The two best-known institutions in Australia for preparing people for a career in film and television are gearing up to shoot a feature film together, One More Day, in June/July.


The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) approached the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) about doing a project together to celebrate NIDA’s 50th anniversary but it was AFTRS that came up with the concept.

‘It was a challenge to think of an idea that included 25 characters of the same age,’ said AFTRS chief executive Sandra Levy, referring to the number of third-year NIDA acting students that required parts in any project.

The concept that was eventually settled on was to tell four separate stories set over one very hot day in Sydney while the city was ringed by bushfires.

Feature writer/director Shirley Barrett (Love Serenade), feature film writers Alice Bell (Suburban Mayhem) and Judy Morris (Happy Feet co-writer), and television writer Chris Lee have written the stories.

As part of a recent move into new premises and a complete revamp of all its training, AFTRS has established a new centre for screenwriting but the first students were not in place in time to work on the project.

‘It will be a brand new educational and creative experience for everyone involved,’ said Levy, who is producing the film alongside the AFTRS director of screen content, Graham Thorburn. ‘We hope it is the first of many unusual, unique and exciting collaborations with NIDA.’

A total of 71 students from both Sydney-based institutions have volunteered to make the film on top of their usual course work and with most of the activity happening during their vacation. It will be shown as part of NIDA’s 50th birthday celebrations in October. While no distributor is attached, it is hoped the film will find its way into cinemas.

Levy told she had not calculated the film’s budget, while NIDA director Lynne Williams said the NIDA Foundation Trust has donated (A$300,000) to meet the extra costs of the production.

‘Our students have always felt a little underprepared for film,’ said Williams. ‘For some their first jobs will be in theatre, for others in television.’

Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush are among the many internationally known acting graduates of NIDA. Phil Noyce, Chris Noonan, Gilliam Armstrong, Rolf de Heer, Gregor Jordan and Sam Lang trained at AFTRS.