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  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival


Submissions have now closed for Made in the West 2017 and with more entries this year than ever before, we have to say, you’ve really stepped up to the plate Western Sydney! Congratulations to all of you on such a productive year – we’re proud to be working alongside so many awesome local filmmakers and we are really looking forward to watching all of your films.

But how on earth are we going to pick a winner??! The standard of entries this year is through the roof, so we’ve really got our work cut out for us! All we can say is, thank goodness we have the help of our festival judges!! These wonderful individuals are going to combine their wealth of knowledge and experience to decide who wins this year’s festival trophies.

We’re so excited to have put together a panel of SEVEN fantastic producers and filmmakers to judge this year’s final films. The judges’ scores determine who will take home our two major trophies for Best Student Film and the prestigious award for Best in the West 2017. Plus, their nominations decide our individual category winners. This year there are six individual awards up for grabs: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematographer, Best Director, Best Editor and Best Sound Design.

Remember to RSVP HERE and join us on the red carpet for Made in the West Film Festival! The judges will be chatting to this year's finalists at our VIP meet & greet session from 6pm on Saturday 25 November!

So, without further ado, let us introduce this year’s judges:

Michael Hamish Budd is an award-winning actor, director and producer based in Emu Heights. He is best known for playing Esmael, alongside Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver in The Cold Light of Day (2012) and playing the Zion Controller in The Matrix Reloaded (2003). His directorial debut, Love of my Life (2012), starred Logie winner Peter O’Brien and his second feature film Life of the Party (2017), starring Holly Brisley, premiered recently in cinemas around the country. He is the owner of production company Amazing People Pictures, based at Fox Studios, and his most recent feature film Enter Sanctum is due for release next year. We’re stoked that Michael could join us for a second time as part of our judging panel!

Daniel Krige first tasted international success - and a BAFTA nod - at the age of 23 for his episode of the Hugh Jackman vehicle Correlli. His critically acclaimed first feature, West (2007) was written and filmed in Western Sydney. HBO picked up his second feature, Inhuman Resources, which was released in 2012. As an actor, Daniel has appeared in Catching Milat, Redfern Now, Home and Away and Brothers in Arms to name a few, plus an episode of Bryan Brown’s Twisted Tales, which he also wrote and directed. He has recently written, directed, produced and starred in the multi-award winning short-form series The Agent. This is the first time we’ve had Dan on the judging panel at Made in the West and we are thrilled he could join us!

Megan Riakos is a writer, director and producer with 18 years industry experience, culminating in her debut feature Crushed. She has completed over a dozen short films, ranging from the psychological thriller The Shed to the 1930’s crime drama 50-50 and is currently in development on for her second feature film, a science fiction thriller called Traceless. Megan is the president of WIFT NSW where she is a vocal advocate for women in the screen industry. She is a regular speaker and panellist and has also guest lectured at UNSW, AFTRS, AIT and Actors Centre Australia. It’s Megan’s first year with us and we’re super excited to have her expertise on our judging panel!

Natalie Tran is a YouTube video producer with an international following, born and raised in Western Sydney. She writes, films, edits her videos for her communitychannel on YouTube and has amassed 586 million views since starting the channel in 2006. In 2010, she collaborated with Lonely Planet to produce a series of travel videos and more recently was part of YouTube’s Creators for Change project. She made her film debut in 2013 in the comedy Goddess and has also been working on her first feature film script. We’re over the moon that Natalie has decided to help judge this year’s films!

David Byrne heads up production company The Rusty Cage and has over a decade of experience producing film and television content for global audiences. He grew up in the Blue Mountains and the idea of being a TV producer seemed a world away, but now he creates everything from commercials and promotional material, to documentaries and television series. Currently, he’s working on several documentaries covering topics including domestic violence, history and adventure sport. He also produces the long-running television series The Travel Bug and has recently been on location filming My Greek Odyssey, exploring the Greek Islands on a super yacht. We are very proud to welcome David back for his second year on our judging panel!

Dr Iqbal Barkat is a digital artist and filmmaker. His artistic practice is based in Western Sydney which is also the home of Filigree Films, the filmmaking company he co-founded. He teaches screen production at Macquarie University and is a proponent and practitioner of community and participatory arts, specialising in works involving a combination of actors and non-actors. His projects are often hybrid as they emanate from real settings but include fictional elements and involve the intersection of digital media with other art forms. He is currently working on a project that explores the outsider and Islam called Terrorist/Apostate. This is his fourth year working with us as judge at Made in the West and we are pleased to have him with us again.

Dr Rachel Bentley is the former CEO of Television Sydney and now the director of the Digital Production Unit at Western Sydney University. She is a documentary film and television producer and her 2015 multi-platform project Cutback features Sydney street artists in conversation with graffiti artists from around the world and her Cutback documentary now screens on SBS. Rachel has been with us for five years and has always been a strong supporter of emerging Western Sydney filmmakers and are delighted to have her on our judging panel again!

----- and there you have it!

The 2017 Made in the West Film Festival judging panel!


From the entire team here at Made in the West and everyone involved in this year’s festival, we would like to thank this magnificent panel of seven for very generously donating their time and expertise to judge this year’s films. We really appreciate it and we are looking forward to receiving your scores!

And of course, the judging panel’s decision is final – we’ll award two beautiful trophies and six category prizes to the winners according to their recommendations. But that isn’t the end of the story!

The final judge at this year’s Made in the West Film Festival is YOU!!

Join us at Made in the West 2017 and at the end of the festival we’ll ask you to cast your vote for your favourite flick – yes that’s right, we’ll host a LIVE VOTE among the hundreds of people in attendance. Your vote will send someone home with the most highly coveted trophy of the night, the 2017 Audience Choice Award.

We can’t wait!

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