The Industry Association for Australian Filmmakers and Performers in the U.S.

Follow Us

     Join AiF Mailling List

Latest News

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • Thursday, August 10, 2017 2:47 PM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)



    for a LIVE READ EVENT 

    featuring Live Read/LA 





    Hearing your words spoken by professional actors is a vital part of the creative process. We're giving two AiF industry members a chance to hear their words read aloud. It's a rare and special chance to hear how your script is progressing, and work on one of this industry's toughest skills...receiving feedback. Listening to different scripts and thinking about feedback helps you identify strengths and weaknesses in your own work which will help you in the re-writing/polishing process.


    The two selected scripts will be read by actors in front of a live AiF member audience, featuring an "industry insider"(tba) on Wednesday, September 5 at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood (invitation to follow). 



    *A submission fee of $20 is required. Send up to 30 pages of your script as a PDF file. One act of your screenplay, or most of your TV pilot/spec etc. 
    No hard copy submissions accepted 

    *Two writers will be selected for a live read event held on 
    Wednesday, September 5.

    *We will accept screenplays, TV pilots, specs, short films, web series,
     even stage plays. Any genre.

    *You may send us less than 30 pages. But if you send 31 or more, YOUR SCRIPT WILL NOT BE READ AND YOUR FEE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED




    The Live Read/LA program, based in West Hollywood, started in 2016 by AiF member Tim Schildberger (who has over 15 years of live read experience), is a monthly, writer-based community event developed to help other writers improve their craft. Each reading has an "Industry Insider" as well as an audience of peers who provide critical feedback after each performance. Learn and participate more HERE 

  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:39 AM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

    For writer and first-time director Geremy Jasper, Patti Cake$ was a two-year labor of love created initially for family and friends to honor his New Jersey upbringing and love of hip hop. It’s little wonder the director now describes the standing ovation the film received at Sundance this year, followed by a heated bidding war amongst several film distributors immediately after, as a “…dream having a dream having a dream come true!”

    At a sold-out member’s only screening of Patti Cake$ at Raleigh Studios on July 12, Geremy, Aussie leading-lady Danielle Macdonald and co-star Siddharth Dhananjay took part in a lively and informative Q&A session, sharing a number of invaluable, humorous and often unconventional insights into their two-year filmmaking process.

    For Geremy, his background as the lead singer of New York indie guitar band The Fever, followed by a successful career as a music video director with credits including Florence + The Machine and Selena Gomez, writing and directing Patti Cake$ was somewhat of a next logical step in his career. But still an immensely challenging one at that.

    For Danielle, her initial reaction to playing the title role when first contacted by Geremy back in 2014 was “…he must be a little insane!” The Sydney-born actor had no prior singing or rapping experience, nor had she mastered a New Jersey accent, but after spending three weeks working with Geremy on the project at the Sundance Labs, she more than proved her ability to tackle Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski with aplomb.

    Fast-forward three years and Patti Cake$ was one of the hits of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Fox Searchlight secured the worldwide distribution rights for $9.5 million, and Danielle, was one of the breakout stars of the festival.

    Below, both Geremy and Danielle share their top tips and insights for emerging filmmakers and actors as a result of their incredible collaboration with the project:

    Geremy Jasper – Writer/Director

    1.    Simplify the Screenplay – the hardest part of the entire filmmaking process for me was writing the screenplay and the initial drafts of the script were quite different and much more complicated than what we ended up shooting. When I attended the Sundance Labs in 2014, Quentin Tarantino was my first advisor and after reading the original draft for Patti Cake$ he said to me; “You start really strong, second half of the movie, all a dream sequence? You kind of lost me there.” I ended up writing over a dozen versions of the script in the end and just stripping back the story so it became much more about connecting with the characters than overcomplicated plotlines.

    2.    Unconventional Casting – when I first saw Danielle I knew straight up she was the only actor I wanted to play Patti. She looked exactly like the image of her I’d been carrying around in my head for years and it didn’t matter to me that she had no music or rapping experience. Or that she’s Australian and would need to learn the Jersey accent and how to rap with it. I found Siddharth via his hip hop parody videos on Worldstarhiphop and instantly knew he’d be perfect to play Jheri in the film. He’d never acted a day in his life before doing the film. My point is, filmmakers can often feel pressure to go with bigger name actors when it comes to the casting process but I believe our unconventional approach with Patti Cake$ was actually one of our biggest strengths. Go with your gut especially if the characters are close to your heart.

    3.    Hold Your Horses – there’s a lot of temptation to start production on your first film as soon as possible, especially if/when money becomes available. But my biggest piece of advice for first-time indie filmmakers is to make sure you get your script as close to perfect and finished before you start shooting. You only ever get to make your feature film debut once so make sure it’s coming from a place where you’re really happy with the screenplay.

    Danielle Macdonald – “Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski”

    1.    Say “Yes” – my biggest piece of advice to other Aussie actors is to build your credits up as much as you can and just say “yes” to any opportunities that come your way...even if you initially doubt yourself about them. I was definitely apprehensive about taking on the lead role in Patti Cake$ but I am so glad I did! It was an incredible experience and it’s lead to so many other wonderful opportunities now.

    2.    Don’t Quit – when I first arrived in L.A. I had one of those crazy, dream starts where I went to an audition for a series regular on a show (ABC’s Huge) and I booked it. But then because my visa approval wasn’t processed in time they ended up having to give the role to someone else which really sucked. In the end, I was so grateful for the experience though because it was a lesson in letting things go and just staying positive and knowing that it’s all about persistence. And I’m kind of glad I didn’t get the show because it helped me to learn how to live away from home without any guaranteed work. I really started from the ground up here.

