The winner of the world's largest short film contest can expect a career acceleration in more ways than one
Things have moved fast for Alethea Jones since her short film ‘Lemonade Stand’ took the top prize at last year’s Tropfest. She has completed director’s attachments on Ten’s Rush and Neighbours; obtained an agent in LA; and has signed on to direct her first feature film in the US. “A year ago I couldn’t have even imagined sitting in the room with people from DreamWorks or Warner Bros,” Jones says. “Winning Tropfest was an absolute dream come true.”
‘Lemonade Stand’ is a black comedy about Benny, his granddad, their lemonade business and the neighbour who threatens it. Jones says she didn’t always have an eye for the funny side. “At film school I was caught up doing dramatic, angst-ridden pieces. They were terrible but with every mistake I made I learnt – hopefully – never to make it again.”
After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts she took as job as a runner on Rebel Wilson’s SBS series Bogan Pride. “It was the perfect place for a cocky film student to land: being an extra set of hands at the very bottom of the pecking order.” Matchbox Pictures, which produced the series, gave Jones her first professional directing credit, a short doco. Other notches on her belt include festival favorite shorts ‘When the Wind Changes’ and ‘Dave’s Dead’, the latter a highlight of Flickerfest’s 2013 line-up.
Jones is hoping that ‘Lemonade Stand’ will follow 2002 Tropfest winner ‘Wilfred’, onto the small screen.She has developed the idea for TV with writer-star Tim Potter, expanding the short’s doll house of eccentrics. “They’re all a bit weird and a little bit perverted but they’re a really Aussie community and there’s a sense of tranquility. It’s a beautiful little world, sort of like Chocolat meets Babe.”
This year’s Tropfest entries must contain the signature item, ‘balloon’. The 16 finalists will be revealed on February 5 and the overall winner will receive a bigger prize pool than ever before, including a Toyota Corolla Levin ZR, $10,000 cash, the latest Nikon D80 camera and a trip to Los Angeles for a week of meetings with film execs.