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Home Alone 2: Austin’s pandemic sequel

The pandemic has taken Austin Macfarlane back to where his filmmaking began -- stalking around home shooting short films, minus the light sabre.

"Growing up I loved movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter," says the winner of the top prize at last year's Bond University Film and Television Awards, known as BUFTA.

"One day I picked up a camera and decided to go ahead and make my own Star Wars.

"It was just me running around with a toy light sabre whacking everything in sight, but baby steps!"

COVID-19 restrictions turned back the clock for Austin, whose win at BUFTA came with a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond.

"I've been making a few really short films around the house, just projects that require one or two people with a pretty basic premise," he says.

"But it's also been a great opportunity to devote time to scripts or projects that I've been putting off."

The scholarship was a long time coming for Austin, a former student of Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) in Brisbane.

"My film teacher at high school Stephen Taggart introduced me to BUFTA way back in Year 7, so I knew about it at a pretty young age," he says.

"I was just waiting and waiting until I hit Year 11 and then I entered rapid-fire as much stuff as I could."

Austin's Year 12 entries were the short film Mates which delves into how far a servile teenager will go to please his bullying friend, and the music video White Knuckles.

Mates won the drama category, while White Knuckles was a finalist in the music video category. The two combined earned him the scholarship.

This year, as is tradition for Bond's Film and Television students, Austin will be helping to run BUFTA which is Australia's top competition for high school filmmakers.

"I was fortunate to experience BUFTA for two years and both times I absolutely loved it, and there were a few things that stood out for me," he says.

"Firstly the people. Meeting all the other finalists who were just as passionate about film as you are is great.

"The work they produced still blows my mind to this day and it makes me want to keep improving and trying new things and getting better.

"And you're also meeting people from the industry so from a networking stance there's that advantage.

"The event is just so professional. There's interviews and red carpet and trophies and speeches. It's so good you forget students are running the show."

Austin urged filmmakers in years 11 and 12 to enter at bufta.com.au by September 18.

"If you're on the fence, just enter. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain, and there are so many categories available.

"So whether you're into comedy, dramas, experimental, documentaries, then BUFTA has got a spot for you."

In the meantime, Austin is finishing a script based around a father-son relationship, with comedy elements.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure even now what I want to do when I graduate next year, but I do know it's in film," he says.

"Maybe something along the lines of director or cinematographer."

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