You might not know his name, but Hayden Fortescue has already clocked up an impressive film resume. A former staffer at one of WA’s busiest broadcasters, Fortescue – a successful graduate of The SAE Creative Media Institute, Perth – has worked extensively as an assistant director, location manager, and production assistant, with credits including The Reckoning (for WA genre hero, John V. Soto); Drive Hard (directed by the legendary Brian Trenchard-Smith); Kill Me Three Times (from Red Dog helmer, Kriv Stenders); Looking For Grace (directed by Sue Brooks); the locally shot blockbuster, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; and the upcoming Red Dog: True Blue, which saw him work again for Kriv Stenders.
Since graduating from SAE with a Bachelor Of Film in 2010, Fortescue formed his own production company, VCR Media, with fellow film graduate, James Pentecost. The duo have forged a successful business producing commercial content for clients such as Canon. After making his directorial debut with the 2012 short, Manu Marmont, Fortescue returned this year with Council. The short is set at an indeterminate point in the future where overpopulation is a serious danger, and must be managed by a panel of judges who determine who lives, and dies, on an annual basis.
“I first came up with the concept in January 2015,” Fortescue says. “I was listening to some motivational tapes on a long drive when it hit me: the idea of a future where everyone must prove to a panel of judges that they deserve to continue living each year. How would this affect the way that we lived our lives? What sort of society would enforce this? The questions and possibilities were endless! I take a long time to gestate and think about things, so it was probably six months later that I finally wrote something down. I couldn’t figure out the ending, but as soon as I had that, the script poured out in just a few hours.”
Council caught the attention of the international film industry, scoring a berth at The CinefestOZ Film Festival, and the prestigious Cannes Short Film Corner, organised by The Cannes Film Festival. Bunbury-raised Fortescue was also nominated as Young Filmmaker Of The Year in 2014 and 2016 at The WA Screen Awards, and was nominated for the same award at The 2016 Byron Bay International Film Festival. Council was also nominated for two WA Screen Awards in the People’s Choice and Best Script categories, and took out the Best Film Production award at The 2016 International SAE Alumni Convention and Awards held in Cologne, Germany. “Winning this award was absolutely amazing! It was a great validation of all the hard work that I’ve put in to this industry,” Hayden said. “It feels great knowing that SAE takes such an interest in its graduates – as alumni members, we are very much still part of the SAE family.”