Bunny New Girl, the debut short by alumna Natalie Van Den Dungen (Certificate in Screenwriting Fundamentals, 2013) has become a breakthrough hit, winning acclaim with critics and online audiences.
First released in 2015 shortly after Van Den Dungen graduated from AFTRS, the short premiered at Flickerfest 2015 and then took Van Den Dungen to the US for the New York International Children’s Film Festival, Canada for TIFF Kids, Japan and UAE . It screened in 25 countries, at over 110 festivals and won 15 awards including Best Comedy at St Kilda in 2015 and Best Family Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Since then, the acclaimed short has become one of YouTube’s recommended videos and has amassed over 10M views on the platform. Having originally been uploaded onto YouTube in 2017, the video gained traction late last year and has since continued its momentum.
Van Den Dungen wrote Bunny New Girl as part of the Graduate Certificate in 2013 and shot it in 2014. The short follows 7 year old Annabelle, who arrives for her first day at a new school wearing a home made rabbit mask. Despite the reassurance of kindly teacher, Mr Borbidge, her classmates are soon wondering what it is she’s hiding. When the class bully exposes her secret, it takes the empathy of a new friend to give her the courage to be seen, just the way she is.
The short was produced and written by Van Den Dungen alongside Peter Fenton. Also working on the project was AFTRS Grip Tony Bosch, cinematographer Damian Smith (Graduate Diploma in Cinematography, 2011), editor Matthew Walker (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Editing, 2004), sound designer Luke Mynott (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media in Sound, 2004) and standby props assistant Benn Sutton (Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting Fundamentals, 2013).
On the film’s online success, Van Den Dungen said “I had no idea that what started as a little 3 page scene as an assignment for class would ever hit 10 million views on Youtube…and it’s still going up.”
“I was so gob-smacked when the film won its first award, ‘Best Comedy’ at St Kilda. Everything since then has been a bit of a dream… it’s not the kind of thing I thought would happen on my first short.”
Since releasing Bunny New Girl, Van Den Dungen has worked on a number of music videos for artists including Bernard Fanning, Sarah Blasko and Seeker Lover Keeper and has just seen her directorial follow-up, Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful, screen at the 2019 St Kilda Film Festival. The short film has now screened at fifty festivals and won five awards. With an online hit, a list of impressive credits and multiple awards to her name, we don’t see Natalie Van Den Dungen slowing down any time soon.
Bunny New Girl credits:
Writer/director/producer: Natalie van den Dungen (Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting Fundamentals, 2013)
Producer/writer: Peter Fenton
Cinematographer: Damian Smith (Graduate Diploma in Cinematography, 2011)
Editor: Matthew Walker (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Editing, 2004)
Production and costume designer – Anna Cahill
Sound designer: Luke Mynott (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media in Sound, 2004)
Composer – Darren Hanlon
Colourist – Yoomin Lee
First assistant director – George Banders
Second assistant director – Lena Cormack
Standby props: Benn Sutton (Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting Fundamentals, 2013)
Grip: Tony Bosch
Cast – Peter Fenton, Molly Williams, Susan Prior, Cassidy Bonnor and Joshua Skelly