Success stories

South by Southwest, Australian Film Project Big Stories, Small Towns Wins Interactive Award: Success stories

Australian film start-up wins SXSW award

By Michelle Hammond
Saturday, 17 March 2012

Australian film project Big Stories, Small Towns has won an interactive award at the South by Southwest festival, with co-director Nick Crowther singing the praises of the SXSW experience.


Big Stories, Small Towns was founded by Martin Potter, Anna Grieve and Nick Crowther, all of whom are company directors. The team also includes two filmmakers.


Describing itself as an “evolving multiplatform documentary”, Big Stories, Small Towns features stories by filmmakers living in remote and regional communities.


Earlier this week, it won an SXSW Interactive Award, receiving some gadgets from sponsor Hewlett-Packard in recognition. SXSW is held in Texas.


Founded in 1997, the SXSW Interactive Awards identify the best new digital works from around the world, from mobile and tablet apps to websites, kiosks and installations.


The awards also celebrate those who are tapping into new online trends. This year, four other Australian projects were selected as finalists for the awards.


Crowther, who travelled to SXSW along with one of the team’s filmmakers, says it’s always something he has been interested in attending but described the event as “information overload”.


“There are 15 sessions going at one time, all day, every day… It’s impossible to see everything. It’s information overload, party overload and networking overload,” he says.


“You’ve got to accept that you won’t be able to do everything. Just enjoy the randomness of the whole thing.”


Crowther said while he had some interesting meetings for the Big Stories, Small Towns project, the award winners were announced at the end of the event, rather than the start.


“If the awards were on the first night instead of the last night, [the meetings] would have been a bit more interesting. I think we would have had a few more calls,” he says.


Big Stories, Small Towns is funded in association with the Media Resource Centre, the South Australian Film Corporation and Country Arts SA, with the assistance of Screen Australia.


However, it is currently considering two revenue models.


“One is other filmmakers working with us and funding themselves, or being able to put together our own funds to award to other filmmakers,” he says.


“The second option is looking a bit more possible now we’ve won this award.”


Crowther says the ultimate goal is to take the Big Stories, Small Towns project “all around the world” by encouraging local filmmakers to get on board.


With regard to SXSW, he says he would definitely consider returning next year.


“There were two types of people there. Some are there to promote their own business. That might have been good for their business, but they probably didn’t get anything out of it personally,” he says.


“There needs to be a balance because there are amazing opportunities for people going over there to really learn some stuff.”

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