By Melissa Keogh
Film and TV producer Kirsty Stark has never felt the need to leave South Australia in order to pursue a successful career in filmmaking.
The 34-year-old, who heads Matchbox Pictures’ SA office, cut her teeth on the sets of SA-based feature films, learning from world-class directors and cinematographers taking advantage of the state’s picturesque scenery.
“Being in SA is what gave me the opportunity to build my career because I got the chance to work on feature films, learn from people, and get experience on set,” Kirsty says.
“There seems to be a lot of really interesting projects coming out of SA that are unique compared to what you would see in Sydney and Melbourne, which seems to be more standard.
“In SA we’re able to create projects that have a bit more of a unique voice.”
Matchbox Pictures is filming Channel 7 hit crime drama Wanted at SA Film Corporation’s Adelaide Studios, as well as in Murray Bridge and the Flinders Ranges.
Lead actors Rebecca Gibney and Geraldine Hakewill are in SA for the project that will eventually flicker on TV screens in living rooms across the country.
Kirsty is fulfilling her role as Matchbox’s development producer and she’s on the lookout for local writers and directors to develop their concepts for the screen.
“My role is to look for concepts from SA writers or directors and to develop them, so they can turn it into a production that we can hopefully film here in SA,” she says.
“We’re open to anything that’s scripted content – so not documentaries or reality TV.
“They can just get in touch with me and we can have a meeting or they can send through documents if they’ve already started on their idea.
“It’s a shame to see people go interstate to pursue those opportunities, so I’d love to build the industry here in SA.”
Kirsty’s climb to the producer’s chair began with her completing a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Screen Production, before tackling an Honours degree at Flinders University.
She then set out for the film industry, assisting camera departments on set of a number of Aussie dramas being shot in SA, including Beautiful Kate, Oranges and Sunshine, Lucky Country, and the notorious biographical crime horror film Snowtown.
“I loved all of my camera assisting experiences, part of it was being able to travel so much to different parts of SA and seeing so many unique locations,” Kirsty says.
“I was starting to build projects and have a bit more creative control over things, and through that my friend Vivyan Madigan and I started Epic Films.
“We were both camera people and wanted to shoot on 16mm film, but realised the only way we’d have the opportunity to do that was to do it ourselves.”
Through Epic Films Kirsty produced the company’s first major project, a post-apocalyptic series Wastelander Panda, which was ABC iview’s first drama series commissioned in Australia.
Epic Films is also behind ABC iview comedy Goober, kids show First Day and documentary series Unboxed.
As an individual, Kirsty also produced the film A Month of Sundays starring Anthony LaPaglia and John Clarke.
While the larger states of Australia may be seen as the entertainment meccas of Australia, Kirsty says it is possible to make a career in film and TV in SA.
Matchbox Pictures hasn’t been the only film and production company with its sights set on SA, as Screentime Australia and Technicolor are also establishing a presence here.
“It feels like it’s set to take off here. There will be many exciting things coming out of SA,” Kirsty says.
“We’re all supporting each other instead of feeling like we need to compete … we’re just doing what we need to do and creating an industry for ourselves.”
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