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    Category Archives: women in film

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    The year that was: Women in Film

    {Throughout January, we’re looking back at all the posts our awesome columnists wrote for us in 2012, before our team of some new and some returning contributors start blogging in February.}

    Nathania Gilson is an upcoming film maker, and her column in the first half of 2012 detailed her inspirations, lessons learned and tips for fellow film makers to navigate the world of festivals and awards. You don’t have to be a film maker to enjoy the details of these columns, just an admirer of those who undertake massive creative tasks for our entertainment. Thanks, Nathania! xo tess

    10 things film school taught me
    1. Be brave and step outside your comfort zone.
    2. Finish things.
    Read more…

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    Sarah Watt
    This week, I’m taking an opportunity to re-discover and perhaps even re-introduce some of much loved Melbourne filmmaker Sarah Watt’s work to CWC’s readers. Read more…

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    How to Win a Film Lion
    As a young filmmaker, I am often looking for advice and inspiration from every possible source, and trying to find new and viable ways in which to broadcast my work to an audience that will appreciate and connect with the work that I spend a large part of my life creating. Read more…

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    ‘Contemporary Australia: Women in Film’ now at GOMA
    ‘Who are your favourite directors? Who do you admire?’ It’s a question I’m asked from time to time by both people who I’ve worked side by side with whilst making films, and those outside of the industry who are kind enough to be interested in what I do and why exactly I choose to (still) do it. Read more…

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    Focus on Cannes
    Every year, thousands of young and emerging filmmakers alike submit their short films to Cannes in the hope of being picked out from the masses and given the opportunity for exposure, recognition and development towards a fruitful path in turning their lifelong passion into a sustainable career. Read more…

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    Jill Bilcock
    The essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy. Read more…

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    Puberty Blues – A Retrospective
    With the impending release of an 8-part television series from Network Ten that is, ironically enough, set in the same Cronulla locale as the currently-on-air botox enhanced reality show, The Shire, I thought it would be fitting to revisit the original 1981 classic as directed by Bruce Beresford. Read more…

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: the year that was, women in film | Comments Off
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    Women in Film: Puberty Blues – A Retrospective

    By Nathania Gilson

    Lead actresses Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja in a production still from Puberty Blues (1981).

    “The film is feminist in a way. I think it is also a comment on peer group pressure, male chauvinism in teenage groups, school and parent hassles.” — Nell Schofield

    With the impending release of an 8-part television series from Network Ten that is, ironically enough, set in the same Cronulla locale as the currently-on-air botox enhanced reality show, The Shire, I thought it would be fitting to revisit the original 1981 classic as directed by Bruce Beresford.

    Why did a film about two teenage girls growing up in beach-side Sydney shake up the local industry and concurrently resonate with so many, especially young, audience members?

    Based on the unapologetic novel, co-written by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette, the bluntly titled Puberty Blues was a refreshing change to the whimsical, starry-eyed point of view most other young adult novels of the time had to offer. Although not every crucial issue addressed in the book was faithfully adapted from page to screen (the topic of abortion was diluted to a distressful late period), many other concerns including the misogyny of surf culture, and teenage retaliation in the form of drugs and underage sex against the backdrop of a middle-class suburban existence were explored in a way that gained empathy from its largely teenage audience, and made critics of the time write it off as a ‘crass attempt’ at competing with its American contemporaries.

    Debbie and Sue, best friends and just on the outskirts of the high school social sphere are desperate to become a part of the Greenhill Gang; the cool kids, the “surfies” and will try just about anything to get in. Social climbing isn’t the only issue explored here, though — the film also sheds light on the girls’ decision to take charge, ditch towel duty and fetching Chiko rolls for their boyfriends in favour of taking to the waves and surfing for themselves.

    Lesley Speed, author of When the Sun Sets Over Suburbia… for the Journal of Media & Cultural Studies reflects that “Cronulla surf culture serves as a prism” through which we can observe Australian youth culture.

    Considering the 30 year gap between the original film and the newly re-booted series, it will be interesting to see which aspects of the book are once again adapted, and if the attitudes of audiences and network regulations in 2012 will allow for some of the more grittier questions the original co-authors asked as opposed to a possibly disappointing sugar coated nostalgic sheen over the narrative?

    Let’s hope the former carries through in the new series staring Claudia Karvan, Brenna Harding and Ashleigh Cummings, airing shortly after the London Olympics as part of Ten’s new season of television.

    Nathania Gilson is a young filmmaker living in Melbourne, Australia. She has spent the last three years working on a number of short films, music videos and documentaries. Her side projects involve curating content for independent publications, adventuring and maintaining the ability to function on minimal sleep. She is excited about the future.


    Posted by: Nathania Gilson
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    Women in Film: Jill Bilcock

     By Nathania Gilson

    The essence of cinema is editing. It’s the combination of what can be extraordinary images of people during emotional moments, or images in a general sense, put together in a kind of alchemy.
    Francis Ford Coppola

    The work of a film editor is more often than not contradictory: hours and hours of precious time are spent pouring over reels of footage whilst making imperative decisions about what makes the final cut of the film alongside the director’s vision. Yet so much of what makes the film, truly, is the editor’s ability to remain invisible – to not be seen, but felt with every purposeful cut and story-telling device in place for audiences to make the most of.

