11 June 2024

Rising star Shayan Murray sees short film script brought to life for Creative Wollongong showcase

| Kellie O'Brien
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Trip Down Memory Lake

Writer and actor Shayan Murray performing in Trip Down Memory Lake, with camera assist Max Piotto. Photos: Honi Perrin de Graaff.

Shayan Murray may have appeared on big budget films Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga and Thor: Love and Thunder, but watching his short film script come to life thanks to the guidance of a professional production team has been among his career highlights.

As part of the Creative Wollongong Short Film Competition, budding Illawarra scriptwriters were given the chance to be paired with professional production companies to develop skills as they produced works for the competition.

Screen Illawarra chairman Nick Bolton said Wollongong City Council’s creative arm, Creative Wollongong, approached Screen Illawarra to be a partner of the short film competition.

“I was very conscious of trying to work out how we can raise the quality of the films,” Nick said.

He said he conceived the idea to enlist five other Illawarra production companies – Every Cloud Productions, Relativity Media, Moonlander Media, Sketchbook TV and hellofuture.tv – to join his production company, TEN ALPHAS, to support emerging talent.

“I said, ‘Here’s an opportunity for us to all do something locally that’s creative, that we can be proud of, and we can try and build a better filmmaking ecosystem down here,’” he said.

“They were all really keen to do it because for a lot of us with production companies, we’re doing the corporate work, and it’s great, it pays bills, and we’re very professional and do the best we can, but it’s not our story.

“So by making these films, these are our stories.”

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Nick said the companies offered not only their expertise and processes, but their resources such as camera equipment and lighting often not accessible to young filmmakers.

He said he then called out to Screen Illawarra members to provide a short pitch of their script ideas, with Creative Wollongong’s only criteria being it had to add a key feature of water, like Lake Illawarra or rock pools.

“I thought we might get 10 or 12 entries. We got 29, which was great,” he said.

Four independent judges were brought in, selecting the best six scripts, before the production companies selected the script they most wanted to work on.

With all films either now in pre-production or production, TEN ALPHAS wrapped up filming of Shayan’s film Trip Down Memory Lake at the end of May.

Shayan said the story was about Joey, who was struggling through high school, meeting Georgia, who had a hearing disability, and the two helping each other overcome their struggles.

“When it comes to them finally reuniting after so many years, she still feels a bit insecure about herself and whether Joey will see her in the same way,” he said.

“By the end, you see that Joey’s feelings for her are still the same as what they were when they first met.

Creative Wollongong Short Film Competition entry 2024

Cast and crew on Trip Down Memory Lake.

“For this story, I wanted to show the theme that no matter how many years have gone by, you still see your friends in the same way as when you first met them.”

He said he was impressed by the cast, including Selena Rosevelt and Alex Bar, who played young Joey and Georgia, and deaf actress Emil Elmitt from Parramatta, who played older Georgia.

Shayan secured the role of older Joey, while also being a director’s attachment to director Nick.

“I was going behind the monitors every time we filmed and just watching everything with the actors portraying the characters, and I was completely starstruck,” Shayan said.

“It was amazing how seeing these young actors, Alex and Selena, playing my characters and bringing them to life was this incredible feeling I’ve never felt before.

“I’m completely in awe of everyone from the actors to the crew who gave their time to help bring the story to life.”

Shayan isn’t new to the industry, having worked as an extra on Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Artful Dodger, Thor: Love and Thunder and his first feature role on Paper Dolls.

Nick said Shayan was one of Screen Illawarra’s most involved members, regularly attending networking and workshops.

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“I’ve observed him acting on stage around Wollongong and Stanwell Park and pursuing his extras, and it’s been really impressive to see him put so much effort into it,” Nick said.

“So when he put forward this script, and it’s such a beautiful story we could all relate to, he deserved to get to tell his story for all the effort he’s put in over the last three years.”

Nick said what was nice about the six films was there were more than 100 screen practitioners fostering and building the community as they worked together producing quality productions.

“We’re all helping each other on the other films as well – we’re all wanting to make the best products we can,” he said.

“In a few months’ time, we’ll all have some portfolio pieces, and then we’ll be able promote these films in other film festivals around Australia and, indeed, the world and really showcase the strength of the filmmaking community in the Illawarra.”

Council gave $2500 grants each to three organisations, while the other films were funded through the filmmakers’ private budgets.

Films are to be submitted by 31 July, with the Creative Wollongong Short Film Festival to be held at Lakeside Reserve on 7 September for films in two categories – 12-24 years and 25+. The celebrity judge will be Love On The Spectrum star Michael Theo.

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