Screen test for UniSA’s next generation movie makers

UniSA-FilmA group of top students at the University of South Australia will earn the chance to showcase their own short film at the Adelaide Film Festival as part of a final year learning experience that puts them shoulder to shoulder with film industry professionals.

The final year students from the Bachelor of Film and Television are benefitting from a unique collaboration between UniSA, Rising Sun Pictures and We Made a Thing Studios which immerses them for four weeks in the film industry – working with writers, crew, directors, editors, actors and VFX specialists – to produce their own short film.

UniSA Film and Television Program Director, Dr Josh McCarthy says the program is a feature of UniSA’s newly formed Film Concept Lab, the only one of its kind in Australia. “Apart from the film itself, there is nothing fabricated about this experience for the students, it is an invaluable opportunity to work in real time on a genuine project, with local and highly successful SA industry collaborators,” he says.

“For more than five years students of UniSA’s Bachelor of Film and Television and Graduate Certificate degrees in Visual Effects have had the benefit of a unique partnership with SA visual effects trailblazers, Rising Sun Pictures and that experience has seen many graduates go on to work in the industry in Australia and around the world.

“UniSA’s newly-formed Film Concept Lab (FCL) brings that collaboration together with creative storytellers We Made a Thing Studios, taking the lab experience to a whole other level. The four-week original short film lab intensive will be led by We Made a Thing Studios principals Jeremy Kelly-Bakker and Tom Phillips,” says Dr McCarthy.

And UniSA students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate and undergraduate VFX Placement in Compositing and Tracking training program that RSP operates in partnership with UniSA will produce visual effects for the film. The entire production will be completed in little over a month, with the film scheduled to premiere in a special screening at the Adelaide Film Festival on October 21.

“We’re very excited about this project,” says Dr McCarthy. “It’s a great time for the film and television industry in Australia generally, and especially for Adelaide where the newly announced government stimulus package is bringing new energy to the sector and attracting big productions.

“Not only is South Australia a very appealing place to film, but through partnerships like this we are delivering some great new talent to the sector who have the experience to hit the ground running in this highly competitive creative industry,” he says.

Executive Dean for UniSA: Creative, Prof Joanne Cys says the industry partnerships behind the lab are highly valued by UniSA and its students. “This is a significant collaboration in SA because it brings together the experience of professionals from companies like Rising Sun Pictures who have carved out a global reputation for excellence and are willing to invest back into the emerging talent in their state of origin,” she says.

“And the creatives behind We Made a Thing Studios, both graduates of South Australian universities, are an example of how education and industry engagement contribution to building the talent pipeline and the creative industries SA,” says Prof Cys.

For third year student, Gene Freidenfelds the notion of becoming a movie maker has been knocking at the door for quite some time. Creative, experimental and into the idea of performance, both live – he has done stand-up comedy for the past five years – and through sound and film, Gene says the chance to be part of the Film Concept Lab production is significant.

“It will be important in showing us how a professional set operates, what the timelines are like, what the constraints are, and what adaptation needs to happen on set,” says Gene. “And I expect we will make some great contacts to help us get a break in the industry. I love the idea of someday directing serious experimental narratives as well as surrealist comedic stuff.”

“At uni you have the ultimate creative freedom – there are no limits – but I know it’s a totally different wheelhouse in the ‘real world’, so this experience will test how we can bring that creativity into a consumable, realistic framework and work with a group of wildly creative people to come out with an entertaining, professional film – so it is a real test.”

Every student working on the film will be awarded a professional film credit and attend the premiere of their movie at the Adelaide Film Festival. With the working title – The Normals – the new film will have a comic espionage theme.

Some 20 UniSA students will be involved in its production, with experienced professionals supervising their work as director, cinematographer and in other key roles. A separate group of UniSA graduates will produce a behind-the-scenes film documenting the process.