Producer Luke Graham had a vision, which came to fruition in September 2015, with the first ever Capricorn Film Festival, screening short films from around the world under the surprisingly overcast sky of the Central Queensland industrial town, Gladstone. The turnout was good, though it could have been better had the weather not turned, or that the North Queensland Cowboys rugby league team had not been playing in a crucial semi-final on the same evening.
Still, families turned out in droves, industry represented, and they even had fledgling filmmakers in attendance to see their own creations play on the big screen in front of an audience for the very first time. “I submitted Phantasm to pretty much every film festival around the world; I really just wanted people to see it,” said Zane Borg, who had come from Melbourne with his dad. “Capricorn was the first to accept the film, and it was actually Phantasm’s world premiere. I couldn’t have chosen a better festival. The sense of community Gladstone brought really made me feel welcome. That’s always important when you’re screening your film, especially one as personal as Phantasm.”
Seventeen-year-old Zane was only sixteen when he started making Phantasm. It’s a simple, beautifully acted two-hander, in which a young man speaks to an older woman, leading to a heartbreaking twist. According to the young filmmaker, he had shot and virtually locked the edit for a version of the film, when his computer was stolen, forcing him to remake the whole thing, ultimately benefiting the final product.
Another filmmaker who had made the journey to Gladstone was Brisbane director, Tony Walsh, whose film, The Bus Knight, also premiered at The Capricorn Film Festival, and ultimately picked up The Audience Award. “Our film is based on a Facebook post of all things, by Angus Robertson,” said Walsh. “It was a hyperbolic and colourful recounting of events that had just unfolded on an inner city bus. The post enjoyed massive success online, and currently has almost 14 million Imgur views.”
This genuine interest in finding an audience is at the forefront of Tony Walsh’s filmmaking. “The goal is to get it seen by the right audience, and the medium is ancillary to that,” said Walsh. “It’s great to have your work shown in a cinema or on television, but the web potentially has a bigger and more diverse audience. It is an incredibly interesting time to be a filmmaker. The web is a new frontier, and people are still figuring out how this viral voodoo works. Combine that with how accessible digital filmmaking is, and you’ve got some great opportunities for experimentation in the medium. Being able to see the analytics of a YouTube video is the sort of tool that even a decade ago only television networks had access to. It’s making storytelling more innovative and unconventional, which is great.”
With its successful berth at Capricorn, The Bus Knight now has a strong platform to finding a large audience. “Short films are probably the most efficient way of becoming a better filmmaker,” said Walsh. “They’re a training ground to features, series and other long form content. If you can’t hold an audience’s attention for 10 minutes, how will you hold it for 100?”
“I learnt that through passion, dedication, and the support of others that I can actually make a film,” said Borg. “It’s the thought that plagues every aspiring filmmaker, but I feel empowered to have proved otherwise. It’s like a door has been opened and suddenly everything’s possible.”
Entries are now open for The Capricorn Film Festival, with a deadline of October 6. For all information, head to the official website.