UTS alumni Alex Ryan has won the Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship and in his words, “the pressure’s on!” Alex is one of four winners selected by an esteemed panel of jurors including Australian actress Judy Davis, and producers Jan Chapman AO and Darren Dale.
“They were all really supportive and encouraging… they’d seen some of my previous work as part of the application and seen the script and had great things to say.
“That was pretty nice, to get some encouragement from people that I respect and who've done a lot of great work,” he says.
The four winners have been awarded $50,000 to develop their works, the largest cash prize for short film in Australia.
Ryan collaborated with writer Duncan Graham for his submission, inspired by the true story of a man’s death at the hands of police in Sydney, 2012. He says of the film’s premise, “I guess in a society where everyone's quite preoccupied with their own interests and stresses and problems and just trying to deal with their own lives, often we lose sight of what other people's needs are. In that sort of society it's the most vulnerable that get left by the wayside.”
The script was selected by producers at The Weinstein Company from a shortlist of 21 entries. The shortlist included fellow UTS alumni Genevieve Clay.
Ryan graduated from UTS’s Media Arts and Production degree in 2006. Since then he’s directed eight short films, worked on commercial projects and music video direction and established his own production company, Wedgetail Productions. He’s also a certified drone pilot, specialising in aerial photography.
He says his time at UTS made him a better learner and opened him up to alternative ways of thinking and creating.
“I would say the really good thing about UTS was it really encouraged us to try things out… it wasn't so focussed on the end result it was more focussed on the journey to get there, which I think is a great way of learning. It gives you the permission to make mistakes.”
He suggests would-be filmmakers aim for projects that are financially manageable, maintain creative relationships, invest in projects that they’re passionate about and focus on achievement rather than failure.
“Even if you're not happy with the final result, think about the positives of what you've done and how you've succeeded rather than focusing on the stuff that was hard or didn't work out the way you wanted it to. We're forced to think about that stuff too much and I think it's more important to think about where the successes were.”
The winners of the fellowship were announced on Tuesday 14 June. The four films will premiere at the State Theatre as part of the Sydney Film Festival in 2017 and 2018.