Tickets are now on sale for the world premiere of four short films directed by the recipients of the 2016 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship. Anya Beyersdorf, Brooke Goldfinch, Alex Ryan and Alex Murawski will screen their films at Dendy Opera Quays on June 13 during this year’s Sydney Film Festival. The next crop of Fellows to receive $50,000 will be announced on the night.
IF checked in with Goldfinch earlier this year, as the filmmaker was editing her film, 'Outbreak Generation', about a woman who finds herself the sole carer of an eight-year-old boy in the middle of a global epidemic. Goldfinch previously directed short 'Red Rover' in the States while studying filmmaking at NYU, and completed a director’s attachment on the set of 'Alien: Covenant' with Ridley Scott last year.
Where did you shoot Outbreak Generation, and how many days did you have?
We did most of our exteriors in Kurnell, and we did some scenes at Royal North Shore Hospital. And at Lisa [Shaunessy] the producer’s house in Leichhardt. We shot for five days. We needed every minute. I didn’t realise Australians shoot for 10 hours and not 12, so that was a big learning curve. But it’s such a great opportunity, because filmmaking isn’t like painting. You can’t do it in your bedroom by yourself. Having the opportunity to hone your craft is so important. The Lexus program allows people to experiment and I think there’s not enough of that here. It’s so expensive to make films. And we wrote this film in the world of my feature, and it was really great to throw ideas up on the screen and see what works and what doesn’t.
Was the script an excerpt from the feature?
No I wrote a separate thing. Trying to condense a feature into a short is a bit of a fool’s errand. We tried to just have elements of the world and not so much the story of the feature, so it’s quite different. My feature’s a sci-fi, set in the not-too-distant future, so it’s good to look at it and see what the audience will buy.
How do you audition?
We had a casting agent, Marianne Jade, but I had someone in mind for the lead. I’d seen Gen Hegney in a couple of different things. She does a lot of comedy, she was in The Little Death. She’s got a really great comedic sensibility and the character in my film is very depressed and I needed somebody who had this really snide, sarcastic quality. Gen has this ability to inhabit a character and play things really dry. And not ham things up. Even though this film’s a drama, I really wanted somebody that could get in to the few comedic moments and really sell them to give the audience a bit of reprieve from the [grimness].
And for her son?
In the audition this little boy stormed up to us and said, I’ve only been doing this for three months and I’ve already booked three gigs. He had this incredible in-your-face attitude that I thought was perfect for the role. Often when kids have booked commercials and stuff, they’re very rehearsed and fakey. They’re just really big. Because he’s so fresh, Oscar didn’t have any of that overly rehearsed [quality]. He was really good but also really natural.
Are you working with any collaborators from Red Rover?
Yeah, we did all the post production here [in Australia]. Christine [Cheung] edited that as well. We’re doing our post again at Spectrum. But it’s mostly new people.
Now you’re in the edit, is the film looking different to how you imagined?
Yeah it is. I was really thrown by the fact we only shoot 10 hours a day. I’d signed off on a couple of days thinking they were 12 hours. So it’s taken a bit of work to reconfigure things. And I learnt a lot about light in Australia. It is so bright here. In the Northern Hemisphere, where I have most of my experience, the golden hours last much longer and you can shoot outdoors for much longer. Here at 9am, it’s like: the lights are on. It’s so harsh. And shooting in summer you only have so many daylight hours, so you don’t have the flexibility of shooting in the morning and the evening because that’s too long a day. Stuff like that was such a big learning curve for me.
Trailers for all four Fellowship films are here.