Short of the Week: St Elmo

February 4, 2019
Young filmmaker Emily Dynes’ award-winning short film tackles masculinity and queerness with Australia’s bushfires as its background.

A graduate of Swinburne, with St Elmo made as her graduating film, Emily Dynes is a Melbourne based filmmaker, composer and photographer. The film made its premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016, and is finally available online for all to experience.

“It is personal in the sense that the original idea to explore the impact of bushfires was inspired by my mother, whose childhood home burnt down twice when she was growing up,” Dynes tell us. “I’ve always been a bit morbidly fascinated with bushfires; how the danger each summer generates is almost an Australian normality. My hometown has a fire danger rating board next to its ‘Welcome’ sign, as so many rural Australian towns do, and as a child I remember my primary school suspending class due to bushfire threats. Personally, I’ve been very lucky to never have been directly affected by the fires, but so many people across Australia have been, and have lost more than can be rebuilt.

“With St Elmo, I wanted to consider ideas of queerness and masculinity against the backdrop of the harsh Australian landscape. My aim was to explore how the suppression of love, grief and sexuality can have explosive consequences, particularly in our current national culture; which can often hold antiquated ideas around what defines masculine strength. I hope I was able to capture some of those big and emotional themes in an honest way.

St Elmo was my first major short film and my graduate project from film school. It’s a very strange and surreal experience to now have it released online, as it was filmed it nearly four years ago. I’ll always be thankful that somehow a lot of talented people placed their trust in a 20-year-old kid, including the very skilled producer Brooke Guy, brilliant cinematographer Wilson Huang and lead actor Toby Wallace (Romper Stomper, Boys in the Trees, The Turning). It taught me so much about collaboration, and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who poured their love into it.”

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