Entries open for 2012 SA Screen Awards

MARK THE DATES FOR THE EVENT OF THE YEAR FOR SA FILMMAKERS!

The Media Resource Centre (MRC) is calling for entries for South Australia’s premier screen awards – the 2012 South Australian Screen Awards (SASAs).

Established in 1999, the SASAs exhibit, celebrate, support and promote South Australian talent through the presentation of 20 awards encompassing short film, feature film and emerging local talent. In the lead-up to the Gala Awards Night on Friday 20 April 2012 there are several ‘Best Of’ Screenings for nominated films and winning films are later toured throughout regional South Australia.

Over the last decade the event has grown consistently alongside the local film industry.  To reflect the growing amount of features being made in South Australia with South Australian key creatives, the Media Resource Centre introduced the Best Feature Film Category in 2009, with a prize sponsored by the Mercury Cinema. The prize is a four screening session of your film at the Mercury Cinema with free venue hire plus 100% of the Box Office takings. Valued at over $3000 with the potential for Box Office earnings of up to $11,000 in cash it is a considerable prize for films that have not yet secured commercial distribution.

“The Mercury Cinema is pleased to again offer this award, which promotes local independent feature filmmakers,” says Gail Kovatseff, MRC Director. “Winning these four free screening sessions gives the filmmakers the opportunity to ‘test’ that their film has an audience, and to create public awareness of their film and raise funds to market it further both nationally and internationally.”

With the phenomenal amount of recognition South Australian filmmakers have received over the past year in festivals around Australia and internationally, it is anticipated that the standard of entries in 2012 will be very competitive.

“It is exciting to see so much quality filmmaking occurring in South Australia, and for our films to receive such critical attention nationally and worldwide is a credit to the emerging film industry in South Australia,” says Shane McNeil, MRC Manager of Programs and Development. “The SASA Awards allow emerging filmmakers to have an event where they can celebrate and enjoy their successes and achievements amongst their peers.”

Entry forms and guidelines for the 2012 SA Screen Awards can be downloaded from the Media Resource Centre’s website: http://www.mrc.org.au. Forms are also available at the Media Resource Centre and Mercury Cinema (13 Morphett Street, Adelaide).

The entry deadline for the short film categories is 4pm Friday 20 January 2012.
The extended deadline for short film entries is 4pm Friday 10 February 2012.
The entry deadline for the feature category is 4pm Friday 2 March 2012.

… See Page 2 for full list of individual award categories & more information regarding the SASAs event itself (dates, booking info etc):

2012 South Australian Screen Awards – categories:

Feature Film

·                              Best Feature Film (Drama or Documentary – 60 minutes and over)

Short Film – Genre Categories

·                                Best Film

·                                Best Drama

·                                Best Comedy

·                                Best Animation

·                                Best Documentary

·                                Innovation in Digital Media – rewards excellence and innovation in interactive DVD, interactive on-line, cross platform, and portable screen projects. Games are excluded.

·                                Best Non-narrative (eg. experimental, dance)

·                                Best Music Video

·                                The MRC People’s Choice Award

Short Film – Craft Categories

·                                 Best Cinematography

·                                 Best Composition

·                                 Best Direction

·                                 Best Editing

·                                 Best Performance

·                                 Best Production Design

·                                 Best Screenplay

·                                 Best Sound Design

Early Career Categories

·                              Emerging Young Filmmaker Award – recognizing the best achievement in a creative or technical role by a screen practitioner who is 26 or under as of 10 February 2012.

·                             Emerging Producer – recognizing outstanding potential by a practitioner who has not yet produced a feature length work or a commercial work for television of one hour or more.

The Mercury Cinema and Media Resource Centre (MRC) are located in the Lion Arts Centre at 13 Morphett Street, Adelaide.  Tickets for all events at the Mercury may be purchased in advance by telephoning the MRC on Ph: 08 8410 0979 or purchased in person from the MRC offices.

2012 SA Screen Awards – Ticket Prices:

‘Best Of’ Screenings (Friday 13, Saturday 14, Sunday 15 April): $15/$12 concession

Gala Awards Presentation (Friday 20 April): $40 (including the after party)

Book early for the awards as it is always a full house!

Crossing over

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by the SAFC and MRC to attend XMedia Lab in Perth, What’s Your Story? Having attended a few XML’s over the past few years I thought I knew what the day entailed; a few cases studies, the latest in hardware development and really cool international speakers.

Well not only did I get this but so much more. This XML was the most relevant one I had been to yet. In fact it was the most relevant for our industry, it focused on story in an interactive and collaborative space.

The first speaker, Esther Lim from The Estuary set the stage, this is all about creative community collaboration. Scary? Far from it, this is blurring the line between fiction and reality while allowing masses of people to go through the same story experience at the same time but from anywhere in the world. Now that’s exciting stuff.

And we can’t fight it anymore, hence my first tweet of the day:

“Beware auteur, community collaboration is happening whether you like it or not.”

While my call to arms may sound scary, Prof Duane Varan of Murdoch University demonstrated that just because it’s interactive we don’t throw the rules away. In the 10 Commandments of Interactive Storytelling, when it comes to cross platform narratives we embrace the same principles of linear storytelling. We just have to acknowledge that audiences live in cross platform worlds, but the trick is not to share the same content across platforms but intersect them.

Too much to get your head around? Well let Marshall Vandruff help clear it up for you, the things that stay constant are;

The Journey – takes us on one, not a tour.

The Thrill – through ups and downs; reversals, turning points/twists, build to a peak of tension, that way everyone cares about the outcome.

But most of all, give some meaning to our lives through that story.

Just when we thought we had it all down pat, Dominic Knight from The Chaser came to the stage to remind us that when it comes to storytelling, there are so many ways you can be innovative. It can be from setting to situation to character to dialogue to platform. But most importantly if you can nail storytelling then you can go far but if you don’t get that right you lose your audience.

If your story is good enough it will get out there, just make sure it is not about fixed media but evolving media. Renowned Australian producer Robyn Kershaw knows this and has picked up on it quick. Through her teenage children she has found a generation of stars who are broadcast on YouTube with cult followings.

Focusing on My Chonny she refers to this generation of viewers who do not engage in traditional forms of story as Screen-agers. And Chonny is not alone; there is Natalie Tran, Shane Dawson and Peter Chao. These are not just raving attention seekers; they are creative personalities with their own cult followings. The numbers of views on their absurd and off the wall clips reach over 1 million hits.

Transmedia can be daunting for traditional filmmakers but that’s because of a lot of misconceptions about it. Henry Jenkins broke down these as the 7 myths of transmedia;

1. it refers to any strategy involving more than one platform

2. it is a promotional tool

3. it means games

4. it is for geeks

5. it requires a large budget

6. everything should go transmedia

7. it is so 10 minutes ago

Once you wrap your head around all this you will soon see that: “In the brave new world of transmedia content is still king, conversation is just something to talk about.”

Is Sucker Punch the most loathed film in the world?

“During the fight scenes, like all who see Baby Doll’s seductive dance, I descended into a dreamworld. In mine, however, rather than fighting, I am best friends with a hot dog. We go on road trips together and work at a hardware store owned by the hot dog’s grandfather. Sometimes, we will just spend the whole day down at the stream, fishing. We never catch anything, but we don’t care. It is just about the friendship more than it is about fish. The spring lasts forever.

Then the dance ends, and I find I am still watching this horrific bucket of piss.”

David of Cave City Sink

Back in December, I wrote about the Star System in movie reviews: where a critics’ entire thoughts on a film must be wrapped up in a neat and easy to understand scale of one to five. Movie ads carry these stars, short one- or two- word quotes (often punctuated with an exclamation mark – notice how little critics tend to actually use exclamation marks?): the shortest and best angle they can get from a review to market their film.

But when you look beyond the star system, when you start reading the long prose of reviews, there can be some fantastic things said. And when a film is truly terrible, these reviews can be the thing which almost (almost) makes the creation of the film worth it.

The latest film to feel the full gauntlet of the critics’ wrath is Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. In fact, I cannot remember a film in recent history which has been so attacked, with such snark and brilliance of prose.

One needs to only read the titles of these reviews to know exactly what people think:

This Movie Made Me Feel Bad To Be Alive: A Review of Sucker Punch

“Sucker Punch” a confusing house-of-horrors story with busty women.

