INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR STEPHEN DE VILLIERS WANTS TO HELP YOU MAKE YOUR NEXT FILM
The inaugural Adelaide International Youth Film Festival will run in Adelaide from the 27 September—1 October 2017. The festival promises to showcase an eclectic mix of local and international films created by a wave of visionary filmmakers that will ignite uplifting conversations on topical issues facing youth today. The festival will inspire discussions and debate allowing young people to participate in a number of workshops, master classes, and social events.
Previously operating as the Adelaide Kids Film Festival, the freshly branded Adelaide International Youth Film Festival have extended their reach and are inviting filmmakers 25 years or younger to apply to the ‘Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative’.
Rowena Garcia from Man About Adelaide spoke to Stephen de Villiers via phone on Thursday 27 July 2017 to find out more about this exciting initiative.
‘Be bold, come along, let’s make some noise and let’s make some films.’
Stephen explains how the filmmaking process is an expensive activity and this can often be a barrier for emerging filmmakers. A generous grant from the Adelaide City Council will remedy this, enabling three lucky beneficiaries to have their short film projects funded to completion in a competitive funding round called the ‘Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative’. The selected filmmakers will have access to Stephen’s personal studio suite, with all short films receiving a professional colour grade and edits that will be finished to the highest of standards. Stephen, who will hand-select the winning scripts, will be reaching out to his creative networks to act as mentors to the successful filmmakers during post-production of their films. All applicants will need to honour the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival’s chosen theme which this year is Uplift.
Stephen de Villiers is an award winning filmmaker and graduate of the directing program at the Australian Film Television Radio School (AFTRS). He has directed 12 narrative films, worked with some of Australia’s top actors, had his short film screened at the illustrious Festival de Cannes, with his latest short film ‘Super Sounds’ screening at over 35 festivals around the world. Just to add to all of these incredible achievements he was a recent finalist at the Sydney Film Festival 2016 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.
Stephen explains his love of cinema, exclaiming that ‘stories are the elixir of life’ with ‘…the best stories being about human relationships… the most captivating films are the ones that shine insight into what it means to relate to other human beings.’ But I’m
curious: can a filmmaker enjoy a film without being preoccupied by all of the technical elements within its frame? Stephen reveals that when watching films he is there to be seduced and wants to ultimately succumb to an immersive experience. ‘Ultimately, certainly there has always got to be a story well told... that’s the key... a lot of the time people wrap up lazy storytelling in spectacle’. Film needs to be able to distill its essence into a single word or idea… (for example) it’s a film about family, a film about courage’.
These enlightened tidbits will form part of the prize perk for the three young emerging filmmakers who will receive continued support from Stephen throughout the duration of the initiative. But Stephen insists that the learning opportunity will work reciprocally, ‘To work with these young, passionate, and committed people is just a beautiful symbiosis where we co-learn’. Stephen explains: ‘I won’t ever assume that I’ve got all the answers, but I might be able to ask some of the right questions… that’s powerful, that’s where the magic happens.’
I’m brought to the point where I am wondering what kinds of questions needs to be asked when there are about a million creative choices to be made – even in short film, and how does a filmmaker decide on anything? ‘Making these choices can be creatively difficult – but that’s what makes a good director’, Stephen explains. ‘If you can hold onto the genesis of the idea and wrap everything around that’.
If the objective of filmmaking is to help the audience make better sense of the world in a short period of time how does a filmmaker even start to refine the myriad of choices available to them? Stephen explains that ideally the filmmaker must ‘frame the thematic premise of (their) story quite elegantly, and that can be the benchmark against what you hold every creative choice.’ As we talk I feel I am slowly beginning to uncover just how complex it is to create just one minute of cinematic enchantment we experience when watching a good film.
So to create good film the makers of the film must execute their ideas and turn themes like ‘courage’ or ‘family relationships’ into a visual medium that is optically digestible for an audience. This sounds like a massive feat, especially for the younger, more inexperienced filmmakers this kind of initiative will attract. Given the very tight time frame I am curious as to how this will be achieved. ‘That’s what’s exciting, it’s going to be a boot camp, it’s going to be challenging.’ He proclaims: ‘A film is never finished, it’s abandoned’, which is yet another insightful metaphor from Stephen that eloquently summarises the discomfort any artist feels of any creative endeavor. He reminds me that when an artist has to work with ‘creative obstructions (this) can result in the best kind of creative work.’
Stephen is expecting the successful applicants to be able to rise to the challenge of this innovative project and that they will need to be ready for a great learning experience. He endeavours that the Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative will ‘foster a sense of community… where each filmmaker will be encouraging each other’, and is determined that the initiative will inspire a spirit of generosity between all the filmmakers.
Stephen is also passionate about the industry of film making and continues to formulate ideas to ensure its sustainability. ‘We are experiencing something of an explosion in terms of the new wave (of filmmakers) coming through’. ‘The means of production have democratised’, and he infers that this has given rise to the ‘8 second narrative’ that we see produced daily on Youtube. Although the popularity of these visual snapshots is somewhat unprecedented Stephen fears that content creators may lack ‘the rigorous discipline of doing things the old fashion way.’ He asserts that in this new world of content overload it will be essential for filmmakers to not only be great at producing solid films, with ‘clean, clear, and elegant ideas’, but they will need to have instilled in them a sense of entrepreneurship if they want to make a career out of making films and contribute to the growth and longevity of the industry. Stephen’s passion lies in the intersection between film and the entrepreneurial journey, and explains how ‘…filmmakers need to value our investors, (know) who are the investors, why might they invest, and will they get a return?’ Stephen proclaims that every great filmmaker must ‘think like an entrepreneur, and dream like an artist’.
The ‘Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative’ is a part of the ‘2017 Adelaide International Youth Film Festival’. Applications for the ‘Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative’ will close on Friday 4 August 2017 with successful applicants being announced on Friday 11 August 2017 and the premiere of all 3 films on Sunday 1 October 2017 – so for all filmmakers wanting to be considered for this thrilling opportunity get your application in quick!
For specific details about Stephen de Villiers, the ‘Short Film Worx 2017 Initiative’, or the ‘Adelaide International Youth Film Festival’ please see the links below:
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