By George T. Marshall, RIIFF Executive
(February 2004) Breaking
into the film business was never an easy task and today
with the plethora of films schools, the competition
is even greater. In Rhode Island alone, there are five
schools, all within spitting distance of each other,
that teach film studies or filmmaking. Multiply Rhode
Island by all the other states in the Union, throw in
Canada, and North America is film central. Naturally,
the historical Meccas remain. Success on the east
coast means New York City. Los Angeles still has that
mythical allure. And within the Film Festival circuit,
Sundance has the power to inspire and build dreams.
Unfortunately, not all dreams become reality. A stint
in New York may not mean growth. Los Angeles may not
open doors. And, a win or have acceptance at Sundance
does not always translate to anything beyond the moment.
So what about all those toiling in the field, looking
for that big break which will jump-start their careers?
During the Summer of 2003 I had the good fortune of
meeting a dynamic young couple from Australia, Thomas
Baricevic and Anna Reeves, who have created one solid
option to at least expose the work of unknown artists
to a larger audience. At the time, they were curating
Short Trips, a collection of short films
from around the world. Since that time, they have morphed
that into its own Festival and plan for further
They fell in love with New England and were greatly
impressed with the high quality of creative work they
witnessed. One of their goals will be exhibiting work
by our talented artists as an ongoing side-bar in Australia.
They represent a growing trend that is outside the mainstream
and serve as a critical platform to launch careers.
For many in the indie field, the older models have become
too rigid and for some just another form of gatekeeping.
I caught up with them recently and found that they had
were active as ever with their new program, Fitzroy
Shorts. That seemed a natural starting point to begin
NEED: Tell our readers about Fitzroy Shorts? How
did it develop and who are its principles?
Thomas Baricevic: The popularity of short film has grown
exponentially over the last decade in Australia. Annual
short film festivals such as Tropfest, St Kilda Film
Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival have
never been more popular.
Fitzroy Shorts is the brainchild of Anna and I. Were
both filmmakers and recognized the need for a regular
screening outlet for the overflow of films being made
to satisfy the audiences hunger for this unique medium.
NEED: When do you plan to begin your programming?
Anna Reeves: Fitzroy Shorts will be launched on 4th
February 2004 and will screen up to 10 short films on
the first Wednesday of every month for 10 months at
a venue in the heart of Fitzroy. Our programs will consist
of the most unusual, most inspiring, most adventurous
short films we can find from around the corner, the
country and the globe.
The one thing that is certain is that with access to
over 400 short films from Australia and the world. Fitzroy
Shorts will never be short of a short film.
NEED: Thats a great exhibition concept. What else
are you planning to make the program unique?
Thomas Baricevic: The highlight of the Fitzroy Shorts
screening calendar will be The Inaugural Fitz
Short Film Awards ceremony to be held on 3rd November
2004. This event will celebrate a year of short filmmaking
finery. It will also be chance to reward the loyalty
of our filmgoers and to say thank you to our sponsors
In its inaugural year the Fitz Short Film Awards will
to screen in the newly restored Fitzroy Town Hall; which
was originally built in 1886.
All films selected for the monthly screenings will also
be eligible to be nominated for The Fitz Short Film
Awards, to be judged by a panel of esteemed celebrity
judges. The Awards will encompass a cash prize of up
to $5000 and in kind prizes up to the value of $4,500.
Audience members are able to vote for the Peoples
Best Film Award and will also be eligible themselves
to receive prizes on the night.
NEED: Thats inventive and certainly an inducement
for filmmakers to participate who rarely see anything
financial for their first work. Tell us a bit about
Thomas Baricevic: Well, I began my career as an Engineer
and later studied Sculpture at The Victorian College
of the Arts. My first short film Ghost of Wannawong
screened at The Buenos Aires International Film Festival
in 1997. Since then Ive Written/Directed and Produced
over 9 short films including a documentary We Live Through
These Times about student protests against educational
funding cuts in the arts, which went on to win Best
Video Production at 1999 St Kilda Film Festival. My
most recent project is a 40 minute retrospective on
the History of Breakdancing in Australia being produced
in conjunction with well known Australian Hip Hop outfit
Ive worked with The Melbourne International Film
Festival 1996 & 1997 and was also the co-founder
of Short Trips a monthly short film event that ran for
three years which showcased local and international
short film makers. Ive screened over 500 short
films in my capacity as Event Programmer.
Anna Reeves: My passion for film has come primarily
from the experience of working with directors from the
Victorian College of the Arts where I originally trained
as an actor. I currently practice as an entertainment
lawyer specializing in media/film and television law.
Ive represented many local and international producers
and directors such as Scott Hicks (Shine, White Butterflies)
and Paul Cox (Innocence, The Human Touch). I was the
Australian Co-Coordinator of Strategic Partners 2002
an international film conference which was part of the
Atlantic Film Festival in Canada. And I was also one
of the founding members of The Melbourne Underground
Film Festival and have acted as a consultant to many
local film events such as The Jewish International Film
Festival, Short Trips, In the Realm of the Senses Outdoor
Festival 2003 and The Melbourne International Comedy
Also on board with us is Sandra Baricevic, has studied
Criminology at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
which has given her an acute understanding of audience
behavior. She has worked as the Events Co-Coordinator
for The Princess Theatre, Melbourne for several years
and has been involved in the co-ordination of local
film-related events on a regular basis. She has also
appeared as an actor in several short films, most recently
Miss Black and Neon Kiss.
