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Queensland student takes home top prize at BUFTA 2019

Brisbane's Austin Macfarlane has won Australia's top competition for high school filmmakers with a dark murder thriller and a music video that offers a modern take on Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Mr Macfarlane took out the 2019 Bond University Film and Television Awards (BUFTA) at a gala awards ceremony on November 23.

He wins a full scholarship to study film and television at Bond

The Anglican Church Grammar School student impressed judges with his short film Mates which delves into how far a servile teenager will go to please his bullying friend.

Mr Macfarlane said he’d challenged himself to experiment with a different genre of film when making Mates.

“I mainly do comedy or visual films, but I did drama this time to try something new,” he said.

“I think the best part about being in BUFTA was seeing all the other finalists’ films because I really enjoyed them and seeing how much effort everyone put into their films is inspirational and pushes me to improve my own work.”

On winning the scholarship to study at Bond, Mr Macfarlane said it would enable him to focus on his future endeavours.

“I definitely want to pursue a career in film - right now I’m just figuring that out but I think with the right guidance I can fully understand what I want to do, but it could be something along the lines of directing or cinematography,” he said.

“It’s a great privilege to have won the scholarship. I love the BUFTA experience and I’m looking forward to coming to Bond next year.”

Mates won the drama category, while Mr Macfarlane was also a finalist in the music video category with White Knuckles, about two friends wagging school. The two combined earned him the scholarship.

Mr Macfarlane’s brother Lachlan won the Jury Prize and Best Drama at BUFTA in 2017.

The other finalists for the top prize were:
* Ebony Cunningham of St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School in Perth with Terra Nullius, an abduction mystery shot in the Abrolhos Islands;

* Henry Johnson of Scotch College in Melbourne with documentary Sallie Jones: An Australian Farmer about a dairy farmer who, after the death of her father, honours his legacy by turning his farm into a thriving business. The doco won Best Directing and the Dean’s Choice;

* Suzanna Steele of Santa Sabina College in Sydney with the experimental Voir Le Voir, featuring such fast-paced editing it comes with a warning it may affect viewers with epilepsy. It won the Experimental category as well as Sound and Cinematography.

Perth local and St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School student, Catherine Shepherd, won three awards at BUFTA 2019 with her futuristic comedy set in the sand dunes of Titan Moon.

I Need Space won top spot in the Comedy, Screenwriting, and Jury Prize categories, with The Jury Prize Award including a partial scholarship to study film and television at Bond.

Ms Shepherd explained that the inspiration for her film came from a melting pot of genres and decades.

“I’m really interested in older comedies like I Love Lucy, but Tarantino is also a really big influence for me,” she said.

“I’ve always loved comedy, like Hot Fuzz and Get Smart, and I’d love to be able to become a director and writer of comedy one day.”

Ms Shepherd said that she was both shocked and excited to win the awards and scholarship.

“I’m so amazed – it’s such a shock but I’m extremely happy,” she said.

“BUFTA is an incredible experience. It’s amazing to meet young people who have the same interests as me and it’s helped open up the doors for my future filmmaking.”

Bond University’s Director of Film, Screen and Creative Media, Associate Professor Michael Sergi, lauded the quality of this year’s entries.

“The biggest difference this year was there were a quite a number of films that were of high calibre,” Dr Sergi said.

“This year, they were all pretty even across the board, making it a very challenging year for our judges.”

Dr Sergi said several films this year made extensive use of drone cinematography.

“There's a lot of drone work and murder or attempted murder this year,” Dr Sergi said, citing Jemima Patch-Taylor’s film Matilda and Mr Macfarlane’s Mates, which both take different approaches to murder.

He said most of the films had been shot with relatively inexpensive DSLR cameras.

“It goes to show that for students, DSLR works well as the films will predominantly be watched online.”

Bond University Executive Dean of the Faculty of Society & Design, Professor Derek Carson, said he was extremely impressed with the effort and execution of the Bond University Film and Television students, who worked tirelessly to make BUFTA a highly professional and successful event.

“BUFTA is part of our Film and Television students’ curriculum and learning. On the night, they demonstrated an incredible level of professionalism and provided an industry standard gala event,” Professor Carson said.

“Here at Bond, our size and the relationship we have with students enables us to do things a little bit differently, a little bit special.

"We pride ourselves on offering active, authentic, and engaged learning - working to ensure that when our students graduate, they are well prepared to work in the industries they aspire to.”  

BUFTA was first held in 1996 and previous winners include The Bureau of Magical Things actor Elizabeth Cullen and Matthew Thorne, who has forged an international career in film including working alongside Ridley Scott on Alien: Covenant.




Mark & Fish, Emma Russell, Huntingtower School, VIC  



I Need Space, Catherine Shepherd, St Mary's Anglican Girls' School, WA



Sallie Jones: An Australian Farmer, Henry Johnston, Scotch College, VIC                                                                                       


Mates, Austin Macfarlane, Anglican Church Grammar School, QLD



Voir Le Voir, Suzanna Steele, Santa Sabina College, NSW


Music Video                                                                                 

Matilda, Jemima Patch-Taylor, St Rita's College, QLD



Henry Johnston, Sallie Jones: An Australian Farmer                                                       



Catherine Shepherd, I Need Space



Suzanna Steele, Voir Le Voir                                                     



Ben Ginbey, Mandurah Catholic College, AViVA, BLACKOUT                                       



Suzanna Steele, Voir Le Voir


Gold Coast Filmmaker                                                                               

Carina Serong, Marymount College, Mi Chiamo Maria, Mi Chiamo Carina


Jury Prize                                                                                       

Catherine Shepherd, I Need Space


Dean's Choice                                                                              

Sallie Jones: An Australian Farmer, Henry Johnston


Best School                                                                                   

Mansfield State High School, QLD


Scholarship Winner                                                                                   

Austin Macfarlane, Mates & White Knuckles

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