View all news

Learn how to make a great film at Byron Film Festival workshop


Zoe Satherley
3 March 2010
If you have ever aspired to make a great film, then Southern Cross University media lecturer and filmmaker Hugh Burton has some tips you won’t want to miss.

Hugh, who teaches screenwriting for the Bachelor of Media degree, is running a workshop at the upcoming 2010 International Byron Bay Film Festival this month on ‘Successful Shorts: Making Great Films for International Film Festivals’.

Hugh’s talk is all about making films that appeal to broader international audiences.

“Independent and emerging filmmakers tend to make films based on their own region or their own personal experiences,” Hugh said.

“They don’t always think about how their idea will translate into the international domain. Their films tend to have a local feel to them and I will be stretching them to think beyond the confines of the Australian context.

“One of the main advantages of getting your film accepted into local and international festivals is that it demonstrates your ability to reach large audiences and therefore helps you to obtain funding for future projects.”

Hugh will be tackling issues such as ‘Who do we make our films for?’ and ‘How do we know if audiences will like or understand what we make?’

“The answer lies in the nature of the story we are trying to tell, and how we represent that on screen,” Hugh said.

“Some stories are so dependent upon an understanding of their cultural context that it is difficult for people living in other societies to comprehend them.”

Hugh said he hoped his expertise in the realm of short film and knowledge about films that appeal to varied audiences, would enable him to share insights into how to create a film that appealed to an audience ‘beyond your family’.

An established filmmaker himself, Hugh has worked with many well known filmmakers such as David Michod (who won this year’s World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance), Matt Saville (who directed ‘Noise’), Andrew Dominik (who directed ‘Chopper’ and ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford’), and Jamie Blanks (who directed ‘Urban Legend’).

During Hugh’s workshop, aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters will be taken through aspects of the filmmaking process such as setting their film within the realm of personal story while connecting with universal story, visual narratives, cultural specificity, multi-level communication, and what appeals to international festivals.

Participants will have the opportunity to look at some brief excerpts from successful short films and how these demonstrate ways of telling stories.

Southern Cross University is a sponsor of the 2010 International Byron Bay Film Festival. The Festival runs form Friday, March 5 to Saturday, March 13, at the Byron Community Centre, 69 Jonson Street, Byron Bay. You can get full details about the festival from their web site

To register for Hugh Burton’s free workshop, being held in the Southern Cross University room at the Byron Community Centre, on Wednesday, March 10, from 1pm to 2.30pm, email [email protected].

Photo: Southern Cross University screenwriting lecturer Hugh Burton who is running a workshop on how to make an international short film, on Wednesday, March 10.