I felt so incredibly honoured to be part of this program of young filmmakers with my very short short film ‘Glare’. I have been a little pessimistic of late about the future of the Australian film industry. After watching these shorts I am now incredibly excited. The direction, cinematography and writing was at an incredibly high standard, so high that it was quite astounding that every one of these directors were under the age of 25, one being only 17.
‘You Can Be Here’ was directed by Daniel Whelan. It is set in Byron Bay itself, where the director grew up. The film is about a young woman who is packing her bags to leave her hometown to move to London. It perfectly evokes that pre-trip panic, where suddenly the place you couldn’t wait to get away from seems like the most beautiful place the world could offer.
Nick Waterman’s ‘From Here’ is the tender story of a young man calling his dying grandmother to say goodbye. I have a lot of respect for someone who can make a film set in one room, with just one person on screen compelling and this film does that beautifully.
Jordan Wippell made ‘Rain Dog’ when he was in year 12, but you would never guess. There was a lot of things I liked about this new-noir film about boxing and redemption. Stylistically it looked brilliant, using silhouettes and cross-fades beautifully. Jordan told me later that he’d shot it on a handycam, but he must be a After Effects genius becouse you would never have known it. I also loved the way this story unfolded. Starting out as a typical redemption story, but avoiding a moralistic ending in a way that was unexpected and honest.
‘Hummingbirds’ directed by Hayley McFarlene is the story of best friends and escape. It reminded so much of one of my favourite books: ‘My Summer of Love’. I love stories about the intensity of young female friendships and this one did it well, particularly in it’s jump from the girls as children and then as teenagers. I could really see this evolving into a feature film and I hope that’s what Hayley has in mind.
The winner of Byron Bay’s Young Australian Filmmaker was Lucie McKendrick with ‘Toombaworth’ (pictured), and she definately deserved it. In her own words: “Toombaworth tells the story of Tayla, her mate Maggie and the drugs and society that rob them of a childhood”. Cole Dorothy’s acting is impeccable in this film, along with all her co-stars. One of the reasons I think the film works so well is because it was written by a person not much older than her protagonists and their voices feel authentic. Even though these young women find themselves in pretty dire circumstances, we see both the light and the dark of there lives and McKendrick allows their humour to shine through.
This truly was a brilliant night of shorts and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for all of these incredible filmmakers.