By Lola Pinder
Joshua Longhurst’s filmmaking is concerned with politics and social commentary. He looks for honesty in his work and values truth, and engagement with tough subject matter, as a great strength in writing.
I recently asked Longhurst about Australian film and television in the digital age.
Starting out in the industry Longhurst values today’s online platforms as a space for exploration and development for artists, ‘ I feel Youtube can make the exploration process as an artist more accessible’ in order for them to find their voice and find an audience for their ideas.' And yet Longhurst brings up the interesting conundrum of the existential, introspective processes of the actor, while social media is very such a platform for the extroverted, public-relations-savvy as he states ‘it would be a huge shame if exciting writers or directors weren’t produced just because they don’t use Twitter.' Longhurst fears the tenets of truth and poetry in the art of filmmaking have given way to high volumes of poor quality, vanity projects, developed to fulfill demand and current trends in the film industry.
Despite the multiplication of access for developing filmmakers and screenwriters to shoot and share their projects, this is not being translated at a professional level, where television networks and film production companies and funding bodies aim to ‘please’ audiences, through safe projects. Like many others in the industry, Longhurst speaks of the need for a greater diversity of voices telling important and honest narratives in Australian film and television. Longhurst emphasises the need to offer daring, provocative projects at the public level, in order that Australian culture does not remain complacent.
Longhurst’s training is in acting, studying with the Australian Theatre for Young People. He had no formal experience in screenwriting when he applied and was selected to be part of the Metro Screen ArtStart Young Screenwriters Program.
Longhurst spent his time in the program developing the script for his first short film, Ravage. The film was part of the 2012 MetroScreen First Breaks program, from which the director Jaime Lewis and Longhurst worked closely with mentors from Metro Screen. Ravage went on to be named as a finalist of the 2013 Sydney Film Festival Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films and nominated for Best Live Action Short and The Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director.
In 2014 Longhurst continued his relationship with Metro Screen when he received the Metro Screen Dream Accelerator Pitch competition for his television series Off the Grid. This gave Longhurst the opportunity to pitch against other state finalists at Melbourne’s Screen Forever conference.
Longhurst plays Sam in fellow Metro Screen alumni Annmaree J Bell and Craig Boreham’s feature film Teenage Kicks, due to be released this year. He is currently working on a television series.
This post is part of the Art Month Event Creative Paddington taking place on March 7th in conjunction with Metro Screen and UNSW Art & Design.