Tropfest cancellation bad news for adland as the industry loses a nursery

simon canning-picThe cancellation of Tropfest will impact much further than just those who enjoyed a picnic on the grass. Simon Canning fears a crucial nursery for filmmakers is in peril.

The sudden cancellation of Tropfest will reverberate far beyond the picnic-hamper toting short film fans who gathered annually to see the next generation of talent on the silver screen.

For more than two decades the festival of seven minute films has grown from its beginnings in an inner western suburbs cafe to sprawl across the laws of the Domain and then Centennial Park, along the way becoming the world’s biggest short film festival.

It also spawned an offshoot, Trop Jr, enticing a new generation of video savvy children to pick up their cameras and their phones and become storytellers.

Tropfest Junior finalists 2013.

Tropfest Jr finalists 2013.

At both levels the loss should be seen as a major blow to the industries many of these young and not so young filmmakers aspire to work in.

Australian film struggles for recognition at the best of times and yet our best have taken their skills overseas and become creative giants.

It all starts with competitions like Tropfest which give amateurs and the young something to aspire to – but even more importantly – something actually attainable.

I know this because I have seen the inspiration of Tropfest at work in my very own home.

Three years ago one of my sons, Rupert, saw a poster for Tropfest and wanted to enter. Months of work went into the project, brothers and friends drafted in as actors and a short film emerged at the other end. It didn’t win – wasn’t even a finalist.

But the seed had been sown and countless films have since emerged from our home culminating this year in him winning a Best Actor award and taking the Audience Choice prize at the the 24/7 Film Festival – a Tropfest feeder festival in Sydney’s Northern beaches.

So too, his younger brother Felix has been similarly inspired and recently won his age group in another film competition, ChatzFest.

Both boys are on a trajectory to work on the film or advertising industries – real examples of the bigger role that Tropfest plays.

Of course, there is also the fact that many in the advertising and film industries use Tropfest to flex their own creative muscle – just another reason why the festival is so important.

There are so many reasons Tropfest must survive, but none are bigger than the fact that it has become a vital nursery for Australian filmmakers.

And I know two of them who today are hugely disappointed.

Simon Canning is a journalist at Mumbrella


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