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Taking centre stage in Australia's flourishing film industry

Action! Bond University film and television students on the shoot. Pictures: Cavan Flynn

Jasmin Naish frames her shot as the setting sun filters through smoke and pine trees.

The Bond University film and television student is carefully balanced on a camera dolly, rolling along tracks through the pine needles.

Ms Naish and a small group of fellow students are practising shooting a scene in which a jogger runs through the forest.

The shot is simple but the execution and equipment is not.

Jasmin Naish behind the camera.

The film school has brought in industry-standard lighting, and the students switch between an Arri Alexa Mini camera (used to shoot scenes in Aladdin, Jumanji and Rocketman) and a Red Epic (The Amazing Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides).

Overseeing the shoot is Adjunct Lecturer Harry Frith who spent 30 years in Los Angeles as a cinematographer, shooting feature films and documentaries.

Manager of Technology and Teaching Steve Guttormsen said the equipment on the shoot was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Firing up the smoke machine.

“These are the same cameras used by studios and the Netflixes of the world,” he said.

“Once the students have passed some tests they can take them out by themselves for their own projects.”

Among the five Bond staff on the shoot is Hillary Chua, who was herself a Bond student two years ago.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Film and Television, Ms Chua got her first break on the set of the sci-fi adventure series Nautilus, filmed on the Gold Coast at Village Roadshow Studios.

Harry Frith (left) shares 30 years of film industry experience with students.

When she’s not helping the current batch of Bond students as a Technical Assistant, Ms Chua is working as Second Assistant Camera on Apples Never Fall, starring Annette Bening and Sam Neill. The Universal Studio Group series has been filming on the Gold Coast.

“I was really keen and because I did well on Nautilus, I was able to form relationships and connections in the industry that has led to other work,” Ms Chua said.

“The one main thing I tell students is have a good attitude.

“People are more than willing to train and help you in this industry.”

Lily Boisvert lines up her shot.

Until recently, film and TV graduates might have seen a job on a Gold Coast production as a stepping stone to Hollywood.

While that’s still the plan for many, a flood of international productions into Queensland during and after the pandemic mean it’s now possible to find ongoing employment in the Australian film industry.

“There are a lot of international productions coming to Australia like Mortal Kombat 2 and they are loving the Gold Coast,” Ms Chua said.

Rudra Gosalia on location.

So I think it's definitely getting busier and there's a lot of opportunities out there for students who are keen to work in film.”  

Recent Bond graduates secured jobs on the Academy Award-nominated Elvis, working alongside director Baz Luhrmann.    

Alumni of the Bond film school include actress Elizabeth Cullen (The Bureau of Magical Things), director Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), cinematographer Matthew Weston (Violent Night) and creator and writer Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy, Nine Perfect Strangers).

Mr Wirkola developed the concept for Hansel & Gretel while a student at Bond where he met Mr Weston.

They have gone on to collaborate on several projects including Dead Snow and Violent Night.

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