Interviews

Kate Hickey Roller Dreams

We talk to SFS grad Kate Hickey about her feature film debut Roller Dreams, premiering at the Sydney Film Festival this June

By Peter Galvin

kate hickeyNot long after Kate Hickey graduated from Sydney Film School she started working in film and TV in the United States.

Originally from Newcastle with a background in advertising, Hickey first went to New York, before settling in Los Angeles, where she established a home base in Venice Beach.

Hickey, who won the award for best editing at the SFS festival in 2005, quickly racked up a series of impressive feature film credits assisting in the editorial departments of pictures like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008), Whip It (2009), The Town (2010), The English Teacher (2011) and Paradise (2012).

But, Hickey told the SFS Blog, her career highlight came when she scored a gig as assistant editor on Girls, the celebrated comedy-drama created by its star Lena Dunham in 2012, (who was only 26 at the time.)

“It was so me,” she laughs, “I used to stay up late to watch it, and I just devoured it.”

Hickey began on Girls in season 4 and work through season 5 before being promoted to editor for the sixth and final season, which concluded early in 2017.

“I love editing,” she explains. “It’s a bit like [solving a puzzle]. It’s peaceful and therapeutic. I like to sit with [the footage] and find an order for it and its really rewarding when other people love it.”

Still, as Hickey built up her career in post-production further with credits as principal editor on small but impressive indie pics like Farah Goes Bang (2013) and Oh, Lucy (2017) she was working on her feature debut, Roller Dreams (2017) a documentary that its roots in her childhood.

“When I was a little girl I was obsessed with Xanadu,” she says with a laugh. First released in 1980, the film was a sort-of romantic musical…with the dance numbers performed on roller skates.

Featuring songs by Electric Light Orchestra, Cliff Richard and its big star, Olivia Newton-John, Xanadu was Hickey’s favourite movie so much so she would “dress up as ONJ and roller skate up and down the beaches of Newcastle pretending I was in the movie.”

Hickey was intrigued to discover that Venice had its own roller dance scene with a history that stretched back thirty years, a history that in a very deep way touched the sad, volatile and angry story of how LA’s non-white inhabitants were often marginalised, forgotten and dismissed.

Venice is 23kms west of the centre of LA. In cultural terms, it was, at least in the 80s light-years away from the monied, Guccied world the city is famous for.

roller dreamsHickey explores all this in Roller Dreams, through the eyes of five ‘stars’ of the scene – ‘Mad’, Terrell, Sally, Jimmy and Duval – and notes that not one of these superb performers whose innovative stylings pretty much invented the roller dance form were invited to share their skills in Hollywood.

It’s a smart, and moving film that strikes a fine balance of fun, social insight, and history as it explores the lives of its main characters using some truly stunning archive material, new interviews and a pulsing soundtrack of great tunes including Prince’s Kiss – the scenes signature ‘jam’.

“It took eight years [and many different cuts] to complete,” says Hickey. “I was 26 when I started it, and I’ve definitely grown up making the film.”

She met the cast through what remained of the roller scene in Venice in the early naughties: “I grew very fond of them of them – they were flamboyant, larger than life characters.”

Hickey learned that most of them had come from South Central, a district with a bad rep for gang related violence. “Venice and roller dancing became an Oasis for them,” she says.

Back in Australia in early June for the movies world premiere Hickey was overwhelmed by the films rapturous reception from the sell-out crowd at the Sydney Film Festival: “It’s pretty amazing.”

She remembers her SFS days fondly: “It was a really diverse, liberal culture, that really encouraged creativity and I felt at home straight away.”

The relationships Hickey established then form in her words, ‘a global village’. The SFS grads become like a network, sharing advice, help and assistance no matter where they are in the world or what they are doing, she says. The bonds forged at SFS, remain, after more than a decade, still strong:

“You go out and do your own thing, but if you need to reach out and collaborate,” the support is always there, Hickey believes.

Asked what she took away from her SFS experience that has had the most impact in her professional life Hickey says it was at school where she learned the importance of ‘persistence’.

“Film school is a family,” she says, “but its also a bit of a competitive environment too, and I think I would say to students you have to be willing to work through the night to really make your film great. It’s the same [expectation and demand] in the working world.”

“On Roller Dreams [I persisted] because I just wasn’t willing to let it go till I though it was the best it could be.”

 

 

 

 

à la mémoire de Paris

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SFS Artistic Director Ben Ferris, a filmmaker, has just returned from Paris where he had an opportunity to immerse himself in a creative environment, meet and collaborate with artists from around the world, and produce his new film. He recently talked about the experience with Power Publications.

When I applied for the residency I had a vague idea of what I wanted to develop but my idea evolved as I was there, in Paris, and as the political climate in the world changed. The concept for the project changed significantly in this three-month period, since it evolved rapidly after I watched the inauguration of US President, Donald Trump. I was also influenced by the place and ended up writing the project specifically for locations in Paris, including the river Seine. So, I wrote and directed a video piece currently titled “Orpheus Ascending”. It’s a short film about the end of the world, or at least a final visitation on Earth by the mythological figure, Orpheus.

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The beauty of residencies such as the one at the Cité is that they give you a chance to reconnect with your creative aspirations and ignite your inspiration. My project is not a far cry from my initial ideas but the residency was certainly flexible enough to allow for my project to breath and develop. I imagine that many future candidates will feel the need to apply with a very clear project in mind, but the reality is that the initial framework is malleable and likely to evolve while in Paris.

The Cité also provides an incredibly social environment and, while I was there, I had an invaluable opportunity to meet, collaborate, and get inspired by artists from around the world, and from various disciplines. I ended up collaborating with a Russian film production designer and a Russian costume designer, who were both residents of the Cité, like me. I was also meeting other Paris-based filmmakers and was introduced to a French production company with whom I ended up co-producing the film. If the film goes well this will be a relationship I seek to develop in the future.

Having a block of time dedicated to developing your project and being in a place where everyone around you is in the same creative state of mind is an incredible opportunity, and I can’t thank the Power Institute and the generosity of Terrence and Lynette Fern enough for offering it to me. Don’t think twice about applying.

