Face Off performances win plaudits

(L-r) Tony Bonner, Velinda Wardell and Faith Martin on stage at the Chauvel.

The second Face Off screen actors’ showcase at the Chauvel Cinema on Wednesday night was a big success, with the 20 actors who took part getting positive responses and encouragement from the expert panel.

Casting director Faith Martin, veteran actor Tony Bonner and DOP Velinda Wardell ACS assessed the performances screened in showreels, self-tests and scenes from short films and TV programs.

In addition, producer/cinematographer Karl Jenner showed the audience of around 150 people a teaser to Life After Man, Gareth Carr’s new thriller which follows a young girl on a small outback farm who struggles to save her sister after an infectious disease causing the dead to rise again has wiped out most of humanity.

The brainchild of Glenn Fraser, creative director at production house Transmedia Entertainment, the inaugural Face Off was held at the Chauvel in April.

“I was very impressed with both the clips submitted and the performances within these scenes. My fellow panelists were of the same opinion and spoke to the audience after the screening to their particular areas of expertise, casting and camera,” Bonner tells IF.

“I spoke about performance, the subtle differences between a screen and TV performance and the desire to find moments in the scene to include the audience in the characters’ journey. I suggested, ‘It’s what you are not saying that becomes important.’”

Fraser says: “Discovering fresh talent is a real joy and sharing that on the big screen with a little love in the audience is a pretty inspiring place to be. I’ve been part of the production community in Sydney for so long, and it is a wonderfully generous hub of creatives.

“Too many are waiting on the handouts from the government sector – assistance that we as Australians are really fortunate to receive – but new technology means we can be producing A class films and taking them to market for a fraction of the hard costs we once had to entertain. This is where these filmmakers are coming to source new talent.”

Janet Shay, an actor/producer whose latest film is Guilt, said: “Face Off has been a great platform for us as filmmakers to meet industry professionals and like-minded passionate storytellers. Aspiring to make entertaining and thought-provoking, high concept films, these small crews are not letting the usual path of funding stop them from making great films. They are green-lighting themselves.”

The participants were Mathilde Anglade, Michael Barlow, Naomi Belet, Luke Thornley, Jodie Dal Bon, Molly Ellison, Stephen Walker, Barbara Hastings, Aaron J. March, Rob Stanfield, Carma Sharon, Ben Tate, Lieschen Pogue, Clare Mackey, India Rose Madderom, Paula Vallero, Damian Wagland, Craig Walker, Kya Stewart and Simon Watts.

Taking part in her second Face Off, Carma Sharon rates the event as a great network opportunity in front of a panel of industry professionals. Sharon, whose latest film, horror Dead Squad, opens in the US in mid-October, particularly valued the encouraging feedback from Faith Martin.

Fraser is keen to stage another Face Off this summer but is looking for a sponsor due to the rising costs of cinema hire and not wanting to increase the fees for struggling actors. On the night about $100 was collected in donations for the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.

Meanwhile Fraser is about to start auditions for Shade, a brutal horror/love story set in the age of toxic masculinity, which he plans to write and direct, produced by Mark Forytarz (Pawno) and Renelle Richards (The Veiled).

Kate Fitzpatrick will play Vera, the co-lead and powerful ally to Amy, a young medical student and survivor of a childhood trauma who returns from her studies in the US to uncover that the unfinished horror from her childhood has returned. Erin Connor will play Tori, a nurse at the aged care hospice who uncovers the horror rising around them.