Advance screening of Australian mental health & suicide awareness documentary
Jye Currie’s name has popped up across Newcastle over the years, and if you’re even slightly interested in the Australian film industry, then it will be a name you’re well acquainted with.
Born and bred in Newcastle, Jye Currie has made quite the name for himself over the past few years. Having completed his Bachelor’s degree in 2019 and his Master’s in 2020 – Jye went on to found his film production company, Green Frog Productions in 2021 before directing two films, Victim and Beat, before recently releasing his third film project – The Promise.
The Promise is an adaptation of Hunter-based former ABC radio broadcaster and mental health advocate and speaker, Craig Hamilton, and his journey with bipolar disorder as outlined in his best-selling book Broken Open.
The groundbreaking documentary addresses an important topic and serious issue that affects many Australians through the lives of suicide survivors and families who have suffered the profound loss of loved ones.
The film’s full release is set for 2024, with Jye and Craig touring advance screenings across the country. For more advanced screenings, click here.
We caught up with Jye Currie to hear all about his passion for the film industry, what it was like working on such a serious topic for this project, and what exactly this local filmmaker has planned next.
What inspired you to get into the film industry?
I’ve always had a passion for photography, just visually loved the idea of chasing the shot.
I’ve also done heaps of travelling and I’ve always got a camera in my hand trying to take photos.
Eventually, that turned into film. My mates and I would muck around doing skits and funny videos and then that turned into drama short films. It just kept evolving into better short films. I took on Beat two years ago now, which has led me to this project, but it all stemmed from photography.
You’ve accomplished a lot in a short time. What do you attribute your success to over the last few years?
I get a little bit obsessive over my version of a bucket list. I want to have this list of things that I’ve done. Every year when I turn another year older, I start panicking and think have I done enough? Just knowing that keeps driving me to stay up late, get up early, and just keep going.
How did The Promise come about?
I heard about Craig’s story quite some time ago. I’ve read his book, Broken Open which is a four-time bestseller. Just knowing Craig is from Newcastle and I was aware of the work he was doing in the mental health realm.
I remember when he first went through what he went through, he realised that not a lot of people were talking about it, and he wanted to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
That made me look at my own industry and I realised there weren’t really any suicide prevention documentaries done. There are no real stories, people sitting down who have lost loved ones, who have survived suicide attempts – none of that.
So, Craig and I got together and made the short documentary, One Conversation last year, and people wanted more. We were talking to businesses and people in the medical world, and everyone just started saying there needs to be more of this, there needs to be something bigger.
We put together a proposal and a budget and started sending it out. I went traveling and was about four months into a backpacking trip, just having Zoom meetings while I was overseas.
Craig called me, and I’ll never forget how he answered, he said, “You’ve gotta come home mate. You’ve got a movie to make!”
I was home within two weeks and we started making it.
Do you have a personal attachment to the conversation around mental health and suicide prevention?
I know people in my life who have struggled and that’s as close as it is for me. But I think understanding this topic more and through making this movie, I think everyone knows someone who has had their own struggles or been in the firing line from it.
There were some hard days on set, just supporting the crew and everyone and making sure they knew we had the resources and support there for the crew and everyone on board who was making it.
It just blows my mind; I don’t know why something like this hasn’t been done before. I don’t know if people haven’t been game to talk, or if people haven’t been game to take on the project or if they’ve tried but investors and funders just don’t know which way they want to go. I guess there could be so much backlash attached to a project like this, but we were never going to let that stop us.
Did anyone’s story in particular surprise you or bring out emotions you weren’t expecting?
We’ve done interviews with people from Newcastle who have lost loved ones, which was emotional for the crew and probably surprised us in the sense of how vulnerable, open, and honest they were with sharing their stories.
It was incredible to sit down and interview Jessica Rowe, Wayne Bennett, Tim Tszyu, and Joe Williams and all of their stories are just so powerful and inspiring for sure. But what caught most of the crew off guard was the families that had lost loved ones, sitting down with them, and talking about it.
What are you hoping to achieve by putting this out there?
The biggest thing that we’re hoping is that it can make a difference and give people the confidence to just talk.
At the moment our focus is to get as many people in Australia to watch the film, I feel like the film will do the talking if people take the inspiration that they need out of it.
There are so many different voices in there, like leading researchers, women and men, the younger generation and the older generation, there’s something there for everyone. It’s just a matter now of getting people to watch the film and they can take out of it what they’re looking for at that time in their life.
What does the future of The Promise hopefully look like?
We’re chatting to some cinemas now, so it might go to cinema, and it’s currently in the voting round for best documentary at the Australian Academy Awards, that's in February.
Moving on from “The Promise” what’s your next project? And have you started working on it?
I’ve finished a script which I can push if I want, but I’d like to try and direct someone else’s script and come onto a project as a director. So, I’m not sure, I’m just seeing what opportunities come from this tour, but if nothing does, I’ve got a script ready to go.