Lex Lindsay of the Cockatoo Institute Chippendale speaking at the Creative X-Change, Dubbo.

Over the past few days I’ve done something I seldom do – attended a couple of workshops. Both with an Orana Arts connection. The first was Creative X-Change at the Western Plains Cultural Centre in Dubbo and the second was an Australian Film Television and Radio School event at the Country Women’s Association hall in Mudgee.

The Cultural X-Change brought together ten speakers from different arts disciplines to talk about their experiences in developing and promoting arts programs, in their regions. Like every event of this nature it was something of a grab bag with subjects running  from operating a local gallery,  through staging opera performances to attracting artists and visitors to a community art space. It also included a Skype interview with a New York artist  Nick Rosal, describing his development as a painter. Great stuff.

With just 90 minutes for all ten speakers the program was short and sweet. The audience didn’t have time to get loose interest and the mix of subjects proved popular … even those areas that had no real personal involvement.

I think that all of the audience got something out of the event, I know it gave me a lot to think about. Orana Arts is planning more similar  events in the future and I hope will be able to take it to other towns in the region.

The Pocket Film Maker Jason van Genderen setting up his equipment for the Mudgee AFTRS workshop “An Insiders’s Guide to Successful Short Films.”

“An Insider’s Guide to Successful Short Films” is a workshop developed by the AFTRS and presented by The Pocket Film Maker, Jason van Genderen from Newcastle. I must confess that although I’ve looked at some of the Tropfest CDs, Jason had passed under my radar.

I signed up for the workshop as although was once the editor of a video magazine I have been right out of the loop for the past fifteen years or so, and was looking for a few leads to bring myself up to date. I wasn’t clear on the subject matter of Jason’s presentation, but it whatever it was it wasn’t what I got.

Some years ago Macromedia (now part of Adobe) had a number of self-styled Macromedia Evangelists who spread the good word about Flash or Dreamweaver or whatever. Jason is just like one of those except that his passion is for short film and short film festivals. His approach to film making is an eye-opener, as are his views on equipment.

In a nutshell Jason graduated from 35mm film to a mobile phone and achieved a level of success most of us can only dream of. He started his presentation showing his failures from the beautifully shot “Lactating Larry”, to the commercial-like, maudlin, “Bin Night” before he discovered the mobile phone.

Working with a Nokia N95, he made the multi-award winning “Mankind Is No Island” for the 2008 New York Tropfest.  Except for a couple of scenes this could have been made with a still camera as it is a curiously ‘static’ video, but that said, it is simply stunning. Visually, and more importantly, emotionally.

It was in showing this that Jason’s presentation really gathered momentum. He followed Mankind by showing The Unspoken, a film that explore his relationship with his father months of his father’s life.  This is a powerful piece of work, although not nearly as confronting as Pedro Meyer’s longer I Photograph To Remember on much the same subject.

The next short was The 53rd Hour, a film that explores the emotional problems faced by men following divorce and their relationships, and attitudes to their children after custodial visits.

The workshop contained a great deal of practical information on developing ideas and the problems of converting them into a finished production. All of it useful stuff and given the power, and number, of Jason van Generen’s own films also sound practical advice.

I got a lot more than I expected from this AFTRS workshop and am interested in exploring some of the others in the program on the basis of Jason’s presentation.


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