MRC and SA Films Have Success Around The Country

South Australian filmmakers again had great success at the Sydney Film Festival, with a South Australian film winning the Dendy for Best Live Action Short for the second year in a row. This year, the award went to The Palace, written, directed and co-produced by former MRC Board Member Anthony Maras, with his co-prodcer Kate Croser, a current Board Member, former MRC staff member, and ex-Raw Nerve production supervisor.

The Palace

Dario Russo, creator of Italian Spiderman and the up-coming SBS series Danger 5, winner the Innovation Award, also has MRC connections, making the short film Voodoo and Lou with us in 2006, several films under our TradeFilms initiative and a former member of our Members Production Group.

The award for Best Australian Documentary went to Life In Movement. MRC member Bryan Mason, who directed the film about dancer and choreographer Tanja Ledke, is frequently involved as a mentor on MRC Initiatives, and fellow co-director and co-producer Sophie Hyde has shared her expertise as a SASA Judge. Life in Movement won Best Feature at the 2011 South Australian Screen Awards (SASAs).

Films developed through MRC Initiatives have also been experiencing great success on the national film festival circuit in recent months. The Dungog Film Festival screened 2010 Raw Nerve films Daddy Daddy and Murder Mouth, 2010 Animation Initiative film Top Dog, 2010 Tropfest film A Moment of Grace, and 2011 Tropfest Short Film Production Initiative film Sumo Lake, which has also had more than 130,000 hits on Vimeco.

Murder Mouth also screened at the St Kilda Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Documentary, screening alongside MRC Supported film Toot Toot, nominated for Best Original Score and Best Achievement in Cinematography. Top Dog will soon have its international premiere in the prestigious Palm Springs International Shortfest this week.

Congratulations to all MRC members involved in these films, and all South Australian filmmakers having their shorts screened and awarded across the country and around the world.

MRC Launches Raw Nerve 2011

Last Friday at the Mercury Cinema, we hosted an information session for Raw Nerve.  Now in its ninth year, Raw Nerve is a joint initiative of Screen Australia and Screen Development Australia (SDA) to showcase the nation’s emerging filmmaking talent.

Raw Nerve provides entry-level filmmakers with the training, mentors, resources and financial assistance to make their first low budget short film in a real industry environment. The program spans the complete filmmaking process from concept and script development though to post-production and marketing.

2010 Raw Nerve film DADDY DADDY. Produced by Alexandra Blue, Written by Nikki Wieland, Directed by Amber McBride

If you couldn’t make the information session, here are some points you might want to catch up on:

A Script Development Workshop will be held on April 2/3 at the Media Resource Centre, at a cost of $150 for members and $200 for non-members.  It is being run by Kelly Shilling, an AFTRS graduate screenwriter and director who also works in script editing and lectures in screenwriting at AC Arts.  She will work with writers to develop their characters and story to strengthen their applications through round-table discussions and one-on-one sessions.  More information can be found here.  Places are extremely limited.

A Producing for Short Film workshop will be held May 21/22, also at the MRC, by the MRC’s Digital Media Officer Louise Pascale, who will be working with the producers of all teams selected for Raw Nerve.  Successful Raw Nerve teams will automatically be placed in the workshop, but places are extended to anyone interested in learning more about producing, and costs $150 members / $200 non-members.  More information can be found here.

Screen Australia has some useful references for emerging filmmakers.  For writers, you can download a Suggested Script Layout, detailing how to prepare a script to industry format.  All Raw Nerve submissions are expected to be in this layout.

For producers, an A-Z Budget, which all Producers will be expected to complete, can be downloaded here.

If you require paperwork, such as option agreements between Writer and Producer, the MRC is happy to provide a copy.  Producers must have optioned the rights from their screenwriter as part of their application in order to fulfil their obligations under the contract with the MRC and Screen Australia.

2010 Raw Nerve Film MURDER MOUTH. Producer Daniel Joyce, Writer/Director Madeleine Parry

The Supervising Producers for Raw Nerve will be Louise and Shane; Brad will be in charge of equipment hire and offer ongoing technical support; and Katie and Jane will be able to help with general inquires.  In addition, the selected teams will be paired with an industry mentor in the area we feel you need further assistance in, such as directing, producing, editing.

Guidelines and application forms are all available on the MRC website.

Good luck!  We look forward to receiving your applications!

– Jane and the MRC Production Team

The Future of the Short Film

As RSVPs are rolling in for our 2010 Raw Nerve screening, here in the office conversation has again turned to the debate: are short films dead?  With the abundance of webseries making people sit up and take notice, where does the traditional short film, with its eye inevitably on the Film Festival circuit, belong?

In July, Mike Jones from AFTRS argued the short film is dead, saying the claims that it helps emerging film makers as a learning tool and as a calling card are both outdated “because making a short film only really teaches you about making short films.”  He says that short films created for festivals are essentially films for film-makers, and can’t break out into a wider audience.

He argues for web-series, where filmmakers can learn to sustain a narrative and character development while building an audience base and thus learning how to respond to audience demands.  In this forum people are no longer making films for filmmakers, but they are making films for the global audience of youtube and vimeo: an audience which will comment and respond, and can grow and be shared with the click of the button.

To eventually work on the extended narrative of a feature film it can of course be argued that focusing on three-, ten-, fifteen-minute shorts is pointless, but in this shortness they can teach another great skill: succinctness.   The best short films are ones which exist wholly within themselves, and manage to tell a complete story within a limited time frame.  This editing required to create a short can teach emerging filmmakers to tell their story  in the most economical way possible: when they move into feature-length stories they can continue to tell a story which is tight, even if it is explored over a longer time frame and in deeper detail.

The second argument ignores the fact that short films can exist online, and perhaps this is a point to focus on.  Could keeping short films exclusively on and geared to the film festival circuit, where they are only exposed to a small and limited pool of people generally looking for a particular aesthetic be limiting to both the film and the filmmakers exposure?

Online films also opens a new world of possibilities in digital media.  No longer a thing to simply be observed, they can be interactive, or personalized to their individual audience, as is explored in the Tribeca Film Institute blog.   (Little hint to Adelaide film makers: their funding is open to Australians!)

Here in the office, there is often a short film (or an ad or a clip from a tv series) being shared around.  And nine times out of ten, that film is on youtube.  So firstly, we enjoy watching them, because secondly, we can enjoy accessing them.

Making a webseries also increases costs involved.  No longer a three- or four-day shoot, a webseries creates an on-going commitment in money and in personnel.  At a maximum of fifteen minutes, our 2010 Raw Nerve films were each created on a budget of just $4,000 cash and $2,500 in-kind support, with many people working for no money.  Increasing expectations beyond this into a webseries could conceivably price many emerging filmmakers out of the market.

So what is the answer: are short films dead?  Are short films for film festivals dead?  Is the answer webseires, or simply placing short films online?  Or is this argument completely irrelevant: are short films fine, a genre to themselves, or a genuine stepping stone further into the industry?

MRC Tropfest film Jackie’s Spring Palace.  Sitting proudly on the Tropfest youtube page.

– By Jane, MRC’s Arts Admin Assistant