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Judas Collar

Short Narrative Film

How far would you go to save the herd?

In outback Australia a wild camel is captured and fitted with a tracking device known as a Judas Collar.

Based on a real life practice, Judas Collar is a scripted, non-dialogue, live action short that explores the story of a camel used to betray her kind.

Credits

Directed by Alison James
Produced by Brooke Tia Silcox
Director of Cinematography: Michael McDermott
Edited by Lawrie Silvestrin

Credits

Directed by Alison James
Produced by Brooke Tia Silcox
Director of Cinematography: Michael McDermott
Edited by Lawrie Silvestrin

Judas Collar

Short Narrative Film

How far would you go to save the herd?

In outback Australia a wild camel is captured and fitted with a tracking device known as a Judas Collar.

Based on a real life practice, Judas Collar is a scripted, non-dialogue, live action short that explores the story of a camel used to betray her kind.

In The Media

Directors Biography

Represented by WME and Grandview in Los Angeles, Alison is an award-winning drama director and writer working between West Hollywood and Perth, Western Australia. Alison thrives on adventure and seeks to tell bold, original stories. She is currently developing two feature projects; a US action-survival film and an Australian-set dramatic thriller.

For her work on Judas Collar, Alison was awarded the Australian Writer’s Guild Award (AWGIE) for Best Short Film and won Best Director at St Kilda Film Festival. She also received an Australian Directors Guild Award nomination and a Special Jury Mention for Best Director at the Sydney Film Festival. Judas Collar follows up on two performance-based shorts You Have Blue Eyes and Sentence, filmed in West Australia’s only juvenile prison.

Prior to her scripted work Alison directed over fifty hours of factual television for Discovery, National Geographic, ABC, SBS and the BBC, filming in China, Honduras, Germany, England, Ireland, Iceland and the USA. Highlights include working with Indigenous Elders, oil and gas workers, multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, people with intellectual disabilities, Nobel winning scientists, migrants, refugees, prisoners and survivors of terrorism and war.

She also filmed alongside Australia’s toughest truck-drivers in remote and punishing desert conditions as a field director on twenty-four episodes of Outback Truckers.

Alison James on the set of Judas Collar, October 2017. Photo credit, Jessica Wyld.

Directors Statement

“Incredible. Powerful. Sad. It made me cry. I don’t know how the filmmakers pulled it off. It’s so gut-wrenching.” BENDFILM INC

 “The Judas Collar preys upon the most human qualities of the camel – its need for connection, family and belonging.”

Some stories can change the course of your entire life and this is one of them. I had been directing on the Australian show Outback Truckers, filming alongside Australia’s toughest truck drivers and I was researching a new series on remote helicopter pilots. I came across the words Judas Collar and learned that it was a tracking device where a single animal was used to betray the location of its herd in order for them to be tracked and shot from a helicopter.

It was a scientific device with a religious name.

“I knew I had to tell this story and it couldn’t wait. Less than forty-eight hours after encountering this story, I quit my full time job and started writing Judas Collar.” – Alison James

I wrote four drafts of this story with a human central character. Making the decision to take the camel’s perspective meant leaving behind words of any kind. It meant relying on the central performance of a camel and it was truly terrifying.

“That a camel might become self-aware and sentence itself to a life of solitude for the betterment of its kind is such an incredible display of self-sacrifice that for me it transcends words.”- Alison James

Without dialogue for exposition, the story had to be incredibly clear and the camel’s emotional journey had to be completely externalised. All craft elements would need to build on each other so that an audience might enter this strange desert world and connect with a camel.

As an audience, we can see that the Judas will only be a danger to the herd until the battery on her collar runs out – and yet she will never know that it is safe to return.

“To unwittingly cause pain to those you love most until you decide to live a life of loneliness is one of the saddest stories I have ever heard. And yet it’s a story that is deeply and tragically human.” – Alison James

Sometimes we retreat to save the herd.