Ben Ferris
2017 recipient of the Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency Fellowship for practicing artists

About Ben Ferris

Ben Ferris is one of the founders of Sydney Film School, where he is currently the Artistic Director and a writing/directing teacher. Ferris, a film writer/director, has screened films and won numerous awards in Paris, New York, Croatia, Italy, Tokyo, Singapore and Amsterdam, as well as having theatrical releases of his works in Tokyo, Croatia, and Australia. His short film ‘The Kitchen’ (2003) won the Grand Prix at the Akira Kurosawa Memorial Short Film Festival in Tokyo in 2005, and his short film ‘Ascension’ (2004) won the Grand Prix at the 4th One Take Film Festival in Croatia in 2004. His debut feature film ‘Penelope’, an Australian–Croatian co-production, screened in National Competition at the 56th Pula Film Festival in Croatia in 2009, and won a Van Gogh Award for Best Fantasy Film at the Amsterdam Film Festival in 2010. In 2016 he completed his second feature film ‘57 Lawson’ which captures daily life within a social housing building in Redfern, under the shadow of impending development. The film is currently on the international festival circuit. In 2015, Ferris was the curator of the Sydney Cinémathèque. His writings on cinema have been published worldwide in both French and English. To see some of his previous work visit https://vimeo.com/bferris.

2018 Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency

Applications are now open for the Power Institute 2018 Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency Fellowships. The deadline for applications is 20 July 2017. See this page for all the relevant information and to apply.

SFS and the Swedish Connection

SFS talks to four of our Swedish graduates who have been building strong careers in Scandinavia.

By Peter Galvin

image1-1Sweden is a long way from Australia. According to Google the distance is 13,796 kms or eight and a half thousand flying miles. For many of SFS’ Scandinavian post-grads electing to study so far from home wasn’t so much a trail or sacrifice but part of the challenge.

“Australia and SFS became this big adventure,” remembers Johan Rosell, “I didn’t know anything about filmmaking and I wanted to be a director but I didn’t know what a director did!”

Rosell, originally from Linköping, says now: “I learned so much.”

He directed a Part II major work, the hilariously original comedy/fairy tale The Forest while at the school. Since returning to Sweden immediately after graduation in 2009 he has made a number of music videos and shorts including the prize-winning First Base.

“I got to meet so many people from so many different places,” he says, “other international students and that’s what makes the school unique and creative.”

Right now Rosell divides his time between studying as a directing major at Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Art and preparing another short drama.

Like most Scandinavians who have come to SFS Rosell knew very little about Australia other than Crocodile Dundee and TV dramas like McLeod’s Daughters – set in the countryside and The Flying Doctors, which takes place in the outback – the fictional experience did not prepare them for Sydney’s café and pub culture, nor the pace of a metropolis boasting a multicultural population of four million.

“Those TV shows was I all I had seen of Australia,” laughs Caroline Ingvarsson, who is now an award-winning director of acclaimed dramatic shorts The Dogwalker (2014) and Beneath the Spaceship (2015)

Arriving in Australia as a backpacker in late 2005 Ingvarsson started at the school in February 2006 after, she says, ‘falling in love’ with sunshine and beaches and laid back life style.

“That first week was so daunting,” she remembers. “They kept talking about this thing called ‘pitching’ and I had absolutely no idea what it was!”

Pitching – the process whereby the filmmaker must present to a panel their vision for the film – is a basic industry standard of evaluating the promise of a project and Ingvarsson says it was one of the most valuable lessons she learnt at SFS.

“I do it all the time now, and at SFS I learnt the essentials:

If you can’t convey it in one or two sentences then you have lost them,” she says. “Learning to pitch is about learning what your film is really about for you as the filmmaker – it narrows down what you really mean to say.”

Ingvarsson built up her industry experience in the production department, as an AD and location manager and casting director working in Australia and Sweden (she tells students that it takes hours and hours of on set work before one can really feel they can take charge of a significant role like directing or department head.) Her credits in Australia include Amiel Courtin-Wilson’s Hail (2011) and as producer of the Ben Lee music video ‘Catch My Disease’.

Of course like students everywhere in all schools Ingvarsson says she formed strong bonds with her cohort and these friendships have been an important part of her life and – life in film – over the last decade.

Amongst them is Ben Zadig. Originally from Malmo, like Ingvarsson, Zadig has specialised in camera department roles and has worked on famed series like the Bridge and Wallander and the soon to be released Swedish features The Yard and The Square. As cinematographer he was responsible for the richly atmospheric work on Ingvarsson’s recent shorts including her latest.

After graduating at SFS in 2007 Zadig worked at the school in the equipment store. He developed his tech skills further working for Red Apple (Camera Rentals) in Sydney. Just over five years ago he returned to Sweden where he re-connected with the network of SFS Swedish post-grads (there has been nearly 70 since 2004!) and says he has been in constant work since. It was at SFS where he developed his strong work ethic.

“What’s really good about SFS is that it has a hands-on approach,” he says. “Sydney has a lot of very, very professional film workers and you can learn a lot [just being part of that eco-system as an emerging filmmaker.]”

He would recommend SFS to Swedes wanting to travel for their film education over say the USA and Europe.

“Its warmer than the States and most of Europe,” he says, “ and Swedes are sort of quiet and Australians are more relaxed and not as loud as Americans!”

He says that like most film students, he went to SFS believing he was a director only to find he had more talent for roles in the camera department.

“You have to be prepared to be disappointed (with your original goal) and understand that what you need to do is not what you want to do,” he says.

In the end Zadig reckons that realisation will ‘set you up’ with a career path to follow and that’s ultimately the greatest reward.

Filip Iversen graduated from SFS in December 2010. As with Zadig, and Ingvarsson he has accrued much TV production experience (in the art department) since returning to Sweden on shows like The Bridge and Black Lake.

“On the last season of the Bridge I got a job as 3rd unit director,” he says (via email).

Like the other Swedish grads here Iversen’s memories of SFS are full of adrenalised endless nights racing to meet production deadlines, close friendships and warm Sydney days. The skills he learned at school are in constant play. SFS introduced him to pitching, a practice that scored him his biggest professional success to date.

“I called the record company about this song ‘If I Were Sorry’ by Frans. I pitched for the clip a week later and was successful,” he says.

The song was Sweden’s entry in 2016 Eurovision song contest, where it was placed fifth. To date it has over 20 million views on You Tube.

Iversen modestly insists that the clip has re-assured his prospective clients that: “I know something about what I am doing.”

“I don’t know whether it has had an enormous impact, but it’s been my strongest ‘weapon’ for communicating when approaching new clients,” he says.

Amongst Iversen’s recent credits is a new feature Den Enda Vägen The Only Way (Manuel Concha, 2017) on which he did the production design.

