2014 Bachelor of Dramatic Art graduate, George Zhao, has been nominated for a Silver Logie in the category “Best New Talent”
George has performed his way towards his first TV week Logie nomination for his portrayal of the big brother, girl chasing, music loving Andrew Law in the new SBS sitcom The Family Law.
George is nominated for a Silver Logie under “Best New Talent”. This is the shows second nomination as it is also up for a silver logie in the category “Best Entertainment Program”.
The Family Law is a sitcom following the awkward, dysfunctional and humorous story of a Chinese-Australian Family. Written by Benjimin Law and Mareke Hardy, the story is told through the lens of the youngest child, Ben Law. Since the show first aired on Jan 14th it has been warmly received by the public and is earning great critical success.
George says in a article by Suzy Wrong; “I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with all the people on this production, they are all incredibly loving and willing to help those around without a second thought”.
We spoke to George about working on The Family Law; “As an Australian Asian actor, these role are a dream come true. As the public will see these are ‘Asians’ you see aren’t Kung Fu experts or super nerds but just an ordinary family with its own quirks and complications. This diversity is lacking in Australian television and only in recent history has that begun to change”.
George is a humble young man and has been diligently working hard in d his career as an actor. At the beginning of the year he performed with Opera Australian in their production of Aida and appeared recently in the theatre play of The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis, adapted and directed by fellow Alumni Hailey McQueen.
“It takes tenacity as well as talent to carve out a successful career as an actor and we are so proud of what George has achieved. We’ll be voting for him.” Jo Carne, Drama Coordinator.
We would love to encourage all reading this to take the time to vote for George in his Logie nomination. Go to www.tvweeklogieawards.com.au and search for George Zhao in the category Best New Talent. Voting Closes December 18.
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Applications for 2017 are open now.
Every year School of Drama students complete their final studies with a flurry of graduation projects spanning both theatre and film. This year was no different, with third year students shooting the short film The Outside, before heading onto three graduation shows Hearts Like Fists, Thom Pain and The Pastor and The Painter.
The film was developed in collaboration with Performance majors and written by Theatre Practice students Tahlia Mathieson, Aly O’Doherty & Victoria Little. Working under the guidance of staff from the International Screen Academy, filming took place over three consecutive days in a large sound stage located at Waterloo.
When asked about the inspiration for the script, Tahlia said “The basic premise of the film was to make an escape movie. We wanted to create something that showcased all our actors’ talents, and that had an element of mystery and real drama about it. Cassie’s story evolved out of that.”
Drawing on inspiration from The Hunger Games and The Island, the film is set in a dystopian world where the fight for survival amidst subverted political forces is constantly present. Cassie, a loner, finds herself trapped inside a stark ward-like facility surrounded by strangers. She attempts to escape only to be dragged back in by other prisoners who are too afraid to try. Routine beatings at the hands of merciless wardens are a constant threat and even though she is surrounded by others like her she doesn’t know who to trust.
Tasked with creating the barren and hostile world for the movie was Head of Art Department and recent graduate John Sullivan. Since graduating in 2015 John has secured work with the ABC, Channel 9 and a variety of independent productions so he’s no stranger to the film medium. When asked about the style of the movie, John said “The look had to have a dirty, grungy kinda feel. The audience isn’t quite sure if the characters are locked in an old abandoned hospital or if they’re actually in a prison, because everything has that run down, forgotten and deserted kind of look to it.”
The movie is in the final stage of post production, with the release date set for early 2017.
SMASHED by Lally Katz
If you’re a lover of comedy, fantasy, gossip, time travel, holidays, zombies, DNM’s, cars, daydreaming, outer space and friendships then this is the play for you!
Performance Dates: 3,4,5,6,7th May @ 9:30 pm
Book Tickets: //www.oldfitztheatre.com/smashed
With the universe at their fingertips, besties Hazel and Ruby peel back layers of the universe to chase their outrageous dreams and relive childhood memories. Only Hazel understands the dimension of time travel so Ruby’s left anticipating her own memories. As Hazel leads the way, these two divas make history together by challenging the speed of light, buying and selling their own time and dancing their way into adulthood. Although making it through one black hole, another tragedy encroaches and threatens their friendship. We see just how deep into outer space they are willing to go for each other, for love.
