Current Issue #482

Work of Art: Teamwork makes the dream work for Closer Productions protégé Tamara Hardman

Morgan Sette
Tamara Hardman on the set of her short film, Everything ALL AT ONCE

Emerging filmmaker and Flinders University alum Tamara Hardman is working on her most ambitious project to date, a short film set in a dystopian future, after scoring a Helpmann Academy regular grant and undertaking a Helpmann Academy Elevate Mentorship with Closer Productions Writer, Matthew Cormack.  

It all started with a director attachment in 2018 with Sophie Hyde of Closer Productions, which saw Tamara travel with the Closer team to Dublin to shoot the 2019 co-produced feature film Animals. It was a formative experience for the young director that helped her to shape her own directing style, while also showing her what a film set environment can be like when helmed by women.

“I think I’ve been spoiled because I’ve only ever been on Closer sets. Because of Closer and Sophie (Hyde) I haven’t feel the gendered kind of nature of our industry, because at the top level there’s also Bec (Rebecca Summerton, Producer), and all the men that they surround themselves with are excellent,” said Hardman. 

“I guess it just confirmed to me that of course I can do it (directing) and that you can, if you choose your collaborators wisely, create a really lovely onsite experience and even teach older film crew that it can be done in a different way.”

When asked about her biggest takeaway from her time with Hyde, Tamara said it was about building a trusted team around you, so that you can lean into being vulnerable in your creative process. 

“She [Hyde] always spoke about it being okay to not know exactly what you want and to ask people and to be a bit vulnerable as a director. I like surrounding myself with the experts in their field, like the cinematographer or the designer – I want them to back me, but I also want to hear what they have to say,” said Hardman.

“Having an excellent team that trusts you and that you trust and that you can be vulnerable with is everything.”

Realising she needed to build her own expertise in the field of scriptwriting in order to develop her next project, Tamara undertook a Helpmann Academy Elevate Mentorship with another Closer member, screenwriter Matthew Cormack (52 Tuesdays, Fucking Adelaide and The Hunting), in the beginning of 2019. Over the year they worked on the character development and script for her short film, Everything ALL AT ONCE  – a sci-fi drama set in a dystopian alternate reality that explores climate anxiety and the way that teenagers use irony, nihilism and humour to deal with it.

Bernard Walsh.
Tamara Hardman on the set of Animals

“I wanted to learn from a professional and have a writing mentor like I had a directing mentor. It’s simple, but the screenplay is everything. I could be the best director ever, but if the screenplay sucks, then this film’s going to suck. So, I knew I needed to spend a lot of time and energy on the screenplay if I was going to make a better film,” said Hardman. 

“It was incredible. I would never have made the film that I made without him (Cormack). He was just so generous with his time, but also it was so lovely to be able to talk to another writer, especially one so experienced. I just felt that I could share anything with him because he got it.”

Tamara then received a 2019 Helpmann Academy regular grant to produce and direct the fifteen-minute short between January and March 2020 with a team of professional and emerging practitioners. She said that the Helpmann Academy grant process helped her to solidify her ideas with her cast and crew and helped attract collaborators to the project.

“A goal and a deadline as a freelance artist are so important to keep you motivated and keep your head above water. Even just the act of applying for grants I find really helpful and important because it forces you to organise your thoughts, and even if you’re not successful, so much of that information is so helpful.” said Hardman.

Tamara has high hopes for the short, looking to submit it to the Adelaide Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival. As for her long-term future as a filmmaker in South Australia, thanks to Closer she feels pretty positive about her options.

“At the moment, it feels fairly in reach for me, I think because I’m so lucky to be working with Closer, but also there’s a lot happening in film at the moment in South Australia. It’s cheap enough to live and only work part-time, so you have time and space to create.”

Applications for Helpmann Academy Elevate Mentorships are now open at helpmannacademy.com.au

The Adelaide Review is a media partner of Helpmann Academy

Mahalia Tanner

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