His advice to undergrads: “never try to be the best at everything, instead learn from all and focus on what you find interesting.”

Ingvarsson agrees: “I was at SFS to learn but the best thing was I had the chance to experiment and find my voice.”

“I made the mistake of [micro-managing] my crew on The Forest,” says Rosell. “If you want to learn to direct you have to understand what everyone contributes – you need to understand what – the sound department, the art department the camera department – need from you.”

He says that meeting so many international students as well as the local students created a powerful sense of creativity.

“It’s not a holiday,” cautions Ben Zadig. “Sydney and Australia…it’s lovely and warm and all that but if you have come to SFS from Sweden to get the most out of it you need to throw yourself into 200 per cent. Every waking moment should revolve around film and you must surround yourself with filmmaking from the start of the day to the end of the day,” he says.

“Its not the easiest industry to survive and that [fully committed] attitude will [make you fit for it],” Zadig believes.

All experiences are good even if they make you feel ‘bad’ he says laughing.

The best though, he reckons, are the ones where “you feel you are out of your depth, when don’t feel at home.”

ENDS

Three SFS graduates and their careers in TV

By Peter Galvin

Award-winning karencrespoeditor Karen Crespo left SFS in 2008 and entered the TV industry straight after. She’s never been out of work since.

Right now her ‘home’ is on the reality TV series Masterchef, a ratings juggernaut for the Ten Network, now entering its ninth season, and a job she says is full of day to day challenges: “It’s a show where a lot of the story is created in post-production,” she said.

Arriving at SFS with a love of movies and an open mind about her future direction Crespo found her inspiration in the cutting room: “Once I discovered editing that was it – that was going to be my specialty.”

Crespo first got work in the industry when she heard about a job opportunity going in a small production house. Not long after she joined the Masterchef team in its third season as an assembly editor. Over time she ‘worked her way up’ as junior editor. “I am now one of a group of main editors on the series,” she said. “TV is…well, you know you’ve done something right when people start giving you the hard jobs – that’s when you know you’re good!”

Still, Crespo says, after all these years lessons learnt at SFS find their way to her Masterchef edit suite: “I’ll be cutting something and suddenly I’ll remember those early tutorials at school about some fundamental rule and it’ll be like,

‘don’t make that mistake!’”

For Crespo the most rewarding thing about her work in TV is just how creative something like Masterchef can be – especially for the editorial team. In 2015 Crespo won best editing for a Reality TV Show at the Australian Screen Editors Awards (a prize she shared with her Masterchef colleague Robin Crago.)

“That was definitely the highlight of my career so far,” she said. “It’s great when you get acknowledgement from your peers in the form of an award – it’s a recognition that you are doing a good job.”

Crespo would like to get involved in drama feature film some time in the future. But, she says, such a move would most certainly mean major changes in lifestyle, financial compensation and status. Amongst the virtues of TV is that – at least for post-production staff it is a well paid ‘day job’…at least if one lands a gig on a series.

Jonathan (Jono) Tyler who left high school in 2003 has worked in featuresjonotyler2 and TV since he was a teenager and has credits on Stealth, Superman Returns, Australia, Wolverine and Underbelly in various ‘assistant’ roles in art department/effects/camera dept. He came to SFS to “get back to basics” and to work on 16mm. Tyler has built a successful freelance business since graduating six years ago, specialising as a steadicam operator and camera assistant. His recent credits include Love Child, Rake and Doctor, Doctor.

He has strong opinions about the kinds of experiences that await anyone contemplating a career in TV and features. Tyler sees each sector as unique and cautions graduates over any casual assumptions they might have.

“You would be surprised about what people might say after getting a taste of both features and TV,” he told SFS.

There might be an appetite amongst both veterans and new comers to grab those big name credits on $100million dollar features he says but he’s found that peers and colleagues can come away ‘bored’ and ultimately dissatisfied after a stint on a major film.

“In TV Aussie drama you have to work harder, you get paid less and have less perks,” he said. “But you get to go home on the weekend and relax and there’s not the same pressure as when you have a screaming American director. And you know everyone’s name at the wrap party.”

As for his own future Tyler says he wants to build “a good rep.”

“I think working on a film with a really good story is more important to me than working on a blockbuster,” he said.

crheadshotStill, says SFS graduate Catherine Rynne, the pressures on crew members in TV production vary from role to role, show to show and depend as much on budget and schedule as they do on what the script demands.

“I once worked for months on end on a TV show and only had like a day off…once in a while,” she said. “If a certain scene needs a certain prop you keep searching till you find it…and that means working day and night and through the weekend till you do!”

Rynne works as a Buyer/Dresser – a specialist role in the art department.

“What that means is I meet with the production designer and break down the script, highlighting all the props (those objects that actors handle like a phone) and dressing (like artwork, books on a shelf). Depending on how much time is available I present options in terms of design and pricing. Then once the PD elects what they need I go off and buy the stuff then dress the set with it.”

 

Leaving high school in 2006 Rynne came to SFS in 2011 after a few years in the work force. At the time she thought she wanted to be an editor.

 

After graduation she got design experience and fell in love with the current role: “I don’t want to be a production designer,” she said. “I find Buyer/Dresser really thrilling in that you have a real say on what the set looks like.”

 

Her credits in TV include Home and Away for the Seven Network and Deadly Women for the Discovery Channel. She has worked on the features UnIndian and All About E (directed by SFS teacher Louise Wadley.) For Rynne the major differences between TV and features is simply budget and prep time.

 

“TV is great – the money is pretty good, and at best its fun, very collaborative, and ‘a day job’, with four to five months of steady work,” she said.

 

Her advice to SFS graduates entering TV is ‘be a sponge’. “You need to be excited about what you do.” It’s important to observe on-set protocols and respect all roles equally adds Tyler: “Crews are tough – it’s like the first day of school so you need to be confident and work hard and the work you do is the source of respect…how well you do the job is what people remember.”

 

Crespo believes that its important that any role has to be more than just a job and advises grads to get involved with the on-set process as well as pursue their own projects: “It’s special and wonderful to create something when you are working in a team – you need collaboration.”

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take four, graduates from the class of the 1st SFS Festival

As we approach the 25th SFS Film Festival we catch up with four media professionals who graduated a decade ago from SFS’ first year 2005

By Peter Galvin

lauraLaura Rinaldi from Sydney was straight out of high school when she began her career in media as a student at SFS in 2005.

“I remember that first day really well when we all met each other and the teachers,” she says.

