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  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival

WSU students take on Digital Publicity challenge

What a year! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, 2020 brought us so many opportunities to look at what we want from our creative work practice and redesign the way we do things.

It was wild in 2021 to find ourselves doing it all again, stuck in the same cycle of lockdowns, zoom calls, checking in with friends… but at least this time we knew what to do!

We continued hosting Western Sydney FIlm Online Networking Events (WSF ONE) throughout the year, then ran our annual poster design competition with Burrow… and in a haze of excitement early on, we doubled down and decided to produce our first ever commemorative magazine (with augmented reality!) before mid-year, so by the time we came around to festival season in August, we had big plans to design a merch line, as well as launch the magazine, and to top it all off we wanted to host our biggest festival yet.

Making big plans means bringing on more creatives to help our team, so having Emily, Nathalie and Casey on our team throughout this year to run events and help spread the word about the festival was a must. We love these passionate and talented women!

In 2020, we also designed a new internship for WSU Creative Industries students, and this year's applicants were so good, we couldn't choose! The two top candidates both so well suited to the role, so we adapted and took on TWO students to help us with this year’s big challenges.

Bachelor of Communications students Natasha Raj and Elissa Sewell took on the two Digital Campaign Internships in August, assisting with 3 promotional campaigns for the 2021 festival and our milestone celebration for the 10 year anniversary of Made in the West.

The first task of the season is always reaching out to filmmakers, affiliates and organisations in western Sydney to spread the word about submissions being open. Getting information out across a region our size takes an entire network of local arts organisations and film schools.

We love connecting with other arts organisations around town – there are so many great organisations in Western Sydney working hard to connect and inspire local artists!

“Compiling a list of student filmmaker affiliates and reaching out to them was something very new to me. Doing this made me realise how diverse the student film and arts industry are and the high level of talent that exists in Western Sydney.” says Natasha.

Next, we planned our final WSF ONE event for the year, with Natasha & Elissa both participating in the live interactive online networking event for local filmmakers.

Being part of a team that produces and live records an online event for 40 people with polls, interviews and interactive chats can be a buzz!

We’ve done a few of these events now, and it always involves thinking about who we might invite as special guests and how our event format will complement their spotlight interviews, then setting up ticket sites and communications that we roll out in a short promotional campaign.

“One of the most interesting things that I learnt was how to organise and run an online networking event, and a fun one at that!” says Elissa.

“I didn’t realise how much time and effort goes in behind the scenes of an event such as WSF ONE and it was such an eye-opening experience. Working on the day of the event was also something oddly thrilling. It gave me the opportunity to work in a fast-paced and structured environment yet the atmosphere and nature of the event was so friendly and inviting and made me feel at home.”

The biggest task of the year for us all, no doubt, was planning what we’d do to celebrate our 10th anniversary year, so we had a bit of fun adapting to our usual in-person brainstorming ideas to our new digital setting.

Together, we came up with 100 new ideas to celebrate our 10th anniversary, launch Made in the West Magazine, promote our new lines of merchandise, and integrate new elements at the festival.

“My favourite part of the experience would have to be working on the 10 year magazine launch,” says Elissa, “from brainstorming ideas for the event, to working on countdown tiles, seeing the magazine for the first time and experiencing the live launch event, right down to having my name printed in the contributors section of the magazine.”

“It allowed me to let my creative side flourish while working with a real-world brief, and being part of such an incredible milestone was such an honour.”

We love that our team has found ways to use online software and new digital tools to get our work done in recent years – it’s just surprising when sometimes these new systems turn out to be more effective (and fun) than we expected!

Creative work during the pandemic has been challenging for so many of us, but we’ve just had to keep going! Hats off to the Western Sydney film community for staying so positive and productive during this time, adapting and keeping their creative spark alive.

Natasha was inspired to work with us here at Made in the West because of our amazing community.

“I loved the fact that Made in the West creates a place for Western Sydney creatives and showcases their talent on the big screen.”

“I know what it’s like to be marginalized and discriminated against due to living in Western Sydney, hence why I really wanted to be part of this inspiring journey.”

Elissa was interested in the filmmaking side of things, even though she’s an advertising major.

“I have always had a passion for film and I felt as though that this would be the perfect opportunity to delve further into this industry, despite the fact that my background is all about advertising,” says Elissa.

“The chance to work on a real-life campaign was something that I also wanted to experience as I knew that this would help give me a little taste for what is to come in the advertising world.”

Thank you to Elissa and Natasha for all your hard work this season – we’re pleased you learned a lot and we were impressed with the work and ideas you put forward. All the best with the rest of your studies and we’re looking forward to seeing you graduate!

We were also fortunate this year to have the help of WSU students on our FOH volunteer team too -- Nataly Thomson, Jumana Qazi and Thomas Fleming all stepped up to help us as volunteers this year and they were a great help to our team checking tickets, seating people and assisting throughout the night.

Laura Caldwell took on a role as festival photographer, taking photos of the winners and finalists on the red carpet.

WSU graduate Jess Pabian joined us as our MC for the night, introducing the films and working the room during intermission and awards.

You can read more about our 2021 festival crew here!

We’re pleased to be heading back into the TV studio at WSU in early 2022 to produce this year’s episode with a student crew and the trophy winners from the 2021 festival.

Made in the West has been working with WSU students since 2018 producing Made in the West TV, a chat show about the local film scene. Fingers crossed restrictions and lockdowns won’t get in the way again as we have already delayed the production twice!

If you’re keen to work with us next year, feel free to contact us.

HUGE thanks to WSU School of Humanities & Communication Arts for coming on board as a Gold+ Screen Sponsor this year and supporting our event costs. We have been very happy to build upon our relationship with Western Sydney University this year and develop new opportunities for WSU students to get experience in the creative industries.

We’re looking forward to working with WSU again in 2022 as we plan and promote our 11th annual Made in the West Film Festival -- you won’t want to miss it!


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