FilmInk speaks to Andrew Kavanagh, the winner of Qantas’ 2012 Spirit of Youth Awards – which connects up-and-coming talent with an established filmmaker.
The Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards 365 (SOYA 365) has been one of the leading grants programs for emerging creative talent for over seven years.
SOYA365 spans eleven key creative disciplines and gives winners the opportunity to build a professional mentoring relationship with leaders in their chosen field.
This year the mentor in the film category is Australian-born director Robert Luketic who sprung to fame with his 2001 smash hit, Legally Blonde, and who has since directed titles such as Win A Date With Tad Hamilton and The Ugly Truth.
SOYA365 aims to further the career of young creatives who are clearly developing their practice and taking their career seriously.
Last year, SOYA365 attracted over 10,000 entries submitted by over 1,600 applicants, with Luketic selecting Victorian writer, editor and director Andrew Kavanagh (pictured) as this year's winner for the film category, for his movie At The Formal.
Alongside the twelve-month mentorship with Luketic, Kavanagh received a trip to the Edinburgh International Film Festival and $5,000 cash.
Kavanagh is hoping that the mentorship will open doors for him overseas, particularly in the US. "I'm hoping I'll be able to meet people and agents," he says. "I think this will be more than a traditional mentorship."
Although never having been on the set of a feature film, it is definitely something not far from Kavanagh's mind. Kavanagh is planning on using his prize money to pay off debts accumulated from his last two films, but also wants to put some of it towards flying to Philadelphia in July or August, when Luketic's latest film, Brilliant [a thriller set to star Gerard Butler], is being shot.
"As a student director you don't get a chance to see other directors direct people," he says. "Robert said I'm welcome to come over and be on the set of Brilliant. It would be an amazing opportunity and I'd certainly learn a lot."
At The Formal premiered nationally last year as part of the Sydney Film Festival's Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films. Using long, uninterrupted shots, it compares the modern ritual of a high school formal and a more ancient ceremony to challenge our perception of modern civility. "It's a reflection of modern and ancient rituals colliding in unexpected contexts," Kavanagh says.
A love of music also plays a large part in the filmmaking process for Kavanagh. "When I'm thinking of ideas I'm always thinking of the soundtrack simultaneously, even if it's coming from some music I have in my head," he says. "It all comes at the same time, the music, the visuals, they're all part of the same thing as far as I'm concerned."
While enjoying the challenges of making short films, Kavanagh has his eyes set on creating feature length movies, wishing to emulate filmmakers such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Stanley Kubrick, who "did what they wanted without thinking about whether their films are going to be commercially successful or not.
"That's the question I've been asking myself for months now," he says. "Do I want to make a film that is contentious but will maybe be critically successful, or do I want to make a film with a lot of depth to it?"
Kavanagh isn't convinced that he'll be able to teach Luketic anything during his mentorship, but thinks perhaps his love for long shots might resonate with the director. "If he was taken with my films, maybe he'll try a long choreographed shot in one of his films," he says. "That would be nice wouldn't it? We'll have to wait and see."
To find out more about SOYA365, head here.