Film school students scoop awards

Griffith Film School students have taken out top honours in a series of high profile awards.

Head of Griffith Film School Professor Herman van Eyken said the success of students and alumni reflected the high calibre of work taking place at GFS.

“It is incredibly exciting for our students to receive this recognition. I congratulate them all,” he said.

“These awards provide an opportunity for the next generation of filmmakers to make industry connections and build a wider audience for their work.”

Animation project takes out top prize

Robert Corless took home Best Tertiary Animation at the ATOM Awards in Melbourne this month with his animated short film, Samuel of the Sea.

“I was very touched — it’s a pretty high calibre award, and it ensures that my film is seen by the right people,” he said.

“It’s given me a push to enter the film into more festivals — Melbourne International Animation Festival and the Northwest Animation Festival in the US.”

Robert is an animator, illustrator and comic book artist. He completed a Bachelor of Animation and is currently undertaking his Honours.

Samuel of the Sea premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. It has also screened at the Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival in South Korea.

Robert said the film had resonated with audiences around the world.

“I put a lot of effort into the visuals and it also has a nice story that people have connected with,” he said.

“It’s mysterious and a little bit dark, but it has this lovely romance and journey of discovery at the centre of it.”

Graduates recognised at cinematography awards

Griffith Film School alumni Sean Ryan and Cameron March recently claimed major awards at the Australian Cinematography Society Awards.

Sean won a gold award for his work on a music video for Queensland Conservatorium graduate, Gold Coast-based singer/songwriter Marcus Blacke.

The video, for the single Umbrella Brian was shot in a small section of forest in Miami, Gold Coast and Junk Bar in Ashgrove.

“We shot it over a weekend – it wasn’t an easy shoot and there was no budget, so it was all hands on deck,” he said.

“But music videos really have an open brief and provide a great opportunity to work with local artists, try out new techniques and experiment creatively.”

The clip was produced with fellow Griffith Film School graduates Mick Soiza (director) and Ryan Greaves (producer).

“The connections you make through film school help you after you graduate,” he said.

“We worked with each other through film school and have collaborated a lot since.”

Sean is now working for local company Alt Vfx where he specialises in visual effects. He said the award affirmed his choice of career.

Peter James, the Australian cinematographer who worked on films like Driving Miss Daisy and Black Robe, once told me that you had to want to be a cinematographer more than you want to eat,” he said.

“I am passionate about this job — for me it’s got to be all in or nothing.”

Fellow Griffith Film School alumnus Cameron March won a silver award for cinematography on a short film, Elly, which was produced at GFS.

“I was really pleased to be recognised,” he said.

“It was a short film project completed while I was in my final year at GFS — I was juggling cinematography duties on this film while directing my own graduation film.

“It was an intense workload, but the director, Lachlan Linton-Keane, had a strong vision and it was a privilege to help him bring that to the screen.”

The sound of success

Masters of Screen Production student Mary Duong received a prestigious award from the Australian Screen Sound Guild for her work at Griffith Film School.

The Greg Bell Student Encouragement Award was presented to Mary at a gala awards ceremony in Sydney.

“The award recognised the body of work I’ve done through Griffith Film School,” she said.

“It was humbling to stand beside people who have changed how sound is created and designed in Australian film.

“People nominated for these awards have gone on to win Academy Awards, so it is quite an honour.”

Mary is committed to innovation, and was the first student at Griffith Film School to use surround sound on a student production.

“You have to be across all everything from location recording to sound design and mixing,” she said.

“It is a real mix of skills — from being alone in the editing booth to working as part of a crew on set.”

Mary said embarking on a Masters degree had given her experience on a wide range of projects.

“You have to make your own opportunities. Film school has taught me a lot about how I want to tell stories, how I see the world.”

Taste of triumph

A short documentary directed by Griffith Film School’s Dr Peter Hegedus and Masters of Screen Production student Jaina Kalifa has been awarded best short documentary at the Devour Food Film Festival in Canada.

Strudel Sisters took out top honours at the unique international festival that celebrates cinema, food, wine and culture.

Dr Hegedus has been on the road with the film, which has been selected for some of the world’s most prestigious festivals, including the St Kilda Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Hot Docs, Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival and the Antenna Documentary Film Festival.

The film follows Ilona and Erzsebet, two sisters living in the small Hungarian town of Tura who make “big strudels on small tables” in much the same way their beloved mother did when they were growing up during the communist era.

Dr Hegedus recently returned to Turafor a screening of the docoumentary.

“It was a great turn out and everybody loved the film. There was actually a disappointed sigh at the end when the screening finished,” he said.

“I usually don’t sit through films I worked on, but this time I did because I just couldn’t get up. They were so engaging. I just couldn’t leave!

“This film is funny, sad, insightful, hopeful and educational – everything a good documentary should be.”

The documentary will form an international off-shoot of the Big Stories, Small Towns project, funded by an AEL Research Grant last year.