Running with it
In the next few months, don't panic if you see a young person with a...
In the next few months, don't panic if you see a young person with a camera. It's just NATIONAL YOUTH WEEK! PETER ROGERS gets down with the kids for FILMINK.
Since Young Talent Time was canned, there have been youngsters chomping at the bit to be exploited - but to no avail. There is, however, a chance for earnest kids and young adults to hit up the nation for some recognition, aim for fame, or at least be heard.
Aside from the 3000 events taking place around the country, National Youth Week (March 27 - April 4) is home to the top youth talent comps in the country. The national talent competitions include RockIT (music), WriteIT (writing), DesignIT (design), SnapIT (photography), and ShootIT (film) and they are divided into two age brackets: 12 - 17 and 18 - 25 years.
ShootIT, the comp that's grabbed FILMINK's attention, is all about providing an incentive for young filmmakers - and young wannabe filmmakers - to roll up their sleeves, borrow someone's camera and make a short film. Not only are some pretty enticing prizes offered, but this is the best opportunity all year for people who've never made a film before to give it a go. There are no restrictions on content, subject matter or what format it comes in on (you can even email your short film in).
It seems like kids are always being told that they need to get off their arses and do something, but in National Youth Week there are rewards for it. Not only that, but with a whole week put aside to praise the value of kiddies and young adults, this is a great chance to make their voices heard. Complain, criticise, condemn or celebrate something Australian and simultaneously be in the running for national recognition and some pretty hefty prizes.
Youth Week's theme this year is "Run With It", throwing down the gauntlet for the youth to not only get involved, but to run with new ideas and take a few steps towards their dreams: make great films, take impressive photos, and flat out show us what they're made of.
There are more film festivals in this country than you can poke a boom-mic at, but how many opportunities are there for the youngsters to get their films seen? There are so many twenty-and thirty-somethings flooding the market with their films that production standards are raised and the flicks made by Australia's youth are elbowed out. Inexperienced filmmakers are forced to compete with the hundreds of graduates of film and drama schools - except (well, generally) for this week.
This is where ShootIT has its merit, says last year's national winner (18 - 25 category), Johanna Leslie. "ShootIT's a good opportunity for people who can't reach the standard set for things like Tropfest, to get their films seen." And that's what the competition organisers are aiming to help out with - getting young filmmakers' films seen.
Leslie was 21 and studying a Bachelor of Communications when she heard about the comp. "Actually, I saw a brochure at a video store, and I was already making short films for Uni, so I decided to make one for this." Enlisting a handful of friends, Leslie shot the two-minute film, Change, over two weekends and edited on her G4 at home after uni at night.
Aside from encouraging our talented progeny to get into it and give something creative a go, the idea is to hear them voice whatever issues concern them (every-bloody-one else gets a say!).
To give an idea of the scale of the event, last year saw well over 300 000 kiddies participating in Youth Week activities (2100 of which were live events), there were over 1300 entries to the talent competitions and over 9000 people voted for their favourite national talent comp favourites. So the impressive prizes aren't the only incentives to enter - there's also a ton of kudos.
Last year's first prize was a Sony TRV 22 mini-DV camera and a work experience placement on a Sony set, but according to Leslie, it's all about the confidence. For her, having her film voted as the best produced across the country gave her a big confidence boost that has carried across into her workplace. Now working as a researcher on Channel Seven's The Great Outdoors, Leslie's ambition is to become a producer.
Aside from meeting industry professionals through the competition, actually putting together a short film, no matter how basically it's done, gives participants an invaluable hands-on education on what goes into making a movie. The same story goes for every other facet of the competition. There are plenty of kids and young adults who have aspirations to move into the arts but haven't picked up a camera or a pen yet. Just like with everything else, it's getting started that's the hardest thing, so National Youth Week is doing its best to light a fire under their backsides.
ShootIT SHORT FILM COMP DATES
4 June: Entries close.
12 - 30 July: View and vote for your favourite finalists.
12 August: National Youth Day, the winners are announced.