Creative Team: An all female cast and crew!
Director: Kylie Bonaccorso
Cast: Emily Sulzberger and Lauren Maddever
Stage Manager: Georgie Deal
Twisted Tree Theatre is a company designed to provide Excelsia College (formerly Wesley Institute) Alumni a platform for their creative and theatrical endeavours- whatever they may be. With the kind support of Wesley Institute, alumni have access to rehearsal space, a working theatre and many other resources including financial support. Alumni are free to approach Twisted Tree at any time with their ideas and or projects.
The Comedy, adapted from the book of the same title, focuses on one hot Queensland summer in the lives of a Chinese-Australian family. The series was shot on location in May with support from screen Queensland and produced by Matchbox Pictures – the same production company which produced the BAFTA-nominated hit series The Slap.
We spoke to George about working on The Family Law, an experience that if possible, he would do all over again.
“The people on set and off set were absolutely amazing and incredibly supportive. As actors we bonded very quickly and before we knew it we had, in fact, become a family. As an Australian Asian actor, these roles are a dream come true. As the public will see next year, these ‘Asians’ you see aren’t Kung Fu experts or super nerds but just an ordinary family with its own quirks and complications. This diversity is lacking in Australian television and only in recent history has that begun to change. I am looking forward to hearing the laughter from next door as the show airs early next year.”
The Family Law will screen on SBS in early 2016.
Congratulations to alumna Hannah Bath for her debut performance in a brand new comedy show Open Slather. Hannah scored a coveted role on this new Aussie show when she showcased her considerable comedic timing at the audition.
Since graduating in 2007 Hannah has landed multiple TVC’s, performed stand up routines throughout the UK, featured in several short films, written, produced and performed a web series Cooking with Julie, and now, starred alongside Australian Comedy legends Glenn Robbins, Jane Turner, Magda Szubanski, Shane Jacobson and Michael Veitch in Foxtel’s comedy sketch show.
Filmed in Melbourne with a large studio audience, Open Slather is a 20 part series that satirises popular culture, politics, and sport. It looks set to be an instant success, with two of Australia’s best comedy show producers Rick McKenna and Laura Waters (the producers behind Kath & Kim and Summer Heights High) on board.
Executive Director of Television, Brian Walsh, said: “Foxtel is delighted to reunite this legendary group of comedic performers in this exciting new series, and thrilled to have the creative genius of Rick McKenna and Laura Waters on board to guide the new, up and coming performers. OPEN SLATHER is shaping up to be the must-watch comedy series of the year!”
Over the 2014/15 summer break our second year Drama students packed their bags and flew to LA for Drama’s Oz to LA program.
Our students spent 3 months in LA training with Acting Corps learning from industry workshops, seminars and conferences as well as specialist training in screen acting. Students were also given the chance to network with actors, writers, agents and producers, developing this vital skill for the entertainment industry.
The program again proved to be a once in a lifetime opportunity:
“After an unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime trip to Los Angeles I’m excited to kick start my career as an actor in Australia. I am so thankful to have had this experience and to have met all the wonderful people I've met” Shane Millward
Shooting has wrapped and post-production has commenced on Wesley Institute’s School of Drama’s second short film, Soul Date. Written by emerging Australian screenwriter Ruth Stubbings (The Beautiful Sex 2013, Delores 2012) and directed by up-and-coming director Jo Kenny (Making Life Better 2004, The Game Master & Enough Rope 2014), the film features two clueless buddies on a quest to find love at a speed dating night.
For final year Bachelor of Dramatic Arts (Performance) students Matt Lausch, Rahil Henkel, Lachlan Stewart, Hannah Bennett, Louie Azzi and Rachel Walker, it was opportunity to extend their film acting skills and experience as well as form the basis of industry-standard showreels.
Soul Date was shot by Geoff Young from Sydney-based production company Storyhead, whose clients include Bankwest, Nikon, Network Ten, HP, City of Sydney, Norfolk Island Tourism, Gumtree and Top Gear.
Both key crew roles & support roles were undertaken by Theatre Practice & Production majors, and support cast and extras included current students and alumni. Goals for the project included exposing students to the rigours of film making while mentoring cast and crew through ‘real-world’ experiences.
