Drawing The Line (Winner: People’s Choice for Film)

The Line

Tab takes care to notice every line she draws, each shape precise and important. But when Jared leaves one out of his artwork, her self-perception begins to unravel.

Winner: People’s Choice for Film

Text by Anna Forsyth

Audio narrated by Anna Forsyth


Adapted Into: The Line

  • Animated – Isabelle Duffy, Lindsey Sampang, Bronte Smith, Eleanor Wen, Yuge Yang
  • Sound – Yat Fung Lam

Hope is an inanimate object (Joint Winners: Best Sound)

Screentime

We stare, transfixed, at the world’s beauty behind a screen, constantly clicking ‘comment, ‘like’ and ‘share’. What would it say, about being ignored but for photography clout, always having to get on with the day?

Joint Winner: Best Sound

Text by Seetha Nambia Dodd

Narrated by Seetha Nambia Dodd

Adapted Into: Screentime

  • Animation – Augustine Musso, William Rout, Xinyan Wang, Zi Jin
  • Sound – Emma Higgins
  • Special Thanks – Simon Von Wolkenstein, Deborah Szapiro

Scarred Landscape (Diversity Award)

Landscape by Brenda Saunders

The red dirt of the outback spreads as far as the eye can see, holding secret beauties and teeming with life. Hidden beneath is another world, one not quite so beautiful.

Winner: Diversity Award for the production team

Text by Brenda Saunders

Audio narrated by Maddy Lambert, an emerging Wiradjuri writer

Adapted Into: Landscape

  • Animation – Colden Shiu, Holly Fletcher, Jinyu Lu, Hansel Ajuyah, Geoffrey Murphy
  • Sound Design – Marco Bucci

With the Moths on Ash Island (Winner: Best Adaptation)

Harriet Scott and the months

Harriet Scott’s life work with the moths, silent and slow and precise, has left her with a lot of time to think. In the quiet she learns something about herself she hadn’t realised before.

Winner: Best Adaptation

Text by Kathryn Fry

Audio narrated by Kathryn Fry


Adapted Into: Harriet Scott and the Moths

  • Animation – Alex Banks, Jasmine Tran, Sophia Bal, York Li
  • Sound Design – Rosemary Mcclelland, Mark Sahin

Chatswood Ghost Story (Joint Winners: Best Sound)

Chatswood Ghost Story

Joint Winners: Best Sound

Chatswood’s underground library, with its fluorescent lights and endless aisles, becomes Amy’s sleep-deprived nightmare. What happens when study stress manifests itself in creepy ways?

Text by Marie Dustmann

Audio narrated by Marie Dustmann


Adapted Into: Chatswood Ghost story

  • Filming – Abass Rashidi, Thanavong Panya, Vi An Nguyen, Jiawei Zhou
  • Sound Design – Alexander Hindmarsh, Steven Forster
  • Cast – Aurelia Winzberg

Spare Room (People’s Choice for Writing), Acrylic Eye (Production Runner’s Prize)

Acrylic Eye

A woman in a red dress and a small girl with dark hair smile out at him from the shore. But everything is not as it seems.

Spare Room (People’s Choice for Writing), Acrylic Eye (Production Runner’s Prize)

Text by Angela Smith

Audio narrated by Angela Smith


Adapted Into: Acrylic Eye

  • Produced, Written and Directed – Alex Harrison, Jacinta Taylor
  • Cinematographer – Daniel Meldrum
  • Editor/MUA – Lucy Champion
  • Sound – Chloe McTaggart
  • Production Design – Madeline and Olivia Leonard
  • Cast – Will Bergman, Heidi Armstrong, Ben Clerc, Charlotte Hoffman, Indianna Swain

REAR WINDOW: Inspiration in isolation

There are almost too many microlit texts to choose from – but here, I’ve done all the hard work for you.

Between frenzied hand washes, check out these microlit texts and get thinking about how they could make the leap from page to screen. What makes these texts great? More importantly, how do we communicate what makes them great as we take them into a new medium?

Rear Window by Susan McCreery

I predict Rear Window (1954) is going to make a 2020 comeback – the original Alfred Hitchcock film was about a man trapped inside, overcome with boredom and taking up weird new hobbies, like murder investigation. Sound familiar?

