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youtube your film festival: bat eyes and boot

Film festivals are an important part of the movie-making industry, and like so many other artistic ventures, they can now be found online. The YouTube Your Film Festival, a worldwide competition run by YouTube and the Venice Film Festival, brings the drama and competition of film festivals to your computer screen (or smartphone). Fifty short films out of a batch of 15,000 entries have been chosen and user votes will decide which ten films will screen at the Venice Film Festival. The overall winner will receive a $500,000 grant to pursue a project with Sir Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender.

Among the shortlisted films are Bat Eyes (pictured) and Boot, which are both initiatives of Australian Theatre for Young People. These films were directed by Australian filmmaker Damien Power and are based on monologues by Australian writers. The teams behind them have been hard at work on social networking sites encouraging people to vote for the films over the past month. lipmag spoke to Bec Cubitt, who produced both Bat Eyes and Boot, about the films and stories behind them.

Why did you and others involved choose to enter the Your Film Festival?

We knew from the outset that these films would be released online. ATYP are focused on bringing the work of their young writers and actors to a bigger audience and releasing these films online is part of that. Because the films are available to the public this excludes us from a ‘traditional’ short film festival strategy, which often requires a premiere. So, we had a lot of fun working out a new strategy based on an online release. It’s the first year of the YouTube Your Film Festival and it seemed like a great opportunity for our films. We’re beyond excited that both films were selected for the semi-finals.

What was the film-making process like?

Shooting the films was hectic. We shot both films back to back over three days. Some would say we were mad but for a variety of reasons it had to be done that way. On the third day we were scheduled to shoot all of the exteriors for Boot. It was a night shoot and it was raining cats and dogs all day. Damien was having to totally re-imagine his coverage for wet weather. I was in talks all afternoon with our first assistant director and safety officer about whether we could press on. Our call time was 6.30pm and it was still raining. The sun started setting at 7.30pm and lo and behold the rain cleared at 7.45pm. Someone was looking out for us that day.

The films are very different. In your view, what is each film about?

I’m very proud that we were able to create two such tonally and thematically different films. Bat Eyes is a classical and lyrical film about the beauty and regret of first love. Jess used poetry as inspiration for this film and the W.B Yeats poem ‘When You Are Old and Grey’ forms the backdrop of Bat Eyes. Boot is about the intensity of teenage friendship and the fall out when it is betrayed. Despite it’s serious message, Boot mixes the extremes of gross-out comedy and tragedy. I love that about this film.

Why do you think Bat Eyes and Boot deserve to make the top ten?

The YouTube Your Film festival is all about finding the next generation of storytellers. In a very short amount of time – approximately 10 minutes, both films tell stories with great emotional impact. I think this is the art of short film making – telling a story economically and with emotional impact. I think Bat Eyes and Boot both achieve this. That’s why the films should deserve to make the top ten. Oh, and also because I want to do karaoke with Michael Fassbender…

You can check out Bat Eyes, Boot and the other films shortlisted here. Voting closes July 13th.

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