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Filmmaker Mia's BUFTA leap of faith

August 10, 2021

Mia Erskine won the top prize at last year's Bond University Film & Television Awards. PICTURE: Cavan Flynn

For Perth filmmaker Mia Erskine, the long journey to Bond University began with a single step.

That step was entering the Bond University Film & Television Awards (BUFTA), ending with the talented teen taking out top prize at last year’s awards, receiving a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond.

This year’s up-and-coming high school filmmakers have the opportunity to follow in Ms Erskine’s footsteps, with entries for this year’s BUFTA awards now open.

Ms Erskine’s winning film, Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends, was a comedy set behind the scenes of a children’s entertainment television show. It won both the comedy and screenwriting categories, as well as the main prize, at last year’s awards.

The former Mercedes College student said taking part in BUFTA was a leap of faith for her, and she encouraged other high school filmmakers to enter.

“What would have happened if I didn’t enter it? I stepped forward…it’s a good opportunity.

“You may be doubting yourself like I did, but no matter how judgmental you are on your own film, just that small bit of self-belief, it goes a long way.

“A lot of people believe in you, even if you don’t. I think that’s really important.”

The COVID-19 pandemic meant last year’s BUFTA awards ceremony had to be held as a virtual event online, and Bond University director of film, screen, and creative media, Associate Professor Michael Sergi, said this year’s event would also be online.

However, Dr Sergi said the online format of last year’s event came with an unexpected upside.

“The thing that was really lovely last year was that the families and friends were there immediately with the students, so that was a real positive because they were all standing in front of the computer camera, we were able to see everyone’s reaction at the same time, so that was kind of fun.”

Dr Sergi said last year’s entries largely did not reflect the pandemic conditions under which they were made, and he hoped the same would occur this year.

“What was really interesting last year was we didn’t get too many films that were about COVID, which was really encouraging, because it meant the students were seeing the bigger picture from their film-making point-of-view, and we would hope to see that again this year.”

Dr Sergi said students planning to enter BUFTA this year should focus their filmmaking on topics they connected with.

“Tell a story that you know, something you have some kind of emotional connection to. Don’t go for something that’s a really big exotic crazy story, go for something that you’ve got good control over.”

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).  

Ms Erskine said she was loving her time at Bond University.

“It’s been great, it’s just been incredible. I didn’t expect to fit in as well as I did. I was scared I wouldn’t fit in, but everyone here is so incredibly nice, not just my fellow students but also the lecturers, everyone makes you feel like you’re meant to be here.

“BUFTA boosted my confidence…it helped me learn that it’s okay to be proud of the things I make.”

Entries for BUFTA 2021 close on September 13 this year. For more information and to enter, go to www.bufta.com.au