How JMC grads win Best Film at the Sunshine Short Film Festival

JMC Academy graduates Dean Musumeci and Michael Irwin took their film ‘Small beginnings’ to the 2016 Sunshine Short Film Festival, and came home with the prize for Best Film in the Open Category by popular vote. 


'Small Beginnings' is a piece that follows a young boy's passion for creating intricate dioramas, and stepping into his favourite world of chivalrous knights.

We sat down with Michael and Dean to find out more about their film, the festival experience and their time at JMC. 

You can watch their film at the bottom of this article.

Where did your idea for ‘Small Beginning’ come from?

M: The film stems from an idea that had been rattling around my brain for a few years about a boy personifying his own imagination right in front of his eyes. Given my fascination with all things medieval and fantastical when I was that age, it wasn't long before I tapped into that nostalgia and made it the central setting for the film.

Talk us through your experience entering festivals and attending the Sunshine short film fest.

D: The festival process for Sunshine was pretty straight forward this year. As attendees from last year's Sunshine fest, we anticipated this one coming up. The theme this year was 'Knights in Sunshine' and theme alone had us very excited for the fact that we had such incredible resources at our disposal, and I've been keen to shoot medieval content ever since we wrapped on our graduate production. We got the word typically several weeks out to submission, so we called the banners and gathered around to discuss what we could do in a short span of time with what we had available to us. The best thing was one of our very best friends, Ballarat and Kryal Local (and quickly developing Film Producer) Matthew Keating informing us that not only do we have access to Kryal Castle for this project, but that we've caught the attention of Sir Phillip Leitch, Melbourne's full-time jouster and global multi-championship winner. The stars were legitimately lining up!

Attending the festival itself was a blast. Held at Sunshine Village Cinemas on Friday 28th October, iconic for it's Millennium Man statue out the front, the vast majority of cast, crew, family and friends were present to be part of the screening. Queues were enormous and it looked as if they had maxed out seating and attendance. There were cosplayers present in both superhero costumes from Marvel+DC universes, in addition to medieval costumers in knight and noble outfits. The event night was highly thematic, with a brilliant range of shorts that had reinterpreted 'Knights in Sunshine' in various different ways.

M: The aspect of it I found really enjoyable (in retrospect of course) were the limitations it set for us, being that we had just over a month and under 5 minutes to create a self sustaining narrative. When dealing with those parameters, your mind reconstructs itself and you're able to really see what is essential in telling that story. 

How do you feel winning?!

M: Speechless! It was a genuinely surreal moment hearing the film had won, given the amount of talented film-makers and films who were also in the running. Sharing the win with a cast and crew who truly earned it made it all the more a truly memorable moment and one I'm not soon to forget.

D: In short, it's amazing. Personally, I feel that reward is where it's due, and it's due from effort. It's brilliant to see the team rewarded and celebrated for the absolute valiant efforts put in by everyone during shoot. We faced off against some rather shocking weather conditions which despite added to the visual atmosphere, It was one of the hardest things to deal with logistically. It's just good to know that hard work pays off.

How do you feel your course helped you prepare for the industry?

M: In my head, this Industry, despite the numerous texts devoted to explaining how it works and functions, is the best form of organised chaos. Every time you step on set you learn something that helps you the next time you take that step and JMC Academy understands that at a ground level. They make sure to set the foundations in you mind so that when you leave and begin working, You have the know how to deal with any potential obstacles that might arise. I feel that is what sets itself apart from other courses.

D: JMC Academy's course structure for FTV provided me with opportunities to engage in all departments on film-making practically. The moment you step out of the school, you just realize how important it is to utilize as much as possible for as little cost/time as possible. I was inspired by David Pavlich's attitude and experience on guerrilla  film-making techniques which to this day allows our team to achieve stellar results with a third of the size of a traditional crew.

What were your favourite things about JMC?

M: On the first class I had there, the lecturer said 'Make mistakes here so you don't make them out there'. As far as first impressions go, that was stellar. It also summed up their whole attitude towards the way we were taught. They didn't disqualify the idea that mistakes happen, they embraced them and knew that if we were to make one, we would see why and how we did and therefore learn how to do it correctly the next time. It humanised the creative process and gave you a better understanding of the intricacy that goes into it.
D: The comradery, by far. Coming next would be the emphasis on practical work. I've found that lot of students have a process of learning by doing, and JMC Academy is a brilliant place for aspiring filmies to get hands on with the gear. JMC Academy also allows students to get familiar with all aspects of film making, so by the end of their course, they'll know basic information across Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production departments to ensure they have the skillset to create content independently after they graduate.

What advice would you give to current students?

M: My 2 main pieces of advice would be:
A) Your attitude is everything. Make it a Great one and people will thank-you for it
B) Work towards understanding what each area of the creative process does in Film/TV. It's one big machine. Understanding what all the cogs do will allow it to run effectively.

D: A good director knows a little bit about every department, and that students should practice everything.

Find out more about studying Film and TV Production at JMC Academy

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