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Marketing photographs of Thomas Broadbent for the joint dinner / short film night to be held at the National Wool Museum on 26th October 2023. A joint event by NBFF and NWM.

An Interview with Thomas Broadbent

What would you do if you discovered potentially problematic behaviour while developing someone else’s photography film? Negatives a short thriller.

Emerging Victorian filmmaker Thomas Broadbent’s short film Negatives, will be showing at a North Bellarine Film Festival event at the National Wool Museum on Thursday, October 26 2023.

Thomas Broadbent said the idea for Negatives was inspired by the resurgence of 35mm film photography in recent years.

Negatives, the short thriller, has featured at a number of festivals in Australia, the US and India and will now be screened in Geelong! 

Here’s the transcript of a chat between Thomas and Kick Arts Radio Host, Chris Bryan. 

Chris

You are listening to Kick Arts here at 94.7 FM in Geelong, and it’s coming towards the time of the year where we start talking a little bit more about film because the North Bellarine Film Festival is just around the corner. But in anticipation of that big event, there is a dinner and film night taking place at the the National Wool Museum and on the line to talk about it is one of the  filmmakers whose film Negatives will be screening at the North Bellarine Film Festival dinner and night.

I’d like to welcome Thomas Broadbent to KickArts. Welcome, Thomas.

 

Thomas

Hey, Chris, Thanks for having me on board.

 

Chris

Pleasure Thomas, now you’re a young filmmaker and your film Negatives is going to screen at that event. Before we talk about the event. Tell me about your film Negatives. I just watched it just before we’ve done this interview. It’s a short film, just under 15 minutes. And I must admit I was really impressed. So tell me about the film itself.

 

Thomas

Thanks, Chris. I really appreciate that. So Negatives is a short thriller about a film lab technician called Shay, who begins to suspect that a client, Duncan Quinn, is displaying predatory behaviour in his photography that’s reminiscent of her past. And as we see her contemplate what to do about these photos, we see memories of her past unfold simultaneously.

 

Chris

Now, your the film was shot just in the last couple of years. It would have been, I suppose, just at the end of end of COVID. You’ve shot it in Melbourne. Where did the motivation come for this? Because it is obviously all set around a lab technician and an analog 35mm film. Obviously you have a big interest in that?

 

Thomas

Yeah, it pretty much began when I sort of picked up my parents old Olympus when I was only about 18, which is sort of the start of 2018. And I began shooting on that. And at the same time, there was also a pretty big resurgence happening in film photography, particularly in Melbourne. And a lot of new independent film lab stores were definitely popping up around that time.

And the more I shot on film, the more I sort of had this curiosity about what it would be like to see a complete strangers photos as you develop them. If you were a film lab technician. And then I also sort of wondered, what would you do if you saw something that was morally challenging and confronting? And yeah, so that’s, that’s sort of the, that’s the film side of it in terms of the motivation.

 

Chris

Were you interested in like film production before you picked up the 35 mm camera, your parents camera, or was it something that after you’ve got involved in after you got into the photo side of things…when did you get interested in videography and filmmaking?

 

Thomas

I think just as long as I can remember, I think I’ve always loved film and I’ve always, I think being drawn to them and I’ve always wanted to, I think, make them in some capacity. And I don’t think it was until I got to about year 11 or 12 media at high school that I began to actually make films, and then I decided to pursue that further at university.

So I went to Swinburne University and studied film there for four years and it was in about third year Uni that I pitched this idea and then it obviously got green lit. We went and shot it the first half of 2021 and we finished it up mid-last year and now it’s showing at the North Bellarine Film Festival.

 

Chris

The film itself, is this the first major work that you’ve undertaken?

 

Thomas

Well in terms of the intention of directing a fictional narrative. Yeah, I would say so. Not including my year 12 media film, which will never see the light of day, but definitely I have done other films in other capacities. So in the first few years of film school, I was a cinematographer on a few different narrative pieces, and then I also directed a few different music videos and documentaries, so I’ve done quite a range of things, which is good because I actually enjoy keeping it sort of diverse and versatile because it’s a great way to explore the medium and how you can be creative with it.

 

Chris

Are you working full time in film in Melbourne?