    3.    Give Yourself Time – life in L.A. can definitely take some getting used to and it did take me awhile to adjust to being over here. This is my first time living away from home and I didn’t know anyone when I moved over. But in the last few years I’ve created a life filled with people and places I love, I have a dog and a cat who are best friends, and L.A. feels like home now.

    Patti Cake$ opens August 18th in the US.

  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 5:14 PM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)


    Australians in Film announced today that Jungle Managing Director Courtney Gibson has joined the AiF Board. Also announced, a range of newly created education and career development programs for industry members, and a brand new international industry membership category, allowing Australian screen creatives affordable shared office space in Los Angeles.

    Village Roadshow Entertainment Group CEO, Greg Basser, producer Eden Gaha, Group Director of Marketing at Amalgamated Holdings Ltd Ian Sutherland and Vice President of Drama Development at Essential Media & Entertainment Simonne Overend have all been reappointed for another two-year term.

    Gibson, former CEO of Screen NSW and executive at the Nine Network, Southern Star and ABC TV was instrumental in the establishment of Charlie’s, AiF’s creative shared workspace in Hollywood, which is funded by Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, AFTRS and Film Victoria. The new space, The Creative Collective, downstairs from Charlie’s is a members-only workspace and creative hub.

    Kate Marks, President of Australians in Film said today; “Courtney was an extraordinary catalyst for change during her time at Screen NSW. She really champions creatives in the screen business and her experience in both the private and government sector of the industry means she will be a great addition to the Board. We are thrilled that she has joined and we look forward to her contribution to the growth of AiF.

    Gibson said “Australians in Film is such a can-do outfit, its influence, impact and imaginative approaches to industry development make it a stand-out organisation. I'm particularly pleased to be joining the board at a time when Australians are making such a compelling contribution to global screen culture and content.

    The AiF international membership category will allow Australian based screen creatives and professionals to join the organization, giving them access to desk space at AiF’s headquarters on the historic Raleigh Studios lot, the oldest working studio in Hollywood where Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, A Star is Born, and the Oscar winning In the Heat of the Night were filmed.

    International members will also get discounted rates to all of AiF’s career and education development programs, including the script development program Gateway LA, the Village Roadshow|Animal Logic Entertainment Internship and the Heath Ledger Scholarship.

    The newly created education and career development programs will include increased access to the US and the international industries, with seminars and Q&A’s with leading American executives and creatives from Netflix, Fox2000, Amazon, Village Roadshow, Warner Bros, Animal Logic, Hulu, CAA and UTA, in addition to Australians working in both the Australian and US industry, including conversations with Damon Herriman (The Nightgale, Secret City, Quarry) and Anna Torv (Secret City, Fringe).

    This week, AiF has a screening of the Sundance hit Patti Cake$ with star Australian Danielle Macdonald. Previous screenings in 2017, included Big Little Lies (with Q&A’s featuring Bruna Papandrea, Nicole Kidman and Per Sari), War Machine (David Michod, moderated by Luke Davies) and The Get Down (Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.)

  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 3:29 PM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

    Australians In Film is launching new memberships, education and career development programs which will connect you with the US, Australian and international industry, and introducing more flexible guest passes giving you access to the best US and Australian tentpole and independent films and television for as low as $10.


    We want to give you better value for money, and more support in achieving your dreams and creating great screen content, whether you are in Los Angeles or Australia. Our aim is to champion you. AiF welcomes everyone, not just Australians, who want to connect and work together, and tell great stories on screen.

    $150 (before August 1)

    $200 (after August 1)

    $250 (before August 1)

    $300 (after August 1)



    Screenings Pass $50

    Industry Pass $100

    Access to every AiF screening for 12 months


    Plus one guest for every AiF screening for 12 months


    Over 50 screenings of Hollywood tentpole and US indie films, Australian features, advanced screenings of US and Australian television,

    shorts and AiF members' original films, including post-screening Q&A's with actors and creatives.






    Includes all the benefits of the Screening Membership, plus more.....


    Access to AiF's curated education and career development programs. See below.

    Access to our shared workspace at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood for an additional charge of $10 per day.


    Discounted application fees for all AiF career development programs, including Gateway LA, Mentor LA, The Village Roadshow / Animal Logic Entertainment Internship and The Heath Ledger Scholarship.

    Industry members need to be currently working in the screen industry, or engaged in a creative screen field; proof of work needs to be submitted.

    Access to a total of three screenings and two industry panels in a 12 month period, for the member.


    Access to our shared workspace at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood for an additional charge of $20 per day.


    Discounted application fees for all AiF career development programs, including Gateway LA, Mentor LA, The Village Roadshow / Animal Logic Entertainment Internship and The Heath Ledger Scholarship.



    International members primary residence must be outside the USA; they cannot be based in the United States for more than one month at a time in any 12 month period

    International Industry members need to be currently working in the screen industry, or engaged in a creative screen field; proof of work needs to be submitted.

    For those who are not in Los Angeles all the time, either because they are based elsewhere in the US, or travelling back and forth between the US and Australia.


    The Screenings Passincludes five single tickets for screenings over a period of 12 months

    The Industry Passincludes five single tickets for screenings and industry panels over a period of 12 months.

    Industry panels & Q&A's including the following upcoming programs:

    JULY 2017 AUGUST 2017 SEPTEMBER 2017

    A Conversation with actor Damon Herriman

    The Art of Pitching: Mark Horowitz

    Approaching a Lead Role: Lisa Robertson Acting Studio

    Short Films the idea, making it, and exhibition: Mark Horowitz

    10 Questions live Podcast with Adam Zwar

    The Role of a Manager with Christopher Burbidge (Roar)

    How the streaming companies are changing the business

    Agents for Writers and Directors

    Conversation with actor Anna Torv

    Freshflix Emerging Filmmaker Conference

    Filming in LA: Eva Bitar, Los Angeles Film Permit Office

    Independent Film Financing

    Please note, these sessions are subject to date changes. Members will be notified by invitation when exact dates are confirmed. Numbers are strictly limited.

