What kind of film will you make?

Okay, with the deadline for the 2017 FOA Film Festival fast approaching, you're no doubt asking yourself, 'What sort of film could I make?' and 'How can I win?'

Well, the answer to the first question is easy. Over the last eight years, the festival has showcased all sorts of films - dramas, docos, comedies, music videos, dance pieces, biopics, silent films, films in sign language - every one of them made by schools, individuals young and old, small businesses, experienced and inexperienced film-makers ... you name it. So, pretty much anything goes. If you've got an idea that fits the FOA criteria, break out the 4K, handy-cam or, hey, just your phone, and get shootin'.

(Wait a second ... phone? Sure, why not? The hit of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival was Tangerine, shot entirely on iPhone - and that's full feature length! And it's not the only one. Parts of Oscar-winning doco Searching For The Sugar Man were also shot on iPhone.)

As for winning ... well let's look at last year's awards. International winners hailed from Uganda, Sri Lanka and the USA and ranged from roving camera documentary style to a black-and-white, film-noir spoof. Open entrant winner Swish tells a simple basketball dreams story with no dialogue, a great soundtrack and some interesting jump cuts and close-ups. Runner up Wheels of Fortune is beautifully shot and abandons narrative to focus on a series of comic vignettes, which take a poke at society's foibles when it comes to interacting with a guy in a wheelchair.

People's choices Vision Without Sight and The Friendship Bakery both rely heavily on real people telling their own stories to get across strong messages of empowerment and inclusion. NOVA Choice award winner Ethan uses some creative visual effects to put us in the shoes of its central figure, who has an unusual visual impairment. Among the school entrants, Silence uses ... you guessed it ... silence (plus some strategic musical interventions) to brilliantly evoke the daily experience of its central character.

So, is there a formula for success in FOA? Not really. The common elements in these films are their people focus and stories that are authentic and unique. Mind you, it has to be said that all of them made pretty good choices with their soundtrack music, so that clearly doesn't hurt!