SPARK 2018: Winners Announced!

Congratulations to 5 terrific short film projects supported by the Spark Film Initiative!

(list in alphabetical order)

“Arrears” produced by Madelon te Lintum (ind.), written and directed by Wilf Watson.

a humorous story about a man struggling in a mad world. A world where oxygen is a commodity and corporate interests unethically rule over human rights. A world where losing one’s job to artificial intelligence is the norm. And a world where forgetting to pay bills on time can be fatal.

“Rite of Passage”, produced by Tiffany Manzie (global headquarters), directed by Andreas Heikaus, written by Grace King.

Three Australian teenagers hear a ghost story about their hometown. They decide to test their courage and try to summon the spirit of the ghost. Not knowing what they have done, they tease each other to their doom.

“Spectrum”, produced by Gaia Osborne (Undergrowth Productions), directed by Tim Parish, written by Phil Denson and Tim Parish.

A young autistic child is implanted with a SPECTRUM app called ‘Gadget’ to aid a normal life. Flash forward 10 years -Ari & Gadget discover the world is run by machines mining DNA. Together they find a solution. Ari learns that emotional bonds make humanity more complex than machines.

“Sunset”, produced by Lydia Gawa (ind.), written and directed by Jane Hampson.

On her 89th birthday, INGRID, a frail, wheelchair-bound woman suffering Alzheimer’s is left alone on a beach by her carer, who sneaks off to meet her boyfriend. A passing musician — heartbroken and homeless — tries to steal a piece of INGRID’S birthday cake, but something about her vulnerability reflects his own state.

“You do you”, produced by Joseph Baronio, directed by Lexie Gregory and Thomas Midena, written by Lexie Gregory.

Mickey’s having a tough time being herself. She’s fed up with her annoying brother, had it with a condescending boy at school, and all the men who just push her around are plain rude. Instead of just daydreaming about the perfect comeback, Mickey’s overactive imagination gets the better of her.

Want to join a crew? audition for a role? Shadow one of the main crew members to get some experience, or help in your very unique way? Then join the Spark Film Initiative – Crews Hub to express your interest to the teams!

Support Capricornia in Style!

We’re running a crowdfunding campaign to help with supporting filmmakers to attend the ceremony. Amazing rewards on offer!

Thank you on the big screen + social media,

Red Carpet experiences with photoshoot

VIP access to Ceremony and After Party

and much more!

visit our Pozible Campaign today

Production Workshop with Wilf Watson

Tuesday 8 May from 6 pm
Mayfair Gallery

7 Harriet Pl, Darwin.


What is Production really all about?

In this final Spark workshop, participants will learn about hands-on tools and methods to get started with the production of a low-budget short film. You have a kick-arse script, a director and a producer, very well. So what’s next? Where do you start? Multi-faceted content producer Wilf Watson will talk you through simple steps, handing out handy templates, dishing out juicy cautionary tales, and figuring out the answers to your most twisted questions.

Although this workshop is free and open to all, It will be a good opportunity for Spark applicants to get ideas on how to refine their project’s applications.

About the presenter:

Wilf Watson started his career in video production back in 2004 as a camera operator at the Darwin Turf Club. He studied interactive multimedia at Charles Darwin University in 2007 and since then has worked in a wide range of multimedia production roles for the NT Government, local private studios and 7News. He has worked on several award winning short films, one of which aired to thousands of people as a Tropfest Sydney finalist in 2012. In 2014 he founded Phenomec, a company focused on virtual reality technologies and innovative multimedia which has gone on to win several awards. In 2016 he became an emerging contemporary new media artist, debuting a virtual reality experience set in southern Thailand at the Digital Departure Exhibition in Caloundra, QLD. In 2018 he completed an undergraduate degree in International Business from the University of the Sunshine Coast that has taken him overseas to Germany and the Czech Republic. Wilf Watson is currently based in Darwin and is keen to share his experiences and support local film makers.

Development & Pitching Workshop with Bridget May

Bridget May

Bridget recently worked at Screen Territory form early 2015 to March 2018, where between 2016 – 2017 she ran the Northern Territory film agency for a year. Bridget has moved into the producing side of the screen industry and is expanding her capabilities in that area. She has built up her knowledge and skills by working as an attachment on several projects. She has worked as a Production Management and Post-Production Supervisor with Brindle Films, over their slate of projects.  This includes running writer’s workshops for two upcoming drama series. Bridget has over 20 years as a dynamic manager with extensive experience within the public and private sector. She is also known for significant strategic and governance work and is a confident strategist capable of developing innovative plans and activities designed to facilitate competitive growth.

