A Bird In Cannes

11 June 2012 | 3:56 pm | Sam Hobson

Yardbird director Michael Spiccia has the door open - so what now?

One of only two* Australian films to enter Cannes this year – the other's the buzz-heavy The Sapphires – and one of only ten short films selected from an international pool of 4500 to compete for best short, Michael Spiccia's film, Yardbird, is a rare Ave indeed.

Spiccia's filmmaking career started a-proper after he serendipitously fell into some design work for Baz Luhrman's production company Bazmark. In that environment, his love for film and music was nurtured and cultivated in a way he hadn't experienced before, which compelled the man to change gears and become a film director.

“It was a great insight and opportunity to work with creative people I really respected,” Spiccia recalls. “I learnt a lot from my experiences, [and] not long after I had a change in direction and I started to put my focus solely on developing as a filmmaker. As an avid music lover I decided to start making music videos. Going from a secure job as a designer I threw it all aside to put my attention into being a filmmaker. Music videos were a great format to start experimenting with.”

From there, he explains, making his first film was just a matter of timing, and getting himself together. “I [wanted] to make a film for some time but kept procrastinating. I met up with a good friend of mine, Julius Avery, who made a film called Jerrycan. Julius and I both came from Perth with similar upbringings and shared a desire to explore similar themes in the films we wanted to make. After a few in-depth discussions he went away and wrote a script [that] I got really excited about. [Then] our producer Jessica Mitchell and I got together and set out to make the film.”

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Avery, whose short film, Jerrycan, won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2008, had written a script called Yardbird, which is the fictional tale of a young girl living in a scrapyard who decides to take on a pack of bullies tormenting her father. That script then became the short film that the trio finished shooting just a day before they were due to fly out to Cannes.

“We always had a goal of a getting the film into a major festival,” Spiccia explains of the whirlwind that followed, “but [we] couldn't believe it when we heard about Cannes. I think if the story resonates and a bit of luck is on your side anything can happen.

“Being accepted to this festival provides a great deal of opportunity for me as a filmmaker and has exposed me to people I wouldn't normally get to meet. It's definitely opened a lot of doors.”

So, through those doors, where does Spiccia go next?

“[I want] to continue to grow as a filmmaker and bring the stories I love and want to tell to the big screen,” he beams. “Julius and I have started a collective for our film projects called Bridle Path Films. We wanted to create an environment where we can collaborate and foster various projects we're both passionate about.”

*Andrew Dominik's Killing Them Softly and John Hillcoat's Lawless don't count. They're both American productions. Still, how cool is it those guys exist?

Yardbird is screening at the Sydney Film Festival Saturday 16 June, Event Cinemas 4, 2.30pm/Sunday 17, Event Cinemas 8, 12.30pm