2 November 2023

Wollongong film Finding Addison nominated for Best Short Film in industry's peak awards night

| Kellie O'Brien
Start the conversation
Finding Addison Australian Academy Awards

Newcomers Pez Warner and Aria Hart in the Wollongong-based short film Finding Addison. Photo: Supplied.

Balgownie filmmaker Francisca Braithwaite never expected her film Finding Addison would be nominated for Best Short Film at the 2024 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards – aka the Australian Oscars.

Speaking from LA during the American Film Market on Wednesday (1 November), Fran said it was among 80 films voted by the public to become one of six finalists and was among already highly celebrated short films.

As writer, director, producer and lead in the film, she said she “exploded in a fit of joy” when she heard Finding Addison had been nominated in Australia’s premier screen awards, which has Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman as ambassadors.

“I ran into the room and looked at the email and I was just completely speechless because I don’t think I was really quite expecting it,” she said.

“It hadn’t done any film festivals or anything like that.

“I literally just started entering it, with the AACTAs being our first, so it had no public profile whatsoever.

“If you have a look at the other films that are in consideration, a lot of those have done the Melbourne Film Festival and Sydney Film Festival, and they’ve all been out there – they’re known.

“I was honestly blown away.”

The 29-minute film was produced under Fran’s production company Blue Sparrow Entertainment, in association with Bulli production company TEN ALPHAS FILMS.

READ ALSO Screen Illawarra taking a starring role in building a thriving film industry in the region

Inspired by a close friend, it tells the story of best friends Isabelle and Lucy, who are forced to hide a life-altering secret. Fast forward 31 years and that secret comes knocking at the door.

“I think I knew from the very beginning of this film that we really had something special,” she said.

“It’s a very personal story of a very good friend of mine who found out that she was adopted in her 20s and went in search of her birth mother.

“Just watching what she went through, how she processed it all …

“I knew we had something really beautiful and something very honest and raw and real. That’s the storytelling that I gravitate to.”

Believed to be the first Illawarra short film to be nominated for the awards in recent years, she said she hoped it created a pathway for more.

“I only started making films a couple of years ago, so for someone that doesn’t have a filmmaking background to achieve something like this is huge,” she said of this being her second film.

Shot in Balgownie and Berkeley using many Illawarra cast and crew, the film switches between the 90s and present day, with the 90s scenes shot in her parents’ home.

Her mother and sister helped design the sets.

“Growing up in that home made shooting something there incredibly special,” she said.

Bonnie Sveen (left) with Francisca Braithwaite (right) during a scene in Finding Addison. Photo: Supplied.

Bonnie Sveen with Francisca Braithwaite during a scene in Finding Addison. Photo: Supplied.

Playing alongside Fran is unknown actresses Pez Warner and Aria Hart, with casting by Faith Martin whose credits include Strictly Ballroom and Outlander.

“This is the first project they’d ever done,” she said.

“From my own personal acting experience, I knew how to nurture them in a way that would get the best performance out of them in the safest way possible.

“What we’re tackling is really difficult subject matter for two young 16-year-olds.

“There’s a reaction from Aria where she picks up the baby and looks down and then looks back up at Pez that just takes your breath away.

“I think both of them are going to have huge careers after this.”

She said the self-funded and crowdfunded project was a chance to not only give paid work to young talent, but to create opportunities to champion women in the industry – something her artist mother encouraged in her.

“One of my main focuses through Blue Sparrow Entertainment has always been to support women in our industry, and to highlight powerful female-centric stories – told by female creatives,” she said.

“So when we were putting together our team, we wanted to give opportunities to as many female creatives as we could.”

READ ALSO How one Illawarra family’s journey led to a movement that’s changing lives in Africa

As her first major production, she was guided and supported by TEN ALPHAS FILMS husband and wife team, producer Nick Bolton and cinematographer Jess Milne.

The couple’s film Mate recently became the first Australian film to win the prestigious Grand Prix Best Film at the Clermont Ferrand film festival in France, and was longlisted for nomination at the 2023 Oscars.

“After meeting Jess and Nick, and discussing Finding Addison, I knew they really understood my vision,” she said.

“From the start, we were very much on the same page, and it truly has been a dream collaboration.”

She said the film was also supported by Cutting Edge for postproduction, Panavision for camera hire and Screen Illawarra who each went “above and beyond” for the film.

“If I had not had the people I had on this set, it would never have been what it was,” she said.

“I drove it, yes, and I pushed for it, and I made sure we made it, but it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for everyone.”

The AACTA Awards will be a televised event on the Gold Coast in February.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.