Production Major and Assistant Director Georgiane Deal says, “I gained a huge amount of knowledge and experience throughout the project – both through the classes and the actual shoot. Few other courses would have allowed me this kind of experience. I feel like I’ve found my niche in the filmmaking sphere in this role.”
Soul Date will be available to the general public in early 2015.
Welcome to Thathath, a town whose name seems absurdly accommodating to those with a lisp, and is rivalled only by the oddball characters who find residence in it.
This is the place where main man Stanley is forced to leave his slick graphic design job and relocate under the Witness Protection Program. Not only must he live in this strange rural NSW town, but he has been set the task of managing the derelict ‘Town Centre’, which has been struggling against local giant CentralPlus. Charged with the task of attracting new customers, while the unruly ‘Town Centre’ retailers seem determined to thwart his every effort, this city-slicker fugitive may have gotten in deeper than he thought.
All this wackiness is the product of Wesley Institute Alumni Sarah Frost, who graduated from the Institute in 2000 with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art, and has since been busy acting, producing, writing, and working diligently to bring her fictitious country NSW town to life. “Town Centre has been in the sausage maker for about 7 years. It is inspired by my desire to see more excellent, warm-hearted, cheeky Aussie comedies on TV”, tells Sarah. Having observed a successful procession of dry-wit comedies from the US, such as 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, Frost saw an opportunity to bring that same sense of humour to an Australian audience, with an Australian cast and crew.
Working alongside Sarah are three other Wesley Institute Drama graduates, Hannah Bath, Louise Blunderfield and Hailey McQueen. Bath joins the team as Assistant Producer and Marketing Coordinator, McQueen is responsible for Casting, and Blunderfield is Designer. The production team has also sought the assistance of Wesley Institute’s School of Drama Coordinator, Jo Kenny.
The team successfully mobilised crowdfunding platform Pozible to raise funds for 5 webisodes, which were shot in April 2013, and will be released online in late June of this year. Frost strongly credits Wesley Institute for the Pozible campaign’s success, saying, “If we can get this off the ground, it will be a great testimony to the Wesley Institute Alumni network that has grown over the years.” And certainly seems to. The pilot series features Zac Drayson of Home and Away fame as Stan, and Garry Who from Fair Game.
Imagine being cast alongside Emmy and Academy Award-winners in your first role in a movie…. That’s exactly what happened for BDA candidate Anna Sims. Having just finished the two years of her BDA and the Oz to LA program, Anna decided to take a year off from study and settle in LA. Soon after, the opportunity of a lifetime knocked on her door.
Writer Tim Chey, had been looking for someone to play the lead female role in a new independent feature. Anna says “In 2011 I played a small role in Suing the Devil, and Tim remembered me from that. When he found out I was in LA he asked to see me. When he offered me the part in Carry Me Home I jumped at the chance.”
Set in the mid-1800s, the movie follows the remarkable life of reformed slave trader turned clergyman John Newton, and that of a slave “Solomon” (played by Cuba Gooding Jr).
In a strange twist of fate, Anna not only found herself at the forefront of a feature, but working with her old acting tutor. “I was excited but also nervous in the lead up to filming. I’d had lead parts before, but they were mostly in theatre. When I learnt that Robert Carne (Acting Lecturer at Wesley Institute) was also working in LA, I asked him to coach me for the role.”
Robert ended up becoming integral to the whole project, coaching several cast members and even performing in the film. Anna marvels at how valuable her contacts from Wesley Institute proved to be.
Anna and co-star Bernard (who plays John Newton) discussing a scene with acting coach, Robert Carne
“I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to film, so the set, costumes and all the technical elements could have been overwhelming. But having Rob to guide me through the process really helped. He gave me lots of amazing advice, helped me to find the character and stay relaxed in a high pressure situation.”
Working alongside Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr (Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Snow Dogs) and Emmy award winning Cinematographer Dean Cundey (Apollo 13, Jurassic Park) on a large scale production is something most young actors can only dream of. When asked about the experience Anna says “It has been a whirlwind and it’s definitely a dream come true. I’ve been thoroughly blessed to work with such a collection of experienced professionals.”