BOFA Short Film Award

Congratulations to recent BComm Media graduate (2014), Michael Johnston, whose short film To be a poet won the BOFA (Breath of Fresh Air) Film Festival Short Award in November 2014.

‘Clocking in at less than 3 minutes in duration, To Be A Poet is a simple but powerful short about Abraham Nouk. Nouk came to Australia from Sudan, unable to read, write or speak a word of English. Now, he is an award-winning spoken word artist and poet.’

The film was conceived and initially produced within the BComm Media second year course, Film-TV2 in the latter part of 2013.

Michael is currently in the process of turning the film into a longer-form documentary. He tells us that the short film will be released as part of a crowdfunding campaign to get the project off the ground.

Also, To Be a Poet was the only Australian film to be selected in the Sound & Image Challenge Worldwide, which recently took place in Macau, China.
Abraham Nouk & Michael Johnston winners of BOFA Short Film Award with Martin simpson (middle, judge)
Abraham Nouk and Michael Johnston (far right) receiving the award.

The Dressmaker – RMIT Media Adjunct Professor in the news

RMIT Media has a number of Adjunct Professors. These are honorary appointments of influential practitioners and/or researchers in our area. Through their association with the School they generously  provide expertise and guidance for staff around issues affecting the industry as well as occasionally participating in School life through events such as guest lectures and workshops.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have accomplished Australian film and multi-platform producer, Sue Maslin, as an Adjunct Professor for a number of years. Reproduced below is a recent RMIT News Story about one of her latest projects – current students should read her encouraging comments at the end of the story about the state of the industry and making a career in it.


RMIT pair set to wow Hollywood with ‘The Dressmaker’

RMIT alumnus Rosalie Ham never imagined her first novel would be published, let alone sell more than 50,000 copies.

And this year, the author of The Dressmaker will see the words she penned 14 years ago as part of her RMIT coursework brought to life in a feature film, starring some of Hollywood’s finest. 

RMIT alumnus and author of The Dressmaker, Rosalie Ham.

Producer Sue Maslin at Docklands Studios during filming.

Ms Ham said it was “more surreal than real” to have luminaries Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Judy Davis star in the film, which was filmed on location in Victoria and at Melbourne’s Docklands Studios last year.

“I haven’t found a metaphor that will express what it’s like,” she said.

“Actresses of the calibre of Kate Winslet and Judy Davis just affirm for me that the story I wrote is a story that deserves to be told, and told well.”

Set in the 1950s, The Dressmaker revolves around a glamorous woman, Tilly – played by Winslet – who returns to her small town in rural Australia after years refining her craft as an haute couture dressmaker in Paris.

With her sewing machine and haute couture style, Tilly transforms the women of the town.

Ms Ham said her upbringing in regional New South Wales and the tendency for locals to want to know everything about everyone had inspired her writing.

“My mother was a dressmaker in a small country town, and the idiosyncrasies of those two factors were the seed for the story,” she said.

Ms Ham began writing The Dressmaker in 1996 as part of her Advanced Diploma of Arts, Professional Writing and Editing (now Associate Degree in Professional Writing and Editing) at RMIT.

“The course taught me how to approach writing short stories and novels, and how to read well,” she said.

“Primarily, I learnt the craft of writing, not just the idealised image of what a writer does, and is.”

It has been a long journey from those formative years at university to now, and Ms Ham has been assisted throughout the film production process by renowned Australian film industry figure, School of Media and Communication Adjunct Professor Sue Maslin, a long-time friend.

The two in fact grew up in Jerilderie in regional New South Wales and went away to the same boarding school.

Adjunct Professor Maslin, The Dressmaker’s producer, was instantly drawn to story and said there was so much to love about it.

Of particular interest was the exciting imagery the couture costumes created, as they were completely at odds with small town rural Australia circa 1951.

But perhaps the most important element of the story was the strong leading female characters, which was the key to attracting two of the best actors in the world – Kate Winslet and Judy Davis – to the film.

Winslet receives around 200 scripts per year, from which she only chooses two or three to work on.

“We were overjoyed when she read the script and said yes,” Adjunct Professor Maslin said.

“It reinforced the fact that your story can’t just be a good idea; it has to be a really great idea and a great script.”

Adjunct Professor Maslin, who has also produced Japanese Story (starring Toni Collette) and executive produced Irresistible (starring Susan Sarandon) has enjoyed a career in Australian film that has spanned almost 30 years.