“Sucker Punch” goes beyond awful, to become commentary on the death of moviemaking

What the Hell is Abbie Cornish Doing in Sucker Punch?

Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch is a Steaming Pile of Sexist Crap

The film is being attacked for its misogynistic depiction of women, its non-existent narrative, and for just generally being, well, awful. At i09, Annalee Newitz says “This film will crystallize for you all those half-formed thoughts about what’s wrong with Hollywood.”

Some people come with suggestions as how to make your own version of the film. A.O. Scott of the NY Times suggests taking:

“a bunch of video-game platforms; DVDs of “Shutter Island,” “Kill Bill,” “Burlesque” and “Shrek”; some back issues of Maxim; a large bag of crystal meth; and around $100 million.”

Alternatively, for a cheaper route, you could take the advice of Clem Bastow of The Vine, who says you should:

“open a bunch of tabs; in one, go to YouTube, load up Leeroy Jenkins; load up Suicide Girls in another tab; then take a bunch of downers and flick furiously between the two tabs while you play the Godzilla and Spawn soundtracks.

Then punch yourself in the face.”

Or, you could watch Sucker Punch, as Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests, but:

“You could rearrange the reels in this film and show it out of sequence, and I don’t think it would make a difference.”

Quoting these reviews doesn’t give half of the enjoyment of reading the whole thing. When critics are allowed to let go – giving a detailed analysis of a film, eschewing a reduction to the star system – that is when criticism and its relationship to film, and its necessity to this industry, can truly be shown.

But what will David and Margaret say? I guess we will have to wait to find out tonight.

– Jane

EDIT: It seems Margaret Pomeranz liked it.

“The heightened reality, the tongue-in-cheek provocative design of Baby Doll’s outfit as a mini sailor suit, has you sitting back in your seat going whoa, what’s happening here? But you get into the swing of things and actually start having a good time, although the five quests become a bit repetitive.”

The Producing Myth

A prominent, local producer once joked to a colleague that putting on a producer’s workshop is simple. You just give all the participants a block of wood, a hammer and chisel. They then carve out the word ‘producer’, varnish it and hang it on a wall and voila!, they are now a producer.

As simplistic as this is, sadly this is what a lot of emerging (and sometimes established) filmmakers think is all that is required to be a producer. Quite often we find here at the MRC, that people put their hand up to be the producer without a clear idea of what it takes.

According to Quentin Kennihan a producer: “realizes the financial objectives of the film and assists the director in being accountable for the creative objectives of the film.”

Producing is often that grey area in production; not so clearly defined, yet the driving force behind any film. This is because a lot of what we do happens before anyone walks on set or into the studio.

Producer and SAFC Program Manager, Industry Development and Production, Rebecca Summerton believes a producers’ role is: “to protect and nurture the creative vision of a project from initial development right through to marketing and distribution. (They) juggle the demands of money, time, differing creative visions, investor and market expectations and individual needs to (hopefully) create an environment where creativity can flourish.”

Emerging producer Alexandra Blue agrees and adds: “a producer must be creative in everything they do… from giving input in script development, to convincing investors of the merits of the project, to problem solving during production, and implementing smart festival or distribution strategies while also managing a creative marketing campaign. The Producer spends the longer a project than anyone else, as they are there from financing to sales, and it is their passion that ensures the project makes it through from beginning to end.”

Or as Mark Knight simply says; “Producers instigate, motivate, evaluate, negotiate, delegate, integrate and at the end of the shoot, when everyone else has left, makes sure to shut the gate.”

It is easy to see why people often don’t understand what our role is, what we do is complex, varied and often unseen. We work hours and hours, alone at our desk, on the phone or in meetings.

So next time you think, ‘no sweat, I can produce that!’ remember it will be your pay that is the first to get cut when budget shrinks, it will be you who will spend the next two years marketing the film when everyone else has moved on, and it will be you who will be making the hard decisions that can make you the unpopular on set.

But if you are serious, and we hope you are, there is a weekend workshop that can take you through the beginnings of what a producer does, that doesn’t include woodwork.

Responses to Snowtown

The MRC asked Dr Simon Robb to write a piece for its blog on the movie Snowtown. Dr Robb is a writer, researcher and radio documentarian. He is interested in relationships between crime, identity and culture and on the role of hopefulness in the lives of young people on the margins. His previous publications include Hope (Wakefield Press, 2010) and The Hulk (Post Taste, 2003).

