Digital 'foot in the door' for student and independent filmmakers

10 September 2014
Anita Loneragan in the edit suite live switching footage of the SCU Contemporary Music students in concert. Photo: Anita Loneragan
Anita Loneragan in the edit suite live switching footage of the SCU Contemporary Music students in concert. Photo: Anita Loneragan

Digitalisation has made the film industry one of the world’s most developed and technologically sophisticated industries.

Digital animation, CGI and 3D technologies have changed the scope of film narratives. Celluloid film and projectors are becoming historical artefacts as cinemas have shifted to screen high quality digital images.

Digital SLR and smart phone cameras that shoot video, wireless devices and broadband internet as well as free or inexpensive editing software have simplified filmmaking and made it more affordable for those, like Anita Loneragan and Kaleb McKenna, seeking to get their foot in the door.

This accessibility has been accomplished through the creation of film festivals in Australia.

National Campus Film Festival 2013 short film winner McKenna says "Festival success is a great way to legitimize yourself in the eyes of funding bodies; it gives you opportunities to gain funding for your next film ambitions."

Kaleb McKenna

"The digital revolution is changing the film industry especially from an exhibition standpoint," McKenna said.

"The level of manipulation you have available in the edit room has also completely revolutionized how much control you have over your film after you’ve shot it."

McKenna is currently working on his first funded short film Straight Out through the Film and Television Institute of Perth.

Film festivals are national and international celebrations which present and showcase art on a creative platform.

Australian film festivals such as the National Campus Film Festival and the Melbourne Fringe Festival give students an opportunity to showcase their work and gain much needed experience.

The National Campus Film Festival is an annual event held by the Australian Association Campus Activities (AACA) in conjunction with tertiary university students.  

Southern Cross University (SCU) student and president of the SCU Media Club, Loneragan is one of many first time entrants in this year’s National Campus Film Festival, as McKenna was when he entered and won in 2013.

"Film festivals allow students and independent filmmakers to share, network and distribute their work to a national and international audience," said Loneragan.

"I believe this encourages students to continue to create films, maintain the film industry and in the process this gives us and our work value and worth," she said.

Loneragan will be entering her animated music video of colourful and shapely designs which spilt and replicate. This animation compliments the music and the high level of electric bass controls the animation movement.

Since it was established 20 years ago AACA has expanded and incorporated digitalisation to help the activities which they provide to students including the National Campus Film Festival.

The former National Campus Film Festival manager from Southern Cross University, Ann-Maree Wilkinson says digitalisation "allows students to be granted much needed opportunities".

These opportunities not only benefit upcoming filmmakers but also provide a new generation of filmmakers to emerge into the film industry.

For the past 4 years Southern Cross University has hosted the festival but in 2014 this festival will call Adelaide’s Flinders University home for the first time.

Current National Campus Film Festival creative director and manager Adam Rau said students gained a lot from the festival.

"Student filmmakers beg for the opportunity to get into the industry, they're appreciative of any assistance they can get from film festivals such as the National Campus Film Fest.

"But the digital revolution does not mean filmmakers don't have to work as hard; you've got to work hard to be heard,” Rau said.

Within this festival, students can enter works in four categories including short film, music clip, experimental film and the people choice awards.

Each film will be judged on their creativity, entertainment value and originality.

On the completion of the voting the winners will be screened and their works will be showcased. The judges are yet to be confirmed but voting will remain open for the people’s choice award until September 15.

The winners of these categories will have their work screened at the festival held in Adelaide from September 17 to October 5.

Opportunities therefore will and do arise from film festivals and continue to showcase student and independent filmmakers allowing the growth and expansion the film industry.

Without these opportunities the film industry will suffer.

Just like the National Campus Film Festival, the Melbourne Fringe presents a film festival, with its current version in its second year. The Fringe Film event presents the works of amanteur, student and independent filmmakers to a metropolitan audience in a competitive industry.

Nightly screenings will be held from September 18 to October 5 at Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy.

Now in its 32nd year, the Melbourne Fringe Festival is the longest running multiple-arts festival in Victoria and is continually expanding, including the introduction of film and digital screen festivals in 2013.

Melbourne Fringe Festival Creative director Jayne Lovelock told The Age that this festival "is a spot where artists can gather and connect".

It is about connecting emerging artists with established artists and this creates opportunities for artists to collaborate and create work that then lives outside the festival, said Lovelock.

The voting for Fringe Film opened July 24 and closes September 21 and allows emerging local talent to be exhibited on an online international screen and local screen. 

Thumbnail image sourced: Cinetics - Flickr