Shooting has wrapped and post-production has commenced on Excelsia College’s School of Drama’s fifth short film, Encounters. Written and directed by Michael Bates (The Projectionist 2002, awarded the Grand Prix at the 2003 Tampere Film Festival) and shot by cinematographer Tara O’Connell (September 2016), the film explores how past actions shape present circumstances with unforeseen consequences.
For final year Bachelor of Dramatic Arts (Performance) students Jackie, Bethany, Anthea and Nicole, it was opportunity to extend their film acting skills and experience as well as form the basis of industry-standard showreels.
Student Sound Recordist for the shoot, Luke Shepherd, who is completing a Theatre Practice Major reports, “It was certainly an experience – I learnt a great deal about the process of filmmaking and the difficulties faced throughout.”
Both key crew roles and support roles were undertaken by Theatre Practice & Production majors. Goals for the project included exposing students to the rigors of film making while mentoring cast and crew through ‘real-world’ experiences.
Theatre Practice Major and student Continuity Rebecca Lang says, “I’m really appreciative for the opportunity to work in the short film. It was good to see how the team works together to get a film done. We had limited resources and people, but it was great to see how a professional quality film can be created with such a small crew.”
Encounter will be available to the general public in early 2018.
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.
Find out more about our drama courses here.
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.
Post-production has commenced on Excelsia College’s latest filmic offerings, a double bill called Cross My Heart & Hope to Die.
As the names suggest, a slightly sinister undertone runs throughout each film. Written by Malcolm Frawley, (originally a series writer and editor for TV series Neighbours and E Street) each film focus’ on a separate group of characters whose stories are connected by a common event.
Directed by John L. Simpson & Robert Carne respectively, shooting took place in and around the greater Sydney region with a cast and crew comprising of industry professionals and graduating BDA Performance and Theatre Practice majors. The films visual aesthetics were realized by Director of Photography Glenn Hanns (best known for his work on the TV series Behind Mansion Walls, Deadly Women, and Persons of Interest) and Art Director John Sullivan (small set & props designer for ABC TV series Giggle and Hooch).
Cross My Heart
When CeCe and Ethan announce their engagement everything seems perfect. That is until Ethan’s sister shows an obsessive streak bordering on psychotic that threatens to take over the wedding, and at ANY cost. Who knew choosing a maid of honour could be so dangerous?
Hope to Die
Six young drug dealers suddenly find their life choice complicated beyond belief when a murderer decides to dump a body on their property. Unable to go to the cops to escape danger, they have to find a way of dealing with the corpse, and in the process discover unwanted information about each other. All the while a growing fear that they could be the next victim develops….and with good reason.
Welcome to the new Excelsia College; a new name (formerly Wesley Institute), a new location in greater Sydney’s education hub, and a new season in so many ways.
The extraordinary achievements of our alumni and the nurturing, dedicated staff, who guided them through to graduation, are a testament to the great blessing our college community is experiencing.
Our new tag line is an urging from 2 Corinthians 8:7, to “Excel in Everything”. It is inspirational and aspirational, but most importantly it’s biblical. The full verse urges us on “… as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also.
We are a welcoming community, ready to offer engaging spiritual support for students considering study in Music, Drama, Teaching or Counselling. Please be sure to share this information with school leavers and career changers you know, who are ready to “Excel”.
Hailey McQueen (Barrett), Excelsia College tutor and graduate from our alumni group of 2002, recently adapted and directed C.S Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for the stage. Sell out crowds were a testament to the extraordinary success of her stage play adaption.
The Screwtape Letters follows the correspondence between senior demon, Screwtape, and his nephew; a junior tempter named Wormwood. Both are looking to secure the eternal damnation of a young man. With characteristic wit and uncomfortable accuracy, Lewis illustrated the frailty of the human mind, and shone a light on the vulnerabilities we like to pretend are not there. McQueens’s production executed this perfectly, and had the audience squirming with self-reflection.
Presented by Twisted Tree Theatre, and performed at Sound Lounge in the Seymour Centre, the team packed 7 performances into 5 days and every single show was sold out. The talented team included two other Excelsia Alumni: George Zhao and Jessica Gray. We are proud of the success of so many of our graduates in an expanding number of fields.
Audiences loved the show, and took to social media to praise the performance and express their desire to see it restaged. Jacqueline de Keizer said; “This was an absolutely awesome production. We’ve seen quite a bit of theatre, and this rates as one of the best things we’ve seen”.
Hailey and the team are looking into doing just that, so stay tuned for a 2016 season with a longer run and a bigger theatre.
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!”
Excelsia College graduate Lauren McDougall will be directing the Broadway musical HAIRSPRAY at Pacific Hills Christian School this May.
HAIRSPRAY is a musical set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland. The show is full of 1960s-style dance music and "downtown" rhythm and blues.
Lauren recently took the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Excelsia College and spoke on how the Music program has equipped her for her career in music.
“Studying at Excelsia College helped me to tackle a range of creative avenues. My studies have equipped me for performing as a vocalist, and an actor, or directing musicals with understanding of the place of faith in the creative arts”- Lauren McDougall
Performances will be running on 7, 8 & 9 May 2015. For more information or to book tickets follow this link: www.trybooking.com/127215
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