Almost Nothing

I saw Snowtown the other night. The movie was introduced as important and brilliant. I’d like to suggest how a movie about serial murders could be important and brilliant and look at the film in that light.

Snowtown is a film about the murder of eleven people by a small group of men in the outer suburbs of Adelaide in the 1990’s. The film is based on real events. A film about real events isn’t important just because of its subject matter. A film is important because of the way it treats its subject. A film about serial murder is important if it helps in some way to alleviate the pain of the people who suffered from the original violence. The film is doing something important if it’s helping with the pain. It’s also doing something important if it’s helping with the pain felt by others who have suffered in similar ways. How can a film help with this pain? This is one of the important questions that a film needs to ask.  If a film is important it has posed this question and perhaps found a good answer. How do we know that a film has posed that question?  I’m not talking about whether the writer talked sensitively to a victim’s brother. I’m talking about evidence in the film itself of the presence of the question being asked. We know the important question is present when we experience a sense of hopefulness even in the presence of horror. The right question about helping those who suffer is a question that asserts the existence of hope. We will experience  hopefulness in some form when the right question is present in the fibre of the film.  In this film hopefulness is not present. Snowtown has not asked the important question.

A film is important when it offers an audience some hope that suffering will end, in some way. A film that does that is doing important work. A film that does not offer some hope in the face of violence is doing bad work. It is doing the work of violence. What’s the work of violence? To oppress others with the threat of unending suffering. If you exit from the cinema oppressed with thoughts of unending violence you’ve been done over by the agents of violence. That’s how I felt leaving the cinema. We needed the film to be important, to do some important work about violence, but it didn’t.

Why should a film assert the existence of hopefulness? It’s the obligation the film has to those who have really suffered. When a film is using real events it is taking something that belongs to others. It needs to give something in return. When a film gives back realistic cinema violence in exchange for real historical violence what do you call that?  That’s a bad deal. It’s a bad deal for  those who suffer. That’s an important deal because of the extent of its badness. It’s exploitation. A film needs to give hopefulness to those who suffer otherwise there’s going to be some exploitation.

It’s hard to give hopefulness. It’s a lot easier to return violence with violence. It’s a lot easier to claim importance than to deploy it in the structure of film making. It’s hard to be freed from real violence in commercial cinema. Can we make commercial cinema about real violence without exploitation? It’s hard, but do you want to look in the mirror, film man, and see just another guy who makes a living out of violence?

If this was a brilliant film, it would have gone beyond exploitation and the perpetuation of suffering and have given the audience something to hope with. But it can’t do that because it doesn’t ask the important question about how we can help those who suffer.   A film about violence has an obligation to show some hope to help heal the wounds of violence. What does this film do to help heal the wound? Almost nothing. It does almost nothing to help.

For other views on the film, see what Sandy Cameron had to say on his blog The Loose Cannon and the review from Rhys Howlett on 891 ABC Adelaide.

Snowtown will be screening this Sunday at 3pm at The Mercury as part of  BAFF’s Best of the Fest.

Reviews in Brief: Rubber and the Double Hour

The Double Hour:
An impressive directorial debut. An Italian heist thriller starring two tough young Italian stars in an innovative and fresh story mixing contemporary noir, psychological drama, a bit of romance (speed-dating-style) and some elements of horror. It’s a potent and intriguing mix with some top class twists. Did screen once at the Italian Film Festival in Adelaide last year. It was the smartest and most entertaining film on offer then.

Andrew Bunney 4 stars

Rubber

RUBBER is the story of a car tyre that has been abandoned, buried in the desert sand, and suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As an audience with binoculars watches, Robert (the tyre) first learns to balance, before trundling across the landscape. As he rolls, Robert discovers that not only can he crush things, but he also possesses psychokinetic powers to destroy anything he wishes without even having to touch them. At first he’s content to wreak havoc on cans & bottles, but soon turns to small desert animals and even humans, resulting in gory mayhem. Yes, a tyre with splattertude. On another level, a wonderful and intriguing exploration of the reasons that things happen in movies.

Andrew Bunney 4 stars