Flickerfest, Australia’s premier short film festival, returns to the Gold Coast in March with an epic lineup of some of world’s hottest short films.
There’s a special reason to celebrate for this year’s event too. ‘Shots Fired’, which had its world premiere at Flickerfest in Sydney, is directed by Manon Lewis who grew up here on the Gold Coast, a graduate of Somerset College. Manon’s film tells the story of a precocious 13-year-old girl who, whilst on a hunting trip in the Australian bush, helps her dad and his two friends navigate their quarter life crises, and stars award-winning teenage actress Piper Nairn, who also trains at renowned Gold Coast stunt training facility AP8. We fired off a few questions to Manon Lewis ahead of the film’s showing at HOTA on 14 March.
How did you come to be attached the project?
I met the team at Tchucango Entertainment (Gabriel Stoltz, Kyle McCallion & Sam Monaghan) on the set of another project and they reached out once they had developed the script for ‘Shots Fired’. They were looking for a female Producer/Director to come on board in the early stages. These guys are the future of filmmaking – incredible talent with forward thinking to match. The thought that goes into the message behind their content is really amazing – they truly care about the depth of the characters and the messages they are conveying with the stories. The guys wanted to tell a story that wasn’t afraid to represent the real intimacy in male friendships. Blokes opening up for a chat and truly supporting one another. They also wanted a story with a strong female lead. I feel so proud to have been a part of telling this story.
What generally attracts you to content?
Exactly that! Responsible, well thought out stories that represent the massive spectrum of people we meet in every day life. I look for projects that champion women in front of and behind the lens, projects that champion LGBTQ+ stories and those that champion new views on masculinity. I am currently developing ‘Outlaws’, an LGBT feature film from Damian Overton an award winning QLD Filmmaker (‘Papercut’, ‘The Dead Bird’)
Before creating your own prduction company WildHER you worked on full length features. Comparing full length films to shorts, what would you say is the greatest challenge when creating a short film, and the greatest advantage?
On feature films you’ve got the support of a crew of 200+ people each department has a team of people. On Shorts, more often than not, most departments are a department of 1. So that’d be the biggest challenge – achieving the production value you are aiming for with a quarter of the resources. That’s where a great team comes in – I work with Short Stack Productions on all my short films David Aponas & Owen Smith are incredible. They are so creative with their solutions whether we’ve had a budget of $2000 or $15,000 they are creative and pride themselves on achieving high production value.
This is also the greatest advantage I believe. Working without a million dollar budget behind you forces you to get creative sometimes resulting in amazing creative choices that you never would have thought of.
Did Piper get the opportunity to utilise her stunt and physical skills in ‘Shots Fired’?
Unfortunately the script didn’t call for Piper’s stunt skills. Piper’s comedic timing and incredible non-verbal choices really shone in ‘Shots Fired’. She is an amazing performer – talented definitely but what sets her apart is that she is the hardest worker in the room – ALWAYS! I’ve worked with Piper on shorts and features. Her dedication to all projects regardless of scale at such a young age is truly amazing. She’s one to watch!
What do you want Flickerfest audiences to take away from the film?
We partnered with LIVIN, an incredible Gold Coast organisation tackling mental health. Their tagline is ‘IT AIN’T WEAK TO SPEAK’. Ultimately this is where the story of ‘Shots Fired’ was born. We wanted to, through a comedic short film, showcase and normalise the power in men connecting and opening up to each other.
What’s some of the best filmmaking advice you’ve ever received, and what’s the best piece of filmmaking advice you can offer those starting out in the industry?
Received: Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Be sure of why you are telling a story so that even when it all falls apart you know why you’re there!
Offer: If you’re lucky enough to be offered a chance make the absolute most of it – be the first in and last out each day. People will notice! My first job was an eight week unpaid internship – I put absolutely everything into that job and ended up meeting my next employer on that set. I ended up working for him for the next five years on some of the biggest features to come to Australia.
Flickerfest is Australia’s leading Academy-accredited and BAFTA recognised short film festival, and will be bringing its ‘Best of Australian Shorts’ program to HOTA for one night only on 14 March. And tickets are just $16/$14. Visit flickerfest.com.au for the full lineup.