Mia Erskine of Mercedes College (WA), received the Best Overall Filmmaker Award. Mia has been awarded a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond University for her comedy film – Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends.
- How did you hear about BUFTA and why did you decide to enter the competition?
I first heard about BUFTA through my media teacher Mrs Stoney. I did more research into the competition and found out that I could possibly get a full or even a partial scholarship to Bond, and that really interested me. Earlier in the year, my media class had the opportunity to travel to the Gold Coast on a 7-day tour, just to visit Bond and I was so intrigued and overwhelmed with the amount of film and television facilities the university had, so I at least had to try, as I knew what it was worth.
- What was the most rewarding experience you gained from the BUFTA experience?
To see that people actually enjoyed my film. I’ve always been extremely insecure and unsure about the films I make, and it was so rewarding to realise that my crazy film that I thought would get nowhere, actually ended up impressing and impacting people. It was also extremely rewarding to see that I made my grandparents so proud because of this achievement.
- What is your favourite film genre and why?
Psychological Thrillers/Horrors. It’s purely because I just love the various amounts of audience manipulation that these genres are capable of. I love to build on plots and character development in really twisted ways. These genres get into the viewer’s minds and display the harsh side of the world to audiences, showing that even in film, there is no such thing as a “perfect world”. (I know I sound like I’m insane, but please believe me, I’m not. I PROMISE!)
- How long did your film ‘Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends’ take to make from start to finish?
I started the brainstorming around the beginning of March this year and finally finished editing around early-September. Even if Covid-19 wasn’t a thing, I still think it would have taken me that long to complete the entire film, as I’m VERY good at procrastinating my projects.
5. What challenges did you encounter producing the film? How did you overcome them?
Surprisingly enough, the coronavirus actually didn’t affect the making of my film too much, it really only just slowed down the deliveries of the puppet characters, as I had bought them online. What was really excruciatingly challenging, however, was the editing. My film heavily demanded it. Every single shot was put to extreme saturation and because I filmed at different times of the day — when it needed to look like one entire sequence — it called for more intricate and detailed editing. So to face this challenge… I pulled A LOT of all-nighters with barely any breaks (0/10 wouldn’t recommend, my optometrist said that my eyesight had gotten drastically worse this year — I’m being 100% serious).
- What is your ultimate career goal?
Number 1.) Get Chris Evans in one of my films (because he’s Chris Evans, duh).
Number 2.) Someday marry Finn Wolfhard (because he’s Finn Wolfhard, duh).
But seriously, I just want to see myself someday continuing to create films that I enjoyed making, and a niche audience had enjoyed viewing. I want to keep creating films — ones that aren’t directed to impress critics — simply because I have a strong passion and love for making them.
- Do you have any advice/tips and tricks for future BUFTA entrants?
Make a film that YOU’RE happy with and that YOU’D enjoy watching. Your film doesn’t need to be filled with over-the-top symbolic cinematography or hidden meanings just to make it a good film. If you try to make a film that is directed just to please judges, you’re not going to have any fun while making it, you’ll start to lose your passion and that’ll affect the entirety of your film; audiences will start to notice this lack of passion and effort.
Literally just think of the craziest idea you can and justgo with it!! A concept so outside of the box is more likely to intrigue audiences, rather than a film with the exact same editing and cinematography that judges have already seen a million times before. If you truly believe you have the talent to entertain, you gotta prove it!! Show everyone that you have different and unique concepts, that you don’t need to rely on perfect, Wes Anderson styled cinematography and editing just to entertain audiences.
- What are you most looking forward to about starting at Bond University?
Learning — I know, sounds crazy — but I really have a love for learning about the subjects that I’m just so passionate about! So to be completing a course where I can learn and experience more about film — the subject that I absolutely adore the most — has gotten me really excited about attending Bond. Apart from that, I’m really looking forwards to meeting everyone over there, as the community really seems like such a happy and welcoming environment!
- What is the biggest/most important thing you learned from the BUFTA competition and process?
To believe in myself, to have faith in myself and in what I’m able to accomplish. I’ve always been so apprehensive to show off my work in fear that people would think that I’m being cocky. But being confident in my work doesn’t mean I’m egotistical — it’s good to be proud and have faith in your work. Setting goals like this is important; that is something that I’ll also definitely keep in mind in the future.
- What inspired you to pursue film and television?
When I was younger I was a big introvert, so I didn’t have many friends at the time (I still don’t, not gonna lie). Because of that, I spent a lot of time by myself, and so I needed to entertain myself somehow. It wasn’t really hard for me to entertain myself because as a kid growing up with ADHD, I had wacky and whimsical ideas and thoughts zooming through my head ALL. THE. TIME. Though, I felt that’s when my creativity really started to grow stronger. My imagination found harmony in creating these amazing characters that to this day, I still look back on with fond memories. Now, I want to let those characters loose, I want people to be entertained by the same characters and stories that I was entertained by as a kid. Film is an escape to let me express those unique ideas and traits I’ve had since childhood.
- What was the inspiration behind ‘Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends’?
I had always loved the YouTube series “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared”. The series combined cute puppets and animation with disturbing, gory violence, dream logic, and a heap of dark surrealism. It portrayed the story of a children’s television show, corrupted by the influence of advertising. Some have theorised that the characters in the DHMIS universe are too focused on money and commerce at the expense of delivering positive, worthwhile messages to children. No matter what the real intent behind the web series was, I loved the corrupted idea of having these seemingly happy children T.V show characters, living awful and shocking lives and going through torturous experiences, showing the harsh truth of reality. It just really inspired me and showed me how you could utilise all of this advanced cinematography and editing, and yet still have a great plot to focus on and shock audiences with.
I wanted to have a flawed and mentally disturbed character to be portrayed in a way that audiences wouldn’t expect, and I sought inspiration directly from DHMIS.