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Make your own films, don’t just study other people’s

Emma Clark Gratton

A short course in filmmaking concentrates on the practical skills you need to launch a career in filmmaking.
Make your own films, don’t just study other people’s

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Theory is one thing, but when it comes to making your own films, practical skills are what really counts. A short course provides hands-on expertise for emerging filmmakers, giving them the ability to write, direct and produce their own films.

Nikki Richardson has a string of awards and selections to prove the point. She is an emerging writer and filmmaker interested in telling stories that follow complex female characters and present an honest reflection of female perspective and experience. Her first short film, We’re Here Now (2015) is a “dramedy” in which two sisters find themselves hiding out in a public toilet when the youngest has to take a pregnancy test.

The film was completed during her time at the Victorian College of the Arts as part of the Film & Television Foundations course. It received the St Kilda Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award (2016), Dungog Festival’s Best Australian Screenplay – Fiction (2016), SIPFest’s Best Screenplay (2016) and Official Selection at Palm Springs International Shortfest (2016).  

Kickstart your film career

‘I was sick of writing about other people’s films and wanted to have a go at making something myself,’ said Richardson, who chose the VCA Film and Television Foundations Course after completing a degree in Arts/Visual Arts, majoring in Film and Television Studies,

‘This felt like a natural progression, but I didn’t really know where to start – I’d volunteered on a couple of shoots but wasn’t sure how to take it from there. Through word of mouth I heard about the foundations course and decided to give it a go, and I’m thrilled I did.’

Richardson said that the course gave her the confidence to pursue a career in the film industry.

‘The year provided me with practical skills in all areas of filmmaking, a network of like-minded people to create with, and a supportive environment that helped me make a film I am proud of.’

 

Get behind the camera

The VCA Film and Television short course runs for a year, part time. This allows students to maintain their own creative practices and to get experience in the industry. Emerging filmmakers can use the course as an opportunity to enhance their skills or add to their showreel, while complete beginners will gain the skills to make their first film.

The course covers all aspects of making a film, from writing and directing, through to sound recording and cinematography. Students complete one short film exercise (2 minutes) and write and direct one major short production (5 minutes), adding two short films to their showreel. 

Richardson is currently in production on her second short film – a comedy which takes place at a lingerie party. Her passion for filmmaking was honed through watching movies with her dad, a fellow film buff. ‘Although his taste is a little different to mine today, I believe he provided me with my primary film education,’ she said. ‘As kids growing up in country Victoria, my younger siblings and I used to make home movies whenever friends came over. We would create horror stories, action and romance, all shot on our dad’s MiniDV camcorder.’

‘I usually preferred to be behind the camera directing or shooting (and probably bossing my siblings around). I never thought film was something I could pursue seriously, it was just a bit of fun, but looking back I suppose that was where my passion came from.’

Richardson has advice for anyone looking at getting into film. ‘I would say just get out there and do it – crew on sets, get experience, write and make stuff!  Try out every role on set, find people who you work well with and most importantly tell the stories that you want to tell from your unique and authentic perspective.’

Find out more information on the Victoria College of the Arts Film and Television Foundation course.

About the author

Emma Clark Gratton is an ArtsHub staff writer.

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