Q&A with RAPA director Rainsford Towner

Rainsford Towner. 182565_05

What is something people don’t know about you?

I never sleep, I just pretend I do, then I complain to people that I’m not getting any sleep just in case they notice. The interesting thing is, mostly people don’t – notice that is – and that really keeps me awake.

What has been your most memorable moment?

The death of my youngest son Anton, from leukemia.

What Was Your First Job In Film?

My first paying job in the film industry was as a Projectionist for Village Roadshow at their first Twin cinema complex in Double Bay, Sydney. I would close up there late at night and then head to Kings Cross where the Sydney Filmmakers Coop was, and work on my films. They were heady times.

What film projects are you working on right now?

The very first historically significant, Lantern & Light International Children’s Film Festival is upon us. It opens at the Cameo Cinema in Belgrave with 56 short films across two screens over 3 days made by young people between the ages 6-18. As the festival director that has absorbed my time day and night for the last twelve months. But beside that, my partner Mary Salem and I have a feature film that we began shooting last year with a few improvisational test scenes, with actors, we intend to return to that later this year.

What was your inspiration for starting the Lantern and Light Festival?

We live in a media saturated environment, and I’ve seen what amazingly creative things emerge from young people when they’re given an opportunity to demystify and deconstruct the process of filmmaking to tell their stories. It’s very empowering. I was invited as a guest to the MICE festival in Valencia, and the regional focus they had inspired me. So yes whilst this festival has attracted films from many countries, it’s the regional focus that is the most important. My region, my community, our kids.

What has been the response to the festival?

There has been an incredible response so far, and I would like to see that confirmed by people getting to the cinema and supporting the films of these young people, because right now, they need to see that. They need to see that we care to listen.

What have you learnt from working with younger people on movie they want to create and on subjects they feel are important?

The LLICFF motto is “GIVING VOICE TO OUR CHILDREN FOR THEIR FUTURE.” And my observation is that there is a generation of young people 10-15 that are going to emerge into this world with empathy, understand and good humour. And they will create the changes that we have been unable to.

What is your favourite Movie?

I love this question because I’ve never been able to work that out. The problem I have is that there are films that have had a great impact on me and therefore my art, and then there are films that are simply great. I shall choose two that at a tender age broadened my perception of what a film can be. Now I shall toss a coin, heads for Antonioni’s BLOW UP, and tails for Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. Ah there it’s landed, can you see it?

What advice would you give to those hoping to pursue a career in film?

Try not to go along to too many ‘How to apply for a grant’ type workshops run by Film Victoria or Screen Australia because their depressing. Instead ask yourself questions you can answer with a camera.

From where did your love of film come from?

Sometimes I look at the ‘idea’ of filmmaking and laugh at the silliness of it, other times I want to be entrenched in the passion of its art form. I was brought up in a country town (Lismore) and when other kids would spend their pocket money on comics I would buy film magazines, especially if they had film reviews of European films in them. Living in a country town they were the only connection I could find to the place I wanted to be. But as for ‘coming from’ somewhere, I don’t know that it’s come from anywhere, it simply is.