    AiF Membership

    It's never been easier to join. Become a member now! 

    For further information, please contact: 

    Australians in Film on +1 323 433 1464

  • Wednesday, July 05, 2017 12:51 PM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

    Last week, AiF’s Creative Collective at Raleigh Studios played home away from home to a large group of Aussie creatives.

    A delegation of 11 directors and 6 screenwriters were funded by Screen Australia to travel to LA to attend the program dubbed ‘Talent LA’. The screenwriter’s delegation was co-sponsored by the Australian Writers Guild (AWG) and Scripted Ink, and supported through Screen Australia’s Enterprise program.

    Screen Australia curated a series of masterclasses, professional development activities from screen industry practitioners such as Bec Smith, David Michôd, Luke Davies, Meg LeFauve, Sheila Hanahan Taylor, Joan Scheckel and Judith Weston.

    The week prior, 10 online creatives were funded by Screen Australia to attend Vidcon, the largest online video conference in the world. Those from Vidcon that could stay on also joined the group for some of the activities.

    On Tuesday 27th June, Gday USA and Ausfilm joined with Screen Australia to invite the Palm Springs Shortfest Australian attendees to join some of the masterclasses. AiF and some of its LA based membership hosted all the different delegations for a very successful networking function that evening.

    “The entire Talent LA program, from Vidcon to the program at the Creative Collective in LA, was about showcasing some of the most interesting screen creators working in Australia today – whether they are working in the online space, TV drama or making shorts and feature films – while at the same time providing them with real insights into the LA system and how it works,” said Richard Harris, Screen Australia’s Head of Business and Audience.

    “Any future growth of the Australian production industry will be dependent on the global market, and with the rise of so many new players and platforms hungry for content there are massive international opportunities opening up for both Australian screen businesses and creatives. Screen Australia recognizes that it has an important role to play in providing a bridge between local talent and this burgeoning international sector, and supporting Australian stories to be told on the global stage.”

    “We see Australians in Film, with its strong sense of community and support for creatives based in LA, as a key partner in broadening the opportunities for Australian talent, and look forward to building on the activities that we have successfully delivered over the past 18 months.”

    Sydney-based filmmaker Claudia Pickering, who made the ultra-low budget feature film Frisky, said being a Talent LA delegate has been one of the best and most insightful experiences of her career to date.

    “I feel like I’ve been lit on fire, in the best possible way!” Claudia said. “I’ve learnt such a huge amount and it’s been brilliant to meet and get to know the most epic group of fellow directors, that I feel completely humbled by.”

    “Every session of the program has been beyond great,” she added. “Disney Animation writer Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) was incredible, particularly with her insights about our innate belief systems and the way we project them into our work and storytelling. It was such a primal experience that I know is going to impact my writing and the way I live my life,” Claudia said.

    Nerida Moore, Screen Australia’s Senior Development Manager said that she was pleased by how well the program had gone. “The delegates hail from such a broad range of backgrounds and experience and it’s been wonderful to see them all collaborating, forming little hubs and supporting one another so genuinely this week. It will be exciting to see how the connections made this week, and the breadth and depth of knowledge shared, will unfold in the months and years to come.”

    The 11 Australian directors included:

    Sarah Bishop (Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, Plus Ones)

    Corrie Chen (Reg Makes Contact, Suicide and Me)

    Victoria Cocks (Wasterlander Panda)

    Beck Cole (Black Comedy, The Warriors, Redfern Now Series 2)

    Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, Time Machine)

    Tim Marshall (Gorilla, Followers)

    Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa, David Stratton: A Cinematic Life, Mountain)

    Claudia Pickering (Frisky, Potluck)

    Damien Power (Killing Ground, Peekaboo)

    Luci Schroder (Slapper)

    Nicholas Verso (Boys in the Trees, The Last Time I Saw Richard)

    The 6 Australian screenwriters included:

    Shelley Birse (Satisfaction, The Code)

    Kristen Dunphy (The Principle, East West 101,)

    Matt Ford (Hiding, Love Child)

    Chris Lee (Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War)

    Michael Miller (Pulse, Cleverman Series 1, Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door)

    Sue Smith (Saving Mr Banks, Mabo, Brides of Christ)

    Filmakers at Vidcon included:

    Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly and Zachary Ruane (Aunty Donna)

    Julie Kalceff and Rosie Lourde (Starting From Now)

    Theo and Nathan Saidden (Superwog)

    Filmmakers at the Palm Springs International Shortfest included:

    Miranda and Khrob Edmonds (Library of Love)

    Mirrah Foulkes (Trespass)

    Vanessa Gazy (Highway)

    Jordy Pollock (A Short Film About Kissing)

    Brad Sayers (Third World Man)

    Christopher Sferrazza (Beast)

    Andrew Shanks (Split Me)

    Clare Sladden (Consent)

    Cate Stewart (The Record – World’s Largest Family)

  • Monday, July 03, 2017 10:31 AM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)


    For writer/director/producer Julie Kalceff and actor/producer Rosie Lourde, their hit web series Starting From Now was a passion project that surprised even them with the extent of its success and resonance with audiences globally. The five series of Starting From Now have amassed over 33 million views to date and been watched in more than 230 countries. In March 2016, seasons 4 and 5 were acquired for broadcast and screened on Australia’s SBS2 television network.

    The series also proved to be a literal masterclass in writing and marketing a viral web series for Julie and Rosie and one they have now officially taken on the road as part of the Australian delegation at this year’s VidCon – the largest online video conference in the world – and most recently, at Raleigh Studios as part of AiF’s industry workshop program, which aims to educate and connect Australian creatives to the international market.

