Coming of age thriller wins global awards

November 24, 2021

Short film, The Lumberjack, which was written and directed by SAE Creative Media Institute graduate, James Rutkin is delighting audiences around the world. The thriller, which was developed by James as part of his Bachelor of Film final project, has won 11 awards at the Cannes World Film Festival, The Los Angeles IndieX Film Festival, and Thrills and Chills Film Festival to date - including three awards for Best Student Film.
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Coming of age thriller wins global awards

Short film, The Lumberjack, which was written and directed by SAE Creative Media Institute graduate, James Rutkin is delighting audiences around the world. The thriller, which was developed by James as part of his Bachelor of Film final project, has won 11 awards at the Cannes World Film Festival, The Los Angeles IndieX Film Festival, and Thrills and Chills Film Festival to date - including three awards for Best Student Film.

The story is set in the 1880s and is based around Adeline, who on her 18th birthday is inducted into the world of a lumberjack by her father.

“Unfortunately, Adelaine finds that she’s not physically able to keep up with the demands of being a lumberjack, and this leads to her having intense nightmares, and her mental health deteriorating quite quickly,” James said.

The Lumberjack was shot in 2019 prior to the pandemic, and during that period James had to navigate several other challenges.

“The day before we started shooting I went through a relationship breakup; it was difficult to deal with and a challenge to stay focused.

“In addition we went to Cooma and shot during the bushfires. There was a lot of thick bush and smoke where we were shooting; it really was quite an anxious time!

“We already had to delay filming because the bushfires were too dangerous – that affected the film massively in terms of the overall production.”

James added this included filming one of the film’s most critical scenes, where a fireplace is used.

“We had to replicate a fire in post production through the use of CGI, which took a lot of time and money.”

Looking to the future, and James is expanding his horizons in 2022. “I’ve got a new short film that I’m writing that I’m hoping to be making towards the latter part of next year, which I plan to self-fund and make independently – The Lumberjack is just the start.”

The Lumberjack has been recognised with 11 global film awards to date and is expecting more in the coming months:

Cannes World Film Festival – 2021
● Best Student Film

Los Angeles IndieX film Festival – September 2021
● Best Student Short of the Month
● Best Student Director (Male)
● Outstanding Achievement Awards for Drama
● Outstanding Achievement Award for Actress
● Outstanding Achievement Original Score

Thrills and Chills film festival – November 2021
● Best Student Film
● Best Director
● Best First Time Director
● Best Cinematography
● Best Original Music

SAE General Manager, Dr Luke McMillan congratulated James on the production and success of the film.

“The international acclaim that James is receiving for his film, The Lumberjack, is richly deserved. In addition, it illustrates the world-class filmmaking that is taking place at SAE and how students like James are industry ready, even prior to graduating.

“With thousands of jobs being made available through a $400 million incentive from the Federal Government over the next seven years to attract film and television productions to Australia, it’s an exciting time for newcomers to the industry.”

SAE Creative Media Institute understands creators like James, and provides students with the experience, skills, equipment and connections to succeed in the industry.

Find out more at sae.edu.au.

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