Tropfest Australia 2014 – Winner and Finalists’ Short Films

Tropfest Australia 2014 – Winner and Finalists’ Short Films

ropfest 1

The 16 incredible filmmakers whose short films will premiere live at Tropfest Australia 2014 next month, have now been revealed.

The stories told in this year’s line up range from beautiful reflective dramas, to cutting social comedies and feature some interesting characters.

The world’s largest short film festival returns to Sydney’s Centennial Park on Sunday December 7

Entries have closed for Tropfest Australia 2014 with over 600 films submitted. Films could be about anything but had to include the annual Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), which for 2014 is “MIRROR”

The winning filmmaker of Tropfest 2014 will receive an all new Toyota Corolla Levin ZR, $10,000 cash, a trip to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with film executives and a Nikon D810 + $2,000 RRP worth of lenses and accessories.

tropfest 2013 b

Tropfest was established to encourage production, not just exhibition. The event is not just about ‘showing’ films – it’s about ‘making’ them.

Tropfest aims to provide young fim makers with the opportunity to showcase their work to as wide an audience as possible, not only with the fantastic premiere their film will receive if selected for Tropfest Australia 2014, but also by utilising a variety of distribution outlets following the festival.

Tropfest organisers expect that over 100,000 people will come together in venues around the country on Sunday December 7 2014, with thousands more watching at home via SBS 2, to view the Official Finalist Films.


2014 Tropfest TSI  = Mirror

tsi 2014 mirror



2014 Tropfest Finalists

tropfest finalists 2014

tropfest finalists 2014

Julian Lucas from Elwood in Victoria has won the coveted fruit trophy with his film Granny Smith.


Granny Smith

The Tropfest 2014 Winner

Director: Julian Lucas
Producer: Nicholas Cox
State: VIC
TSI: Mirror

The Grandmother of all excuses.

granny smith

Director Bio:

Julian is an independent writer/director from Melbourne. He has a passion for comedy, music videos and fashion films. Julian has been a Tropfest finalist previously for his comedy Charades in 2013, which he co-wrote and directed. Earlier this year, he co- directed a fashion film for Finnigan Swimwear, which was a winner at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. His collaborative short for Telstra and Bruny Island Cheese, which he also co-directed, was awarded best film by MOFILM, and was screened in New York during September

The short film was chosen by an expert panel of five judges – Australian actor Kat Stewart (Offspring’s Billy Proudman); Australian writer Marcus Zusak – writer of The Book Thief; Hannibal, American Horror Story Asylum and Battle Star Galactica producer and film director Michael Rymer; writer of The Sapphires and actor Tony Briggs; as well as legendary film critic Margaret Pomeranz.

Tropfest winner Julian Lucas (R) and actor Jack White pose with the trophy

Tropfest winner Julian Lucas (R) and actor Jack White pose with the trophy

Julian Lucas is the lucky recipient of a brand new Toyota Corolla Levin ZR, a $10,000 cash prize thanks to Kennedy Miller Mitchell, and a trip to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with film executives (organised by Motion Picture Association and the Australian Screen Association). And to help him on his way as a filmmaker, he is now also the proud owner of Nikon D810 and $2,000 RRP worth of Nikkor lenses and accessories.

Jackson Mullane from Cronulla in NSW took home Second Prize with Red Nuts, and Third Prize went to Stuart Bowen, from Newtown in NSW, for Twisted. Best Male Actor was awarded to Kevin McIssac for his role as the down and out husband in Red Nuts, and Best Female Actress went to Caitlin Scullin for her performance as the love-struck Lady of the Manor in A Lady and a Robot. The $3,000 prize for each short film star was generously donated by Nicole Kidman.

Tropfest Founder and Director, John Polson, said “It’s been twenty two years since Tropfest first began and every year the films entered into the competition remind me of why I started this in the first place – to raise the profile of talented filmmakers and to share stories that, without this platform, might not otherwise be told.”

“It is a privilege to see the work of such incredibly talented filmmakers enter our festival, and this year is no exception,” Polson said.

Polson also announced “CARD” as the Tropfest Signature Item for the 2015, and that filmmakers should get started.

tropfest 2014

Also announced were the winners of the Nikon DSLR Film category, twin brothers David and Michael Karacic from South Hurstville in NSW for their film Untitled. The category was created to recognise films shot entirely on DSLR cameras, and almost 50 percent of entries submitted to Tropfest applied for this category recognition. They will be taking home a brand new Nikon D610 and $3,000 RRP worth of Nikkor lenses and accessories.

Impressively, David also went home with the Qantas Film Cadetship for their film. The Qantas Film Cadetship offers a rare six-month paid internship in Qantas’ in-house Digital and Inflight Entertainment division giving a new generation of Australian film talent that professional support they need to boost their creative career.