“We got this talk from one of the senior staff members. He said, ‘I have never met anyone who wanted to get into film and TV who didn’t make it’.”

“I was so relieved,” she says, with a laugh.

Today Laura works in production across a variety of roles, and has over the last decade accrued a large number of credits on shows like the ABC’s Rake and SBS’ The Principal.

“I went to England to work a year ago,” she says, “because the UK is ‘the Hollywood of TV’.”

There she worked with Arrow Media as a casting researcher. She returned to Australia a few months ago and has settled in Melbourne.

Laura spent several years studying media, film and TV in a number of different cities in Australia before attempting to land her first substantial job. That turned out to be with the prestigious Sydney production outfit Essential Media.

Sophie Zoellner, another SFS 2005 alumni, is now a freelance producer specialising in TV. Right now she is finishing up a contract on ABC’s Rage as the famed music shows’ producer. She has also produced online content such as Like a Version for the same network.
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Her first job was a kids TV series – a quiz show – not long after she completed the diploma at SFS. “It was the most fun I have had,” she remembers.

“At school I specialised in editing and documentary and I think the thing I’ve taken away from the experience was that it was a chance to get hands-on experience,” she says.

On entering the industry, for an emerging filmmaker, in their first job there can be a lot of restraints. Sophie says: “If like me you work as a researcher you might not get the chance to touch a camera for years.”

Still, passion and persistence has paid off, she says.

Early on she worked on ABC’s Four Corners world renowned for its penetrating and tough investigative reporting on social, cultural and political stories – a job she says that has had a profound impact on her life and career: “It was great working on a piece for months and then when it goes to air finally it changes [how people] feel about a subject or an issue.”

Katharine Thornton née Hodge (pictured below with Frank Perikleous, Managing Director of ComScore Australia) produced Go Quickly, completed as a major project before she graduated in 2005. Written and directed by now head of production at SFS Michael McLennan, this ambitious thriller was a runner-up in the Sydney Film Festivals Dendy Awards.
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Film school was great, Katharine remembers, because: “It gave me the sense that we could do anything.” That’s because, she says, the films they were undertaking seemed impossible to achieve given the budgets involved, the limited shooting time and the relative inexperience of the crew.

“I was straight out of school and for Go Quickly I had to go off and ask the Army whether we could borrow some of their trucks!”

Katharine recalls learning the value of ingenuity and organisation as a solution to production issues rather than “throwing money around.”

“We were taught to be frugal and to come up with as many creative solutions as possible in order to tell your story,” she says.

Soon after graduating SFS Katharine interned for Emile Sherman, who would later win an Oscar as one of the producers of The King’s Speech.

Now based in Melbourne Katharine works in the ‘business’ end of the movie business: as National Sales and Distribution Manager for Sharmill Films one Australia’s most successful independent distribution and exhibitors, specialising in art house and alternative content.

Part of her job is to make decisions on which films Sharmill will distribute in Australia. For Katharine her job is part of the filmmaking process, even if its not part of producing the film: in a real way it helps determine the future of certain films and the opportunity’s an audience has to see them.

“There is no way you can enter the industry without understanding distribution and producing,” she says.

Vilash Patel was already working in TV when she came to Australia from New Zealand in mid-2005 to study at SFS. Nine years ago she got a job working at the Seven Network. A few years later she accepted a transfer to the network’s Melbourne office where she now works as a presentation co-ordinator, a role that ensures that programs air as scheduled.img_5092-copy

She remembers her time at SFS as the place she learned to appreciate how films were made, and how each role was crucial to the films successful delivery.

“Once you know how the whole process works, you begin to understand what you are good at yourself,” she says.

Vilash is building a career as an independent producer and her time at SFS taught her that ‘casting’ crew was as important as selecting cast: “You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone as you are getting people on board [for a project.]”

Recently Vilash set up a production company Triurban Media Productions with colleagues Chris Keogh and Stella Dimadis. Their first major project is She Shot Tv, which looks at the rewards and challenges of women in media. Launching in March on C31 in Melbourne, WTV Perth and their own YouTube Channel.

“We want to make a difference to gender equality by promoting women working in film, media, TV and online,” she says. Meanwhile the team are working on a film festival, which aims to screen on International Women’s Day next year.

Her advice to graduates is to ignore the promise of ‘glamour’ that is the myth of a life in media: “It’s long hours and hard work.” Of course Vilash, loves it, all the same, she says.

Sophie suggests that after SFS graduates take every single opportunity no matter how ‘low’ the job seems, because: “you never know where it might lead you…”

Katharine recommends persistence. She began her professional career with Sharmill by “knocking on the door and asking for a job…they said they didn’t have one and I said I wouldn’t stop knocking till they gave me one!”

Laura remembers the emphasis that SFS placed on respect – for professional behaviour on set, and indeed for the making of content in any medium.

“I think that attitude, and a really positive outlook is really crucial in getting any job in the industry – people only work with people who not only can do the job, but that they like,” she says.

Being enthusiastic and optimistic about the future helps. That was something Laura found was rather unique about the culture at SFS, based on her experience of other institutions.

“I studied at VCA after SFS and our first day their was very different! We were all brought together and the lecturer told us, ‘most of you will never make it’,” and I remembered my first day at SFS and thought: ‘that’s not true’.”

Links:
Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/SheShotTV/

Website:

http://www.triurbanmedia.com

Examples of She Shot TV can be viewed on You tube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMkcU2EW0lk&t=89s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUeJhRJ0pJEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwPXdDwXzzs

ENDS

An interview with SFS Alumni Lisa Camillo

By Peter Galvin

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetIt is almost three years since Lisa Camillo graduated with a Diploma from the Sydney Film School.

Since then she has wasted no time building a profile as a content maker.

Though specialising as a director, Camillo has earned credits as a producer, writer and cinematographer across a diverse spread of projects, including music video and non-fiction.

Camillo based in Sydney has her own independent business; her short films have travelled the world, and right now she is completing her first feature, Balentes, a poignant documentary about her homeland, Sardinia.

This week her short drama begun at SFS, Requiem, will be part of the official selection at the prestigious One Take Film Festival in Croatia.

Asked how she came so far so fast she explains: “Persistence,” she says, laughing, adding that every film is a challenge and success can’t be taken for granted.

Camillo who grew up in Rome and Sardinia came to Australia at age twenty. She completed a degree in anthropology and a Masters in International Development in her adopted city of Melbourne. Between study commitments she took modelling jobs and playing rock and roll gigs with her band.