    Using Starting From Now as their case study, Julie and Rosie’s presentation entitled From Script to Millions of Screens: How to Write and Market a Narrative Web Series That Goes Viral explores numerous aspects of the online creation process including writing and how to plot for the web, how to find and build an audience, the benefits of niche content, common pitfalls and how to leverage success. 

    “Knowing who your audience is, and where to find them, is the most important piece of advice I can give to online creators,” Julie said. “We shot five seasons of Starting From Now in three years so we had an enormous amount of engagement with our audience. That engagement was immediate too and as a creator feedback like that is invaluable because you know with certainty what your audience is responding to.”

    “That sense of integrity is so important,” Rosie adds. “For sure you need to be adaptable on the platform and responsive to your audience but truly knowing who’s watching and even being a member of your audience has a level of authenticity that rings so true online.

    “And we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our behind-the-scenes family too,” Rosie said. “Australians in Film has been so fantastic and Screen Australia and Screen NSW both really paid attention when we came to them. Their buy-in was integral to the success of Starting From Now and we’re so appreciative of their enthusiasm for the series.”

    Below are Julie and Rosie’s top five insights into creating a successful narrative web series as per their VidCon and AiF presentations:

    1.    Know how to reach your audience – before you even write a word, ask yourself: who is my audience and how will they know my series exists? More than 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute so there’s a lot of competition online and you have to put in a lot of effort to find your audience. In this regard, having niche content is actually a really good thing! Remember that online audiences are global so they’re deep. We reached out to lesbian bloggers and sites, we built relationships and promised them content so they felt they were a part of the journey before any of the episodes had aired. We tried to create a buzz about the series and ensured we had heaps of behind-the-scenes photos and videos to share too – social media is a hungry beast so you always needs lots of content.

    2.    Tell a universal story – Starting From Now is niche subject matter but our audience is now 22% male because once word of mouth kicks in, your audience will grow is you’re focused on telling a universal story that truly taps into elements of humanity that resonate. This will ensure you find a bigger audience, even if it takes one or two or even five seasons to do so!

    3.    Know how to keep your audience – we ensured all of our social media and branding was in place before we started so it’s easier for people to find your content and recognize it. Post regularly to keep people engaged, it will really help to build up your community. The immediate feedback that online provides is so valuable – use it! We actually changed the end of the series as a result of the feedback we received so we could give our audience a more satisfying outcome for what they were invested in.

    4.    Know how to leverage your success – the best way to ensure you’re leveraging success and allowing the buzz and momentum surrounding your content to build and grow is to have the next show in your back pocket. Even if it’s just a mid-term and long-term plan for how the series will unfold, make sure you have that ready to go when people ask for it because that’s what they’ll be interested in.

    5.    Be aware of the common pitfalls – remember that you can’t just put your content out there and expect people to find it. This creative process can take a lot of time but if you know who your audience is and you’re making content you believe in, it will be much more successful. Make sure you hire proper actors, a lot of people use friends but that can be a pitfall – our audience really engaged with our great cast and their performances were integral to the series really resonating. Not doing enough preparation can also be a pitfall and it makes it so much easier on the day. There will always be things that go wrong but if you’re prepared you’ll be better able to know what comprises to make. Take lots and lots of behind-the-scenes photos of videos, remember social media is a hungry beast and keeping your audience engaged with fresh content is important.

  • Friday, June 02, 2017 9:46 AM | Sarah Noye-Davies (Administrator)

    Kim Ledger and 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship Recipient, Mojean Aria

    At the Sunset Marquis Hotel, West Hollywood this evening Mojean Aria was announced as the 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship recipient.

    “Heath is such a huge inspiration for all of us actors and so many people looked up to him. Just to be connected with Heath Ledger and being able to have this platform, it is a dream come true.” Mojean Aria, The 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship recipient

    2017 marks the third year the talented Sydney born, LA based actor has applied, and been short-listed for the prestigious scholarship. In 2016 Aria played Jake LaMotta, the lead in The Bronx Bull, a part first made famous by Robert De Niro in the classic Raging Bull. This film is based on the story of the legendary boxing champion.

    Carrie, I LOVE Dick, Boys Don’t Cry Director and one of this year’s judges, Kimberly Peirce: “I’ve long been a fan of the extraordinary talent coming out of Australia and always look to Australia when I cast TV and Film, having cast Abbie Cornish in her first US role! [And I taught at NIDA]. It was an incredible experience and a great privilege watching all these stunning young Australian actors. Mojean’s work is rich, nuanced, precise, beautiful, authentic, emotive and fierce.  I hope the scholarship provides him the necessary support and tools to explore his talent and interests, develop his craft and further his career here in Hollywood and wherever it takes him.”

    Kim Ledger, AiF President Kate Marks, Kate Ledger, 2017 Heath Ledger Recipient Mojean Aria, Sally Bell, Ashleigh Bell and AiF Chairman Simonne Overend 

    AiF Board member and sister of the late actor Heath Ledger, Kate Ledger: “I am so proud to see the HLS evolve over the past 9 years to become what it has today.  The scholarship provides a launch pad for emerging actors to help forge their international careers in Hollywood. We wish Mojean all the best and are excited to watch him grow and develop as an artist.”

    Aria will obtain a USD$10,000 cash fund, private acting tuition from the Lisa Robertson and Nancy Banks Acting Studio, 2  Qantas return flights to LA, a 7-day Californian trip from Visit California, USD$5,000 worth of visa and immigration services from Raynor and Associates, Business Management and Australian/US Taxation advice from the Protea Group, US$5,000 Rent assistance, USD1000.00 transportation credit to get around LA. The Scholarship also includes mentorship from professionals in the industry and a lifestyle package (Training Mate gift card, Yoga Works 3 month voucher and more).

