Max Reinthal: From Gothenburg to Sydney

Current Sydney Film School (SFS) Advanced Diploma student Max Reinthal talks with Dr John Buckmaster, International Relations Manager, about life in Sydney and studying with SFS.

I go q= with fishing rodAbove:  Max with a fishing rod on set

“Gothenburg, (Sweden) was a majestic city with gothic buildings and trams that zigzagged throughout its metropolis. The trams were made up of new and old vintage cable cars; they had wires attached to a grid like system which resembled fishing nets suspended high in the air. This web of cables stretched out far across the busy streets below them until they stopped near a tempestuous harbour nestling the city. The two made their way along these streets, walking past monuments that testified to the city’s almost spiritual connection with the sea. The Killer noticed that each street corner had silver or Lego style trailers (called Korvk Kiosk) selling kebabs, hotdogs, Swedish meatballs and potatoes. Gothenburg was indeed a romantic city!”
– ‘The Nordic Lights’ Dr John Buckmaster, 2009.

Screen shot 2014-04-23 at 1.51.14 PM

Above: Gothenburg at night. (Source: Wikipedia)

Gothenburg is the city in which SFS student, Max Reinthal, was raised, a place that can seem almost nostalgic to him at times: now that he no longer lives there. The tempestuous harbour, ‘nestling the city’, was a call for him to travel across the seas and its horizons to discover something new. The oceans awaiting discovery were in constant view from his bedroom window, in his family home situated in the heart of town.

In his early 20’s Max decided to travel and study abroad. He first arrived in Australia to study a Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Sydney. He soon realized however, that his passion was in filmmaking.

Max is also a musician – playing drums in a band – he looks like an elegant, 21st Century David Bowie. He started studying the Diploma of Screen and Media at Sydney Film School in 2013 and is now studying both Directing and Production Design in the second year Advanced Diploma.

In his first year, Max directed a documentary on his passion of mythical gaming and geo-political surveillance that was selected for a number of international film festivals. He was then 1st assistant director on a major Sydney Film School drama filmed in the sparse countryside of Goulburn and set in an abandoned prison. He directed his thesis graduation film and worked on other productions as a designer. During this first year Max found himself quite adept at designing what fills the camera frame – the heart of the film’s narrative.

It’s been a whirlwind year at the school and Max takes the time to explain his experiences over an espresso in the School’s open kitchen.

When I first came to Sydney I stayed on a friend’s couch. It was easy to find a place if you kept your mind open. You can find really cheap accommodation but you also have to think about locale and whether you want to live by the beach or prefer the inner city.

I first lived in a suburb called Petersham above a delicatessen. Now I live in Newtown. It’s a very trendy place. It’s full of people; from neo-hippies, hipsters to mums with strollers. You can find cheap places in Newtown.

I pay $175 per week rent. $25 for utilities (gas and electricity). Transport is mostly nil. I walk to school and use my skateboard or push bike. But my push bike is the best way to get around.

Above: King Street, Newtown. (Source:

I spend $30 per week on lunch. You can get $2 stir-fry rice from the local fruit and vegetable shop. When I buy my groceries from Aldi, it’s $25 for two weeks, but I am a vegetarian.

I eat out twice a week. $50 for dinner, beer and wine. $20-$50 for other entertainment.

Once or twice a month I see live bands at underground music venues around Sydney. Cover charge $0 – $10.

My band and I pay $50-$60 to rehearse per session. It’s split 6 ways ($10 each).

I work at ‘Mary’s’; a cocktail bar in Newtown. It pays between $18-$25 per hour after tax plus superannuation and pension.

I had worked hard since I turned 18, but when I arrived you need an RSA (Responsible Serving of Alcohol Certificate). I took this test, it’s really easy – cost ($70-100).

I printed out 50 resumes at SFS and walked down King St (the main street) and handed my resume to every place. I went to one place at closing time when it was not as busy. “Mary’s” asked me straight away for a trial. With tips, I get an extra $5-$10 per hour. What I like about Sydney is that every suburb has its’ own identity. People in Sydney are more open. If you find the suburb (you) live in is not right for you, you just move – a new environment.

The friends I have at Sydney Film School are all (now) life-long friends. It’s easy to meet people here.

The courses at Sydney Film School:
I like the structure, way of teaching with heavy emphasis on practical side and the creative process. The workload can be heavy but that’s why I like the course

– you can set your own workload with the crew roles.

I made a film in the first semester that is screening now in a UK Festival. It was also screened at the Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF). It was really nice to see teachers here recommend it to festivals. The quality of films here is definitely worthy of festivals.

It was full-circle from watching previous work on the open day to watching your own films on the big screen.
Cost of Living in Sydney summary:

Rent:                     $175 per week rent.
Utilities and internet:   $25 per week
Groceries:                $30 per week
Entertainment:            $100 per week
Transport:           $20 to $nil per week

Total Weekly Expenses:         $350

Income:                   $400-$450 per week in the hand.

(20 hours per week x $30-35 per hour average, minus tax.)                           

During the study semester, students have a 20 hour per week work restriction.  In the holidays, Max can work more hours, allowing him to save money whilst being astudent. (Please check your own Visa conditions for possible paid work restrictions)

Dr. John Buckmaster will be in Sweden from May 2-12 to speak with prospective students, local schools and to catch up with our many previous graduates. 

John will be travelling to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uddevella, Malmo, Ystad and Vaxjo and you can book an interview with him. For further details please email John at

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