Short Documentary Film Project

Perth Festival Short Documentary Film Project

The Opportunity

Perth Festival is calling for creative proposals from secondary students in years 9, 10, 11 or 12 for short documentary films that respond to the provocation ‘the ground beneath our feet’.

Presented with the generous support of Screenwest, the program provides selected students the opportunity to be mentored by a creative film producer and work with a professional film crew to create a short documentary that explores their response to the provocation. The completed films will be screened during Perth Festival’s Lotterywest Films season at UWA Somerville and ECU Joondalup Pines and seen by thousands of people.

Last year, the four short documentaries made reached a combined audience of almost 20,000 people. Since their premieres, the films have been shown at the Busan International Kids and Youth Film Festival, South Korea, Adelaide International Youth Film Festival and Minikino at Bali International Short Film Festival, Indonesia. 


In term 3 and 4 2018, Perth Festival will send a mentor film-maker and professional documentary film crew to work with groups of two to five high school students to create five-minute documentary films. The purpose of the project is to explore distinctly Western Australian stories told by the voices of diverse young Western Australians.

The inspiration for this project is Perth Festival 2019’s Opening Event Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak. Created in 2017 Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak explores the interconnectedness of all life through both western science and Noongar knowledge of caring for Country. It explores the stories of ancient south Western Australia and its land formations and celebrates the beauty of the six seasons of our home. It signifies the urgency in which these areas are endangered and asks everyone to make a difference by caring for the ground beneath our feet.

Students’ films concepts should explore their proximate environment drawing inspiration from the provocation ‘the ground beneath our feet’. Proposals from regional WA are strongly encouraged.

Students will work with a creative producer to develop, storyboard and shoot their film over an intensive week-long program during term 3 or 4 2018. They will build film-making skills and develop understandings of storytelling, investigation, research and editing.

Filming may take place outside of school hours, including weekends and after school. In order to participate in the project, the school must accept that duty of care of students rests with school staff at all times during the project. 


What are we looking for?

We are looking for creative, innovative and passionate students with a compelling idea and some sense of how to realise this as a documentary film.

We are seeking concepts that:

  • Are creative, interesting, and engaging
  • Consider the purpose of and the audience of the project
  • Are inspired by the provocation ‘the ground beneath our feet’
  • Treat ‘documentary’ in creative ways

Students will be supported by the creative producer and film crew in developing their film, but students should bear in mind that the resulting films can be no longer than five minutes (including credits) and must be realistically shot over two days.

We don’t want:

  • ‘Talking heads’ (presenters or interviewees addressing the camera directly)
  • Unachievable proposals
  • Inaccessible locations

Before submitting your proposal, please watch last year’s completed films to give you a sense of the scope of each project and the range of responses. The creative provocation for these films was ‘water that is important to you’.

Water Odyssey 

Small Flowers Are Better For This Occasion

The Source

Air Bersih 

Please note that this is for guidance only, we aren’t expecting films similar to these.

What do you need to participate?

The program is free of charge. Students and schools are not required to supply any equipment or materials for the project. However, there are some things we do need you to contribute:

  • A letter of support from your teacher or principal including knowledge of the concept and possible suggestions of locations for shooting, and their endorsement of your capacity and involvement (see link to template below)
  • Ability to participate in five consecutive days of workshops (schedules to be determined with teachers)
  • Teacher supervision for workshops

Key dates

Applications close                                    Friday 28 September                                                                             

Successful entries notified                     Monday 8 October                                                                                  

Film 1                                                          Monday 22 October – Friday 26 October (approx.)           

Film 2                                                          Monday 29 October – Friday 2 November (approx.)         

Film 3                                                          Monday 12 November – Friday 16 November (approx.)


What is the application process?

Please complete the form below by COB Friday 28 September. Three proposals will be selected by a panel of film professionals. Successful concepts will be notified on Monday 8 October.

Please contact with any questions.


Application Form

  • (a) the duty of care for students within the scope of the project activities is the responsibility of the school at all times.

    (b) should the application be notified as successful, the school will be issued a separate agreement by Perth Festival outlining the general terms and conditions for the project, which will require acceptance before commencement of activities.

    (c) should the application be notified as successful, the parent or guardian of a student participating in the project will be required to sign a separate participation and use deed which will be issued to and administered by the participating school.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, pdf.
    This should be a photograph or drawing that represents the way students imagine their film might look.