Emerging Melbourne writer-director Greta Nash waited on tables and tended bars last year to save several thousand dollars to fund her third short film.
That hard work paid off for the 23-year-old, who graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2015, when her film Two Piece won the top prize at Tropfest in front of 45,000 fans at Parramatta Park on Saturday night, telecast on ABC Comedy.
Produced by fellow VCA graduates Gillian Crosby and Gabrielle McLeod, the short also won the best actress prize for 14-year-old Freya Van Dyke-Goodman.
Nash receives $10,000 cash, a new car, a film immersion course and a week of meetings in Los Angeles with agents, studio executives and other industry professionals – which will be her first US visit as a filmmaker- and a $12,500 studio filming package from Western Sydney University.
Nick Baker and Tristan Klein took second prize with Rock Bottom and third prize went to Damian McLindon for The Last Time I Saw You.
Hugo Johnstone-Burt was named best male actor for his role as a terrified delivery man in Combination Fried Rice. The $3,000 prize for each star was donated by Nicole Kidman.
The recipients of the Tropfest craft awards were Damian McLindon for screenwriting; Lachlan Thompson and Nick Ward (Boys Don’t Cry) for cinematography; Ben Joss (The Last Time I Saw You) for editing; Megan Carnes (I’m Still Here) for scoring; Elena Lyons-Dawson (The Last Time I Saw You) for design; Nick Baker and Tristan Klein for VFX; and the team from The Last Time I Saw You for sound – Juan Pablo, Tom Day, Beth Bezzina, Greg Fitzgerald and Andrew Miller.
Susan Sarandon headed the jury alongside Rachel Griffiths, Garth Davis, Jennifer Peedom and actor Rob Collins.
Ben Kumanovski won the $2,000 prize for best short created in seven seconds for In-Laws, which depicts a defiant wife serving fairy bread for lunch for her in-laws.
In Two Piece Freya plays a teenager who suffers plenty of angst as she goes to a shop to buy a bikini with her mother (Lulu McClatchy) and kid brother (Liam Smith).
Shot in two days, the short was inspired by Nash’s experience when she tried to buy a dress with her mum to wear at the opening night last year of the Melbourne International Film Festival, where her short Locker Room premiered.
The dress she wanted was too tight but she was told bigger sizes were not available.
Locker Room also screened at Flickerfest 2018, where she was awarded the inaugural award for outstanding emerging female director. Her graduate film was Karma Police.
She cast Freya and Liam after auditioning more than 25 kids who were recruited following a casting call to agents who represent young talent. No one got paid – something Nash would like to rectify in future.
Currently without an agent, she tells IF she hopes to secure a director’s attachment, is writing a feature and plans to direct music videos.
Tropfest founder John Polson announced that TropNest, a new film centre in Sydney’s Melrose Park, would have spaces available at no rent where filmmakers can collaborate, write scripts and do their editing.
And he named the Tropfest signature item for 2019: a candle.