It’s a long way from the back alleys of Marrickville to the sunshine of Bermuda but Jannali film-makers Edward Lyons and his wife Melissa are about to make the leap.
Edward and Melissa have had their short film Alfred J Hemlock selected to screen at the Bermuda International Film Festival next month.
The Bermuda International Film Festival is an Academy Award Qualifying event which means the winning film can go forward and nominate for the Academy Awards.
The couple describe their film, Alfred J Hemlock as a horror-fantasy-comedy.
It tells the story of Emily (actress Renaye Loryman) whose boyfriend (Christian Charisou) abandons her in the night after an argument, leaving her to make her make her way home through an alleyway where she is terrorised by a mysterious entity, Alfred J Hemlock (Tristan Mckinnon).
It is only after reaching the depths of her despair she finds a strength that she never suspected she had.
Edward, who is a film editor with Channel Nine, describes the character as a “demented version of Beetlejuice”.
Melissa studied at Maine University in the United States where she won a Stephen King Scholarship in creative writing where she met the king of horror writing himself.
She said she wanted to created a memorable, timeless character with Alfred J Hemlock.
They chose the idea of a girl in an alley who is terrorised by a mysterious character.
“I didn’t want to make it violent but supernatural horror,” she said.
“It’s not really clear if the Alfred J Hemlock exists or if he is a figment of her imagination. He appears as a timeless entity so he speaks well and has formal attire, but because he is not human he doesn’t always get it right when he communicates.”
Edward and Melissa chose the concept of a character threatened in an alley by a mysterious entity for mainly one reason - it would only require one location and so would keep production costs down.
They chose a back alley in Marrickville as the location but filming was for from simple.
“It was the hardest film we have ever worked on in our lives,” Edward said.
“We were going to film it in back alley in Marrickville but there was torrential rain and because we were shooting at night the lights blew and we had to shut down the production,” he said.
“We were huddled in an alley waiting for the rain to stop.
“A second attempt at filming was also delayed by the weather. It took three attempts to film it.”
The delays and production hiccups did not affect the final product.
The film has been officially selected to have its world premiere at the 20th Anniversary Academy Award Qualifying Bermuda Film Festival, to be held in Hamilton, Bermuda from May 1 to 7.
Alfred J Hemlock will be screening in competition as part of the Bermuda Shorts Happy Hour program.
It is the only Australian film to be selected for the Bermuda International Film Festival and has also been selected as one of the opening night films.
“The festival features top films from the world’s leading film-makers as well as introduces new talent from around the world,” Edward said.
“It can be the first step in an international film career.
“If you win at the festival you can submit your film for the Academy Awards
“With did this on our own without any industry connections,” he said.