Benjamin Huang from Melbourne, Victoria was crowned the winner of APRA Tropscore 2014 and will walk away with $5000 in cash, courtesy of APRA AMCOS.



A Lady & A Robot

Director: Toby Morris
Producer: Toby Morris & Sam Burnett
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

A young lady falls in love and elopes with her family’s butler.

a lady and a robot

Director Bio:

Now working professionally as an internationally recognised director, Toby has been making films since he was 13, dedicating every spare cent earned from cleaning popcorn machines into making films with his friends. After directing his first feature at age 16, Toby has since made more than 150 films, most with his best buddy, Sam Burnett. Many of these films have received awards at various film festivals, including his film My Constellation which was one of the 16 Tropfest Finalists in 2012. More recently, Toby’s first music video secured Toby an ARIA nomination. Every spare cent Toby earns still goes to making fun films with his friends.


A Bit Rich

Director: Gregory Erdstein
Producer: Alice Foulcher
State: VIC
TSI: Mirror

What would you do with a million dollars?

a bit rich

Director Bio:

Gregory is an award-winning filmmaker from Melbourne. A Masters graduate of the VCA School of Film and TV, his work has been screened at notable Australian festivals and on SBS Shorts on Screen. His film Picking Up at Auschwitz was nominated for Best Comedy in 2012



Director: Jacobie Gray
Producer: Peter Magdas
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

Love drives us crazy. Chocolate drives us crazier.


Director Bio:

Graduating from QUT with a BA of Fine Arts: Acting, Jacobie initially began her career as an actor appearing in film, television and independent theatre across Sydney. Transitioning behind the scenes, Jacobie then pursued talent management, casting and production in both LA and Sydney before coming full circle creatively to work as a director. Since then she has directed such theatrical productions as Wild Honey and What it Feels Like. Cavity is Jacobie’s first short film


Evil Mexican Child

Director: Michael Noonan
Producer: Ricky Mansilla, Raul Raygoza & Michael Noonan
State: QLD
TSI: Mirror

In the middle of the Mexican desert, an unsuspecting couple encounter a strange, abandoned child with terrifying powers

evil mexican child

Director Bio:

Michael is an award-winning Australian filmmaker who has written, directed and produced more than 20 films. His feature script ‘Alternate Ending’ was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowship, his film Unlikely Travellers won the IF Award for Best Australian Documentary in 2007 and his scripts have twice been nominated for AWGIE Awards. Michael has also written a PhD whose subject matter – laughing and disability – sparked significant international controversy. This is Michael’s fourth Tropfest finalist entry. His previous Tropfest films include Remote (February 2013), Photobooth (2012), Counter (2007) and Applause (2006).



Director: Codey Wilson & Burleigh Smith
Producer: Rob Viney & Burleigh Smith
State: WA
TSI: Mirror

Jemimah wants Tilly to have puppies. At any cost.


Director Bio:

Fixed is Codey Wilson’s first film as director. He studied film at SAE Institute, where he met co‐director Burleigh Smith and producer Rob Viney. He lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, and has a keen interest in cinematography and surfing.


Here Today

Director: Joel Kohn
Producer: Antonio Raiola & Joel Kohn
State: VIC
TSI: Mirror

A middle age man dealing with depression suffers a very different kind of mid-life crisis.

here today

Director Bio:

Straight out of high‐school Joel received a fully funded attachment from Film Victoria, training with Cold Mountain director, Anthony Minghella. After producing a Tropfest finalist in 2001, Joel has been moving seamlessly between producing, writing and directing on a wide range of projects, from television commercials to music videos and web‐based content. His directorial work includes Season 3 of The Saddle Club and ABC’s successful kids series Prank Patrol. Joel has produced and directed a number of acclaimed short films and currently works as an in-house director at Bengar Films



Director: Liam Connor
Producer: Lucas Thyer & Julie Forster
State: QLD
TSI: Mirror

What is the cost of a second chance?


Director Bio:

Since completing his studies at the Queensland School of Film and TV, Liam has accumulated over 12 years of film industry experience. He was raised in ideal conditions for creative story telling – an avocado farm in a town called Burringbar (or Boringbar as an ex-girlfriend once called it!).


Little Bondi

Director: Michael Demosthenous & Stephen James King
Producer: Michael Demosthenous & Stephen James King
TSI: Mirror

Six Bondi residents collide in a farcical tale as they try to bring meaning to their superficial lives.

little bondi

Director Bio:

When Michael Demosthenous went to see Jurassic Park a third time, he knew that he seriously loved movies. This lead him to Newtown High School of the Performing Arts where he met his friend and filmmaking partner, Stephen James King where they collaborated on their first short comedy at age 12


Red Nuts

Director: Jackson Mullane
Producer: Tyson Mullane & Michelle Nagy
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

What would change about your life if you found out that you only had days left to live?

red nuts

Director Bio:

Jackson gave up his commercial directing career in order to pursue something more wholesome. He was previously a professional Rugby player and a variety TV star on Gladiators.