    This year’s judging panel included Naomi Watts (Birdman, The Impossible, King Kong), Ryan Murphy (Writer |Producer|Director: Fued, American Horror Story, Glee,) Gary Oldman (Actor: The Dark Knight Rises, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Bruna Papandrea (Producer: Big Little Lies, Wild, Gone Girl) Kimberly Peirce (Director: Carrie, Boys Don’t Cry), Emile Sherman (Producer: Lion, The King’s Speech), Jacqueline McKenzie,(actor The Water Diviner, Desperate Housewives) Gregor Jordan (Director: Two Hands, Ned Kelly) and Ronna Kress (Casting Director: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Fault in Our Stars, Deadpool).

    Benefactors to the program include the Ledger family, Michelle Williams, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman, Rose Byrne, Vince Vaughn, Liam Hemsworth, Alex O'Loughlin, Deborra-Lee Furness, Phillip Noyce, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gregor Jordan and Nicole Kidman.

    We would like to thank our sponsors Visit California, Qantas, ausfilm, Screenwise and Penfolds. 

  • Monday, May 22, 2017 1:24 PM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

    2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship Finalist Dakota Shapiro

    An expat life spent living in numerous countries around the world has exposed Dakota Shapiro to a wealth of different cultures, insights into the human condition and wisdom beyond his young years. His father was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, while his mother hails from New Mexico in the United States, but the family settled in northern NSW for most of Dakota’s childhood. At the age of fourteen, Dakota moved to the U.S. to attend performing arts boarding school for four years and then after graduating, he moved to the United Kingdom to study acting at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the National Conservatoire of Wales. After twelve months, he relocated to New Mexico to work and save enough money to pursue the ultimate acting dream – moving to Los Angeles where he now happily resides.

    AiF:     Where do you call home right now?

    DS:      I moved to Los Angeles a little over a year ago but Australia will always be home for me! I was born and raised in Mullumbimby which is a little coastal town near Byron Bay in Northern NSW. 

    AiF:     When did the acting bug first bite you and you knew it was your calling?

    DS:      It happened pretty young for me – I just adored my older brother when I was little and remember him saying he wanted to be an actor so I said to my Mum that I wanted to be one too! I quickly discovered it’s such a genuine and beautiful way to express who you are, and it’s also really helped me to understand the world around me. When I was fourteen I was lucky enough to move to the U.S. to attend performing arts boarding school at Idyllwild Arts Academy in California for four years and that was an amazing experience.

    AiF:     What inspires you in life?

    DS:      Relating to and connecting with other people really inspires me, regardless of who they are or where they come from. It’s when I feel the most alive and it’s what makes me feel the most at any one time – it’s the reason why I’m here I think, and why I act. I love getting to know people and being reminded that none of us are here alone.

    AiF:     Who are your favorite actors and/or filmmakers and why do they resonate with you?

    DS:      A filmmaker I really relate to is Richard Linklater – I loved Before Sunrise (1995) and I’m always so touched by how deeply philosophical but uniquely human his storytelling is. Tom Hardy is such an exceptional actor and his portrayal in the film Bronson (2008) was extremely formative experience for me. And then there’s Gary Oldman – and it’s such an awesome coincidence about the scholarship this year – but I’ll never forget the first time I saw Léon: The Professional (1994), it’s one of the films that made me want to be an actor.

    AiF:     What work are you most proud of creating so far in your career?

    DS:      In high school a really good friend of mine wrote and directed a play that I starred in and the response was so incredible. We were floored by the positive reception and it was one of those seminal moments in life where I knew this was the right path for me.

    AiF:     How are you hoping your career will unfold in the years to come?

    DS:      I really hope I have the opportunity to just do what I love! I want to play complex characters with depth and bring integrity to my performances whereby I truly relating to people and hopefully touching someone’s life. Much in the way I was so touched by the actors and filmmakers who made such a significant impact on me when I was growing up.

    AiF:     When did you first hear about the Heath Ledger Scholarship and make the decision to enter?

    DS:      I remember first hearing about the Scholarship when I was in high school and my teachers were talking about how well regarded it is. And then my acting teacher Lisa Robertson mentioned it most recently and I guess that reignited my interest in it so 2017 is the first year I’ve actually applied.

    AiF:     What does California represent for you in terms of your dreams, aspirations and goals in life?

    DS:      California represents the possibility of everything I want coming to fruition for me – it’s the hub of the movie industry, it’s where I’m meeting and making great business contacts and it’s where all the people I adore and want to work with are. I really feel like I’m in the throng of it here!

    AiF:     What are your favorite parts of California and what makes them so appealing?

    DS:      Definitely Los Angeles! I love this city – no matter what you’re seeking out it’s available to you here, from a multitude of metro areas to small towns and the beaches and desert and mountains. California is such a cool place.

    AiF:     What would it mean to you if you won the Heath Ledger Scholarship for 2017?

    DS:      In all honestly, becoming a finalist has affirmed so much for me already and really validated my decision to be here and follow my dreams. Moving to a new city when you’re just twenty-one can be really hard at times though and winning the Scholarship would make such a huge and positive difference. [Laughs} I guess in a way I’m the ideal candidate for it! And truly there just aren’t words to describe how appreciative I would be to do so.

    Heath Ledger Scholarship 2017 presenting partners are Qantas, Visit California, Screenwise and Ausfilm. 

    AiF would also like to thank Penfolds and Kate Raynor & Associates, official Immigration law partner.