    This is why I find the mind and work of Melbourne-based film editor Jill Bilcock so fascinating. She has worked with a menagerie of both Australian and international directors, noted for her daring (turning down Sam Mendes’ American Beauty to work on homegrown film The Dish) and ingenuity (she cut her first film on her kitchen table due to limited resources; it soon went on to premiere at various film festivals upon its completion), and ability to win the hearts and trust of every director she has worked with.

    Jill Bilcock at Sundance in 2011 (via zimbio)

    Jill was most recently a guest speaker on the lecture series Friday on My Mind (a free AFTRS initiative held at ACMI in Melbourne) to share her experiences and approach to the craft whilst working on films such as Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom, Road to Perdition, and most recently, Red Dog.

     She just dovetails and squirrels away into the mind of the director. She gets into the subconscious and comes out and conjures up an edit. She’s like Tinkerbell.
    Shekhar Kapur on Jill Bilcock 

    For those of you reading who are curious about the role of an editor in the filmmaking process, and about some of what it takes to be a particularly good one, here are some tips based on Jill’s own philosophy and advice from experiences over the years:

    Take the risk and work with first-time directors.

    Jill enjoys working with new directors for the passion and enthusiasm that they bring to their projects that well-seasoned vetrans in the industry may not necessarily share. As she has pointed out, “…they’re still terribly excited about what they are doing. And, not open to pleasing anybody else. Because they are passionate and believe in what they want to do – they haven’t been worn down by studio experience yet so creatively they tend to step into areas that are much more interesting as opposed to some people who have been making films for the last thirty years.”

    Working with people who love what they do is never a certainty but always a pleasure when it is the case — as an editor, enjoy the opportunity if the project is up your alley and if  creative synergy that could be possible seems an exciting prospect.

    Never lose your ability to be affected by your work, and the work of others. 

    Director Rob Sitch once spoke of Bilcock’s ability to remain ‘vulnerable’ to a film, which seems an important consideration to avoid your story becoming a messy, self-indulgent and irrelevant tale filled with unrelatable characters. After all, we make films so that audiences may be affected by them; however big or small in feeling, you want them to emerge from the cinema or end of the film a slightly different person, and this can only really be genuinely achieved if as an editor, you maintain a way to connect to the people watching and not just the people who were involved in its making.

    Embrace new technology.

    In 1994, Jill used a minimalist piece of editing software called Lightworks that allowed for a no-nonsense approach to cutting a film together in the edit suite. Since its original inception, countless Hollywood films have adapted to this workflow (Hugo, Shutter Island, Pulp Fiction) and is now highly regarded in the industry as the go-to choice for award winning editors. Jill herself has used it with films such as Moulin Rouge! and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Being an ever-evolving industry will little to no certainty about what works, is ‘in’, or worth investing in, keeping afloat about new and emerging technological advances in the industry is incredibly beneficial and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

    Do It Yourself.

    One of Jill’s first memories of cutting a film was with a knife on her kitchen table for a student film project whilst she was studying at the VCA, shot on her own 16mm Bolex camera. Take initiative and find resourceful ways to reach the end product — you’ll learn more, as Jill suggests, doing it your own way and learning on your own curve.

    Respect the director’s vision, but offer your own take on the story, too.

    Directors look to their editors as someone who can interpret their vision in the best way possible, after all, the cutting room is essentially where the real film gets made, with every cut and transition from scene to scene and moment to moment being driven by purpose and momentum. However, remember that as an editor, as was the case with the partnership between Jill and Baz Luhrman, you’re their ‘bogus detector’, too. Don’t be afraid to point out where something doesn’t seem right, or something doesn’t work emotionally, not just visually. Good directors will respect your honesty and listen to the advice you have to offer. Trust between the two of you in this crucial partnership is very important.

    Don’t be in it for the glory.

    Despite having worked on so many award-winning films, as an editor, Jill Bilcock may not necessarily be the first name that comes to mind when a person conjures up memories or buzz surrounding her filmography. The work of an editor; the seamlessness of their technique often ends up seeming invisible, and best appreciated when it’s not even noticeably ’there’.  An editor is such an important part of getting the film to its final stages of the theatrical cut, as are all the other valued crew who work in post-production alongside them. Love of the craft and creative impact you have on the stories you help tell will ultimately surpass the egotistical reasons someone may be attached to a project in the long run.

    Keep an open mind.

    You never know where your next project or collaborator may come from. This is exciting; stay open to possibilities and opportunities around you.

    Jill’s most recent film, Red Dog is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and to download. She is currently based in Melbourne, and we can look forward to watching more of her work on screen in the near future.

