The Tropfest Team answers some frequently asked questions.
What opportunities does Tropfest open up for emerging filmmakers?
For most people, making a film is largely about getting an audience for that film. Put simply, Tropfest is the largest live audience for a short film - arguably for any kind of film - there is.
Nationally, we have a live event audience of around 150,000 people, our broadcast on SBS 2 reaches around half a million viewers and our short films have had more than 36 million views online.
That's a lot of eyeballs on a short film, and there's no doubt that helps open doors for our filmmakers.
The short films in Tropfest tend to be pretty sleek and well produced, is Tropfest only for established filmmakers?
Not at all. We’ve always had the belief that everyone has a story to tell and that anyone, regardless of age or experience, can share that story through Tropfest. That said, over 600 entries are submitted to Tropfest’s annual competition so only the best ideas and stories make the shortlist.
Both established and emerging filmmakers strive to be in the Official Selection, not only because of the sheer scale of the exposure being a Finalist brings with it, but because it is essentially a challenge… it’s a challenge to get your film finished by the deadline, it’s a challenge to work within the constraints a short film creates, to be a creative problem-solver and to persevere to realise your story.
So, it’s definitely aspirational, which is a great thing.
Do you need to have a big budget to consider entering?
Our pre-selection panel and official judges never take budget into consideration when shortlisting or awarding films. It always comes down to the strength of the idea and how that was executed.
Why should filmmakers enter the festival?
Tropfest presents a great opportunity for emerging filmmakers to hone their craft. It’s the perfect playground, with the right amount of motivation, a clear deadline, and a new Tropfest Signature Item to play with each year.
What tips do you have for first time entrants?
Keep it short - don’t use the whole 7 minutes. Try to tell your story in 4 or 5 minutes.
Also, use all elements/crafts of filmmaking to tell your story!
Can you tell us of any filmmakers that have been unearthed through Tropfest?
We've definitely seen Tropfest filmmakers go on to achieve some incredible things. Not that we would claim credit for it, but it's pretty amazing to see these talented filmmakers continue to tell great stories.
Nash Edgerton won Tropfest back in 1995, and has gone on to become an incredibly successful and well renowned filmmaker, as well as stunt man and actor. His short films 'Spider' and 'Bear' have been internationally recognised. Nash’s brother, Joel Edgerton, has also been a Tropfest entrant. Joel recently wrote and directed feature film ‘The Gift’ which is a hit in cinemas right now.
Emma Freeman, who won in 2002, is currently getting rave reviews for her series ‘Glitch’ on ABC.
Damon Gameau won Tropfest 2011 and his recent documentary film ‘That Sugar Film’ is the second-highest-grossing Australian feature length documentary in the local market.
Rebel Wilson and Sam Worthington also appeared in Tropfest Finalist films before cracking Hollywood, in fact Sam directed one. And ‘Wilfred’, Jason Gann's hit US TV series, began life years before as a Tropfest winner.
Many Tropfest filmmakers are currently in LA working on new televisions and film projects, including Alethea jones, who won Tropfest 2012, and of course lots are here in Australia, contributing to the incredible industry here too.
With smartphones, new social media platforms & YouTube etc so accessible – are you seeing more entries? Better quality entries?
We're definitely seeing an increase in production value. It's amazing what technology is now available to emerging filmmakers - filmmaking is becoming increasingly more accessible, which is as great thing. In fact, we created the Nikon DSLR Film Category specifically to showcase the quality and accessibility of camera technology.
We think it is exciting because it means anyone can enter Tropfest, more or less regardless of financial constraints. We’ve always promoted the idea that ‘everyone has a story to tell’ and its becoming easier and easier for anyone to do just that at Tropfest.
With around 600 entries each year, what advice do you have for filmmakers to get their film noticed?
Spend more time developing your script before entering production. Keep it short, if you can.
Focus on the story – create the film you want to create, don’t make a film that you think will suit Tropfest.
Any other tips you want to share?
Keep making films. Keep practicing your craft. If you do make it as a Tropfest Finalist, don’t slow down! Use the platform to propel you forward and keep making new, better, different films.
Entering Tropfest this year? Get all the info here.