Around the world with film

Image from the short film "Not to Be" Directed by Australian Filmmaker - Katrina Channells.

By Tania Phillips

In a way everything film-maker Elliot Spencer has done in his life has led him to where he is now – running a highly successful short film festival that attracts interest and crowds in Berlin and Dalveen. Yes – that Dalveen – here on the Granite Belt.

Elliot, who is doing up an old house back home here in Warwick when he’s not creating films and bringing other people’s work to larger audiences through his Orion Short Film Festival, is currently curating the festival going through a large number of films and preparing two slightly different festivals for the two venues.

The Festival is held later in the year in cosmopolitan Berlin and now, for the second year in a row, a country hall in Dalveen in February. And after last year’s event in Dalveen he is tailoring the local version to local tastes, a little more Australian content and comedies then what will be seen in Berlin.

In a way though the Festival brings his two worlds together – the Warwick boy he was and the film-maker and film festival convenor he is now. Creating a film festival is something he obviously relishes and the idea of bringing it home to this region seems to be a big part of his enjoyment. However, the idea for the festival wasn’t born in Warwick or Berlin.

“It first started in 2017 and I was living in China and filmmaking there, it was a great base and vantage point for going over to Europe for film festivals,” he said.

“I was competing with my own work and I started to get to know a lot of the curators and the festival directors for a few of the major film festivals. That led me to create my own.”

So how does a young film maker from Warwick end up in China and then Berlin?

“When I was a teenager, I use to compete in martial arts and I always wanted to go over to China,” he said.

“I went and did university first and then went to the Solomon Islands. When I was at university I actually studied the Mandarin language as electives. It was delayed for quite some years but eventually in 2010 I decided to make the big move to actually to get myself to China, basing myself in Zhuhai City which is directly opposite Hong Kong and on the border of Macau. I thought that was a good base for film making. I had a choice of three international airports.”

“Film making is something I’ve always done and I’ve always loved, right back to when I was 10 years old. I was competing and entering film festivals.”

When he was 16 he gained a full academic scholarship to study his craft at Bond, graduated in 2009 and it just carried on from there but with a sister who studied animation and is a filmmaker and a father who has written a couple of feature films it really is in his blood.

“There is a big love of cinema in the family,” he said.

He said it was a conscious decision to base the film festival in Berlin after screening his own work in the city and loving the experience.

“It’s such a cultural creative hub,” he said.

It was also important to find somewhere back home to screen as well finding the Dalveen Film Society on facebook and the rest, as they say in the classics, is history.