Thursday, September 18, 2014


Only one filmmaking rule remains:


Whether it is a 15 second You Tube clip or a 10 part series


Whether you are shooting wide screen 70 mm or with a mobile phone


Clips on You Tube that receive tens of millions of hits, point the way ahead


It matters not whether a 20 million hit You Tube clip has been shot HD or with a mobile phone. What matters is that in its conception, in its originality, it has captured the imaginations of viewers, induced a ‘wow’ response in them and caused them to forward the link to friends.


If Australia wants to be at the rest of the wave, as opposed to being forever lagging behind it, I would like to suggest


As the model to be used to give a new generation of your filmmakers the opportunity to stretch their creative wings and imagine forms of story-telling entertainment that we older generation filmmakers and film bureaucrats simply cannot conceive of.

This is a back-of-the-envelope hastily thought up proposition that requires fine-tuning by younger minds than my own. In stages:

(1) Screen Australia, in conjunction with the state funding bodies, sets up a fund specifically for young filmmakers. I will call it VIRAL FILMMAKING but the name doesn’t matter:

(2) Call for young filmmakers to submit one page of the idea they wish to use as a starting point for whatever form of digital entertainment they feel passionately about.

(3) Successful applicants will receive $1,000 to do what they like with the team of their choice. Total freedom.

(4) From what I think would be an avalanche of  applicants, chose 50 aspiring filmmakers.

Cost to Screen Australia and the funding bodies: $50,000

(5) The panel choosing the 50 successful applicants to be made up of people under the age of 35. The panel does not need to comprise filmmakers only but those who have their finger on the pulse when it comes to digital media and who is watching what and why on the internet.

(6) From the 50 resultant ‘entertainments’ (I am reluctant to call them ‘films’ because this in itself is a limitation on the imaginations of the applicants) 20 are chosen to move on to the next stage.

(7) 20 young digital story-tellers receive $5,000 each to make whatever they want to make and to work with whatever team they like. They are under no obligation to be ‘mentored’ by ‘experienced’ filmmakers. Again, total freedom.

(8) From the 20 resultant ‘entertainments’ 5 are chosen to receive $20,000 to make whatever they like and to work with the team of their choice.

(9) From the 5 ‘finalists’, one is chosen to receive $100,000 to do what they like, with the team of their choosing and one to receive $50,000.

Cost of such an initiative all up: $250,000 for Screen Australia, $250,000 for the state film funding bodies combined.

Even if only one astounding team of young story-tellers, creators of digital entertainment, is uncovered as a result, this will be money well spent if s/he produces something that makes the world look at the entertainments coming out of Australia and, collectively, says ‘wow’.

There are many fringe benefits to a proposal such as this one:

(a) Each of the stages can be accompanied by public screenings of the resultant ‘entertainments’ such that the filmmakers, their team mates and friends have an opportunity to meet with each other and, possibly, to form new teams. Cross-fertilization of like-minded young story-tellers.

(b) Utilize a website that is ‘sexy’ and invite any and all who have registered to comment on the resultant ‘entertainments’. This feedback (bound to be lively) may prove to be invaluable to both the filmmakers themselves and to those within the funding bodies who are monitoring the success (or otherwise) of this exercise.

(c) An initiative such as this would give a lot of young digital story-tellers the encouragement to do what they want to do and not what they think ‘experienced’ filmmakers expect or want them to do.

I am not being ageist in suggesting that no-one over the age of 35 should be involved in this initiative. I am merely acknowledging the reality of the world these young filmmakers are going to grow up into – a world that, for most of us over the age of 40, is an alien one. Yes, as with second languages, we can all learn one at any age but it is the young who can pick up new languages quickly and easily.  Digital filmmaking is a new language. Let young filmmakers themselves give it the form that suits them best. Let them lead the revolution and not be held back by the dead hands of bureaucracy. Ageing baby-boomers, keep your hands off this one. Give encouragement when asked for but otherwise, encouragement will suffice.

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe a filmmaker gets banned for writing things like this and others James has written to provoke debate about why the fuck we bother to make films at all, who we are mking them for and all that jazz!