From milkshakes to film making, pulling focus with Jason King

They say never work with animals or children, but that didn’t stop Broken Hill film-maker, Jason King, who has won first prize for his short film Rover in the Blue Heeler Film Festival.

Journalist Paula Doran caught up with Jason to talk inspiration, film and milkshakes!

PD. Your short film — Rover — has just won the $10,000 first prize in the open category at the ninth annual Blue Heeler Film Festival, how good does it feel to be recognised for your film-making prowess?

JK: As a film-maker there’s no better feeling than having your film screened in front of a live audience and to win first prize where that’s happened is icing on the cake, and it feels really great. It’s definitely a feather in the cap for myself, but the local crew and cast that all worked together to make this film a reality should be commended, especially the Broken Hill City Council and the State Library of NSW because this film is a bit unique in that it started life as a piece of branded content, and the fact that it’s been recognised as a short film in its own right speaks for the skills of the whole team.

PD: You came to Broken Hill 2004 and set your foundations in Bells Milk Bar as the manager and owner, when did your passion for film and television begin?

JK: I think it was about 2010 that I made my first short film and got bitten by the film-making bug. Then I decided that I liked making movies more than I liked making milkshakes. And so about 2012-2013 I started Broken Hill Productions and started making an income from film-making and in the last five years I’ve mainly been involved in the film business and stepped back from the milk bar.

PD: What is it about the process that you love?

JK: It is hard to put into words exactly what it is about the film making process that I love the most, and I can honestly say I love just about every part of it to some extent. I think it’s that combination – firstly it’s project based, which suits me, and I’ve also always had an interest in creative pursuits such as writing, and photography and music. I think film making, it’s a very collaborative medium, it’s about collaborating with people, but it’s about collaborating between the art forms as well.

PD: Talk to us about the many aspects of film-making that you’ve been involved in and what has been the highlight?

JK: I’ve been really lucky to be involved in some exciting projects and it’s hard to pick a favourite. Being on set and getting to see the filming of the new Mad Max Furiosa with some of the icons of the Australian screen industry is pretty exciting but then so is making a short film with your mates in the local community and pulling it off and winning a film festival. There’s certainly been a lot of moments that I’ve had to pinch myself in the last 10 years and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

PD: How has living and working in Broken Hill accelerated or supported your passion in this space?

JK: There’s no doubt that living and working here has been a really good fit in my film-making journey. There are so many opportunities that I’ve been able to achieve that probably would have been very hard, or very competitive to achieve in a bigger city. And the opportunities that we get locally to be a part of some really incredible productions are really awesome.

On the flipside that also then inspires film-makers such as myself to go and use our own content using these amazing landscapes …

The landscape really is an incredible part of living here and if you don’t like it then it’s probably not the place for you. But for me, I find it really inspiring, both as a creator and when life gets a bit stressful, jump in the car and driving out to the desert. Even better, going out for a walk, it really helps blow the cobwebs away and it’s the same kind of feeling when you start to think about what stories we can tell out here, the outback landscape is always a character. It’s the reason people come out here to film high-end projects and it’s something that has accelerated and supported my passion in this space.

PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the film industry?

JK: The long hours can be a challenge. It can be pretty demanding and I’d love to see a future where there’s more work-life balance involved.
I’d also love to see more opportunities across the board for emerging creators. In a world where there’s more content being created everyday I feel like the new opportunities to be nurtured and supported in that process which takes a bit of time and often requires failure in order to progress, so much emphasis is placed on the commercial reality of things that I think we’re missing out on a great opportunity to have a lot of new voices come through. For a relatively low investment by the industry, there’s a lot of bang for buck that could be had in nurturing that talent.

PD: You’ve heralded the end of your time at the helm of Bells recently, how has the sale gone?

JK: It was a really tough decision to put Bells up for sale but I felt like it was the right time. There are so many great opportunities for Bells that I’m not able to take advantage of because I’m too busy with the film industry stuff.

There’s been a lot of interest, which is really great, and hopefully we’ll some new owners at the helm soon.

PD: You’ve been instrumental in setting up Screen Broken Hill, how important is it to you that those who work in the industry offer a high level of professional services to support visiting productions?

JK: It’s important to me that Broken Hill puts our best foot forward to help visiting crews, but I think the most important thing is, it’s really important for us to grow our local industry regardless of who comes to town. We’ve got great stories to tell, and we’ve got motivated, creative people who want to tell those stories. So as the key priority, Screen Broken Hill needs to help elevate those local people who do want to take this thing seriously, whether that’s working on their own projects or supporting visiting film crews. If we do those two things simultaneously then the future will look after itself.

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