Immediately after graduating she launched into social welfare work where she formed a strong commitment in collaborating with Indigenous communities especially in areas like health.

Here Camillo learnt first hand about the pride and resilience of people who face tremendous struggles of survival everyday.

Positive stories were not reaching the mainstream she said.

“People in these developing communities are doing brilliant things and we are not hearing their success stories,” she says.

“What drew me to filmmaking,” Camillo explains, “was the feeling that my work as an anthropologist could have greater impact if it had a greater audience.”

A friend of a friend recommended Sydney Film School.

Camillo says she felt at home at SFS: “I loved the family atmosphere and the level of teaching was brilliant – a really great mix of theory and the practical.”

“Once at SFS I was able to use everything I studied at university,” she says. “I discovered straight away that it was never too late to change career pathways.”

Camillo made Live Through This in her first few months at SFS. This short documentary came directly out of her experience working in communities where domestic violence was a sad fact of life.

Still, Camillo elected to focus on a story of forgiveness centring on the profound familial bond between father and son. The film made a huge impact when it appeared at the distinguished Flickerfest short film festival in 2013 and launched Camillo’s career.

Straight after graduating Camillo got started on Balentes, spending more than a year researching the project, which she says deals with a ‘loss of innocence.’

The film is part personal journey, part social and cultural history of Sardinia, a one-time playground of the rich and famous, that now is host to war games operated by Italy’s more powerful and wealthier allies in NATO.

Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 2,000kms of coastline, Camillo remembers Sardinia as a place of sunny beauty, where the rural community thrived in harmony with the vibrant tourist trade. Now, she says, the island is struck by poverty, disease and social decay – a direct outcome of the weapons testing on the island.

Balentes – the title mean men and women of courage and honour – describes Sardinia’s social and cultural crisis and explores the bravery of the island locals who are confronting the power of government in order to restore their way of life.

“I wanted to tell a different kind of personal story,” she says. Made on a variety of camera formats – including the Red, DSLRs and even an iPhone – Camillo used a tiny crew of two or three throughout the production and shot a lot of the film herself. It will be ready for release in late December.

After that Camillo plans to shift her operations to Los Angeles where she wants to launch a new drama project.

“I love to live in the moment,” she says of shooting a film, her favourite part of the process.

“It’s about responding to life around you,” she says.

 

ENDS

Dr. Alejandra Canales talks about the importance of documentary as an art form.

An Interview with Alejandra Canales

By Peter Galvin

“Pealejandra_1032-largersonally, I don’t see a difference between documentary and fiction films,” explains filmmaker and teacher Alejandra Canales.

“They are both cinema.”

Canales, who is Head of Documentary at the Sydney Film School, explains that the essential values of storytelling are the same between the two forms of fiction and non-fiction film.

“The important things are the same,” Canales said. “The various story elements meet in this sharing space with an audience.

Amongst the many rewards of teaching she explains is watching how emerging filmmakers develop a unique vision for their work. This is one of the best things about film school – it’s an ideal place to “develop a voice.”

Canales is particularly proud of the fact that SFS can boast a history of success in producing documentary filmmakers whose work has been widely seen on the national, and global festival circuit. These include the films of SFS grads Maya Newell (Gayby Baby) and Gracie Otto (The Last Impressario).

This tradition continues with the 2016 Antenna Documentary Film Festival. Beginning in Sydney on 13 October it will travel to Melbourne and Brisbane later in the month.

The program features How History May Come, a deeply personal animated short produced in the SFS Diploma program in 2016.

Written, directed and narrated by Olesya Mazur, a Russian national, it is a personal history that recalls the tragic impact of the Great Famine of the 1930s on her great-great grandparents in the USSR.

Canales latest short For the Kids will also screen. It tells the remarkable story of a couple from the mid-north coast of NSW who spent the last 25 years caring as foster parents for vulnerable kids.

Canales, who has been involved with documentary for more than a decade, said that she did not set out to be a filmmaker. Her career began working in theatre and advertising in her native Chile.

There she began experimenting with documentary and developing a very personal relationship with the form.

“I know it’s a cliché…but what I found once I started making documentaries was that life really was much weirder than anything you might possibly imagine,” she said.

For Canales what she discovered once she began working in non-fiction film was a ‘special tension’ between the ‘subject’ and the filmmaker.

“It was that uncontrollable aspect of dealing with a ‘lived reality’,” she said.

That is, she said, documentary filmmakers have to have a constant sense of improvisation…going with the moment, thinking on their feet and responding honestly and openly to the unanticipated event.

“For me that is really appealing.”

For Canales the importance of documentary as an art form has to do with,

“leaving an imprint about the way we live in a particular time.”

“You get inspired when you teach a lot,” she says of her SFS experience. While respectful of journalism and investigative reportage, Canales feels that documentary is an opportunity to explore themes with a strong point of view that has nothing to do with objectivity.

Which is to say that for Canales the tradition of ‘documentary’ is rich, varied and personal.

“I have this fire inside me where I try to approach each subject in an individual way – you always bring something of yourself to each film,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SFS Alumni Liu Tianrong talks filmmaking in China

Sy051400005333EC3D67379F7DDE0628F5dney Film School alumni, Liu Tianrong  and his success in China

Sydney Film School equips their students with the tools they need to work not only in the Australian film industry, but also on a global scale as alumni, Liu Tianrong has discovered.

Currently living in Beijing, Tianrong graduated from Sydney Film School in 2011 and found not only that he was able to apply what he learnt to make his films in his homeland, but also that the filmmaking education he received was superior to that of his colleagues in China. His two films The Stormy Night and Illusions have recently been released in China and we are grateful to have been able to talk to Tianrong about his journey so far and how Sydney Film School has contributed his success.

Congratulations on your films, The Stormy Night and Illusion! Both of these films were made and released in China, so what can you tell us about them?

The Stormy Night is about a girl who was stuck in her car because the rain had made her car’s electrical system not work so she could not open the doors or windows. The water is getting higher and higher, she must find the way out of her car otherwise she will drown. This is a true story, every Beijinger knows it. Film is a kind of art about moments. This film is about survival, life and death and memory. Illusion is a mockumentary. I shot it within 15 days. They were very cold days in a winter mountain village. That was a very hard and unforgettable experience. That experience told me filmmaking is very practical. You have to make it if you want to truly understand it.

Your film, The Stormy Night is a horror film. What made you decide to make a horror for your first film?