Rear Window – the microlit – switches things up a bit. Now it’s the wife murdering the husband, and the story is told from her perspective as she observes a nosy photographer watching her every move.

How to dramatise this story

To dramatise this story, it might be necessary to take a step back. This microlit sits in the moment after a murder, which means it’s missing all the drama. What if the woman wasn’t sitting, drinking a martini? What if she was active – cooking dinner, putting suits away in storage, making phone calls to secure an alibi – before revealing the body on the floor? By not immediately revealing what has happened, intrigue is created as the audience vies to discover what this woman is up to, and what might happen next.

This is a great microlit to adapt for the screen if you are friends with your neighbours or live in student housing. If not, it’s still possible to communicate the same idea with the photographer watching from the street. Either way, the distance between the characters makes filming COVID-19 friendly!

Make sure you check out the many microlit texts up for adaptation in our Microflix Competition.

Ashleigh Mounser has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong and a Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Since graduating in 2018, she has written and produced five short films. Mounser was Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Writer of the Year in 2012; the overall winner of the Future Leaders Writing Competition; winner of the ‘Time to Write’ contest by the University of Melbourne, and recipient of two arts grants from the Bouddi Foundation of the Arts, presented by John Bell of the Bell Shakespeare Company. Her first feature comedy film, Questions and Comments was nominated for the Humanitas Prize by Thomas Musca, was shot in Miami and is due to be released in May 2020.

The new normal: How to adapt stories during COVID-19

Or Ashleigh’s Tips for Adapting Microlit – Part Two

By now we’re well into isolation and adjusting to the new normal – if normal is a parallel universe where I go on three walks a day and spend my nights learning embroidery. What time to be alive. 

Many people are finding isolation is a chance to sit back, reflect, and get creative. Here, I’ve curated three Microlit texts worth a read on a lonely iso night – and some ideas to get you thinking about how those small literary moments can make the transition to the screen. 

Story #1 Seen by Emily Ralph

Seen explores the momentary highs and lows of online dating.

It’s a timely topic – most people predict a certain level of satisfaction from their mindless scrolling – something called affective forecasting – but the majority of studies conclude that time spent on apps like Facebook and Tindr lead to a drop in mental health. The big moment of Seen which needs to transfer to film is the missed connection – when the interaction could become substantial and meaningful but doesn’t.

What makes Seen unique is the switching perspectives – the writer switches seamlessly from one character to another. This could be achieved on film by using the phone as a go-between – a portal of sorts into what’s happening at the other end of the conversation.

This filmset is an isolators dream come true. It’s essential to the story that the actors are never in the same room – which is so on trend for 2020.

Read the full story here.

For an example of a short film with a similar vibe, check out Nope by Brooke Hemphill

Story #2 – Makeup by Angela Blake

Makeup contrasts the soothing effect of a ritual with the confrontational and unpredictable outside world. The protagonist of Makeup is in control of everything – except how other people react to her.

To dramatize Makeup, the protagonist could verbalise what she’s doing – a kind of self-soothing make-up tutorial for one before she is yanked out of her cocoon.

Makeup is a great story to film in isolation – it could even be filmed by a jack-of-all trades. Depending on how many hats you can fit on your head, you could be actor, cinematographer, director and editor, with a brief cameo from an unseen voice at the end. After all, we need to hear the response to her when she steps outside, but we don’t need to see the aggressor. This isn’t their story.

Read the full story here.

Story #3 – Tuna by Lucy Fox

Tuna is almost funny – until you realise what’s going on. As the character moves through various incidences, past trauma is evoked. The story explores the way trauma can manifest, sometimes in ways as innocuous and unexpected as a tuna sandwich.

Tuna has a relatively simple narrative – putting it on film gives us the opportunity to expand and strengthen the story. There’s nothing dramatic about someone staring at a sandwich, thinking intently. Filmmakers must ask – how can we get inside this character’s head? How could the world around her be dramatized to reflect her internal conflict? Is her world loud? Grating? Visually overwhelming? How will the filmmaker transport us from one memory to another?

