By Lola Pinder
Serena Hunt began her relationship with Metro Screen through their short course in Producing and Production Management. Since then, she has had over 20 years experience in film, television and advertising and was invited back as a guest lecturer and tutor in Assistant Directing.
Hunt has worked on a number of films and television series, including Paul Fenech’s Fat Pizza, Housos and Swift and Shift Couriers and feature films Housos Vs Authority and Pizza Vs Housos, as well as Facing Evil, the documentary series Behind Mansion Walls, the cult festival favourite The Last Horror Movie and her own short film Kerplonk.
I was able to talk with Hunt about her world and the shifting nature of the film and television industry in the digital age. I began by asking Hunt what she thought about the video-phone-filmmaker phenomenon, and whether this altered the professionalism of the field. She explained she values the phenomenon of video filmmaking as an opportunity for emerging creative voices to practice their skills but was not indicative of filmmakers making a career for themselves.
Hunt explains how the digital era does not mean the death of film. She says ‘I love the cinema, so that will never die for me’. Hunt values storytelling and good filmmaking and argues these aspects are not lost on the small screen. The world has entered a new era in which many people watch movies and television through catch-up online and ‘stack and binge’ approaches to television series. Although this may mean a change from the tradition of weekly television program viewing, long-form cinema and television series still hold an important place for viewers, television and filmmakers need to adapt to make content accessible for everyone in their busy lives.
LP: With the advent of camera and video-phones, and the popularity of social media platforms and YouTube, the notion of the amateur and the professional has been blurred for filmmakers. What are your thoughts on this shift as a professional in the field?
SH: It has made the whole process of filmmaking much more accessible to people everywhere. Every kid and his dog can 'make a short movie' with a phone and home editing software. This does not make them professional filmmakers. It places people in a much better position to practice filmmaking skills and launch themselves into the industry as a professional later down the track, if that’s their goal.
I’m old school and trained to make films with a creative collaboration. Today, I see a different type of filmmaker emerging - I like to call it the 'one man band approach'. There’s a place for it, but it’s not the best business model. It’s the difference between one person toiling over a project for months, maybe years, or a team of professionals churning out content of a much higher quality. Compare it to building a house - you can have one person slowly doing everything but you need to wait a lot longer before you can live in it, and they might be great builders but not so good at electrics or plumbing or design. If you bring in experts in each field, including a good project manager then you can have a house you can live in much sooner and of much better quality.
LP: Where do you want to see Australian film and television going in the coming years?
SH: I want to see Australian film and TV take a chance on some fresh ideas. Instead of throwing government funding to big budget productions that are guaranteed returns they could fund a whole heap of low to medium budget films - comedy, art, drama and create work for more people. The big budget films will be made no matter what, just means they have to spend the money more wisely and maybe have chicken instead of fish a few more days at the catering table.
Right now Hunt is busy working on the early stages of several of her own projects while continuing her freelance work.
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.