 

Thomas

Not exactly. I’m working currently in digital for the Labor Party, which is obviously a little a little different, but it’s definitely allowing me to develop those filmmaking and photography skills and also in a in a role and a movement that I do definitely believe in.

 

Chris

The film Negatives, what was it shot on? What sort of camera gear was used to make it?

 

Thomas

So we actually use two different cameras because as I mentioned, there’s sort of two different timelines unfolding. There’s obviously the present stuff in the film lab and we shot that on an Arri, I believe, from memory, and that’s obviously a very, very high end digital camera.

And we shot that with a more traditional approach in color, but then to contrast that, but also to channel or I guess emulate the look of the still photography, we shot the past sequence on 16mm film. And we calibrated that to be into black and white and we shot those scenes with an entire static one shot, to emulate the static feel of a photograph.

 

Chris

Yeah, I love the creativity around that. But the other thing that really came through to me was the soundtrack. There was those two juxtapositions of the film that you’ve just explained, but the soundtrack was incredibly strong and powerful as well – even when there was no sound. I find it amazing at such a young age how you can how you can visualise all of that before you make the film.

 

Thomas

Yeah, well, I mean, I should say that the original score was done by Jordan Ollington and the sound design was done by Callum Thomas, and they both did a fantastic job and like I guess the approach to the sound was not to draw too much attention to itself, but like definitely to have a contrasting feel in the same way that the visuals do between the two timelines.

So I don’t know if you noticed it, but we deliberately chose to have no music in any of the past scenes. I guess to give it more breathing room and have the audience sit in the room and feel more uncomfortable. Whereas the present has a bit more music and it’s a bit more surreal and less realistic. So we’re given sort of more of a window into the subjective viewpoint of the Shay, the main character.

 

Chris

The film Negatives is what we’re talking about here, and you are going to screen this at the at the film North Bellarine Film and Dinner evening that’s coming up at the Wool Museum here in Geelong, tell us about that.

 

Thomas

Yes, it’s a really wonderful event that’s being run by the North Bellarine Film Festival at the National Wool Museum on October 26, and they’ll be showing a dozen different short films, both Australian and international, as well as having a two, course meal. And then after the films, including my own, I’ll be speaking. But yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.

I had a look at the list of films and I haven’t actually seen any of them, which is exciting because it means I get to see something fresh. I saw there was one film called Beta Days, which is a rom-com set in an old video library, so I’m really interested in seeing that one.

 

Chris

It sounds like an amazing night and to get tickets, those that are interested can book them online through the National Wool Museum website or through the City of Greater Geelong website at www.geelongaustralia.com.au.

Tickets are$50 for each of the film and dinner events, so for $50 you the two course meal plus another $50 gets you the screenings of the films. Or you can choose to do both for $100.

 

Thomas

Yeah, exactly. So please come along. It’ll be great to have a chat and yeah, just chat films with people. I’m really looking forward to it.

 

Chris

What do you look forward to in the future as a filmmaker? You know, I just think with where we are in 2023 with technology, it must be just so exciting being a young person just starting their career in this amazing industry.

 

Thomas

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think I’m just excited to keep making films that are different and not being bound by any particular genre style. Whatever I make next I think I definitely want it to be a bit more hopeful and less grim than Negative.

 

Chris

If you cast your mind back to the old days where you had studios funding filmmakers to create film, there were a lot of boundaries and parameters put on and expectations put onto people. But I guess the way we live now with easier access to technology it just means there is more freedom as a filmmaker to create that that film that is that little bit different.

 

Thomas

Yeah, definitely. I mean, you only have to look at a more recent film at my home in Hollywood, I should say, called The Creator, which is actually shot on a Sony FX100 or something like that. It’s basically a consumer camera that you can buy and shoot on and you can make a film that looks as good as a Hollywood film.

 

Chris

Thanks again Thomas for your time and I look forward to catching up with you at the North Bellarine Film Festival Dinner and Film Night on at the National Wool Museum on Saturday 26th of October.

Thanks for your time on KickArts and all the best with the filmmaking.

 

Thomas

Thanks Chris.

Photo credits:  Ivan Kemp Photographer

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