform to remove "industry stigma" about the shearing sector has since been ignited.

"I want to change the way the industry is portrayed by other media outlets and organisations," he said.

"The industry has evolved throughout its history and it cannot be judged on footage of inexperienced shearers posted by an activist group many years ago.

"The wool industry is part of a rural community's backbone and the everyday living for most Australians - it is the coat on your back or a blanket, which is too often forgotten."

Jacob plans to evoke viewers' emotions and awareness by filming all parts of the shearing and wool industry, including training, shed work, sheep production and wool classing.

Farming families near Manoora, Burra and Marrabel have already jumped on board to feature in the documentary and Jacob has set his sights on producing "a fly on the wall" scenario for viewers.

"The whole concept is designed to show the inner workings of the industry that someone probably would not know unless they were involved in it," he said.

"It will basically follow a day in the life of a shearer at whichever stage they are at, whether it be training, building skills in the shed or a veteran shearer."

Jacob will also conduct face-to-face interviews with shearers and property owners after the filming is completed, as well as incorporate voice recordings collected throughout filming.

Holding plenty of admiration for shearers also pushed Jacob to pursue the idea of making a film.

"I thought, I have the camera, a bit of vision and a positive mindset about the industry to try and turn the negatives around," he said.

"Saddleworth is such a tight little community and it is run by farmers, I always felt a need to give back to the agriculture community for everything they have given us.

"Something as simple as making a video of someone's farm can cause so much positivity."

Individual shearers have also agreed to help out with the project and Jacob said all participants had willingness and eagerness to share their story.

"I am looking for female shearers too - there are so many in the sheds who are also breaking their back doing what they love," he said.

Saddleworth shearer Nick Long is one of the eager young shearers who put his hand up to help, and hoped his participation would change common, "inaccurate" industry perceptions.

"Sheds are not filled with people who mishandle animals and have bad lifestyles," he said.

"The industry is taken seriously by those who work within it and a lot of progress has been made within it."

Nick began shearing four years ago after his father, who is also a shearer, found him a position on a shearing team as a rouseabout.

"I took on an apprenticeship in the city beforehand, but I realised it was not for me and I wanted to be a shearer," he said.

"One day the team was down a shearer and I jumped on the shears and that's when I knew I wanted to do it as a career."

Nick said he hoped that by sharing his shearing career story, it would breakdown barriers for those who were unsure about entering it as a profession.

"It is a quality career and can set you up to help build a good life," he said.

"I hope the film can portray the importance of the industry too, because there is definitely a shortage of shearers."

Nick said the negative representation of shearing practices and culture was hurting the industry long-term.

"The negativity that surrounds it because of past practices and behaviour in the shed has really impacted its popularity," he said.

"There is a temptation, particularly for younger people, to go into other industries such as mining for a lot more money and less work.

"So hopefully when more people understand its value, it will regain popularity."

Despite shearers, such as Nick, being happy to be involved, Jacob said there had been some challenges gaining access into shearing sheds.

"People have been concerned that I am from an activist group because it seems not a lot of people are interested in showcasing the industry in a positive light," he said.

Jacob said there was also a sense of camaraderie among participants to help non-agricultural communities understand the industry better.

"Film is a digestible media, so it will really benefit those who are not involved in agriculture," he said.

RELATED READING: How shearing is delivering outback youths with life-changing skills

  • Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.

From the front page

Sponsored by