To make a film version of Tuna safely in the age of COVID-19, some of the settings need to be moved around – you’ll have more luck setting up a makeshift café or waiting room at home, than taking actors in public spaces to try and capture the perfect shot. Don’t underestimate the finishing touches to make your scene believable – lighting and background noises (Café Sounds on Spotify has been a real comfort to me this last month) can make all the difference.

Read the full story here.

Ashleigh Mounser has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong and a Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Since graduating in 2018, she has written and produced five short films. Mounser was Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Writer of the Year in 2012; the overall winner of the Future Leaders Writing Competition; winner of the ‘Time to Write’ contest by the University of Melbourne, and recipient of two arts grants from the Bouddi Foundation of the Arts, presented by John Bell of the Bell Shakespeare Company. Her first feature comedy film, Questions and Comments was nominated for the Humanitas Prize by Thomas Musca, was shot in Miami and is due to be released in May 2020.

Three texts you can adapt for short film during COVID-19

Or, Ashleigh’s Tips for Adapting Microlit – Part One

The 2020 Microflix Comp is here, and the microlit is in. There are countless texts to choose from, and endless ideas to explore. Here, I’ve broken down three texts which I loved and could visualise on film.

The following texts lend themselves to dramatic adaptation and can be filmed easily and safely at home during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

First, some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Some of the best adaptations capture the theme of a text, rather than transferring a literary play-by-play to the screen.
  • Film is a new medium, with its own rules, challenges and advantages.
  • Identify the aspects which will be harder to portray on screen (inner dialogue, a particular literary style) and decide early how these challenges will be overcome.
  • What will make this text visually exciting? When adapting from fiction to film, look for moments which can be dramatized on screen – moments which capture the theme of the text and can be expanded and enriched.

Story #1: Well, then

Well, then explores the clash of idealistic, old-fashioned, corsets-and-carriages Romanticism with a modern-day, match.com gone wrong reality.

This idea doesn’t need petticoats – it needs soft romantic lighting with a record-scratching return to reality when Mr. Darcy finally opens his mouth and pronounces that he is freezing his balls off.

For a fresh adaptation, play with the setting and characters. It’s the moment of letdown – the great missed opportunity of romance – which needs to transfer to film to capture the heart of Well, then.

Read the full story here.

Story #2: Body Image

Body Image explores themes of disordered eating, with each of the two characters representing extremes – one who eats too much and one who eats too little.

A series of vignettes – short, sharp shots could show the “little digs” building up in Jen’s mind and create a narrative arc which justifies her actions.

The important thing is not to get hung up on the details. Don’t have a treadmill at home? Free weights or any exercise equipment would work just as well. A limp hand and the thud of a weight on the ground will still communicate what’s happened without explicitly saying.

Don’t sell your audience short – they’re smarter than you think.

Body Image is perfect for a COVID-era adaptation because it takes place between two characters within a contained home set. Ideally, housemates or sisters could try their hand at acting – so as not to involve a second household.

Read the full story here.

Story #3: Traces

Traces has enormous potential for short, sharp and deeply funny film. Sure, it’s about love, loss and moving on, but’s also about burying a toenail clipping in the yard.

This is one of those moments which can be expanded and dramatised. If the protagonist would go so far as to bury the toenail, would she change into black for the occasion and write a heartfelt eulogy? Play on the ridiculousness and melodrama of the moment – and get as much comedy out of it as you can.

Traces only has two characters, and can be filmed at home so it’s about as COVID-19-friendly as a film set can get. Because the protagonists lost love is being recalled in memory only, POV shots would work best – which also eliminates the need to have the actors in the same room at the same time.

Read the full story here.

Even if you’ve never picked up a camera or performed in front of one, isolation is the time to try new things and experiment. I hope these breakdowns inspire some fresh (and sanitary) adaptations of 2020’s Microlit texts – I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Entries close August 1st – so get filming!

Ashleigh Mounser has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong and a Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Since graduating in 2018, she has written and produced five short films. Mounser was Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Writer of the Year in 2012; the overall winner of the Future Leaders Writing Competition; winner of the ‘Time to Write’ contest by the University of Melbourne, and recipient of two arts grants from the Bouddi Foundation of the Arts, presented by John Bell of the Bell Shakespeare Company. Her first feature comedy film, Questions and Comments was nominated for the Humanitas Prize by Thomas Musca, was shot in Miami and is due to be released in May 2020.