  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:12 AM | Carly Einfeld (Administrator)

    Moderator Kylie Speer with Warwick Young, Martin Copping, India Dupre and David O'Donnell

     AiF’s Member’s Film Night held on Thursday 11 May was a showcase of five short films created by a group of diverse and talented emerging filmmakers. Screened on the night were: Stripped – written, produced and directed by India Dupré; Safety First – directed by Shane Connor and produced by Martin Copping, who also stars in the short; Stuffed – written, produced and directed by Warwick Young; Picture Wheel – written, produced and directed by David O’Donnell; and Peekaboo – written, produced and directed by Damien Power.

    Four of the filmmakers were on hand to participate in the post-screening Q&A session and share with the audience their invaluable experience and insights into what it takes to successfully create a short film. AiF also interviewed the four filmmakers about what it took to see their visions realized and their top five filmmaking tips to get your own short from script to screen.

    India Dupré – Stripped

    For writer, producer and director India Dupré, Stripped tells the very personal story of her own childhood migrating to Australia and becoming one of the countless victims of the “stolen generation”. It’s also a story about motherhood, the struggles faced by so many single-parents and the accidental icon India’s mother, Margaret Dupré, became in Australia during the 1980’s.

    Set in 1981, Stripped stars Katheryn Winnick (Vikings) as Margaret Dupré, a shy yet determined British mother who moves her young family to Australia with the promise of a better life before facing the horror of having her three young children abducted by the government and placed in work camps as part of a “Keep Australia White” scheme. Becoming a stripper to survive, Margaret kidnaps her children back and flees across Australia while the government hunts them down.

    The 12-minute short was created as a proof of concept to assist in the development of a feature film version – both were written through AiF’s Writer’s Room program – and funded in part by the Kevin Spacey Foundation after India won the 2015 Kevin Spacey Foundation Artist of Choice grant.

    Stripped premiered last year at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival and has also screened at the Edmonton International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award for Best Dramatic Short, the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Gold Coast Film Festival.

    India’s Top 5 Short Filmmaking Tips

    1.     Ask for help – set a date and create a call sheet (they are free online), start filling it out with the crew you have even if it’s just yourself and then look at the positions you need to fill: producer, DP, gaffer, etc – it makes people believe it is really happening. And then ask people, big people! People are kind and willing to give back if you show them how determined and passionate you are.  Find a way to get a great actor involved. Film Festivals love a big name attached to a project but are also good with great talent. SAG-AFTRA help short films hire union actors so I paid my actors the minimum required by SAG-AFTRA…but if budgets are super tight you can also ask actors to defer their payment (and it is less paperwork). And help others with their projects and they will help you.  My crew went above and beyond and when they created their short films, I did the same for them. Getting on film sets is a great way to meet crew and work for free (if necessary) at any position you can. It’s such a great way to observe, learn and save the call sheet with phone numbers.

    2.     Make sure your sound is sound –ask incredible musicians to score and or write original songs for your short, if they are inspired by your idea, they may enjoy creating music for it. And remember that recording on set is crucial. Make sure you hire a great sound person!

    3.     Tell a good story – the script is most important but know it will change on set due to weather, time, actors, etc so be flexible. Have a clear beginning, middle and end. Be provocative. Make it personal and make it something new. And if you can, plan to make your short 12 minutes in length or under – shorter shorts are more likely to be programmed at festivals than longer ones as they can squeeze more into the program’s time slot. 

    4.     Clearly Communicate your vision – start with stick figure storyboards to clearly convey your vision to your DP and crew. Just like getting a haircut, it’s much better to take a photo of what you want than try to explain it to your stylist and rely on their interpretation! Then film your rehearsal with actors to get camera angles…and make a digital storyboard from it by creating screen-shots. And watch films you admire and chose specific references. This is the fun part! The clearer your vision and mood board, the more you will achieve what you want. Look on eBay for authentic props, costumes and set pieces. I found cassette players, a tent and Barbie doll clothing from the 70s. 

    5.     Apply for grants – The Kevin Spacey Foundation is brilliant and just one example, if you search the web for grants you will find so many. Apply to them all! The most important expenses on a short film are equipment and insurance, then crew, location and food.

    Martin Copping – Safety First

    Directed by Shane Connor (Wolf Creek 2, Moby Dick) and produced by and starring Marty Copping, Safety First tells the tale of three bumbling Aussie burglars who decide to overcome the political uncertainty of a Donald Trump-presidency by robbing an L.A. bank before leaving the U.S. for good…in the safest way possible.

    The stellar cast also includes Ashleigh Brewer (Neighbors, Days of Our Lives), Tyler Atkins (Puberty Blues), Ryan Porter (Out of the Blue) and David Ross Patterson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Saving Mr. Banks, Frost/Nixon), with the film edited by longtime Robert Rodriguez collaborator Ethan Maniquis (Machete, Sin City).

    For Marty, the short also served as a test of his filmmaking skills acquired over the last fifteen years working as an actor and producer in Australia and the U.S., and an invaluable experience in the lead up to making his feature film directorial debut. A graduate of the St Kilda National Theatre, Marty is well known to Australian audiences from starring roles in Neighbours, Rush, Stingers and Blue Heelers. Since moving to Los Angeles, he has landed several roles in U.S. productions including the action-thriller feature film Zombie Hunter (2013) and television shows Hawaii Five-0 (2014) and Hand of God (2015).

    Martin’s Top 5 Short Filmmaking Tips

    1.     Surround yourself with good people – the trigger for my journey with Safety First was that I'd just come from producing a feature in Louisiana where I wasn't the lead producer and it wasn’t my project. And because I hadn't had the opportunity to build the crew I wanted, I couldn't restructure the team when we ran into trouble or take as much of the initiative or the responsibilities I wanted in order to guide the team through the inevitable production hurdles we faced. This doesn’t make for a very satisfying creative experience to say the least! So when it came to Safety First I made sure the majority of the production team involved had as much, or more, experience as I did. This really is the best way to grow and learn…and also create something you’re going to be really proud of. Having Shane Connor directing all our performances was tremendous – he’s a very unique artist with an incredible eye for nuance and being a veteran actor, he has the ability to bring honest and electric performances to the screen. Chris Ekstein is a visionary DP and collaborating with him and Shane on the visual aesthetic was a privilege. And then having Darren Maynard save my ass in post and create a soundscape that I couldn’t be happier with was awesome. Surrounding yourself with the most talented and experienced people you can find really is a must.