NEED: A technical question: What do you think
sets short films apart from features?
Thomas Baricevic: In principle short films are not dissimilar
to feature film formats. In that audiences should feel
as though they have been taken on a journey. Short films
are also not dissimilar to short stories or even poems.
They are a slither of life or a small piece in a greater
story. Audiences are very receptive to the short film
format as they enjoy the filmmakers craft of being
able to tell a story condensed in a short time frame.
That time frame is gradually defying traditional boundaries
of what story telling is about. In Australia for example
we have television funded initiatives for 50 min. short
features. The results from these programs have been
NEED: How did you get involved with filmmakers from
Thomas Baricevic: In August of this year, Anna and Thomas
were invited to present a paper on The Art of
Short Film with Academy Award winning NY short
filmmaker Eva Saks, for The Rhode Island International
Film Festival 2003. RIIFF has now become an affiliate
of Fitzroy Shorts for what we hope will be a long association
between the two organizations.
NEED: What are your goals with Fitzroy Shorts?
Anna Reeves: We want to accomplish several things with
this program that we feel can be attained.
First, to create an alternative and visible screening
culture for todays audience hungry for new ways
to enjoy entertainment in the heart of Fitzroy.
Second, to provide filmmakers with an opportunity to
screen their short films on a regular basis with an
opportunity for them to see films made by their peers
and other filmmakers from around the globe.
Third, to promote the exchange of Australian Short Films
with sister events such as the Rhode Island International
Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival
and to establish formal exchange programs in the next
few years. This will work both ways as we want to create
a platform for filmmakers from your region to be given
Fourth, to screen short films to disadvantaged and local
community groups who may otherwise not be able enjoy
And finally, to inspire, create; live and encourage
short filmmaking as an innovative and dynamic art form
in its own right
NEED: Tell us what have you learned in developing
Thomas Baricevic: We have learned the importance of
allowing the audience to have their say about the films
they like to let them decide.
Anna Reeves: We are always fascinated with what audiences
consider a good short film and whether there
are different audience tastes across cultures. The search
for what is a good short is almost an obsession
with us, we absolutely never get tired of watching short
Thomas Baricevic: We were very impressed with the selection
of shorts at RIIFF in 2003. The quality of films was
very high and the variety of filmmakers from different
backgrounds and countries made the experience all the
more interesting. One film in particular Pink
by Ed Gass about a young girl coming to terms with Apartheid,
was incredibly powerful. We were astonished to learn
that although the story was set in South Africa, the
actors and director were French Canadian. That inspired
us to encourage our short filmmakers to be bold in their
exploration of subject matter to develop their
own unique stamp for the world.
Anna Reeves: Also the challenges of making a film festival
economically viable and running year after year is one
of our biggest challenges. Growing a festival from monthly
screenings to a major international event is something
which we are confident we will achieve in time, but
one which will take enormous energy and support. If
our theory is correct it is passion which will drive
us, madness which will make it work and laughter which
will make it fun.
NEED: From my experiences, I think you understand
the recipe. You both have traveled the globe for what
is obviously a shared passion. Tell us about some of
Anna Reeves: By far the most exhilarating experiences
in our trip during the summer of 2003 was after we visited
RIIFF, when we unexpectedly decided to get married in
Thomas Baricevic: We were inspired by the story told
by Jo Andres about her and actor Steve Buscemi who also
got married at City Hall. They told the story at the
closing night of the Festival. We thought how hard can
Anna Reeves: Little did we know that the day we chose
to tie the knot (amidst serious security checks at the
City Hall) half an hour later the whole of the East
Coast shut down in the big BLACK OUT! It was an experience
we will never forget and one which we are already making
a film about!
NEED: Did you learn anything about New England
filmmakers when you were here?
Thomas Baricevic: When we were in Rhode Island we really
felt like RIIFF actually celebrated film, a film-makers
film festival where its not solely about the deals.
Where film makers genuinely discussed their ideas about
the craft of film-making.
NEED: You have a lot on your plate. Your immediate
plans for the future?
Anna Reeves: Our aims for the future are to expand the
monthly screenings Fitzroy Shorts into the Fitzroy International
Short Film Festival with the help of our local government
Thomas Baricevic: ... to follow the lead of the RIIFF
in creating an event which embraces filmmakers from
around the world and creates a buzz within the local
Anna Reeves: ...and to keep making good short films
to send to RIIFF !!!
If you want to learn more about Fitzroy Shorts, you
can go to their Website at
or E-mail: email@example.com
Their mailing address is Fitzroy Shorts, PO Box
2597, Fitzroy VIC, AUSTRALIA 3068.
According to Anna and Thomas, when visiting Australia
you are always welcome at Fitzroy Shorts. And,
if you want to meet them personally, they plan on being
back in the States this August for the annual Rhode
Island International Film Festival.
About the Author:
George T. Marshall is the Producing Director of the
Rhode Island-based Flickers Arts Collaborative, the
creators of the annual Rhode Island International Film
Festival for which he also serves as Executive Director.
He teaches film and communications at Rhode Island College
and speech communications and documentary film at Roger
Williams University. He is a director, writer, producer
of commercials and industrials for numerous business
clients in the region and will be presenting his current
research paper “Teaching and the Blogosphere”
at the Annual Conference of the Association for Education
in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in August.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org