CinefestOZ Returns to the Margaret River Region
In anticipation of one of the most important events on Australia's film calendar - held right here in the Margaret River region - we take a closer look at the growing film industry in the South West!
With one of the most important events on the Australian film calendar – CinefestOZ – taking place in the Margaret River region in August, Cassandra Charlick delves further into the burgeoning film industry in the South West.
Now in its eleveneth year, CinefestOZ is a festival like no other. Providing the richest film prize in the country, a $100k cash boost is given to the winning film. Four films are judged by some of the most influential film industry experts; previous years have seen luminaries such as Gillian Armstrong, Bruce Beresford and Hugo Weaving on the jury.
Filmmakers, actors, directors, and financiers can be found mingling for both business and pleasure at this celebration of Australian cinema. Audiences are privy to a host of events, enough to make even the biggest of film buffs get their highlighters out when the program is released. Choose from film premiers, Q & A’s, side bars, short film selections, film-focused lunches, industry events, workshops, free community events and more. Oh, and all of these events are scattered around venues in one of Australia’s premier food and wine regions – it sounds like a match made in heaven . . . cinema, chardonnay and creative cuisine.
Focusing on Australian content, 2018 sees 85 Australian productions featured with around 200 ticketed screenings over the five days at over 35 venues. Activities and events span the region from Margaret River, Augusta, Dunsborough and Cowaramup and through to Bunbury in wineries, small bars and unique venues, while the hub is in Busselton – a town soon to be put on the map by the latest film production currently underway.
From the same production company behind the recently released Breath, producer Jamie Hilton is excited about bringing his next project to fruition. Go-Karts is a family-friendly film set and filmed in the town of Busselton.
Why Busselton of all places? The answer is a very easy one for Hilton. “The attractions to the region as a producer are the same as a local or a tourist really. Amazing locations, a stunning coastline, and really lovely welcoming people. This is the second film that our company See Pictures has made in regional WA; it’s a remarkable place to call home while we’re working for a few months. We set the movie in Busselton rather than a fictional town because of the beautiful locations and also because of the financial support from the region and the city. Whereas Breath was shot mostly in Denmark, it was actually set in the fictional town of Sawyer, the town in Tim Winton’s novel. On this film, we have been a been able to feature actual locations and businesses.”
It’s not only the locations that are the stars of the show, but the range of community input that helps support the film industry down in the region. The south west has a whole host of hidden talents with international crew and creatives who have chosen to call the region home.
“Because the film business is very specialised, and there isn’t an established industry here, we didn’t expect to find and hire as many locals as we have. We were particularly impressed with the local caterers Suppertime who kept our whole cast and crew very happy. Our safety officer, first assistant director, stills photographer, nurse and many actors and extras are all also based locally; there are a lot of creative people in the region.” says Jamie.
Additionally, the visiting production team were never at a loss for some home-grown hospitality. “As film crew, we must look a little different because the locals seem to spot us a mile off and always stop for a chat. Along with the proximity to all the amazing wineries and being able to pop down to places like Meelup and Eagle Bay on a Sunday, well, we’ve been impossibly spoilt! The people who choose to live here are very clever. A quick thank you to the City of Busselton for allowing us such great access and taking such great care of us.”
Hilton can’t wait to be back in town for CinefestOZ this year. The importance of the financial prize to a film’s development is obvious, but it is much more than the prize that is of importance to the filmmaker. “$100,000 is a major drawcard to any film/filmmaker but what I love most about CinefestOZ is the community feel. Because only four films play in competition, and a lot of the government and marketplace investors come each year, you get to spend some quality time and develop relationships outside the scope of the normal 30-minute office meeting. That lovely Wilyabrup cabernet and chardonnay helps too!” he says. “CinefestOZ has become a major event on the national film calendar, it’s very impressive what they’ve been able to achieve in a relatively short timeframe.”
CinefestOZ runs from August 22 to 26. Early bird tickets are available from the July 6 with the full program release on the July 27. Ticket options include Film Prize Cinepasses covering all film prize events, Weekend Cinepasses and corporate entertainment options. Full details online at cinefestoz.com. Sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date with announcements and the latest news. FB and Insta – @cinefestoz.
This blog has been adapted from an article written by Cassandra Charlick entitled ‘Star Quality’, which was originally featured in Your Margaret River Region Magazine’s Winter Edition.