    2.     Get as close to your mentors as possible – following on from my first point, don’t be afraid to reach out to your mentors and get as close to them as possible. I love immersing myself amongst inspirational artists and on Safety First I was lucky enough to have the support of two of my film heroes, composer Cezary Skubiszewski and editor Ethan Maniquis. I’ve followed both their careers for a long time and feel very honored that they were prepared to lend me their support, even when the money wasn’t there.

    3.     The project must always come first – be clear about what you what from the very second production starts, and clearly express this vision and your intention for how you will handle the process to all the cast and crew as soon as they come on board. This helps minimize speed bumps along the way. It’s always important to be flexible but without a clear direction you’re just floating in the open waters.

    4.     Be a creative diplomat – as artists and working in the film industry, creative differences are always going to be areas that need to be delicately navigated and this is something I'm always trying to better my skillset at. As people, we are all so different and our opinions always differ with every person and in every situation we are in. Being able to negotiate these creative differences is always a challenge but so important. 

    5.     Prepare to spend more than you’d planned and utilize your support networks – I had originally hoped to make Safety First for nothing (which I’ve done before) but then there were some equipment ‘must have’s’ and they cost money so out came the credit card! Then, I pitched the idea to an old drama school friend who is now a very successful businessman and he helped to arrange our financing which was such a blessing. As a filmmaker, raising finance always seems to be the biggest challenge but having those additional funds for Safety First literally afforded me the ability to make the film the way I wanted. Like many others, I work full time creatively and don’t get paid for the majority of my work – reaching out to people who not only believe in what we do but are willing to support of our community and projects is a necessity.  

    Warwick Young – Stuffed

    Since 1995, Warwick Young has worked as an actor in theater, film and television in both Australian and International productions. It was during his Master of Screen Arts (Directing) degree, completed in 2013 at AFTRS, that Warwick wrote and directed the multi-award winning short Stuffed. The film tells the tale of Peter, an introverted postal worker who still lives with his mother in rural Australia and fills his spare time as a taxidermist. When the local pharmacist Ellen shows romantic interest in Peter, he struggles to leave the comfort of home and the security blanket it has become for him.

    So far in it’s festival run, Stuffed has accumulated an impressive list of nominations and awards including: 2016 Beverly Hills Film Festival Winner Best Foreign Film; 2015 Cannes Film Festival – Official selection; 2015 Cleveland International Film Festival – Official Selection; 2015 St Kilda Film Festival – Official Selection; 2015 Flickerfest International Film Festival – Official Selection Best Australian Short Film; 2014 Sydney Film Festival Nomination – Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director; 2014 Australian Directors Guild Award Nomination; and the 2013 European Union Film Award Winner.


    Warwick’s other credits include writing and directing the short films Reconciliation (2012), Refuge (2012) and U-Turn (2007). Currently, Warwick is in development on the feature film version Stuffed and the feature film adaptation of the critically acclaimed stage play Brilliant Monkey.

    Warwick’s Top 5 Short Filmmaking Tips

    1.     Tell stories with substance – make sure whatever tale you’re telling is about something that really means something to you. If your story has substance it will resonate with audiences because it has a level of authenticity about it. And make sure maintaining the integrity of the story is your number one priority in every sense, for example; don’t intentionally make the film’s length fit into a festival if there’s any chance of it compromising the narrative.

    2.     Don’t make a film that you can’t afford – you will so often see a film that was made for $5,000 that should have been made for $50,000 and in many cases you’re better off just not going there in the first place. There are always ways to be more creative and efficient/economical when it comes to filmmaking but because the integrity of the story must always come first, you have to make sure you can tell it the way you want it to be told

    3.     Surround yourself with likeminded mentors – make sure you surround yourself with people who you trust and who resonate with you. Someone might have amazing credits and a body of work that’s really impressive, but if it doesn’t say something to you then you’re kind of behind the eight ball. Fred Schepisi is a longtime mentor of mine and has been so great, he’s walked away from so many projects because he knew he couldn’t tell the story in the way he wanted to and I’ve learnt so much from him in that regard.

    4.     Choose your co-collaborators wisely – this not only comes down to experience and professionalism but in many cases is a matter of taste. Ask yourself, is your cinematographer looking at the shots coming through in the same way as you? Are the heads of departments onboard with your vision and even more importantly, the interpretation of your vision? To ensure the greatest chance of success for this you have to completely know your story, the world you’ve created and your characters inside and out. And you have to be a great communicator because everyone is coming at this from different perspectives.

    5.     Story rules – in short filmmaking and filmmaking in general every decision you make has to be about story. You could have the most beautiful shot in the world but if it doesn’t support the story, it’s worthless. Story rules, it has to. And you are the custodian of the story – it’s your job, your priority and why people are looking to you as the leader on a production.

    David O’Donnell – Picture Wheel

    Picture Wheel, a Grant Larson, Blk & Ginger and Five Lip Films production, was written, produced and directed by David O’Donnell and produced by Alex Russell and Tom Fox-Davies. Based on the premise that people often get stuck living in the past and let memories clutter their lives, the concept creatively plays out on screen in a world where memories are literally carried around in the form of photographs attached to metal headpieces. The film’s main protagonist, a heart-broken office worker called Elliott, is played by James Hoare who also stars in the upcoming remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock.

