It takes a special touch to combine fruit-carving and complex family dynamics into a poignant story dealing with domestic violence and non-conformity — but that is exactly what Brisbane’s Danielle Hastie has done in her newest venture, a short film entitled Not Like Me.

The family-oriented film has themes that are timeless and universal, set against the backdrop of a family home in West End. Hastie believes that the suburb is an ideal setting for this story. “It’s so liveable; it’s like a little hub of creativity. It’s just got a really lovely vibe, and lots of people come here from all walks of life.”

Having also lived in Melbourne, Hastie believes that Brisbane’s art scene is “catching up” to Australia’s other artistic hubs. “Brisbane is really a growing, thriving film hub. Institutions like QAGOMA and the new QPAC theatre are bringing more people into the arts. I’m also thrilled the State Government plans to build a $12 million film and TV studio here — it’s going to be a game changer.”

A perfect addition to the West End art scene, Hastie has worn many different creative hats in her time, from theatre design to writing and illustrating. Not Like Me is an amalgamation of all her artistic talent, with a quirky design element stemming from her work in the visual arts, and rich characters from her writing background. “It’s a combination of all my experiences. I feel like I’m at a stage in my life where I’m a bit older; I’ve seen a bit more. It’s coming together at a time when I feel quite confident in telling stories … that will have an impact on people who need to hear them, like people who may be going through something that’s a bit difficult, who may want to check in with it and enjoy the story as a story, but also get something a bit more meaningful out of it.”

When she is not producing films, Hastie works full time at QAGOMA as a conservation sculpture technician where she helps mitigate the damage and deterioration of cultural objects. Visitors will find her preserving all sorts of works, from huge outdoor sculptures to tiny pieces of jewellery. Recently she even stitched up the enormous red inflatable artwork called Pneutopia, which emerges from a garden shed in the middle of the Piccinini exhibition. There is rarely a time when Hastie’s plate is not full. “I get tunnel vision when I’m working on something. I’ll just go into hibernation mode and my friends might not see me for a few weeks. I’ve always been naturally driven, and I’ve always had that ability just to turn off everything else and just focus.”

Far from slowing down after Not Like Me is wrapped, Hastie has yet another project lined up. Her next novel “about a pretty interesting, quirky female homicide detective” is also set in Brisbane, and Hastie has hopes for a screenplay adaptation in the near future. “I like quirky stories with a lot of heart; so stories that are about real topics but have a slightly different slant or perspective on that.”

It is a style that summarises West End to a tee.

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