Leading Australian producer Tim White took time out from his busy slate of productions to offer Murdoch Screen Production students an insider’s view of the film industry.
Graduate Screen Program Chair Melanie Rodriga said Mr White’s career had seen him collaborate with a who’s-who of talent, including directors such as Gregor Jordan (Ned Kelly) and Michael Rymer (Angel Baby, Battlestar Galactica) and actors such as Heath Ledger, Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.
“I can’t think of another producer in New Zealand or Australia as prolific as Tim White. As a producer, executive producer, associate producer or co-producer he’s completed 31 films, with another 12 currently in development,” Ms Rodriga said.
Mr White spoke for an hour, played clips from select films and then took part in a Q&A.
He encouraged students to follow their passion, illustrating its value by telling them the story of selling his first 50-minute production, A State of Siege, to 14 countries by totting the 16mm film around Europe with little more than a Europass.
He said the film was the result of making connections with like-minded students at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Christchurch, including director Vincent Ward (What Dreams May Come) and cinematographer Alun Bollinger (Heavenly Creatures).
State of Siege led to a fellowship at 20th Century Fox, which ‘demystified Hollywood’ for him and eventually led him back to Oceania.
Mr White then related highlights from his career, including meeting Heath Ledger for the first time, noting that even as an unknown, Ledger’s innate charisma turned heads as he walked into the café.
Mr White knew immediately that Ledger would be a star and got him cast Two Hands with Rose Byrne and Bryan Brown, a film that would win five Australian Film Institute Awards and launch the WA actor’s career.
Ms Rodriga concluded proceedings by saying the University was keen to nurture future Murdoch talent such as Julius Avery, encouraging students to look into the new graduate screen program, which offers up to $15,000 funding for the best film of the year.