Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Old Boy Wins Short Film Contest

Sebastian James (left) with former dean of Warrane College Arthur Escamilla (Right)

A former resident of Warrane has won a short film competition associated with the 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid.

Sebastian James (2006-10) [pictured] was a residential tutor at the College last year. He is now working full-time in news production at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

His short film, The Power of Confession, was written and produced by Sebastian and his schoolmate Kieran Williams. The film took the €10,000 first prize and Sebastian and Kieran flew to Madrid to receive the award. The competition was run by the not for profit organisation ‘Showing Christianism.’

We spoke to Seb about his film.

Where did you get the idea for the film?

We heard this story growing up at school and to this day it had never left us. I think it would be hard to imagine a more powerful anecdote about the fragility of life and the need to treat confession as a gift not to be taken for granted.

Two students on less than a shoestring budget- I’m sure there were some challenges…

There were countless memorable moments, as you might imagine given the circumstances in which we worked to pull the film together. We spent hours at sea, so sea sickness and cold were things we had to contend with.We are so grateful to the actors for their dedication through very trying circumstances. We repeated some takes many times which was hard for all of us but especially for the actors.

One thing that still haunts us is a frightening moment of footage which Kieran (my co-director and producer) inadvertently captured while directing the actors. It reveals a large unidentified swimming object metres below us. There was also one particular shot, which was crucial to the original script which we attempted several times but had to give up on when one of the actors swallowed a lung full of sea water.

One other thing is that before filming on the water, we did our research on how to waterproof the gear. The camera was easy. The mic however, was a little different. Apparently the industry standard way of waterproofing the mic is to put a condom over it! Neither of us felt particularity compelled to follow protocol on this one, so in the end we took extra care. I suppose we felt that supporting the industry for whatever reason didn’t seem appropriate.

Also I got stung by a bee while on the boat! But as you can see that was the least of our worries…

Why did you get into making short films?

I knew that the medium of film was a powerful one especially after watching epic films which told incredible stories such as Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Braveheart. These films had a deep impact on their audience. Films more than music, books, and theatre have left a lasting impression on me. So I felt that if I ever wanted to tell a story the best medium to use would have to be film.

I started making short videos for my family and friends. Usually these short videos would be full of in-house jokes. People would tell me that they really enjoyed watching these mini productions. This positive feedback inspired me to continue making short films. I hope to one day make a feature length film which will help people in someway. I’m still not sure what story I would want to make into a feature length film. But I know that if I do a feature length film the script would have to be a masterpiece!

What’s your next project?

Well I recently worked on a script with Kieran- he is now in the production stage with that script. Otherwise I have a few ideas for some short films I would like to make. I’m working on a script titled Solace Blues at the moment. It’s a short film and I hope to get it written and produced before the end of the year. I may enter it into Tropfest which is arguably the most prestigious short film festival in the world.