Griffith alumnus Angie Fielder has been nominated for an Oscar for the critically acclaimed Aussie box office smash, Lion.
Angie produced the film, which is up for the Best Picture Award at next week’s Academy Awards.
The ceremony attracts a worldwide audience of more than a billion TV viewers and gathers all of the film industry’s major ‘movers and shakers’.
“It’s really exciting and a little overwhelming,” she said.
“It is very special to be in the same room with people you feel you’ve known your whole life.
“I try not be intimidated – I have come to the realisation that they are filmmakers just like me, and they are in this industry because they are passionate about it.”
Lion has a star-studded international cast, including Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and David Wenham.
It has topped the Australian box office charts since its release, and has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was also nominated for a host of Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and won two BAFTAs.
Angie has been based in LA for the past couple of months to support the film during the awards season.
“This is the first time I’ve had a film on the campaign trail. It’s one thing to make a film good enough to be a contender, but you can’t rest on our laurels,” she said.
“It is a bit like a political campaign, but I’m enjoying the ride!”
A powerful story
Adapted from 2013 memoir by Saroo Brierley, A Long Way Home, the movie tells the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who is adopted by an Australian couple after getting separated from his family. The film follows his efforts as an adult to track down his biological mother and brother with the help of Google Earth.
It was a story that instantly resonated with Angie, who helped option the film rights.
“It is one of those stories that come around once in a blue moon, and it was clear it would make a great film,” she said.
“It’s got adventure, peril, it traverses continents and time.
“The story is about all those things that most of relate to – love, family, hope.”
Angie, who graduated from the Queensland College of Art in 1996, was Griffith Film School‘s Graduate of the Year in 2012.
“I definitely tried my hand at a few different things, and that is what was great about the course at the QCA,” she said.
“You did whatever you wanted to on films – I had the chance to try producing, directing, editing.
“It was a great foundation in learning how movies are made.”
A jack of all trades
Angie says a good producer needs to be a jack of all trades.
“Producing requires a weird mish-mash of skills; you have to be across everything from writing, directing, editing, to legal and finance.
“You need to be very passionate about making films, because they are a huge amount of work and test you physically, emotionally and intellectually,” she said.
“Stories must resonate – there is no point making something unless people are going to see it.
“You also have to have really good people skills – filmmaking is all about the relationships you forge with directors, writers, cast.”
Breaking into the film industry
After graduation, Angie headed to the UK where she worked for the British Film Institute, helping to organise the London Film Festival.
She returned home to work on the Inside Film Awards, and broke into producing after working on a series of award-winning short films with the then editor of Inside Film magazine, David Michôd , who went on to direct the Oscar-nominated feature Animal Kingdom.
Angie co-founded a production company, Aquarius Films, and has since worked on a range of high profile features, including Wish You Were Here and Berlin Syndrome.
Aussie films taking centre stage
Her projects read like a who’s who of Australian film, featuring a glittering array of local talent including Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and David Wenham.
“We are so lucky in Australia that we have such amazing home-grown talent,” she said.
“The rest of the world knows us and I think we definitely punch above our weight internationally.”
Lion, which has set box office records for an independent Aussie film, has provided a boost for the local industry.
“People all over the world are talking about this film, and they are looking to Australia to provide more stories.”