The Pilot Initiative


An ongoing program of empowering participants with the enthusiasm, the tools, the guidance and the venue to produce and showcase their creativity whilst nourishing body and soul with a simple and practical approach toward food, lifestyle and healthy eating.

Our belief is that the process should begin with small, simple steps irrespective of whether creativity is being utilised as a medium for simple expression or for a pathway to recovery.

ARAFMI will host the Central Coast pilot through a series of workshops, culminating in a Film and 'Film & Food' Festival that showcases the talent and hard work of individuals who have distilled their new found skills and found the strength to share their stories.

There will be a number of committed and focused facilitators present; most with lived experience, some without, who will offer an insight into this "Taster", and outline the exciting possibilities the program could offer to those who may identify with the intention that

"A journey of recovery starts with action"

Co-Founder Val Athanassiou

Day 1

Day 1
Congratulations to our most courageous of participants who took the leap of faith and signed up for four weeks of creative pathways.

The morning was spent delving into a brief history of Animation. We touched on Camera Techniques, Storytelling and Visual Composition followed by an enthusiastic hands on exploration of simple Breakfast ideas courtesy of the amazing Chef Daniel and the Food Whisperers Julie Clark.

Cameras rolled, some technical challenges were overcome, Thank You Boxo West Gosford, and we even found time for a few interviews.

Thank You to our most special of guests Mayor Lawrie Mckinna, Councillor Gabby Bowles also Jason Brady from CanTeen Australia. Thank you Rhonda Wilson and Erin Kate of ARAFMI for providing access to the amazing LERIDA and also to the wonderful Melinda Arnold and Jerry Retford of, Mark Haynes and Karen Adler.

Co-Founder Val Athanassiou

Day 2

Day 2
Another wonderful day spent at LERIDA courtesy of Rhonda Wilson and Erin Kate of ARAFMI.

Our participants Alec, Ryan, David and Scott, got down to business with our Canon DV Cams (thank you Chris Walker of March Digital) and Canon DSLRs; a Sony Barrel Cam, Handycam and DV Cam (thank you Marcus Cloherty of Byron Bay Filmco), a Wacom graphics tablet and the humble pencil and paper.

Some wonderful ideas captured on Film and A4. Thank You Melinda Arnold and Jerry Retford of

Then the Food Whisperers Julie Clark and Chef Daniel orchestrated a hands on BBQ extravaganza, which was complex in taste yet astonishingly simple in execution.

Check out our snazzy T-Shirts thanks to Scott Beatty of ProStudio Designs Pty Ltd.

Co-Founder Val Athanassiou

Day 3

Day 3
Our most uplifting and engaging day yet! Our initiative commenced with a field trip to Brisbane Water Secondary College Woy Woy Campus, Technical Entertainment Production Academy.

The astonishingly dedicated TEPA Co-Ordinator, John Maxwell, guided our participants Alec, Scott, Sam, Ryan and Chris, through the practical application of the ‘green screen’ and the theory behind the ‘chroma key’ visual effect. Utilising on the fly techniques and off the wall humour, we floated through the air and ran for the hills, we’re just not sure who had more fun; our participants or the facilitators. Thank You Melinda Arnold and Jerry Retford of and our wonderful volunteer Mark Haynes.

Next on the agenda was an immersive experience experimenting with sound, which kept our team thoroughly engrossed for over an hour as they sampled, looped and edited their way to audio nirvana.

Thank You John and also to BWSC Principal David Allomes. Your unsung faith and support continues to enrich our community.

On to LERIDA as Chef Daniel and the Food Whisperers, took us on yet another tastebud tingling travelogue, to Morocco no less, with a kilo of chicken wings and a tonne of enthusiasm.

The playback of the audio samples that our participants created earlier, was nearly drowned out by the sound of plates clacking and lips smacking.

A most special Thank You to Chris Walker of March Digital who provided a Wacom Cintiq and guided our animation aficionado Alec through the finer points of Anime Studio Pro.

The day ended with a quick recap of visual composition, in preparation for our final day, which will focus on compiling and editing on those snazzy silver HP Envy X2’s, ten of which were kindly donated by Partners in Recovery.

Co-Founder Val Athanassiou

Day 4

Day 4
Our day at LERIDA with ARAFMI began as always; a group of dedicated and focused facilitators, concentrating their time and energy toward a handful of open minded and enthusiastic participants.

Film Editing was the topic of discussion, taking our efforts of the previous four weeks and channeling them into a cohesive narrative.

Lawrie McKinna again graced us with his effervescent presence and tried his hand at interviewing our young participants; how effortlessly Lawrie can engage and interact is something to be marveled at.

Facilitators Mark Haynes, and the team from, Melinda Arnold and Jerry Retford, co-ordinated and co-operated in style under the watchful eyes of Rhonda Wilson, Erin Kate and Anne Stedman.

Our “secret lunchtime location” was unveiled at the Central Coast Mariners Stadium (Lawrie we are in awe) where our tireless Food Whisperers superstars Julie Clark and Chef Daniel prepared a healthy, simple yet luscious gastronomic feast as Stadium Manager Kath Casey graciously provided our participants with a personalised tour. It warmed our hearts to see such joy in so many faces.

We Congratulate Scott Golding, Karen Adler, Alec Dever, David Learmont, Christopher Crocker and Ryan Handbury for their participation.

Our Sincerest Thanks to Councillor Gabby Bowles, Kirsty Smallwood, Jaymie Knight, Chris Walker and Scott Beatty for their generosity and support and Much Love to our Facebook ‘Likers and Lovers’.

This program was the result of a vision borne of the desire to forge pathways toward Recovery by providing outlets both creative and sustainable. Those pathways may be uneven, the destinations may be ramshackle, but for both, the test of time can be withstood somewhat, if the foundations are solid.

You are, one and all, part of those foundations.

My Deepest Personal Thanks and Heartfelt Appreciation to all.

Val Athanassiou - Co-Founder - Recovery Through Film and Food

Thank You for taking the time to visit us.