Why I chose to make a horror film at the beginning of my career?  I think there are two reasons. First, horror film can be made for a very low budget. Secondly, I believe film must be very stylized. Horror film is very stylized. That means you can make a real film with a very low budget. That is great for every new filmmaker.

What is something you learnt about making a horror film?

I found a very interesting thing and that is that humour and horror are very similar. I had read a book about Humour Psychology when I was kid. In that book, it gave me a very vivid metaphor about humour… humour is, at the beginning, making people believe you will lead them to A, but at last you lead them turn to B suddenly. The point is you have to make people believe you are leading them to A as much as you possibly can. Same as in a horror film. Making some things beyond audience’s expectations, but you have to hide them well at beginning.

Is horror the direction you wish to take your upcoming films in?

No. I want to try another type of film if possible. I am looking for a change.

What do you find are the biggest differences between working in the Chinese film industry and the Australian?

As a Chinese filmmaker, we often say that “horror film is one thing, Chinese horror film is another”. Why? In China we have censorship.  For example, In China you cannot create a real ghost in the film, but in Australian horror films real ghosts are very common. Hence sometime we describe filmmaking in China is like “dancing with feathers”.

Did you find that what you learnt at Sydney Film School could be applied to global filmmaking and if so, how?

In Sydney Film School, we shot and edit film. That experience was very important to me. That makes me like a craftsman. It gave me deep thought in image, which is hard to explain. I work on every detail; I treat my film as an artwork. In China, no film school teaches filmmaking so I believe these young filmmakers cannot really understand filmmaking as an art and it’s beauty.

Why did you choose to study at Sydney Film School?

It is great school and has friendly and lovely teachers. It’s like a big family. I learnt things in a very practical way. An unforgettable memory.

What was the process like beginning your career in China after you graduated from Sydney Film School?

My first job was as a writer working at the Beijing TV station. In the beginning, I had to earn the respect and trust from the investors and making my own networks in the industry.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I am working on a few films as producer. Some new directors will shoot these films.

What advice would you give to students studying at Sydney Film School?

The most important thing in the beginning of your career is stamina. Sometimes you feel lonely because no one asks you to be his or her filmmaker and sometimes you feel angry because no one trusts you could be a good filmmaker, but you have to believe yourself and stick it out. Keep your dreams and your dreams will come true.

A Q&A with film and television Art Director and Sydney Film School alumni, Lee Launay

by Nicole Newton-Plater

Sydney Film School prides itself on giving it’s students a hands-on education to film-making so that they go into the competitive Australian film industry as prepared as possible with all the tools they need to start their long and successful careers. Graduate Lee Launay is only too happy to talk about this aspect of his alma mater and how it has helped him with his career thus far.

Since graduating from Sydney Film School’s Advanced Diploma course in 2010, Lee has worked in art and production design in both film and television in Australia and in the United States. He worked in the props department on the set of the 2013 films Goddess and The Wolverine and as the art director on episodes of the television shows The Voice and Disney Channel’s Hanging With Adam and Ash and the upcoming film, Jack Goes Home.

We are delighted that Lee has taken the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his experience at Sydney Film School and the benefits to his career of choosing to study there.

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How did you initially decide to begin your filmmaking study at Sydney Film School?

I was always interested in design and storytelling. I spent more time building cardboard buildings, caves and spaceships for my action figures than I did acutely playing with them. I’d draw comics, write fiction and get some friends together to film improvised fantasy and drama shorts. They were awful, but put me on the path toward studying film. I had looked at a few other film schools, but didn’t want the sterile university vibe. I fell in love with the Sydney Film School creative space as soon as I walked in. It had character from top to bottom, and was full of instructors who were active filmmakers, not just full time teachers. The vibe is what got me and I’m very glad with my decision.

How did you decide to make art direction and production design your filmmaking focus?

When I began at film school I assumed (as most do) I would turn out a director. Over the intense year at SFS I tried many on-set roles, learning their responsibilities and the realities of what each entailed. I learnt a lot about my natural abilities, and through collaborating with other filmmakers developed a slew of new ones. It seemed my skills at drawing and ability to comprehend and articulate ideas into images made me a good fit for art direction. I dived in while in my second semester and have been working in the industry ever since.

You’ve now done work in both film and television. What are the major differences between working in the two? 

Working freelance is a constant hustle, but its always offering fresh and unique experiences. I’ve found that TVC and commercial music videos are very demanding but offer good money for short periods of high stress. Television shows are always under funded and thus art departments are always under the gun to deliver on tight turn-arounds, but it’s constant, dependable work with a steady pay check and forges great working relationships that ultimately lead to more work later. Feature films are their own beasts entirely. A visiting production from the USA has a very different feel to a local feature and the budgets involved can vary dramatically. Feature films offer a fantastic scope of challenges and are where I would ideally like to spend most of my time. Working with a dedicated crew on a single project for a long period of time really tests your mettle and evolves you in your chosen art.

In your few first credits in film and television you were working in the props department. What does working with props entail? Is this a good place to get your foot in the door working in the art department on projects?

The Wolverine remains the biggest production I’ve worked on. I was hired as “Assistant Standby Props”, which is a gloriously misleading term for “Assistant to the On-Set Art Director”. It’s a role that mixes set dressing, prop fixing, rigging, carpentry, SFX, construction, cleaning and A LOT of sweating. I got to build some set pieces and props that got a major close up in the film. I became “Claw-Wrangler” of Wolverine’s deadly blades and would be called on by the Director by name to solve problems as they arose. Strangely when given the extra responsibility, I sort of “settled” into the high-stress environment more. The lessons learnt were invaluable and talking favourite 90’s cartoon theme songs with Hugh Jackman between resets will remain a treasured memory.

What was it like to work on films Goddess and The Wolverine?

Working on a big set is daunting no matter your role. There are so many people to meet, names to remember and protocols to adjust to that I remember feeling really overwhelmed the first time. But with each completed project I realize there isn’t as big a difference between short film and ‘Hollywood Blockbuster’. The budgets are bigger and there’s more to do, but at the end of the day you are still showing up early, solving problems creatively and then going home to do it again the next day. No matter the budget, the “perfect” tool for the job is rarely in reach and it comes down to the ingenuity of the team in place to keep the project moving forward.

You’ve now made the move to be working part-time in the United States. When did you decide to start work in the United States and what was the process like to break into the film business there?

