Shepparton film maker takes out best short film award

By John Lewis

Ten months of hard work and little money has paid off for Shepparton filmmaker Michael Hudson who scooped the best short screenplay award at the Sydney Film Festival at the weekend.

Mr Hudson’s short film Ties That Bind tells a personal story of a struggling single mother and her son, based on his own experience as a young man from an indigenous background in Shepparton.

He said when judges chose his 12-minute film out of 20 entries in the $5000 Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award, he was stunned.

‘‘I was happy to be at the festival just to show the film — I wasn’t even aware it was entered,’’ he said.

‘‘When my film won, I was genuinely surprised. I looked at my producer and said ‘what the hell?’.’’

However, he gathered his senses together and walked on stage to face a packed State Theatre to accept the award.

‘‘It was a huge crowd and the applause was really loud,’’ he said.

This year’s international film festival attracted more than 250 entries, with best film award going to Korean director and Cannes winner Bong Joon-ho for his satire Parasite.

Mr Hudson said he later met Joon-ho and they gave each other ‘‘huge high-five’’.

In his director’s statement, Mr Hudson, 34, said the story for his film about a domineering mother and her young son who faces a life-changing decision, came from his past.

‘‘The journey to bring Ties That Bind to life has been an exciting, occasionally traumatic and liberating experience,’’ he said.

‘‘The story comes from a place of truth, told by somebody who knows this world all too well, and my hope is to inform and inspire others regardless who they are and where they come from.’’

He said the success of Ties That Bind meant a great deal to him on a personal level.

‘‘I wasn’t making a great deal of money while making this film. So this is for the nay-sayers who said ‘get a real job’,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve now proved something to myself — it’s really humbling to be recognised.’’

Mr Hudson originally intended to make his film in Shepparton, but for budgetary reasons production was moved to Sunshine, near Melbourne.

The cast includes The Sapphires writer Tony Briggs and Kamil Ellis, who has appeared in Nowhere Boys, Cleverman, and SeaChange 2019 reboot.

He said as well as winning the best screenplay award, Ties That Bind was also premiered at the Sydney festival.

‘‘The reaction was really solid. There was a real emotional response to the film,’’ he said.

Mr Hudson hopes to tour his award winner to other film festivals, but could not give a definite date on a Shepparton showing.

His 2016 short film Leonids featured Shepparton actors and premiered at the Ballarat Observatory before screening at La Trobe University in Shepparton.

Mr Hudson, who was employed as an indigenous content creator at the ABC in Shepparton, was already thinking of his next project.

‘‘I’ve got many things in the pipeline — but I’ve always loved sci-fi and horror. Horror is the greatest genre — it takes a bit of everything. It’s like the heavy metal of film,’’ he said.