Griffith University creative arts students and alumni descended on outback Queensland to hone their craft as part of the Vision Splendid Film Festival in Winton.
They pitched, wrote, shot, edited and screened a short film in just one week – a challenge that put their skills to the test.
Each year, Griffith Film School partners with the festival to run the Vision Splendid Film Institute – a two-week program of film projects, workshops and masterclasses.
Last month, Griffith Film School Head of Special Projects Ashley Burgess led a delegation of 100 students and alumni from Griffith Film School and the Queensland Conservatorium to Winton.
This year, the diverse group included filmmakers, animators, actors and composers.
Among them was Griffith Film School alumnus Jacquelynn Auger, who came back this year for a special bootcamp.
Her 15-minute film, The Pause, won the Audience Award at the festival and she spent time collaborating with and mentoring students.
“This was my third trip out to Winton for the film festival, and it’s been absolutely life changing,” she said.
“I went back this year to shoot a short film and was asked to be a mentor to the current students.
“I could see they were quite inspired by having a recent graduate there to bounce things off and turn to for support.
“For me, the whole experience ignited a passion for teaching.”
Jacquelynn said the trip had forged a network of creative collaborators.
“The best part about Winton is the relationships you build – from the Koa elders that go out with us, to all of the amazing locals and the students you work with to get your projects across the finish line,” she said.
“A big part of any film education is the connections that you make – I definitely wouldn’t be the person or filmmaker I am today if it wasn’t for these trips.”
Queensland Conservatorium composition student Cole Forfang Phan wants to pursue film scoring after graduation.
“Getting to work with university filmmakers and seeing the professional process was a real eye-opener for me,” he said.
“When it came to scoring the films, we were on such tight deadlines, I had to develop new ways of working.
“It really pushed us out of our comfort zones – I ended up doing sound design which I’d never tried before.”
Queensland Conservatorium Bachelor of Acting student Natalie Ferris said the trip had provided valuable insights into the screen industry.
“At Griffith we’ve got a film school and an acting program, so it makes sense to combine forces,” she said.
“The film students were so accommodating and taught me so many things about the technical side of filmmaking.
“I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole other world, and one that allows me to do my job better as an actor.”
“You have to be talented to be in this industry, but it’s also about creating a network.
“I’ve made some wonderful connections and friendships on this trip – people have offered to shoot my show reel and roles in their graduate films.
“It gave us a taste of that professional environment and was a stepping stone between uni and the industry.”
Lawrence Greene is a mature-age student at Griffith Film School who said the trip had given him a new perspective on filmmaking.
“Winton is the kind of pressure cooker environment that seems to be constructed to force people to learn about themselves,” he said.
“You can never pull off something perfect in a week. But if things had gone more smoothly, I wouldn’t have learned as much.
“It taught me to trust my own decisions and gave me the confidence to take on film projects outside university.
“It made me realise that film school isn’t about what you can make, it’s about what you can learn.”
Mr Burgess said the immersive experience in the outback was transformative for the emerging creatives.
“It’s about finding an authentic creative voice, building relationships and developing the confidence to have a go,” he said.