LA is a soup of people trying to ‘make it’. Everyone is trying to do something. Every waiter is an actor, every receptionist a model or a singer… it’s a big masquerade ball of people doing things to survive long enough to “make it” doing something else…myself included I guess. Everyone is a scrapper; it reminds me of that Old Ben line from A New Hope, “Never was there a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”.

In contrast Australia’s film industry is a small one. We have incredibly highly trained and talented professionals doing amazing work on the limited number of production available. After a few years of stable freelance work I wanted a new big challenge, so began to search out productions abroad. In the USA there are a huge number of productions being crewed and completed everyday, the foot in was all I needed. I started small by landing an art director roll on a short film produced by James Franco called “City Bus”. I felt intimidated at the prospect of working with Franco, but soon realized that everyone was really impressed with my level of dedication and professionalism.

I realized that the Australian standard of work is very high due to our competition in the job market, and that having trained here was indeed a privilege. With the fear of being an ‘outsider’ somewhat faded, I threw myself at more projects, always aiming up and last year I Art Directed my first feature film shooting in upstate New York as head of the art department. Jack Goes Home is a psychological thriller directed by Thomas Dekker and starring Rory Culkin, Lin Shaye, Britt Robertson, Natasha Lyonne, and Nikki Reed, which premiered at SXSW Festival in March and will hit Australia early 2017.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itYrHQEqQuE

People often comment on the differences in film financing between Australia and other countries. As you work in production design and in the art department, is this something you feel is evident in production when you are working overseas?

Yes. Australian funding rests largely in winning grants or being awarded funds by government bodies. In the USA there is a market for producers to gain multiple streams of private funding,either on their own merits or on their ability to sell the production to a financier. An indie feature’s budget can start at $300,000 USD and then be rocketed up to $1million USD while shooting through acquiring additional executive producers, letting them visit the set, “wowing” them with the footage shot or simply by getting the right handshake over drinks at a bar. The funding structure the USA seems much less rigid and with more to go around. However, having said that I am not a producer, so I’m sure there’s an entire inside-ballgame that I was not privy too. I’ll just say that I think the Australian Film industry is dramatically underfunded and I really hope we can begin to create Australian franchises to send internationally,as opposed to simply crewing American features that shoot here to save a few bucks.

What are some of the challenges you have faced working in the art department in film?

You name it. There’s no proper way for me to answer this question. Filmmaking is all about challenges. Overcoming challenges against insane odds is what we do. It’s how we learn, how we grow and how we become fearless. I’ve encountered everything from trying to safely orchestrate a horse-mounted gun-fight sequence on a mud slicked hill in thick fog under a heavy rain machine to how to dig a meteor sized crater in the desert, and where to hide all the dirt. No matter the production demands the biggest challenge remains getting out of bed on a cold morning.

You still have a great deal of contact with Sydney Film School. Do you feel that it is important to stay in close contact with where you studied?

Important? I don’t know. I certainly like it. I would not be where I am without the tutelage of Sydney Film School and as I worked with filmmakers who studied elsewhere, I became certain that I made the right choice. A film school needs to allow growth, it needs to hold its own spirit and it needs to challenge you. Nothing has ever been nourished by a concrete slab, which sadly I feel are all other film courses offer…blocks of pre-fabricated lesson plans. I like staying in contact with SFS as it keeps me connected to the future of the Australia film industry. On a selfish level I know that somewhere in each semester is a future producer or director who may ultimately hire me, but really this industry is all about collaboration and I know that every year SFS will produce another set of talented art directors destined to be a collaborator. I do my best to offer assistant roles and paid work placements to alumni as often as I can. I know they will have a strong work ethic and take pride in the results. The SFS community is a unique one that I’m proud to be a part of.

How has what you learnt at SFS helped you in your career thus far?

The greatest offering by Sydney Film School was the ability to try new thing and make mistakes on working film sets. SFS’s focus on practical film making means you can try and fail over and over in a supportive environment, so you can learn from, and ultimately not make those mistakes when working on a professional production. In my first semester I volunteered on a dozen Part 2 Thesis films and I made every mistake in the book from sleeping through alarms, to breaking things, to my phone ringing while filming… you name it, I learnt the lesson in film school. I continue to learn from every production, but becoming intimate with on-set etiquette and protocol was invaluable to me delivering on the first jobs that got my foot in the door.

What projects do you have coming up?

I’ve just wrapped on a short film by Australian director Genevieve Clay-Smith called Kill Off staring ‘American Horror Story’s’ Jamie Brewer. I’m now beginning pre-production for a music video with director George-Alex Nagle, who is another SFS Alumni, to shoot early next month with a TVC to follow. I have plans to return to the USA for a feature film at Christmas, but as productions often get delayed I’m still looking for work locally just in case.

If you could give one piece of advice to those starting their filmmaking journey, what would it be?

Try everything, stay focused and don’t give up. Life is going to be tough no matter what, so prepare your self for a lot of soul-searching in-between each amazing production. Filmmakers suffer from a great deal of ‘impostor syndrome’ and self doubt that can make the jobs we don’t get seem more important than the ones we do, but it’s this feeling of ‘Oh maybe I’m not good enough’ that keeps us humble, keeps us motivated and keeps pushing us to aim higher and higher. So stay focused on your goal, I’ve found it to be a truly amazing existence, worth every petty stress and sleepless nights.

A film school journey – Erin Latimer

erin1Since her Sydney Film School graduation in 2013, Erin Latimer has been extremely busy.

Not only has she started her own production company, Permanent Ink Pictures with her brother and current Sydney Film School student, Justin Latimer, she has also continued her film study at the University of New South Wales. Erin is a great example of how the diploma obtained at Sydney Film School can compliment both past and future study. It opens pathways to more opportunities as well as broadens your filmmaking knowledge and understand each part of the process to work in different roles in the filmmaking process.

We thank Erin for taking the time to answer a few questions about her time at Sydney Film School and her study and film work after graduation.

by Nicole Newton-Plater

Q: What led you to choose Sydney Film School to begin your film study?

A: I did an acting program at NIDA when I was 16. At one point we collaborated with some other NIDA students who were making a short film and I knew at that moment that I was on the wrong side of the camera. I then went to TAFE and studied Digital Media where my favourite class was video editing and it became obvious that film school was the next step. Watching some short films in the Sydney Film School cinema on their Open Day, I knew that I wanted to spend the next year making films too and that I’d come to the right place. I’m pretty sure I took the application form home, filled it out and returned it to John Buckmaster that same day.
 
