Pet story puts director in the spotlight

Amara Harnisch in Fixed.

Makers of short films generally toil in anonymity but if they make it to the final of Tropfest, they get treated like rock stars.

This is the thrill awaiting prolific Perth writer-director Burleigh Smith and his team, whose comedy short Fixed is being unveiled in Sydney's Domain in front of 100,000 excitable movie buffs, with many, many more watching around the country.

"Tropfest is an amazing experience," three-time Tropfest finalist Smith said as he was about to step on a plane to Sydney.

"It is the world's biggest short film festival and the audience is just so passionate."

Smith's entry this year is unusual in that it was made with his students at the SAE Institute, the full-time job he needs to support his obsession with both cinema and, in particular, the movies of Woody Allen.

The students were keen to make a film for dog lovers. So Smith, his co-director Codey Wilson and the students hatched an oddball tale about a child so desperate for her pooch to have puppies she sets about finding her a mate, a precarious journey that takes her to online dating sites.

The success of Fixed depended on their leading lady, Amara Harnisch, whom Smith and Wilson discovered during an open casting call.

"We had a large number of 'pageant moms' coming in with their daughters who thought they had to put on a show - to sing and to dance and to put on a show," Smith said.

"In contrast, Amara was completely unaffected by the camera. She kept her eye line and was wonderfully natural. The film couldn't have worked without her."

Tropfest is on tomorrow on SBS2 at 5.30pm

'It is the world's biggest short film festival and the audience is just so passionate.'"

  • Burleigh Smith * Writer-director

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