On Thursday evening 16th March, the AFL Season Launch will take place to officially open proceedings for another year. As part of the evening a short film is presented celebrating the final game of the previous season. By my count this will be the 15th Season Launch in a row where either my late brother Rob, or I, have created this film.
My brother passed away in 2009. He was only 45 years of age. He was my hero in so many ways. From that moment the AFL family wrapped their arms around our family. He was not only part of the industry as a player for Hawthorn and Brisbane but also a renowned football filmmaker. I will never forget the love and care provided to our family from the likes of Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan and the wider AFL community. Even to this day Gill is someone who I know cares and ensures we are doing the best we can. I will be forever grateful.
The trust Rob had built up with clubs was significant and that same trust has subsequently been afforded to me. It is only now with the benefit of hindsight I can appreciate just how important that was, and is.
Throughout the years before his passing Rob and I had been in business together trying to forge a way in documentary filmmaking, under our Hush Productions banner. I was very much in the wings, just trying as hard as I could to help his talent flourish. We had some successes and failures but laughed a lot and learnt a lot. Whatever I had produced or been a part of in terms of filmmaking to that point had Rob all over it, either directly helping or passing a critical eye over. It meant I had a safety net. I’ve often been referred to as a tortured soul when it comes to ensuring films I make are of the highest possible quality. So to have a safety net for someone like me was just such a powerful thing to have access to.
With the tragic passing of Rob and his sons Gabriel and Byron our world as we knew it just crashed in. Nothing would ever be the same. I’m not going into the personal and family grief that engulfed us and still does to this day. Many people live with loss daily so one thing you quickly understand is you are not alone in pain. What I wanted to talk about here is his legacy as a filmmaker.
I mentioned earlier how important the AFL were to our family at the time of Rob’s passing. For me personally this meant being offered an opportunity to continue some of the work Rob had been doing so well for a long period of time. I’ve no doubt it was a massive leap of faith for them. People referred to it as continuing the legacy of Rob.
It is only now on the eve of another Season Launch film which I have just completed, that I am really questioning this whole legacy concept. Does legacy matter? Or is it more of a crutch for those grieving to keep them busy and occupied.
Initially I took it as some kind of personal crusade to ensure his memory (in the filmmaking sense) was kept at the forefront of people’s minds. I thought by continuing to make the Season Launch film and other AFL films under the Dickson name then that would keep his filmmaking legacy alive. At the time it certainly helped me cope thinking that way. But what keeping a legacy alive doesn’t do, is bring him back. So even though I am humbled and honored to hear those who like to watch my work say Rob would be proud, or his legacy is being upheld, it doesn’t bring him back. That is all I really want, him to be back here living amongst us. I know it will never happen. His memory is all we have. I still don’t have an answer as to if legacy matters. I’m sure in many circumstances it does, in others not so much.
For me, if the Season Launch Film means people remember Rob, think fondly of his contribution to the game and the person he was, then long live legacy.