Photo: Kurt Rathjen

Alumni Post: Filmmaker Rodd Rathjen

In our guest post series, we invite alumni, staff and current students to reflect on their time at the VCA. Rodd Rathjen, who completed a Bachelor of Film and Television with Honours in 2010, had his film Tau Seru selected in Competition at the 52nd Semaine de la Critique in Cannes. He shares his experience of the festival and what he learnt while studying at the VCA.

I had a great experience at the VCA because of the supportive environment, in which you’re encouraged to hone and develop both your process and craft. It was an extremely rewarding way to learn as an artist and I owe a lot to the practical based curriculum.

Throughout my years at the VCA I made many mistakes (and will continue to do so), but the most important thing I learnt was to always trust my instinct. I think it’s important to listen to feedback and advice, but to still maintain your conviction and vision whilst making a film – don’t try and please everybody, it will never work. Knowing what you want and trusting yourself, is half the creative battle won.

Cinematographer, Michael Latham. Tau Seru, 2013
Cinematographer, Michael Latham. Tau Seru, 2013

Cannes was an amazing experience. Every time you think you’re going back to the hotel to rest there’s someone who knows someone, whose uncle is the friend of a producer and they can get you into another party, full of networking opportunities. It doesn’t stop – I’m reading this back to myself with no voice.

I was involved in the producer induction program set up through Screen Australia where you have the opportunity to listen to sales agents and distributors discuss why they take on certain feature projects. I didn’t really appreciate the size of the film market that takes place in Cannes – there are so many deals being struck and pitching to sales agents that the film screenings hover in the background. Listening to these guys and hanging out with other filmmakers during the festival was really valuable and definitely enhanced my understanding of how the industry works beyond Australia.

Cinematographer, Michael Latham. Tau Seru, 2013
Cinematographer, Michael Latham. Tau Seru, 2013

Cannes opened up my network. You soon see what companies and people you can see yourself working with, and that you don’t have to be limited to working with people from Australia. I met writers, cinematographers, editors and composers from all over the world. This was by far the most interesting part of the festival for me. I left feeling optimistic about the future because I met so many people that still care about cinema as a form of expression.

A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.