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Micro-budget filmmaker gets big-budget treatment

Imogen McCluskey at Taormina Film Festival, Sicily

Hi all! I’m Imogen McCluskey, graduate of the BA (Screen) in 2017, and co-writer, director and producer of Suburban Wildlife: a micro-budget feature film I made during my time at AFTRS.

Fresh off our sold-out hometown screenings at Sydney Film Festival (shortlisted for the AUDIENCE AWARD), I was lucky enough to head off to London, courtesy of the London Australian Film Festival who generously sponsored my flights after selecting me as their Debut Director for 2019. This annual tradition began with the late Cris Jones in 2017, for his film ‘The Death and Life of Otto Bloom’, and continues in his memory. I was this years lucky recipient!

Suburban Wildlife screened on Sunday 30th June in the beautiful Regent St Cinema – the oldest cinema in London, where the Lumiere brothers debuted their Cinématographe machine to an astounded London audience in 1896. The festival line-up included the hilarious and heart-warming Top End Wedding which played to a packed out cinema, and anniversary screenings for Erskineville Kings and My Brilliant Career. Each screening was complete with aussie snacks: musk sticks, twisties, minties and tim tams. Big thanks to the wonderful Laila Dickson (Festival Director) and Dr Stephen Morgan (Programmer), and James Mullighan for his insightful Q&A.

‘Suburban Wildlife’ Q+A at London Australian Film Festival

Being in Europe gave me the chance to attend Taormina Film Festival, a 65-year-old film festival in Messina, Sicily. The star-studded festival was a surreal taste of glamour, featuring home grown A-listers such as Nicole Kidman, Bruce Beresford and Phillip Noyce, while the jury consisted of Oliver Stone, André Aciman, composer Carlo Siliotto and actress Laura Morante.

Suburban Wildlife was part of the CENTRE STAGE competition, and had its screening on 3rd July, complete with a spin on the red carpet before cocktails on the top of the stunning 2,000 year old Greek Theatre against the backdrop of a meditteranean sunset. For a film with such humble beginnings – made with a crowdfunded budget of $4,000 AUD in the sweltering summer of 2017 – it was an incredible, yet surreal, insight into the lavish end of filmmaking, as well as the chance to meet other amazing directors, such as Alan Eliott who stunned audiences with his documentary Amazing Grace, which also screened at SFF.

Then it was back to London for an encore screening of Suburban Wildlife, this time screening at Picturehouse Central cinema as part of PRIDE week in London. Our film showed to an enthusiastic audience the night after a 25th anniversary screening of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, featuring a Q&A with legendary Terence Stamp.

I’m eternally grateful to the programmers at both festivals for including our debut film in their lineup, but particularly to Laila and Stephen at LAFF for sponsoring my travels. Support for emerging filmmakers is so hard to come by, and having someone believe in your work is so meaningful and encouraging. Thank you from myself, and the whole Suburban Wildlife team!

Please follow Suburban Wildlife on social media, or on our website for updates about our film.

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