In this week's interview we talk to Rachael Belle Myers, the talented writer/producer/director at Jaded Belle Productions who took home the 2016 Best in the West Award for her short film First World Problems. We were excited to hear what she's been doing since we saw her last year at the festival.
And by the way, if you haven’t yet entered a film in this year’s festival, now’s your chance! SUBMIT YOUR FILM and you too could walk away with the most prestigious award for local filmmakers: Best in the West 2017.
Made in the West Film Festival: Hello Rachael! First of all we should extend a huge – and very well deserved – congratulations on to you for winning the top prize at last year’s event. What have you been working on since we saw you last?
Rachael Belle Myers: I’ve written, produced and directed my latest short film Curated Illusions. It delivers another poignant message involving self-reflection but this time also delves into social media obsession and the unsafe use of mobile devices. I have also spent a bit of time building relationships with some of the other filmmakers I met at Made in the West. Matt Vella (last year's Best Student Film award-winner) and I realised that there aren’t many networking opportunities for Western Sydney filmmakers… yet there is so much talent out here! So we organised a casual drinks night and around 40 people showed up, all excited and keen to build the film community in the West. We’ve since launched a Facebook group called Western Sydney Filmmakers Hangout and it’s been wonderful seeing how quickly it’s brought people together and encouraged so much collaboration. I advise anyone and everyone to join and come along to our next get together on Saturday 14th October.
MITWFF: Your projects always seem to focus on a desire to make a social comment. Why is that?
RBM: Choices like this really boil down to the individual filmmaker and what their innate drive to create is. I want to make a difference in the world and the best way for me to do that is through my art. My goal is to create stories that people can connect with and be influenced by. If my films can help just one person find comfort and familiarity, or change the way they see and do things, then I have succeeded.
MITWFF: What is the best thing about having won Best in the West?
RBM: Aside from bragging rights, it’s brought me closer to the local community and opened doors I never knew existed before. It’s also an award I’m truly proud of and I thank Made in the West for the great honour.
MITWFF: How does it feel to see Western Sydney films on the big screen?
RBM: It absolutely excites me! There’s a lot of talent in Western Sydney and I love seeing filmmakers follow their passion and persevere to bring their ideas to the screen. It is inspiring to see and I hope we will continue to see more local talent kick butt in this richly rewarding industry.
MITWFF: Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
RBM: In the coming months, I’ll be focusing more heavily on my screenwriting. I have a number of feature films ready for editing so that will be my main task for the rest of the year. I’ll also be working on some experimental shorts in the near future; not for festivals, more for the sake of telling good stories and continuing to build my portfolio. I’m eyeing off a couple of very talented people at the moment but I’m not going to name names yet…
MITWFF: What advice do you have for other Western Sydney filmmakers?
RBM: There’s a story in you that only you can tell: follow your heart and make the magic happen. And remember, you are not alone! Western Sydney is full of aspiring filmmakers that love supporting one another. Join the Western Sydney Filmmakers Hangout group to connect with an awesome support network.
MITWFF: You've been quite open in the past about having your short films rejected from film festivals, but you've never let that stop you. How important is it to persevere?
RBM: Your desire to tell stories must be greater than any sort of recognition or reward - to me, those things are perks. Believing in your story and the message it delivers is what will get you through any hard day. A big takeaway for me is that festival rejections almost always have nothing to do with the quality of your film, for example there might be another film in the selection that has a more favourable running time. It's important to remember that you haven't failed until you stop trying.
MITWFF: What’s your favourite memory from the 2016 Made in the West Film Festival?
RBM: Not stacking it in my heels when I went up to accept my award – haha!
I have so many fond memories. The festival was set up perfectly and run so professionally; the format was on point. I loved the VIP area for filmmakers only as this encouraged conversation and, in my case, future collaboration. The red carpet and interviews made us all feel like stars. And of course, being able to party, socialise and meet so many other amazing filmmakers and cinema-goers is a memory I’ll cherish forever. It was a fabulous night!
MITWFF: What are looking forward to about 2017 Made in the West Film Festival?
RBM: Exactly the same thing! I heard it’s on a Saturday this year too - bring it on! I can’t wait to see what wonderful films MITW will be screening this year and what talented filmmakers I’ll meet on the night.
MITWFF: Any social media links that we can share/ best way to contact you?
RBM: Sure! Feel free to check out my website or Instagram, and get involved within the Western Sydney Filmmakers Hangout.
Fabulous! Thanks for chatting with us Rachael. We're looking forward to meeting all of this year's filmmakers too - we'll see you in VIP! This year's event is on Saturday 25th November.
Entries are now open for Made in the West Film Festival 2017. If you've made a short film featuring cast, crew or locations from Western Sydney, you might be in the running to WIN this year's Best in the West award! Check out the ENTRY CRITERIA and SUBMIT YOUR FILM now!
Made in the West Film Festival returns to the Paddington RSL (upstairs) on 25 November 2017.