Partner Focus: the NT Filmmakers Network

SPARK is back! – and this year again, we’ll be partnering up with the NT Filmmakers Network, starting with our Launch on Thu 1 March being hosted at Mayfair Gallery, at the monthly NTFN meetup. Penelope Paton is the founder of this little institution in Darwin (and expanding across the NT). Institution is employed figuratively here, as Penny likes to stress, the community aspect of the group is very important. She sat with us yesterday to answer a few questions about her vision for the NTFN, and how you might want to join the group more than you think!

Hi Penny! Could you tell us a in a nutshell what the NT Filmmakers Network is all about?

The NT Filmmakers Network is a group that helps create connections and opportunities in the NT Film Industry. A regular monthly meetup in Darwin is scheduled the first Thursday of every month, with membership being completely free. The group is slowly growing with over 250 members. People can keep up to date with meetups via our Facebook page.

Can you give us some examples of projects (besides Spark!) that benefited from the existence of the NTFN?

There have been quite a few projects that have benefited from attending the NT Filmmakers Networking sessions. I know local talents such as young, award-winning Nathaniel Kelly and Thomas Midena have attended the group and made new connections in the industry. We also helped to promote their latest feature film We’re Family Now, which was screened at BCC a couple of weeks ago. Additionally, a recently government funded web-series called Fort Dundas – directed by Markus Tumuls – used the networking sessions as an opportunity to meet others that were interested in filmmaking from all different film departments – like cinematography or music production. We like to embrace a multi-disciplinary approach to the filmmakers network, inviting people interested in acting as well as the more technical sides of film making.

Do you need to be making films to join the group? How can being part of the group be interesting for anyone in the region?

You don’t have to be making films to join the group. Some peeps, just don’t know where to start. The NT Filmmakers Network is free to join and current members come in all ages and walks of life. But you do have to be interested in making films, whether that’s short films, web-series, documentaries and more. Being part of the group means that you can share and access casting calls, questions about cameras and film tech, screening announcements, meetups and crewing calls.

What do people typically post on the facebook page?

Members usually post about new funding opportunities, training opportunities, screenings, crewing vacancies, equipment and a lot more.

What do people talk about at your monthly meetups?

Most individuals talk about what gear they have, share their work, talk about the films they’d like to make or are watching. Part of being a filmmaker is also enjoying watching films, so there is a lot of conversations about the films that inspire us. People of all levels of experience attend the meeting, some professional and others at an amateur level. Some people that have attended, have made films that have got into national and international festivals. Some people are just figuring out how to make their first film. It’s a very diverse crowd.

Concretely, what are the first steps to start getting involved in the film-making community in the region?

a, Join the NT Filmmakers Network Facebook group and start asking questions from your fellow filmmakers; b, attend one of our regular meetups; c, Rope some friends and family into making a film, if this is your first attempt; d, contact any of the NT Filmmakers Network Facebook group admins as a starting point to finding others interested in your type of film project. Also, get to know your local film office and what grants it offers, ours in the Northern Territory is called Screen Territory. Film making requires the ability to collaborate with people with different interests and skills. It’s really hard to make a film by yourself, in saying that it’s not impossible. People are able to make feature films with their iPhone on a near-to-nothing budget these days!

How do you see the NTFN evolve in the next few years?

I would like to see it become a thorough resource for filmmakers to find crew, which could take  the form of a crew recruiting company showcasing local talent in the Northern Territory. However, we are still a small network with only over 250 members. Additionally, the community aspect is also very important to me, which means there needs to be space for the NT Filmmakers Network to be free and accessible for all people in the Northern Territory. At the moment the NT Filmmakers Network is not-for-profit and looks to help build the film community alongside organisations already operating in the Northern Territory such as Screen Territory of course, but also the Darwin Film Society (Deckchair Cinema, Flix in the Wet, DIFF), and more. I am currently looking for individuals living in Alice Springs to help bring the network to this area and help build film opportunities in remote locations in the Northern Territory. Additionally, I am also looking for an individual who’s passionate about acting to further develop the NT Actors Network allowing filmmakers to connect with local actors in the Northern Territory. I would like to see more networking events that connect people across artistic disciplines, whether its acting, dance, illustration, painting, graffiti art, the list goes on.

Thanks for your time Penny! One last question: are you planning on submitting a project to Spark this year?

Definitely! I will be submitting a script to the Spark Initiative this year. Its a great opportunity to get funding and work with local filmmakers.