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Quirky comedy claims top prize for young filmmaker at BUFTA 2020

November 29, 2020

Perth’s Mia Erskine has taken out Australia’s top competition for high school filmmakers, with a comedy set behind the scenes of a children’s entertainment television show.

The Year 12 student from Mercedes College in Perth won the top prize at the 2020 Bond University Film & Television Awards, or BUFTA, at a public online awards ceremony on November 28.

Ms Erskine won a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond with her short film Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends.

The film follows Ditzy as she completes her everyday activities while giving a glimpse at what she believes is her crazy, everyday life with her three other puppet co-workers, Brittney, MJ and Crack. But due to a sudden change in events, Ditzy begins to second-guess the truth and meaning of her life.

Ms Erskine’s film won the comedy and screenwriting categories as well as going on to take out the supreme prize.

Ms Erskine was amazed at her success.

“There’s just a lot of emotions right now, it’s just too much.

“I would’ve been hoping for success, but I didn’t expect to win anything, maybe nominated at most.”

She said her filmmaking was inspired by a need to express the ideas in her head.

“I have so many ideas and I just want to put them out there, there’s a lot going on in my head and I just want to put it out.”

The Jury Prize, a 25 per cent scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond, was won by Brisbane Year 12 student James Roobottom for experimental film La Cucaracha.

Bond University Faculty of Society & Design Executive Dean, Professor Derek Carson, was thrilled with both the BUFTA awards ceremony and the quality of films submitted.

“COVID made us really think about how we were going to deliver this BUFTA 2020 awards ceremony, a little bit differently to the way we’ve done it before, but I think it was just as enjoyable for students, just as engaging, and we’re absolutely delighted with how it went.

“These films are incredible, you’ve got to remind yourself, these are made by 16 and 17-year-old kids, it’s absolutely phenomenal. They’ve done themselves proud, and they’ve done Australia proud.”

Originally started in 1996, BUFTA is a short film competition which attracts and showcases aspiring young filmmakers from secondary schools across Australia. 

Past BUFTA winners have gone on to have films selected for the prestigious New York Shorts International Film Festival, as well as working on such Hollywood blockbusters as Avengers: Endgame (2019), The Bureau of Magical Things (2018), Beauty & the Beast (2017), Dr Strange (2016), and The Great Gatsby (2013).  

2020 BUFTA winners

Animation

Over Skies, Chase Adams, Huntingtower School, VIC

Art Film

Ymir, Lucy Wiese, Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, WA

Comedy

Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends, Mia Erskine, Mercedes College, WA

Documentary

Changing Tides, Mia Schirmer, Xavier Catholic College Skennars, NSW

Drama

Learners, Thaine Wood, Trinity Anglican School, QLD

Experimental

Gulosus, Lilian Harris, Newtown High School Performing Arts, NSW

Music Video

Is it a Video?, Nathan Camilleri, Huntingtower School, VIC

CRAFT

Directing

Thaine Wood, Learners

Screenwriting

Mia Erskine, Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends

Cinematography

Luis Arnet, Equivalence, Kelvin Grove State College, QLD

Editing

Leon Cardaci, Y12 Film, Christ Church Grammar School, WA

Sound

Lilian Harris, Gulosus

Best School

Huntingtower School, VIC

Gold Coast Filmmaker

Max Swan, Above All Else, Southport State High School, QLD

Dean’s Choice

Luis Arnet, Equivalence

Jury Prize

James Roobottom, La Cucaracha, Anglican Church Grammar School, QLD

Scholarship Winner

Mia Erskine, Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends