30 June 2022

Freeze Short Film Festival to inspire Wagga's next generation of filmmakers

| Chris Roe
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Mark Grentell says aspiring filmmakers need to create their own opportunities and take advantage of those on offer. Photo: Cinema Australia.

Riverina filmmaker Mark Grentell says the key to success is getting in and having a go.

“You’ve just got to get involved. You’ve got to take your own initiative, don’t wait for someone to provide an opportunity before you make the opportunity,” he says.

Hailing from Uranquinty, the director and producer of feature films Backyard Ashes and The Merger says young filmmakers today have access to some amazing technology.

“Having the tools is one thing but access to that knowledge and the practical use of both at the same time is always going to be lacking in regional areas,” he explains.

“It’s a field that requires hands-on experience.”

Fortunately for aspiring young filmmakers in Wagga, an opportunity has arrived in the form of the inaugural Freeze Short Film Festival.

Wagga Art Gallery will host a series of workshops focussing on animation, performance and editing before staging a public screening of the short films produced.

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Tayla Martin is the council’s digital and programs officer and says it’s all about tapping into local artists and performers to work with the students.

“Alice Peacock is one of the most well-known animators here. She’s showcased her work at Vivid (festival) and does a lot of work for (projection company) Illuminart,” she says.

“We’ve also teamed up with Freeroam Theatre. They’re an emerging theatre company, all youths themselves in their 20s and they are CSU graduates who have studied acting for TV and theatre.”

Tayla says there has been a growing interest in video production in the region.

“You can do it on your phone and I think that we see it with kids on Tik Tok – it’s just so accessible that there’s such an interest in it,” she explains.

“So this time they will get to hone in on animation, create a performance and piece that together as a film and then participants will actually be able to submit that into a short film showcase where we’ve got over $1000 in prize prizes to be won.”

flyer for film festival

The Wagga Art Gallery’s Freeze Film Festival is offering opportunities to Wagga’s young filmmakers. Photo: Wagga City Council.

Things were a little different when Mark Grentnell started getting interested in making films as a kid in the 80s and 90s.

“The local fish and chip shop in Uranquinty was the only place you could hire movies on VHS – seven for $10,” he laughs.

“So I used to go and hire seven movies in a week, watch them all and then return them and then hire another set.”

He says visual storytelling struck a chord with him and he was soon recreating scenes from some of his favourite films.

“I started filmmaking by grabbing my friends and a handycam and trying to remake Jurassic Park or Spider-Man or Titanic or even just to copy some shots.”

Mark says opportunities to learn were few and far between so he encourages aspiring filmmakers to take advantage of what’s becoming available and be proactive.

“That’s what I did for Backyard Ashes. There was no opportunity and no one would make my film, so I had to go and do whatever was possible to get it done,” he says.

“You’ve just got to give people a chance to grab a camera and film something or watch something with the filmmaker to understand how it was made.

“Just give them that moment of inspiration and see what they can pull off because you’re gonna suck when you start – but the more you do it, the less you’ll suck!”

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In terms of tips for those planning something for the Freeze Short Film Festival, Mark says not to overthink it.

“Keep it simple and keep it short because making them is hard. If you can tell a short film story in three minutes instead of seven then do that,” he says.

“Just make a cool, simple, effective idea and execute it well.”

The festival will kick off on Saturday 2 July with three workshops and a screening and run through to Wednesday 13 July.

For more information and to register, visit the Wagga Art Gallery website.

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