Their mission? To pitch, write, shoot, edit and screen a short film… all in just one week.
Griffith Film School has partnered with the festival to establish the Vision Splendid Film Institute – a two-week program of film projects, workshops and masterclasses.
Griffith Film School lecturer Mr Ashley Burgess, who oversees special projects, is leading a delegation of more than fifty students from Griffith Film School, the Queensland Conservatorium and the Queensland College of Art (Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art).
Mr Burgess said the Vision Splendid Film Institute was designed to foster international collaborations and promote Queensland’s burgeoning film industry.
“When the weather is good, this is great cattle country,” he says.
“When the weather is bad, the film industry provides an alternative income stream, and the locals work so hard to accommodate these projects.”
Mr Burgess said the immersive, two-week experience in the Outback was a life changing experience for Griffith’s young filmmakers.
“The students really make the most of it, and it’s often transformative for them,” he says.
“There is an incredible energy that comes from being under the pump, and the students come back quite exhilarated.
“They realise what they are capable of, and their filmmaking takes off in leaps and bounds.
“It is great preparation for making their grad film.”
Griffith Film School graduate Maeve McKenna (pictured left) first went out to Winton in 2014, and has been back every year since. This year, she is working as a mentor to the students as part of the Vision Splendid Institute.
“I had never been to the Outback before, and it really grabbed me,” she says.
“It is such a unique landscape and the light is so good on camera – it’s a great backdrop for Australian stories.
“I also love how intimate it is out here – the town are so supportive of the students, and will go to any lengths to help out with a shoot.
“At some of the big film festivals, you have to arrange meetings with producers and directors weeks in advance – here everyone hangs out together at the local pub.”
Final year film student Payton Harkonen visited Winton last year and is currently producing two graduate films.
She credits her time in the Outback with readying her for a career in the film industry.
“It was amazing , but it definitely presented its challenges.
“For someone who has grown up in the city, it’s a whole new world.
“You learn a lot in the classroom, but there comes a point when you have to get out there and learn from your mistakes!”
“The visiting film students are an integral part of the festival. They literally take over the streets of our town”, says Winton Shire Council Mayor, Mr Butch Lenton.
“The community has really welcomed them with open arms and let the students take free reign on our locations, such as Searle’s Outback Store, which was the location of the award winning short film, Roy, made during last year’s festival by Griffith Film School graduate Luke Angelo Roberts.”
Australian film critic, producer and television personality, Margaret Pomeranz will open this year’s festival, which features film writing and producing workshops, a virtual reality masterclass, the Qantas Short Film Competition and a program of contemporary, classic and cult Australian films, all inspired by the Australian Outback.
Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival runs from 23 June – 1 July.