Where does Tropfest go from here?


It was every short filmmaker’s worst nightmare last night, when creator John Paulson announced that Tropfest was no more.

“It is devastating for me to announce today that Tropfest will not be taking place as scheduled in Centennial Park this year,” Polson said in a statement.

“In the past week or so, I have been made aware that the company contracted to raise the funding and administer the Tropfest event is unable to move forward for financial reasons.

“Despite a challenging sponsorship climate, Tropfest has done reasonably well in attracting support this year; however, to my great surprise, the management company has informed us that it is unable to proceed.”

The 23-year-old festival was the largest short film contest of its kind worldwide, and had high-calibre guest judges over the years including Geoffrey Rush, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts.

It acted not only as a platform for young filmmakers to share their creativity, but also as a tourism and cultural event for New South Wales and the rest of Australia.

This year over 450 short films were submitted for the event, with the 16 finalists due to be announced next week ahead of the planned December 6 ceremony.

Instead this year’s Tropfest has been cancelled, and its long term future remains under a dark cloud.

“My heart goes out to this year’s 16 filmmaking finalists, to our incredible list of sponsors and partners, and of course to our loyal and beloved audience,” Polson said.

“It is too early to tell what has actually happened here, although it is hard to avoid concluding there has been a terrible and irresponsible mismanagement of Tropfest funds.

“I and others will be spending the coming weeks and months investigating what has transpired.”

Despite these shortcomings one has to wonder why the event had to be called off altogether.

Admittedly, the Tropfest festival itself had countless costs associated with it – but surely there is another platform where the films could still be shown to audiences?

In the pursuit of short film happiness I’ve scoured the inter-webs to determine the Top 5 options that Tropfest has to ensure its survival (or should that be resurrection?).

Lights, camera, action….

1. SBS2

The government broadcaster has screened the last few Tropfest’s on its youth-skewing SBS2 network and was due to broadcast this year’s event as well.

“Tropfest is a wonderful event which has nurtured emerging filmmakers for 23 years. As the broadcast partner for the past few years, SBS has been proud to offer a platform to showcase this talent and we are incredibly disappointed by this news. We are absorbing this announcement and looking at what it means.”

Can the network legitimately screen the films on its own? Or would it interfere with the latest X-rated Hungarian porno it has now scheduled in the slot for December 6th?

2. Streaming

According to Mumbrella, on-demand service Presto is in talks to potentially screen this year’s entries.

“We’re certainly disappointed that such an iconic and popular event like Tropfest has been cancelled; however, we are currently exploring the possibility of showcasing the finalists’ films.

“We would be happy to make Presto available as a place for viewers to see these creative works and are exploring options with the relevant parties.”

Do viewers really want to Presto and Chill though? Do you even know anyone who has Presto? I sure as hell don’t.

3. Youtube

Every year the finalists are all uploaded to Youtube anyway, so no doubt that option remains a possibility for the filmmakers. But according to University of Sydney senior film lecturer Dr Bruce Isaacs – the cat video service might not cut the mustard.

“Australia is always in the process of wanting to build a larger industry and provide more access for local filmmakers, so a forum like Tropfest is necessary and a fundamental platform for filmmakers to have access to those production companies.

“You can put a film on Youtube and see what happens, but it is Tropfest that brings that tier of distribution.”

4. The NSW Government

Mike Baird, put down that phone and stop tweeting about The Bachelor. We need your help! Seriously dude…politicians have power, and a festival like Tropfest could definitely use your assistance.

Thankfully NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres is already keen to find out what happened to the funds.

“I think there’s no doubt that from my perspective I’ll be asking some fairly serious questions,” he said.

“It’s a well supported event, it’s got a small amount of NSW Government funding attached to it. We want to make sure it’s used appropriately like any event we invest in.”

5. Crowd Funding

In the age of the internet, crowd funding has become a great way for poor people to make money. Or more to the point, a place for poor people to make their events, ideas and causes become a reality.

I had a look on Pozible and so far no campaigns have really gained traction, but as with a poorly seasoned lamb roast…give it some thyme.

In the meanwhile I suggest you kindly directly debit any funds into my own personal account and we’ll go from there.

BSB: 121115
Account Number: 8011 0290*

*Please be aware that all donations are completely tax deductible.

RIP Tropfest (1993-2015) 
In honour of the deceased, readers are encouraged to respectfully hold 7 minutes silence. During that time I suggest we watch the most recent winner “Granny Smith” in its full Youtube glory.