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A Cinderella Story for AFTRS Graduates

Still from ‘Cinderella’ | Dir. Victoria Thompson | Photo: Lucca Barone-Peters

In early 2019, AFTRS graduands and emerging alumni were invited to pitch for production funding of $6,000 for a 1-2 minute film on the topic, “Compassion in fashion.” Applicants were required to form themselves into production teams of a minimum of three crew members and interpret the topic creatively in any way they saw fit, in the genre of their choice: drama, experimental, documentary, mockumentary, comedy, sci-fi, animation etc.

Each team’s pitch proposal was judged by an eminent panel led by Emile Sherman, MD of See-Saw Films, Oscar-winning producer (The King’s Speech, Lion, Shame, Top of the Lake); with Neil Peplow, CEO, AFTRS; Dr Gene Sherman, AM, founder and director of SCCI; Rod Freedman, Change Focus Media and Dr Meg Good, Animal Law and Education Manager, Voiceless and Adjunct Lecturer in Animal Law at the University of Tasmania.

The competition-winning AFTRS alumni production company, Fat Salmon, created Cinderella, a short film commissioned by Sherman Centre for Culture & Ideas (SCCI) in response to the theme. The film follows a disabled woman as she enlists the help of a fairy godmother to design an adaptive dress for the annual ball. Bravery is celebrated through Cinderella’s treatment of ableism and fashion.


The fashion film is an initiative of SCCI in partnership with AFTRS, as part of SCCI’s Fashion Hub annual event series (2018-2022), 5 – 20 April 2019. SCCI’s aim is to elevate fashion and architecture to a more prominent place alongside other mediums of creative expression by providing a vibrant platform for the exchange of challenging ideas within the broader context of culture. Fashion Hub 2019 will include leading international speakers, mini literary and film festivals, and talks, panels and workshops open to the public.

Quote from director Victoria Thompson on where the idea for the film came from:

“Working as a shop assistant in a high-end department store was really confronting as I realised just how ableist high fashion is. It was disheartening when there were so many women who loved the clothes and literally couldn’t even try them on. Fashion labels need to work towards universal and inclusive designs”

Quote from China White, Producer and Co-Founder at Fat Salmon –

“We’re so grateful to AFTRS and SCCI for the opportunity to tell this story. It was a pleasure working with our lead Bridie McKim and the whole team who put in a huge amount of hours to pull this film together. The pitching and feedback sessions with Gene and Emile Sherman was an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry.”

Who’s Fat Salmon?

China White and Lucca Barone-Peters of Fat Salmon at Slamdance 2019

Fat Salmon was started at AFTRS, where Lucca Barone-Peters and China While met and started making films together in the Bachelor of Screen Arts. Since graduating in 2017, they have aimed to represent the best of Sydney’s young creative talent in a range of projects across shorts, feature films, commercials, music videos and fashion films. They work out of an office in Marrickville and focus on creating female-driven content made by emerging writers and directors.

China and Lucca are currently developing a new short film with fellow AFTRS graduate Victoria Thompson (director of Cinderella), a second feature with writer/director Imogen McCluskey (Suburban Wildlife) – also a fellow AFTRS grad – and their first long-form series has just been optioned by a major international production company and distributor. Their slate of writers and directors is made up almost entirely of AFTRS alumni, and they are still working with the same people they worked with in film school.