She got her start in media working as a producer on community radio in Canberra, before “stumbling upon a media degree”.

“It was one of those life-changing moments, where you find what you love,” she said.

“Film and media gives you an extraordinary licence to go into other worlds, and that is what has really kept me going all of these years.”

And as a producer, she said it was her job and greatest challenge to act as the guardian of emotion throughout the process.

“I love the challenge of protecting the emotion I felt when I first read the script or novel, right through the entire process over many, many years, so the audience member can go through that same experience as I did,” she said.

Adjunct Professor Maslin, who also teaches media, said the most important skill for media and communication graduates these days was to have a cross-platform understanding of how media works.
Graduates, she said, need to be able to migrate ideas across those platforms – such as cinema, television, games, online and e-books.

“As media consumers, we are constantly moving across media platforms,” she said.

“So we need to do the same as producers and reflect our audiences’ desires and needs.

“RMIT is much more responsive to real world media than a lot of the traditional film schools, who tend to still work on old models.”

Despite the doom and gloom around Australia’s film and media industry, Adjunct Professor Maslin said the future was bright and graduates from RMIT’s media and communication programs would still have exciting career prospects.

“We live in an era of media and communication, so there are incredible opportunities out there,” she said.

The Dressmaker is currently in post-production and is set for release in October.

Something for Straya Day

It’s almost that time of year when Australia celebrates (and some protest) the officially designated national Australia Day holiday. One of the BComm Media program’s former students, Terry Mann, who graduated in 2008, has produced this contemporary alternative to the national anthem. He is getting lots of views of video on various social media as well as a bit of attention in conventional national and international media. Read this local ABC coverage here. Onya Terry!

Terry is currently a freelance digital producer after having worked at Clemenger BBDO as a Digital Producer. He also makes and plays music as Coach Bombay.
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Social shorts

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Support our graduating students

AFI | AACTA Social Shorts Powered by Genesis showcases short films as they go head-to-head to win in three categories — Drama, Comedy and Independent film. Voting is open for two weeks per category, with the category winner announced each fortnight.

Now is your chance to join the search for Australia’s top new filmmakers as they make their mark via Social Shorts. Vote for your favourites by liking and sharing on social media today.

A love of film and France

RMIT student Angeline Armstrong has combined her passions for film and French culture to win a prestigious award.

The French and media studies student was awarded the Francophonie Award from the Embassy of France and the Government of New Caledonia, in conjunction with Campus France Australia, for her video submission titled L’Hexagon.

The university video competition encouraged students to submit short clips regarding what “Made in France” meant to them in a globalised world, striving to subvert the stereotypes surrounding French culture.

Ms Armstrong’s two-minute entry explored the modern yet historically-grounded nature of the French landscape through sophisticated verses and black and white footage.

The video’s title originated from her affection for the nickname often given to the hexagonal-shaped country, and sought to move away from the inclination of “putting France in a box” when it is actually a complex, polygonal entity.

RMIT student Angeline Armstrong

Emerging screenwriter, director, producer and award-winning RMIT student, Angeline Armstrong. Photo: Amelia Stanwix.

With only two days to meet the deadline, the multi-talented screenwriter, director and producer worked with her own music, unused footage from an old trip to France and her knowledge of the language and culture.

A third year Bachelor of Communication (Media) student undertaking film/TV with a social contextual major in philosophy and electives inFrench studies, Ms Armstrong said the competition gave her the unique opportunity to pair her love for the French society with her professional skills in filmmaking and editing.

“I feel so encouraged and blessed; receiving financial rewards for my creative film work is a privilege that I didn’t really expect at this point in my life,” she said.

“Whether you’re working with a billion dollar Hollywood budget or a $1,000 Pozible campaign – it’s partly about raw inspiration, but largely about evaluating your available resources and drawing inspiration from that as well.”

Ms Armstrong was awarded a return airfare to New Caledonia and a 30-hour French immersion program at the Centre de Rencontres et d’Echanges Internationaux du Pacifique (CREIPAC), international centre of exchange in the Pacific region.

Dr Kerry Mullan, Coordinator of French Studies and Ms Armstrong’s French 4 teacher, said the RMIT Language Studies team were absolutely delighted with her well-deserved win.

“Her video is beautiful and is clearly the result of a lot of hard work,” Dr Mullan said.

“Her award is an inspiration to all our French students and colleagues – it shows what motivation and dedication can achieve.”

Ms Armstrong’s award will be presented this month at a ceremony held at Alliance Française in Melbourne.

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