On Monday, November 26, the Australian Science and Mathematics School held our 3rd Biennial ASMS Film Festival – an event held every two years since beginning in 2014. This event was originally part of the Central Study; Earth and Cosmos, which culminated in students individually writing screenplays and then working in groups to produce a handful of them for screening at our festival.
In 2018, the ASMS Film Festival is it’s own free-standing event, taking place at the beginning of Week 7 of Term 4, when formal assessment and classes have finished, allowing time for celebrations of student work and challenge-based learning activities. The festival screens both student and teacher-made films that have been produced over the previous two years. Some of which have been part of student assessments, some of which have been purposely produced for the festival. It is a celebration of student creativity and the power of collaboration. It takes a lot of effort to make a short film – it takes time and quite often it takes well-developed collaboration skills to make a successful end product. It is not fair that students put in all of this effort to make such a creative, educational and often entertaining piece of work, for it to then be seen by just one person: the teacher marking it.
The ASMS Film Festival gives students an authentic audience for their creations and the power of that is not only evident on the day of the festival itself but it also has benefits across the two years leading up to the festival. When students are given a task that requires a video-based assessment, teachers have been able to say, “This will be eligible for the ASMS Film Festival.” This gives students an authentic audience for their work already and the quality of the work that comes out of those situations is considerably higher in quality than what we would have received otherwise.
We make sure that the day is an event! We hire a red carpet for the students to walk down when they first enter the building. We hire popcorn and fairy floss machines and set up “candy bars” on each floor of the building for students to buy snacks from. By creating the right atmosphere we create an authentic and fun experience. This year we even hired retro arcade games to scatter throughout the building, giving students a fun way to spend their recess and lunch, celebrating screen-culture from another era.
There are several different award categories for the festival: Best Film, Best Central Studies Film, Best Year 12 Film, Best Performance, Best Educational Film, Best Innovative Film, Best Special Effects and Best Teacher Film. This year we even had a special award: The ASMS Film Festival Quarter-Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to 2014 ASMS graduate Emma Hough Hobbs, who has been doing amazing things in the film industry both locally and nationally since her time at the ASMS. Emma was a guest speaker at the festival’s closing ceremony and articulated the positive influences the ASMS gave her and how they connect to her current occupation within the film industry. The video that won Best Film was Playback, which was created by a group of students from the 2017 Stage 2 Media Studies class. This film also won Best Year 12 Film and Best Special Effects. The fact that students from a previous year, with no connection to half of the school’s cohort, won three major awards at the festival is a testament to the quality of that production. We had quite a few graduate students from previous years attend the festival, which is also a testament to the quality of the festival overall and how much our alumni enjoy the celebration of screen culture that the ASMS holds so dear.
We look forward to the next two years ahead, building towards our 4th Biennial ASMS Film Festival, nurturing young filmmakers with authentic audiences and opportunities to creatively express themselves.