The Workshop

Bridget will take you through the different stages of development from the initial concept to post production and deliverables.  She will go through the reality of how complex any story is and how long it actually takes to write before you even think about producing it (you can’t smash a story out in a weekend, it always shows).  There is no one size fits all with screen so how do you do it?

This is followed with Bridget giving some tips and tricks for pitching your project with a hand pitching workshop to help people hone their skill.  Remember, pitching is used more than just for a project and no matter where you are, you can always learn something new.

Here is a rough break down:
  • The different stages of development for screen, from initial concept to post production and deliverables
  • The complex reality of developing a story (no standard recipe, but there are certain things to aim for) and how many years it takes – yes, years!
  • Use the programs that work – don’t fudge it in word
  • Pitching: Why is it important and how to do it easily, now you do it!

To register your interest in pitching your story, email Blandine: initiative@diff.net.au

Director’s Masterclass with Garin Nugroho

Tuesday 17 April, from 6:00 pm

Come along to this free event and learn from multi-award-winning Indonesian filmmaker Garin Nugroho. Garin will spend some time discussing his work as a director, through specific examples, going through his methods, processes, and challenges. He’ll then engage in discussions with Darwin emerging film-makers, and film buffs.

Biography: Garin was born in Jogjakarta, graduated from the faculty of film at Jakarta Institute of Arts and faculty of law at Indonesia University. Garin is considered as a pioneer for the new generation of the 90’s. His films have made their way to various films festivals, such a Cannes, Venice, Berlin and won numerous awards. Garin began his film career as a critic and documentary maker. His works explore the fabric of social issues, culture and politics of Indonesia.

His prolific contribution to world cinema and art goes beyond his feature credits, with other works such as music videos, theater, art installation, book of cultural communications, news articles, and even established two film festivals: JAFF (Jogja Netpac Asian film festival) and LA Indie movie.

Garin is one of the most important Southeast Asian filmmakers of our time, having negotiated the complexities of his nation through the language of film. He is the recipient of the President Habibie culture award, the French honorary decoration of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the Stella D’atelerie Cavalerie award from the Italian government (Stella D’Italia Cavaliere).

Capturing  the love for his country and Javanese culture, Garin’s films possess an undeniable poetic and reflective quality that resonates strongly with audiences, gaining critical attention at home and international festivals.

His latest works, Satan Java (black and white silent movie with Gamelan live orchestra) and A woman From Java (one-shot film, 90 minutes) and dramaturgy in Rianto’s choreographed work called “Medium” have been traveling on a world tour since 2016.

Writer Power!

SPARK development phase is now well underway, and we received 17 awesome Darwin-made original scripts! Congrats to the writers for submitting your work!

If you’re interested in those stories, and in joining a Spark project as a crew member, actor etc, come to Mayfair Gallery tonight Thu 5 Apr for the monthly NT Filmmakers Network meetup starting at 6pm.

Director’s Notes: The Hong Kong Hustle


I wake from deep sleep, to find a TV screen inches from my face. The screen is filled with nothing but clouds. A voice over the intercom informs me that these are Chinese clouds. As we bank to the left, I look out the window and see an island of skyscrapers bursting from the rocks below. This is Xianḡ Ganǧ (香港) which translates to  “Fragrant Harbour” – otherwise known as the megacity of Hong Kong – and I’ve come here to hustle some films for the Darwin International Film Festival.

The Hong Kong International Film Festival is a true smorgasbord of world cinema, with almost 200 international films screening over two weeks across the city. There are entire sections devoted to ‘The Passion of Latin American Cinema’, and ‘The Rise and Rise of Romanian Cinema’, but I’m only here for five days and have decided to focus my selections on breakout new films from across Asia. The cultural melting pot of Darwin is made up of people from across dozens of countries to our immediate north, and the Chinese community has been here for as long as there was a port, but it is rare that we see the cinema from these countries on our screens. Hong Kong boasts one of the biggest film industry in South East Asia, and the Hong Kong Film Festival has become the central venue for premiering new films to the Chinese film industry, so I thought it might be a good place to start on my search.

On my first night, I wanted to explore the city and read its pulse, so I wandered through the streets by foot, soaking up the heat and the neon glow. I exited the massive apartment building/shopping bazaar where I was staying and continued through the billboard-heavy shopping district of Kowloon.