    Since graduating from WAAPA in 2007, David O'Donnell has starred in numerous Australian theater, film and television productions including Blue Water High (ABC), Underbelly (Channel 9), Cops LAC (Channel 9) and Ghosthunters (SyFy). He established Five Lip Films with producing partner Alex Russell (Chronicle, Carrie, Unbroken).

    David’s Top 5 Short Filmmaking Tips

    1.     Don’t skimp on the art department – in low budget films people often skimp on art department costs and/or neglect them entirely. You can have the best camera gear but if what you’re shooting isn’t interesting then it’s pointless so investing time, consideration and money (if you have it) in this first really is a must.

    2.     Have a great script – this may sound obvious but apart from how compelling it’s going to make the final product, having a great script will also help you to get people on board with the project initially. Especially if you don’t have much of a budget.

    3.     Make use of your pre-production – pre-production really is a time to make sure you’re as prepared as possible, that you’ve got the best locations, you’ve spent quality time on your recces, etc. For example in Picture Wheel, the DP and I went to the office location to work out what the shots were going to be and ending up spending half a day re-working a number of them because he initially didn’t think the location was going to work. Considering the most important thing when you’re shooting is the shot, it’s imperative to be prepared and know you’re getting the most interesting and cinematic pictures in the can in the time you have available. And if you’re super prepared, you can more easily roll with the punches and have more time to be flexible on the day. Another tip for filmmakers in California is to consider going outside the Los Angeles county limits to avoid paying permit fees – we shot Picture Wheel in Riverside County and they have a great site with lots of information about locations. Check out for further information.

    4.     Assemble a great team – when you’re reaching out to people initially to get them onboard with your project, make sure you’re prepared and show them that you’re serious about seeing this through. Have a strong vision, go in with the ball already in motion, inspire confidence in your cast and crew by showing them you’re not an amateur. On Picture Wheel we went in with a very art-heavy script and had our headpieces made up in advance so it was easy to communicate our vision. And if people are onboard with your vision from the very start, they’ll take much more ownership of its success – it’s vital to cultivate a team of collaborators on your short film projects.

    5.     Be bold – when it comes to the scripts you’re writing all the way through to the way the film is shot and how post-production is handled; make something different! Don’t settle for generic at any stage of the filmmaking process – make it interesting for you and for your cast and crew…and ultimately your audience as well. Projects like this will resonate and they will be remembered, like all great art should.

  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 5:16 PM | Sarah Noye-Davies (Administrator)

    Mitzi Ruhlmann, 2017 Heath Ledger Scholarship Finalist


At the tender age of 18, Mitzi Ruhlmann has already amassed an impressive list of acting credits. She made her feature film debut in the Nicholas Verso-directed Boys in the Trees (2016) and has also appeared in Home and Away (2010), the multi-award winning sci-fi short Yard Bird (2012) and indie thriller Killing Ground (2016) which had its premiere at Sundance this year.

    AiF:     Where do you call home right now?

    MR:     Home for me is Sydney – I grew up in Bronte.

    AiF:     When did the acting bug first bite you and you knew it was your calling?

    MR:     Very young! My dad is a cinematographer so it’s been a part of our family for as long as can remember. I was around five years old when I asked my mum how people got on TV and she said they had agents so I asked for one there and then.

     AiF:     What inspires you in life?

    MR:     I am inspired by love, not necessarily being in love with someone or something or romantic love, but I constantly fall in love with things every day. Strangers…music…light…anything really that makes me feel love.

    AiF:     Who are your favorite actors and/or filmmakers and why do they resonate with you?

    MR:     Spike Jonze is definitely one of my favorite filmmakers, he’s such a great director and screenwriter. I also really love English filmmaker and former actress Andrea Arnold and Aussie Neil Armfield is another one of my favorite directors.

    AiF:     What work are you most proud of creating so far in your career?

    MR:     In February of this year I shot a short film called Bodies directed by Laura Nagy. It’s about a toxic friendship between two teenage girls and although I haven’t seen it yet, it was such wonderful experience and I’m so proud of the family we created during production.

     AiF:     How are you hoping your career will unfold in the years to come?

    MR:     Basically I’m just focused on doing what makes me happy! I definitely want to be working solidly on projects I am inspired by, and playing a part in telling stories that really need to be made.

    AiF:     When did you first hear about the Heath Ledger Scholarship and make the decision to enter?

    MR:     I’ve known about it for years just by being in the Australian film industry and I’m thrilled that this is first year I’ve been able to apply now that I’m 18 years old.

    AiF:     What does California represent for you in terms of your dreams, aspirations and goals in life?

    MR:     With my dad’s career as a cinematographer I’ve spent a bit of time in California already and I guess it represents an abundance of opportunities for me in the industry with like-minded people. 

    AiF:     What are your favorite parts of California and what makes them so appealing?

    MR:     I love Echo Park! It’s so beautiful and to me it doesn’t actually feel like L.A. but more like Berlin in a sense. I adore Malibu too because I love being by the ocean and West Hollywood is always such a great area to be in because there are so many Australians living there.

    AiF:     What would it mean to you if you won the Heath Ledger Scholarship for 2017?

    MR:     It would be pretty huge – I guess the prospect of transitioning to the States is pretty daunting considering how young I am but the Scholarship provides so much wonderful support thanks to Australians in Film so it would be an incredible experience.

    Heath Ledger Scholarship 2017 presenting partners are Qantas, Visit California, Screenwise and Ausfilm. 

    AiF would also like to thank Penfolds and Kate Raynor & Associates, official Immigration law partner.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

Australians in Film
Raleigh Studios
5300 Melrose Avenue
Suite #B211, Bronson Bldg 
Hollywood, CA 90038

Phone: 323 433 1464



Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software