Factual filmmaking on the fly

Five filmmakers. Five scientists. Three days to write, shoot and edit a film.

Welcome to the inaugural Science Film Sprint, part of the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers(WCSFP) held in Brisbane this week.

Griffith Film School and LiveLab are official sponsors of the Congress, which brings together content creators from global media giants including Netflix, BBC, Discovery Channel, ABC and SBS. These high profile industry insiders will share insights into how the wonders of science, nature and history are brought to life on the screen.

Films with a message

Animation doctoral candidate Tessie Liddell(left) is one of three Griffith Film School students tackling the fast film-making challenge.

“I come from an animation background where it can take months to create a short film, so having just 72 hours is daunting,” she said.

“I love these sorts of challenges – I think it forces you to be more creative and really think outside the box.”

The project complements Tessie’s PhD research, which investigates how animated storytelling can communicate environmental messaging.

Tessie’s PhD supervisors include lecturers from Griffith Film School and the Australian Rivers Institute and as part of her doctorate, she has collaborated with leading scientists on a series of animated films addressing environmental threats.

“I’m interested in making science more compelling,” she said.

“Creating a story and characters is an interesting way to explain these complex issues, and it’s more likely to engage people and produce change.”

Blue sky thinking

Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production student Joshua Radford was also selected for the Science Film Sprint – and he is ready for the challenge.

“It’s a bit scary to be honest – I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with short form concepts that can be pulled off in 72 hours,” he said.

“But the timelines also free you up and give you the space to be really creative.”

The final-year film student runs a small production company that produces digital content – something he describes as “a huge learning curve”.

“My studies at Griffith have been fantastic – I’ve had the chance to write and direct my own films, and it’s given me the confidence to branch out and start my own company.

“I’ve also been dabbling in factual content and digital platforms for a while now – I have my own channel on YouTube and I’m open to every opportunity that comes my way.”

A remarkable partnership

Scores moreGriffith Film School students and alumni will get a chance to work alongside the world’s best factual filmmakers at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers – part of a partnership deal with Griffith Film School and the school’s commercial production arm, LiveLab.

LiveLab creative director Richard Fabb said the partnership had grown well beyond initial expectations.

“We now have students producing a session, we’re filming behind the scenes, screening films, hosting a Q&A with filmmakers and helping run the Science Film Sprint,” he said.

“It’s a huge undertaking and we didn’t imagine that it would grow to this scale.”

Showcasing emerging filmmakers

Mr Fabb said the Congress would also provide a showcase for student work.

“All of the world’s broadcasters of any substance will be here for the week – everyone who’s anyone in the industry,” he said.

“For our students to get the chance to rub shoulders and network with these industry big-hitters and meet some of the world’s most impressive filmmakers and producers is invaluable.

“For their work to be on show during Congress is also really useful. We have several promising projects in development that may attract the attention of commissioning editors and producers.

“These are the industry’s heavy hitters – Emmy and BAFTA winners who produce big, blue-chip shows – but they also recognise that the industry is changing and are keen to engage with film schools and emerging filmmakers.”