Shotgun Wedding

Director: Darren McFarlane & Rod Saunders
Producer: Michelle Venutti, Darren McFarlane & Rod Saunders
State: VIC
TSI: Mirror

When a distraught Bridesmaid discovers that her best friends, the Bride, slept with he ex- boyfriend – all hell brakes loose.

shotgun wedding

Director Bio:

Darren has a PhD in Polymer Chemistry, and has since accumulated 15 years of freelance experience film-making experience. In 2004, he contributed to horror-film history working on Saw. Since then he has worked on a number of TV Shows, and has directed music videos with Michael Paynter and The Veronicas. Rod is a Melbourne lawyer and playwright, turned film Director and Producer. His most recent play Furiously Fertile featuring David Tredinnick (The Secret Life of Us) toured the Eastern states. His pilot sit-com The Happy Man was produced by Ruby Entertainment and funded by Film Victoria.


Spirit Stones

Director: Millie Rose Heywood
Producer: Millie Rose Heywood
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

A contemporary dreamtime story about the powerful and transcendent nature of love, and the importance of keeping Aboriginal culture and language alive

spirit stones

Director Bio:

Millie has been an actor for over eight years, starring in such productions as Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, the ABC hit The Moodys, and as the lead actress in 2014 feature film Convict. Spirit Stones represents Millie’s debut as both Director and Producer. Passionate about bringing female stories to the forefront in film, she recognises the dearth of strong feminine narratives in the film industry. Her work is dedicated to address this imbalance, while maintaining a universal story telling that reflects the rich tapestry of Australian culture


The Home Video

Director: Nhu Hoang Dang
Producer: Nhu Hoang Dang
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

Filmed over 18 years following the Vietnam war this is a true story about a family returning home for the first time.

the home video

Director Bio:

Nhu Hoang Dang came to Australia in 1982 with his sister (Hien) and brother (Viet). Growing up they spent their time enjoying the visual arts together. In 1996, Nhu started film-making and has progressively advanced his cinematic skill and story-telling voice over the years. Having been shown a beautiful moment as a child, Nhu would find the mirror of this moment 15 years later in 2011. He would spend the next 3 years developing his editing skills, allowing him to tell the story that has resulted in The Home Video



Director: Stuart Bowen
Producer: Jodi Matterson & Ilana Lazar
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

The good, the bad and the inflatable.


Director Bio:

Stuart is a Communications and Music graduate who started a career in editing after making ‘fake’ trailers for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. This landed him a job at Bazmark, editing mood reels and other works for Luhrmann himself as well as George Miller and Nash Edgerton, among others. Stuart works closely with commercials director Michael Gracey and has edited campaigns for many large Australian and international companies. His first short film, Woody won Best Animation international film festivals. Twisted is Stuart’s first (but hopefully not last) live action short film.



Director: David & Michael Karacic
Producer: David & Michael Karacic
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

Ever looked in the mirror and got to know yourself ?


Director Bio:

Twin brothers David and Michael completed film school together in 2001. David went on to work on numerous film and TV projects as a camera and grip assistant. However, he has always been most comfortable writing. Michael’s cinematic achievements include 7 years experience as a location sound recordist and work on critically acclaimed feature film ‘Men’s Group’ with Director, Michael Joy. He has since focused more on post- production, collaborating with his brother on multiple projects. Together their creative partnership stretches over a 12-year period, but looks set to continue for many years to come.


You Wanna Order Pizza

Director: Laura Hughes
Producer: Bryan Moses
State: NSW
TSI: Mirror

Two stoners try to order pizza.

you wanna order pizza

Director Bio:

Laura Hughes is a comedian, actor and writer. Indecisive (and because she has a green card), she splits her time between Sydney and Los Angeles. Wherever she is, Laura loves to make films. This entry represents her directorial debut, having produced and starred in the 2012 Tropfest finalist film The Mistake. Laura has also appeared in TV shows; It’s a Date and Problems on ABC, as well as Legally Brown on SBS. She is set to star in a new series, 8MMM, airing on ABC in 2015.



Recent Tropfest Australia winners

tropfest winners



Tropfest Signature Item 

The TSI for Tropfest Australia 2014 is ‘MIRROR’.

Tropfest is unique in that all films made for the festival must include the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI).