    Nathania Gilson is a young filmmaker living in Melbourne, Australia. She has spent the last three years working on a number of short films, music videos and documentaries. Her side projects involve curating content for independent publications, adventuring and maintaining the ability to function on minimal sleep. She is excited about the future.


    Posted by: Nathania Gilson
    Categories: regular columns, women in film | Comments Off
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    Women in Film: Focus on Cannes

    By Nathania Gilson

    Every year, thousands of young and emerging filmmakers alike submit their short films to Cannes in the hope of being picked out from the masses and given the opportunity for exposure, recognition and development towards a fruitful path in turning their lifelong passion into a sustainable career.

    Whilst there are many categories within the festival program, the ones I find the most intriguing to pour over are the Cinéfondation and Short Film Competition selections which nominate over 10-15 short films respectively from student filmmakers across 300-odd countries from various film schools (Cinéfondation) and promising filmmakers who have crafted exceptional stories with a distinct personal vision (Short Film Competition).

    These are my picks for ones to watch in 2012, focussing specifically on women directors and Australian short film.

    Behind Me Olive Trees (Derrière moi les oliviers)

    Competing in: Cinéfondation | Country of origin: Lebanon | Directed by: Pascale Abou Jarma | Duration: 20 mins

    After 10 years in Israel, Mariam and her brother return to the South of Lebanon to live in their native country. But they still feel rejected by the local community because they are the children of an agent in the army of “Lahd”, who cooperated with the Israeli army before the release of Southern Lebanon in 2000.

    Watch the trailer here.

    (First-time entry from a Lebanese film school in the Cinéfondation category)

    Doroga Na (The Road To)

    Competing in: Cinéfondation | Country of origin: Russia | Directed by: Tasia Igumentsava | Duration: 32 mins

     Sergey works as a vendor in the unusual goods section. His life is like a million other lives, till night covers the city.

    Matteus

    Competing in: Cinéfondation | Country of origin: Belgium | Directed by: Leni Huyghe | Duration: 18 mins

    ‘For me, it’s not black or white. It’s really grey, I leave it open.’ Leni Huyghe

    Alice and Nico move to the countryside with their ten-year-old son Mateo. While they are busy renovating the house, the parents do not notice that the boy is changing. When they realize there is something wrong, it is already too late.

    Watch the trailer here.

    Cockaigne

    Competing in: Short Film Competition | Country of origin: Belgium | Directed by: Emilie Verhamme | Duration: 13 mins

    ‘I don’t want people to think: “What a cocky person! In your second year, you send your movie to Cannes!” I just sent it to a lot of festivals and then totally forgot about it. But why not try?’ – Emilie Verhamme 

    A Ukrainian father and his two sons travel from Kiev to Brussels in the hope to find a better life. Once there, they are confronted with a harsh reality and become the victims of exploitation and degradation.

    View the press kit here.

    Night Shift

    Competing in: Short Film Competition | Country of origin: New Zealand| Directed by: Zia Mandviwalla | Duration: 14 mins

    “Human emotion transcends culture – we all know and understand love, loneliness or separation, regardless of what language we speak or what food we cook at home.  For me, the authenticity lies in bringing truthful experiences to the screen,” – Zia Mandviwalla

    Salote, an airport cleaner starts another long night shift. She keeps her head down, does her job and gleans her survival from what others leave behind. No one would usually spare her a second glance.

    Resen (Dog Leash)

    Competing in: Short Film Competition | Country of origin: Israel | Directed by: Eti Tsicko | Duration: 26 mins

    Cracks are starting to burst in Marina’s frozen life, forcing a search.
    The journey will take her beyond traditional boundaries, but also lead to more dangerous places.

    Chef de Meute (Herd Leader)

    Competing in: Short Film Competition | Country of origin: Canada | Directed by: Chloe Robichaud | Duration: 13 mins

    Clara’s overwhelming family can’t understand her solitary life, wishing she would find someone to grow old with. Following her aunt’s sudden death, Clara is put in charge of her pet. Little does she know that these are the first steps to an unlikely, but empowering, friendship.

    The Ballad of Finn + Yeti

    Competing in: Cinéfondation | Country of origin: U.S.A. | Directed by: Meryl O’Connor | Duration: 18 mins

    A street musician goes dumpster diving and finds herself transported into a wild trash forest populated by a mischievous Yeti that forces her to confront her animal nature.

    Yard Bird

    Competing in: Short Film Competition | Country of origin: Australia | Directed by: Michael Spiccia | Duration: 13 mins

    A young girl who lives in a remote wrecking yard takes on the local bullies when they travel out to torment her father.

    View the press kit here.

    Yardbird is also showing as part of the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Film program at Sydney Film Festival, so be sure to make the screening if you’re in town for the night.

    I hope these previews leave you feeling inspired and motivated to tell your own stories! You never know until you try.

    Nathania Gilson is a young filmmaker living in Melbourne, Australia. She has spent the last three years working on a number of short films, music videos and documentaries. Her side projects involve curating content for independent publications, adventuring and maintaining the ability to function on minimal sleep. She is excited about the future.

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