Q: How did Sydney Film School  help you choose which area of filmmaking you wanted to specialize in? 
A: I specialised in Screenwriting and Cinematography while at SFS. I’d always been into writing and learning to craft screenplays was an opportunity I had been waiting for. Cinematography was also something I’d always been interested in, but never knew much about. SFS gave me the chance to get hands-on with cameras right away and after focus pulling for the major film in Part One, I was keen to continue in the camera department for the rest of the year and landed a DOP (Director of Photography) role for Part Two.
 
Q: As you are now completing a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Film Studies and Creative Writing at University of New South Wales, how did your study at Sydney Film School help pave the way for further study?
A: I came into UNSW with a lot of knowledge about the practical side of filmmaking. In my first year at university, I took a practical course where our tutor showed us how to use DSLRs and basic lights and tripods, but after film school none of that was new to me. I never took another practical course and instead have spent the last two and half years focused entirely on film theory, which has been a great benefit to me as a writer. Having practical skills under my belt first also complimented my university study well, as I’ve been able to use my deeper of knowledge of cinematography, sound, editing and much more to write better informed theory and analysis. 
 
Q: Do you think it is beneficial to study film and continue to progress your career in film at the same time?
A: That depends on your situation, I would say. If you’re in a position where you’re getting paid to work in the industry, I would leave study behind to focus on that at least temporarily. For me the last couple of years have been very busy study-wise so I haven’t had a lot of time to sink my teeth into paid film work. Instead I have been focused on personal film projects and building the beginnings of my production company, which is of course a big part of progressing my career.  
 
Q: Do you find that the work you are doing often coincides with what you are studying?
A: Since I’m studying film theory and creative writing I would say as a writer yes, but as a director, no. I’m currently taking a class called Reviewing the Arts which focuses on crafting reviews and criticism in a chosen discipline, which is of course film and television for me. I’ve recently begun writing critical/analytical essays and reviews for a website called Fandom Following, which is all about nerdy media and pop culture. Having that opportunity coincide with that class has been quite beneficial as I’m learning to hone my skills as a reviewer while getting published at the same time.
 
Q: How was your production company, Permanent Ink Pictures established?
A: When I wrapped up at SFS in 2013, I left with a free weekend of RED camera gear hire thanks to a cinematography award from the school. I used this to direct my debut project outside of film school, a music video called “Hooks” by Daniel Tomalaris. I wanted my work to have a brand from the start, especially since I knew I would be collaborating with my brother Justin in future (who is studying at SFS currently), so having a single name to put all of our work under was something I wanted to establish right away. So Permanent Ink Pictures was born.
 
Q:Permanent Ink has a great connection with SFS, as you show on the company’s website and Facebook page. Do you find it important to pay homage to where you studied?
A: Absolutely, but even more so I think it’s important to pay homage to everyone you collaborate with. Filmmaking is impossible without a team and when you’re a new filmmaker not getting paid and not able to pay everyone you work with, getting names out there is everything. A lot of the people I still work with now have come out of Sydney Film School, such as Hannah Klassek who has been my cinematographer for both “Hooks” and my first short film The Crush Space and we’re likely to work again in the future. This is also the reason that we’re building up a recommendations page on our website, to highlight who our key collaborators are and do what we can to get them noticed by others. Everyone currently listed on that page has been incredible to work with and I’m more than happy to support them as I couldn’t have made my films without them. 
Q. The Crush Space was Permanent Ink Pictures first short film. It’s also a great example of a successful crowd funding campaign, what do you think made people so eager to contribute to the film and how did you generate interest for it?
A. Almost everyone that contributed to the crowd-funding campaign knew me in person or knew someone else working on the film. It was great to see what a large network of support the project generated largely through social media and word of mouth. The Crush Space was a first for a lot of us….one of the lead actors was just stepping into film for the first time after starting her career in theatre for example and a number of the crew were university students or recent graduates of film school. So I think everyone was really eager to see the film succeed because of what it might be able to do for our careers. 

Q. When you first started production on The Crush Space, you already had the goal of submitting it to film festivals in mind. What advice would you give to people wanting to submit their films into festivals?
A. Festival submission has been a big learning curve for Permanent Ink and we received a lot of rejections, but there was also quite a few achievements as well. We got into a new festival, Sydney Indie Film Festival, and received an award for Best Supporting Actress there. I would say do your research first, in pre-production, and have in mind which festivals you want to enter into and why and to focus on a small number of significant festivals that your film can be marketed towards.

Q: The Crush Space sounds like it was the type of film you wanted to watch so you decided it would be you to make it. How important is it to have a personal interest in what you are making?
A: In my first semester at Sydney Film School I was the director of a short documentary. The production went pretty terribly at first….my sound recordist was two hours late to a shoot, my producer didn’t show up to any meetings and so on. I went to Leslie Oliver, who was the director of the diploma course when I was at SFS, for help and he simply said, “If you care about it, it will get made.” And I did, and so it did. The Crush Space was no different. I cared a lot about the story and luckily found other people who did too. I sometimes hear people use the phrase “passion project” in a negative way as if it refers to self-indulgence, but from my experience on the amateur and low-budget indie film scene I would say that everything is a passion project because when there’s not always enough money to go around you have to fuel yourself in other ways. Being interested in what you’re creating is the biggest one. 

 
Q: You have worked on the 
crew of music videos since leaving SFS including that of Samantha Jade’s “Up”. How is working on a music video different to working on a film?
A: Music videos are great fun as there’s always lots of room for experimentation. I’m personally drawn to music videos because as a writer I like the challenge of telling a story purely through images without dialogue, save the song lyrics if they’re at all related. My films are usually very dialogue-heavy so changing things up by making a music video usually results in something very different. Whether I’m directing or camera assisting or anything else, music videos are a great platform for trying new things and taking risks you might not think to take in a scripted short. 

Q: What projects do you have coming up?
A: I finish my final semester at UNSW in June, after which I’m flying to California for 7 weeks to take a break and catch up with family and friends, as well as get plenty of writing done. I’ve been stewing on some ideas for a web series for quite a while so I’m looking to sit down and pen some drafts soon. As for my next short, I have a little comedy script I wrote back in 2012 during my first semester at SFS. I plan to take it out of the drawer and rework it a little and get it made in the near future. But once I’m back from the US the main goal is to start looking for some work in the industry. With a film school diploma and an arts degree at my fingertips…not to mention the desperation of a recent graduate waist-deep in debt…I’m confident that I’ll find some work I’ll love.