The TSI changes each year and it proves to us that films have been made specifically for that year’s festival.

tsi 1

tsi 2


Entry Guidelines

All filmmakers had to adhere to the following guidelines:

– Your film must be made specifically for Tropfest Australia 2014

– Your film’s first public screening must be Tropfest Australia 2014

– Your film must be no longer than 7 minutes (including titles and credits)

– Your film must contain the Tropfest Australia 2014 Signature Item (TSI) ‘MIRROR’

– Your film must be in 16:9 ratio and PAL format

– You must pay the entry fee of $45AUD (inc GST) and submit and upload via our online entry system in the correct format and received NO LATER than 6pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) on Thursday 2 October 2014.


About Tropfest


Tropfest is Australia’s most prestigious short film festival and one of its most iconic cultural events.

It is also the largest short film festival in the world. At home, Tropfest is recognised for its enormous contribution to the development of the Australian film industry by providing unique platforms for talented filmmakers through its events and initiatives, and new and expanded audiences for their work.

John Polson started the ‘Tropicana Short Film Festival’ (as it was originally known) as an informal short film screening for cast, crew and friends at the Tropicana Cafe in Sydney’s Darlinghurst.

More than 200 people showed up for that first screening. Inspired by the turn out, John decided that a full-fledged short film festival was the next step.

Twenty-one years on, Tropfest Australia attracts a live national audience of around 150,000 people on a single night.

The event is hosted at Sydney’s Centennial Park, with live screenings in outdoor locations in major cities including Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Hobart and Surfers Paradise. The event is also broadcast on national television via broadcast partner SBS 2.

The annual short film competition is open to anyone who wishes to enter – regardless of their background or experience. 16 Finalists are selected from an entry pool of an average 700 annual entries and compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Tropfest films are unique in that they have all been made specifically for Tropfest, will premiere at Tropfest and include the Tropfest Signature Item (or TSI), which changes each year. The TSI for Tropfest December 2013 was “CHANGE” and the TSI for the 2014 festival is “MIRROR”.

Tropfest is free to attend. The festival itself is an outdoor celebration complete with live music and entertainment, public catering and bars, red carpet arrivals and the highly anticipated film screenings followed by an awards ceremony.

The support and involvement of film personalities from around the world has become one of the trademarks of the festival. Selection of the winning Tropfest film takes place live on the night of the festival by a panel of high profile industry and celebrity judges. Past judges have included Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Geoffrey Rush, Russell Crowe, John Woo, Samuel L Jackson, Baz Luhrmann, Keanu Reeves, Liev Schreiber, Malcolm Gladwell, Bryan Singer, Sam Neill, Ewan McGregor, Tobey Maguire, Jane Campion, Kriv Stenders, Robert Luketic, Adam Elliot, Sam Worthington, Salma Hayek, George Miller and Gabriel Byrne to name a few.

The festival attracts a wide degree of media coverage but it is the casual, grass roots nature of the event, rather than its high profile, which ensures the continued support of its patrons and guests.

The competition is taken very seriously and is considered the winner’s ticket to a successful career in film or television. Notable alumni include filmmakers such as Alister Grierson, Rowan Woods, Clayton Jacobson, Joel Edgerton, Nash Edgerton, Peter Carstairs, Rob Carlton, Sam Worthington, Robert Connolly, Leon Ford, Justin Drape, Tim Bullock and Elissa Down.

Tropfest has expanded internationally to now include new competitions and festivals in New Zealand, North America, South East Asia and the Middle East.


About John Polson

sam worthington (l) with john polson (r)

John Polson is an award-winning actor and director, as well as the founder and director of the World’s Largest Short Film Festival, Tropfest.

John is the creative force behind Tropfest’s success and global expansion, from its humble beginnings as a screening of one of his own short films at Sydney’s Tropicana Cafe in 1993. Tropfest in Australia attracts a live audience of over 100,000 people on a single night, as well as hundreds of thousands more via a simultaneous television broadcast. Tropfest has been held in countries all around the world with stand-alone festivals now in New Zealand, South East Asia, New York and Arabia.

First and foremost, though, John’s passion lies behind the camera as a film director. Creating his first short film AN EVENING WITH HERMAN in the early 1980s, John has since garnered worldwide attention with feature films such as SIAM SUNSET (starring Linus Roache), which won awards at numerous film festivals around the world (including the Cannes International Film Festival). He also directed the US feature films SWIMFAN (starring Jesse Bradford, Erica Christensen) and HIDE AND SEEK (starring Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning), both of which opened at Number 1 at the US box office. John’s latest feature film TENDERNESS, in which he directed Russell Crowe and Laura Dern, was released in 2009.

Today, in addition to his feature film work, John flexes his creative muscle on the small screen as a producer and director on shows such as ELEMENTARY, FRINGE, THE MENTALIST, THE GOOD WIFE and FLASH FORWARD.

John is currently developing a number of feature projects as both director and producer in the US and Australia.


Share your thoughts