The world renowned short film festival has found a new home at Parramatta Park, with the inaugural Parramatta event taking place on Saturday, February 11, 2017.
John Polson sat down with WSBA editor, Michael Walls to discuss films, motivation and.....Parramatta.
WSBA: Thank you John for talking with WSBA. Congratulations on your move to Parramatta. Can you tell us a little about what is behind this move?
John: After extensive research and soul-searching, as well as looking to international festivals such as Sundance and Cannes for inspiration, we've recognised our desire to have a destination we could fully embrace and call our own. Tropfest needed a fresh base where it can be nurtured, expand, and eventually become a multi event festival. Moving Tropfest to Parramatta also puts us firmly in the geographical heart of Sydney, which is the perfect place for the world’s most exciting and accessible film event. The City of Parramatta and Parramatta Park Trust have already demonstrated they are 100% behind helping us ensure Tropfest at Parramatta is a success. Having such vested partners on board enables us to continue our core mission – to provide a platform for Australia's incredible filmmaking talent, and to celebrate that talent loudly and for all the world to see. I can't wait to introduce the loyal Tropfest audience to our beautiful new venue at Parramatta Park (just a short train ride away!) as well as connect with ever wider audiences at our new home.
WSBA: What was your motivating purpose in starting Tropfest?
John: I was a filmmaker and like many other filmmakers had no avenue to show my films. I approached the Tropicana café in Darlinghurst to use the venue, hired some TV's, invited a few friends along and Tropfest came to life. One of the motivations was to create a space for amateur filmmakers to tell good stories that didn’t cost a million dollars and to give people with talent an opportunity. Passionate people, good stories and a common love of film, that has resonated with people all over the world
WSBA: What do you attribute its success to?
John: I think it is because it offers all filmmakers an opportunity, you don't have to have a big budget or the best equipment, just a great idea and I feel that has attracted people. Also the opportunity up to show your work to such a large and passionate audience. Tropfest has also played a role in fostering the careers of some the biggest and brightest names in the film and TV industry, including Sam Worthington (Avatar), Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby), Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), Nash Edgerton (Square), Gregor Jordan (Two Hands), Emma Freeman (Glitch), Justin Kurzel (Snowtown Maacbeth) and Rob Connolly (Paper Planes) all made Tropfest films or were part of Trop film. Rebel Wilson won best actor in a film before she was the successful actor she is today.
WSBA: How will the festival evolve over the next decade or so?
John: This year Tropfest in it new home has the ability to run over several days, we have talks with filmmakers planned and more events that will allow the filmmakers to meet practitioners and gain industry knowledge. We also have Trop junior as a stand-alone event on the Friday night and an event to celebrate the craft of filmmaking. We are looking to develop more opportunities for the films makers and to give them more support so hopefully that will allow the festival to evolve in a creative way over the coming years.
WSBA: How is the film industry changing?
John: The industry is constantly getting more competitive and as filmmakers we no longer compete with just other film content. there are so many platforms offering opportunities and the challenge is to offer and find a point of difference. I hope that is what we offer the filmmakers at Tropfest.
WSBA: What excites John Polson most about today’s Tropfest? Why?
John: What excites me the most - and always has - is the filmmakers and their films. I never cease to be amazed at the inventiveness and creativity these young (and sometimes not so young!) minds can come up with when you give them some inspiration and a deadline. And of course, on the night itself, seeing the crowd respond to those films is also incredibly exciting. When you hear the roar of the 90,000-strong crowd in a comedy, or you can hear a pin drop in a drama or a tear-jerker... there's nothing like it.