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Tropfest finalists weigh in on HD vs film

Film festival newbies and Tropfest veterans were among the 16 finalists chosen out of almost 600 entries to this year's short-film competition. We talk to two of them about their shooting processes.

Film festival newbies and three Tropfest veterans were among the 16 finalists chosen from almost 600 entries to this year's short-film competition.

Three filmmakers are making repeat appearances at Tropfest: Gary Doust's documentary on rescuing beer from a swamp screened in 2002, while both William Allert and Jayne Montague were finalists in last year's competition.

Montague was pleased to see two other women -- Michelle Lehman of New South Wales and South Australia's Sarah Crowest -- among the final 16 after being the only female finalist last year.

Her 2007 film, Still, was shot in high-definition using 35mm lenses to create a "filmy" look. For her second film as director, Glass, Montague decided to "up the ante" and shoot on 35mm film using ARRI cameras and Master Prime lenses. Why the switch?

"The story, I felt, really needed it," she said. "It's a suspenseful psychological thriller, and the palettes of that needed to have a more rich look."

Queenslander and Tropfest first-timer Grey Rogers also believes that the content and feel of a film should determine the format it is shot on. Though he likes HD "because you can just keep rolling", the filmmaker shot his title Smitten on Super 16.

"Seventy percent of my film is exteriors, and I just don't think HD could cope with hot spots and highlights well enough yet," said Rogers. "It's a fairly muted and fairly dark film, so I think film suited it a lot better."

Tropfest 2008 takes place on Sunday 17 February. Now in its 16th year, the festival is the largest short-film competition in the world. This year's signature item, which every film must include in order to prove it was made for Tropfest, is the number eight.

Tropfest's class of 2008, including Jayne Montague (front row in brown)
and Grey Rogers (back row, far right).