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Aliens land at NIDA

To create their short film Alienated, NIDA Design for Performance students welcomed aliens into the design studios.

Photo: The miniature set design created by NIDA Design for Performance students.  

NIDA's Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) students welcomed aliens into the design studios, creating a miniature alien planet, latex alien creatures and sourcing locations for their short film Alienated. The sci-fi film was intensely collaborative, guided by cinematographer Stuart Edgeworth  and Production Designer and tutor James Croke. The concept came from an original script idea by third-year student Stephanie Dunlop, collaborating with writer JoJo Williams from NIDA’s Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance) course.

The students designed the film set, sourced film locations, created props and directed scenes.

‘The sci fi genre gave us the chance to make props, and a real life latex alien and an alien planet, which is what I really wanted to do!’ said third-year student Angela Doherty.

Third-year student Hannah Sitters said the collaborative aspect of the film meant a deeper understanding of communication, which is one of the most important aspects to the making of a successful film. ‘We each had to design one location scene and direct another scene in the film. A lot of us haven’t directed before which was new. We had to make sure we were not designing individual pieces but bringing the film together as a complete creative package. It was a real challenge of communication.’

This project is one of the outstanding benefits of studying at NIDA. ‘The quality of resources that NIDA provides for the students are world-class,’ said Production Designer and tutor James Croke. ‘The students have access to high quality of materials, studio time and equipment that they wouldn’t be able to learn on in a low-budget film. They operate within the same time pressures as the film industry, and are prepared for the collaborative pressures.’

‘There is always problem solving on the fly on a film set,’ said cinematographer Stuart Edgeworth. ‘Coming together to solve problems with time pressures is another real industry in the mix, and the students have worked really well in this framework. They have such a high level of enthusiasm which I find really invigorating.’

The miniature film set is one aspect of the project that Croke is proud of. ‘The film industry doesn’t always use miniature sets, often substituting CGI (computer graphic interface) but there is something special about shooting this, as it’s real. It’s harder to shoot and light, but it’s really worth the time and effort and will give us a setting for the film that is unique.’

After filming for two weeks on location and shooting the miniature for two days in NIDA’s studios, the students now move into post production. They plan to release the film in September when NIDA MFA (Directing) and Design for Performance students collaborate with leading musicians on music videos with with ABC Radio Triple J.

Come to NIDA Open Day on Saturday 15 June 2019 and find out more about NIDA's Design for Performance courses. Find out more here.

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