Festival Director Luisa Mitchell and Treasurer Blake Treharne sat down to spill the beans on making the Uni Goonies Film Festival, the support it’s garnered, the significance of their film categories, the Goonie’s future, and advice for aspiring young filmmakers.
The Uni Goonies Film Festival is the only Western Australian film festival made by students, for students.
Last year, Mitchell spoke with a few other Screen Arts students at Curtin University about the opportunities available to them—or lack thereof.
“We were finishing our semester one productions and there wasn’t really a space for them to be shown or recognised,” she said.
“I also felt that there were no opportunities for student filmmakers to enter the industry. There’s this sense that, as an art student, you’re not really going to get anywhere—you’re not going to get a job.”
Treharne echoed this: “It’s partly why we’re doing this, because there isn’t really a clear pathway for film students”.
So, Mitchell and Treharne—along with Sophia Witte, Chantie Nash and Cameron Stewart—formed a committee to create the Uni Goonies Film Festival: a community for bourgeoning filmmakers to get their start.
The festival is on November 17, and submissions for tertiary students (including mature-aged students), or non-professional filmmakers aged 18 to 25, are open until November 8.
The Goonies created six categories for the films—Shorts, Experimentals, Celebrate WA, Black Out, Fountain of Youth, and Genreland—and they did so with purpose.
Celebrate WA is for exploring local stories; Mitchell believes that there’s something untapped here, and that instead of chasing a career in the eastern states filmmakers should shoot our state to cultivate the industry here.
Treharne said that the Fountain of Youth category was created to encourage young filmmakers to tell their stories, as opposed to emulating other filmmakers:
“Hopefully, by having this category, we can encourage people to be honest with themselves and be confident in their own experiences, rather than just basing it in things they’ve seen in other films.”
Mitchell also remarked that there are stories that young people have that aren’t told—like youth homelessness and mental health.
Black Out is for Indigenous filmmakers, or for films that explore Indigenous Australian themes or stories. It was created to ensure diversity in the festival line-up, and to contribute to the demand for better diversity in the industry in general.
There are seven awards for each category (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenwriter, Best Cinematography, Best Editor, Best Actor, Best Animation, and Best Production Design).
Treharne said that the committee would be reviewing the films prior to the festival before judging is completed by a panel of industry professionals—like Pete Gleeson, Terri Lamera, Simon Akkerman and Melissa Hayward.
Mitchell and Treharne have been enamoured by the response from these producers, directors, cinematographers, and costume designers in the industry.
“There aren’t a lot of things like this specifically for our group, so people have just been really willing to help out,” Treharne said.
The festival is also being supported by numerous organisations—like Curtin University, Revelation Perth International Film Festival, and Australian Screen Editors.
“I have been so surprised by how, simply reaching out, we’ve had such a great response to this,” Mitchell said, “I think people are actually super, super excited and open to having more projects like this in WA.”
Organising the festival has been a lot of work for the committee members; Mitchell said that it has been tiring, but overwhelmingly rewarding.
“This has shown me that we can achieve anything we want to achieve,” she said.
Treharne remarked on the community-building that it has involved, and how great it’s been to meet and engage with like-minded people.
“What we’ve already made with our small group has been great, and we’re building that,” he said.
The committee recently added Bayley Simonds as Technology Coordinator, and their currently focused on engaging students as the festival gets closer and closer.
In the future, Mitchell and Treharne want the festival to expand.
Mitchell sees the Uni Goonies becoming more than just a festival and significantly impacting the film industry in WA, while Treharne wants it to get students excited about filmmaking and the industry in general.
“Especially for some of the younger students attending—like the year twelves—so they can see what the industry is like, or could be like, and get excited for the future,” he said.
For those thinking about submitting their work to the festival, he offered this advice:
“I think a lot of students are worried about not having good enough equipment but you can make something really great anyway. If you don’t have a camera you can just use an iPhone—like the film Unsane, which was shot entirely on an iPhone on a twenty-dollar app; if you don’t have a microphone just shoot a no-dialogue film; if you don’t have a tripod make it shakey. Take your limitations and use them to your advantage.”
And Mitchell implored filmmakers to be unafraid:
“We never know what the final result of our hard efforts will be, and it might not be what we expected, but the collaboration that goes into it is always so rewarding—whether you like the final project or not. I think that goes for the festival as well; whether or not it’s a success, the relationships we’ve been able to build and the connections we’ve fostered have been so worthwhile and rewarding. So, just do it for the process, do it for the love of filmmaking, and whether or not it’s a success, it will hopefully create a better industry in WA.”