When Copyright Stymied Christmas

When Copyright Stymied Christmas

Synchronisation rights and its impact on community filmmaking

Once a year on the northern fringes of Melbourne 60 singers from multilingual, multi-faith and inter-generational backgrounds gather for 10 weeks of rehearsals to perform a single concert. In 2015 I was invited to mentor a youth theatre group with whom we made a film about this unique choir, a choir that only sings songs about Christmas. This Choir Sings Carols is a moving story about a community that came together through song, embracing young and old, new arrivals and those with disabilities. However, when the film was completed we were unable to screen it. Anywhere. This article describes why.

Published on Medium – When Copyright Stymied Christmas

Thanks to Dr Rebecca Giblin, ARC Future Fellow, Law Resources, Monash University and media and entertainment lawyer Shaun Miller for their comments on earlier drafts.

This article and the final edit of This Choir Sings Carols was financed through an Australia Cultural Fund initiative with special thanks for their generous contributions to Pepper Pearce, Mirranda Burton, Kitt Loughman, Carmela Baranowska, Elliott Bledsoe, Robyn Becker, Robert A Garnsey, Jessica Coates, Patricia A Aufderheide, Peter Martin, Kylie Pappalardo, Kimberlee Weatherall, Rebecca K Giblin and the City of Whittlesea.

  • Read When Copyright Stymied Christmas
  • Watch This Choir Sings Carols



Music, lyrics and video by Andrew Garton Performed by Andrew Garton (Melbourne), Cesare Cassarino (Johannesburg), Roy MacGregor (Cape Town), Alex Bozas (Cape Town), Simone White (Sydney), Rachel Byrnes, Kate Chinnick, Tony Nirta and Ian Dixon (Melbourne).

Produced by At Nel in Johannesburg.

Filmed on location in India for Ocean in a Drop, a film by Andrew Garton in collaboration with the Digital Empowerment Foundation.

Cameras – Jary Nemo, Rohit Dhall, Mubeen Siddiqui, Andrew Garton

Special thanks – Osama Manzar, Cathy Chen, Ravi Guria and Jasbir Lohiya without whom this shoot would not have been possible.

Empty is a single release available on https://andrewgarton.bandcamp.com, iTunes and Spotify.

Knowing You Knowing Me

Knowing You Knowing Me

Knowing You Knowing Me

Knowing You Knowing Me was part of Come Dance with Us, community dance workshops delivered by Ausdance Victoria supported by the City of Whittlesea. This project was also supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

Two video pieces were commissioned with the intention to document two seperate workshops; Adults – Doreen and Mums and Bubs.

Facilitators: Sasha Leong and Katrina Rank (Ausdance Victoria)
Video production and Music: Andrew Garton

This Choir Sings Carols

This Choir Sings Carols

This Choir Sings Carols

Once a year, in early October, around 60 people gather at the City of Whittlesea’s Fountain View Room in the northern fringes of Melbourne to begin 10 weeks of rehearsal for a single concert.

In Melbourne’s northern fringe a filmmaker, a photographer and a media artist came mentored a small production team of aspirant filmmakers, members of First Impressions Youth Theatre. With a mix of amateur and semi-professional equipment they made a film about a choir that only sings songs about Christmas, a choir comprised of people of all ages, faiths and origins.

This Choir Sings Carols is a production of Secession Films in collaboration with First Impressions Youth Theatre produced with the support of Culture and Development, City of Whittlesea and the Australian Cultural Fund.

The producers of this film recognise the rich Aboriginal heritage of this country and acknowledge the Wurundjeri Wilam clan as the traditional owners of the land we had filmed upon.

Duration: 25 mins
Completed: July 2018


  • Writer / Director / Editor – Andrew Garton
  • Mentors – Andrew Garton, Katherine O’Donnell, Matthew Berka
  • Cameras – Ruwanthi Wijetunga, Aron Raward, Kasey Gardner, Ben Chapman, Tenielle Reid, Matthew Berka, Katherine O’Donnell, Andrew Garton
  • Interviewers – Aron Raward, Ruwanthi Wijetunga, Tenielle Reid, Kasey Gardner


Filmed at City of Whittlesea’s Fountain View Room and Redleap Reserve, Mill Park, Victoria, Australia.

With thanks to the City of Whittlesea, Westfield Plenty Valley and Harcourts Real Estate.

Produced with the support of Community and Cultural Development, City of Whittlesea and the Australian Cultural Fund.




Stupendous is a short film that describes through movement and observation a group of dancers who ready themselves for a thirty-second performance they will make within, what appears to be an empty theatre. Each of the dancers lives with Parkinson’s Disease.

Produced by Katrina Rank and Paris Wages in collaboration with Andrew Garton.

Dur: 7 mins
More info: Stupendous Website