Eventually, I made my way to the Hong Kong Science Museum where they were screening the classic absurdist sports farce comedy Shaolin Soccer. This ridiculously entertaining film pits a group of down and out urban Shaolin kung fu masters against gangsters armed only with a soccer ball. The film is screening as part of a retrospective being held by the festival called Paradigm Shift exploring Hong Kong Cinema since the British handover to the Chinese Government in 1997 – evidently, a major historical shift that the city is still documenting.

One of my favourite films in the festival was a beautifully crafted documentary titled Burma Storybook. It followed the story of a poet who was imprisoned for years in Burma/Myanmar and has only just been released since the military junta has stepped down. In between candid portraits of a country picking itself up from the bootstraps, it juxtaposed a series of poems written by the political prisoner and his fellow poets. It was fascinating to see how something as seemingly peaceful as poetry could be considered a threat by totalitarians, but perhaps that is the point. Poetry is free speech, crafted with art.  If you want to control people’s minds, it is a weapon that will expose power with nothing but a few finely chosen words. Pure cinematic poetry.

Among a wide range of films I watched, some of the other standout films I discovered included:

Newton – a fantastic Indian comedy of errors about the difficulties of running the world’s biggest democracy, full of illiterate farmers and rebels hiding in the forests trying to stop voting.

Honeygiver Among The Gods – a detective mystery story from Butan, which merged mythology and hard-boiled crime into a magical genre piece.

White Sun – an award-winning drama that explores the politics in Nepal in the wake of the Maoist revolution that took place a few years ago and its ongoing repercussions across the society.

Every day, I would walk past an enormous dome-shaped building that google maps told me was the Hong Kong Space Centre. Poking my head through the doors, I discovered it was an enormous Planetarium with a large-scale full dome cinema inside. I bought a ticket to a film called DARK UNIVERSE and was taken on a cosmic journey to the beginning of time in a mind-blowing 360º film about the origins of the universe and the mystery of dark matter – all narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I’ve spent a long time researching into full dome cinemas and am hoping that we will be able to bring one to Darwin this year for the film festival, which we are calling CINEMA 360º. I’ll write more about this initiative in a future blog.

One morning, I wandered down to the harbour and came upon the city’s Star Walk, dedicated to the long history of Hong Kong’s filmmaking culture. Although the actual site was being renovated, the temporary signage informed me that the city’s filmmaking history dated back one hundred years, and had gone through many phases. From myths and legends to kung fu films of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, crime and action John Woo thrillers to Wong Kar-Wai’s stylish theatrics and much more – this city has a long tradition of creating great cinema.

On my last day, I needed a break from the screen, so I decided to visit an exhibition devoted to the life and work of Bruce Lee at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The permanent exhibition was filled with tourists and locals, drawn by the legend of a man who continues to fascinate decades after his death.

The story goes, that after reaching a career ceiling in Hong Kong, Bruce left to Hollywood to make his international career in his early 20s. There was an irrepressible and vibrant energy he carried even as a child actor who had starred in many films before any of his martial arts fame. The exhibition included costumes, poems, press shots and memorabilia from the three short decades of Bruce Lee’s shooting star lifespan.

One thing that became clear was the contribution Bruce Lee made to modern movies, which can be seen in every action movie from The Matrix to Marvel Studios. Today, Hollywood incorporates martial arts techniques seamlessly into highly choreographed fight scenes in a dance of theatrical violence that owes its roots to Kung Fu via Hong Kong and Bruce Lee’s long lasting influence.

However, it was Lee’s philosophy that stayed with me after the exhibition. Bruce Lee used his films to introduce Kung Fu to the world, and through it, the deep insights that this tradition contained. I believe this has come to influence films like Stars Wars and the Jedi philosophy and is now deeply rooted in our global consciousness.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

– Bruce Lee

Following Bruce Lee’s train, I think stories are like water, and cinema is one of the most influential mediums humanity has invented from which to hold them in. Cinema can take as many shapes as artists sculpt it into, and it continues to surprise us with new experiments and technological breakthroughs every year. From the verité of a documentary to the fantasy of Hollywood, comedy or drama, gentle poetry, deep truth or magnificent illusion. The best cinema shows us the human experience in extremely intimate close-ups, writ large upon our cultural landscape. A film festival gives you the chance to experience the art of cinema beyond the commercial blockbuster and genres we have come to know. It’s a chance to discover new shapes that we may never have realised even existed, deepen our understanding of the world-at-large, and share our collective dreaming.

This was the first stop on a month-long journey sailing across this ocean of cinematic water to choose films for our festival in September. Tomorrow I fly out to New York to attend the Tribeca Film Festival and the Toronto for the Hot Docs Festival.

I’ll let you know what I find along the way.

To be continued.