Adelaide-based filmmaker Matthew Bate plans to hire someone to teach him to edit with some of the $25,000 that will reach his bank account as a result of winning the David and Joan Williams Documentary Fellowship.
He hasn't decided what else to do with the money, although he may attend some key international film festivals and find a mentor to help develop himself as a storyteller.
“It's a nice problem to have,” he said.
Bate directed Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, which was in the documentary competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and is only the second person to win Australia's most lucrative documentary prize.
There are no rules about when the money has to be used or for what. Many independent documentary directors juggle earning a living as a gun for hire and developing projects, but Bate solved this problem about two years ago when he became one of the owners of Adelaide-based Closer Productions, which pays him a wage.
He has three projects in development: a three-part ABC series featuring comedian and art expert Hannah Gadsby; the half-hour film I Want to Dance Better at Parties, the true story of a man who used dance to help himself recover from a personal tragedy; and the documentary feature Sam Klemke's Time Machine.
The dance project will contain film of a stage production that will be part of the 2013 Sydney Theatre Company program. Choreographer and former Chunky Move artistic director Gideon Obazarnek will direct the stage production and co-direct the film with Bate. It has been financed through the relatively new Hive Production Fund, which grew out of former Adelaide Film Festival director Katrina Sedgwick's interest in cross-pollinating different art forms and also contains Australia Council money.
Sam Klemke is a US caricaturist, portrait painter and video diarist in his 50s who has filmed himself and those around him obsessively since he was 17 years of age. Bate, like many, discovered him via a clip on Facebook and will sift through hours and hours of footage to create the new feature.
“I think of the film as Tree of Life starring Homer Simpson,” said Bate. “It will deal with big themes but will star an extraordinary nobody.”
Bate fell in love with documentary when he made a series of five-minute films about such Australian icons as the meat pie and the thong.
“It is a passport into people's lives and I'm a nosy bastard. I have a few drama ideas bubbling in the background but, for me, the best films, for a long time, have been documentaries.
“I aspire to make films as good as The Arbor and Bombay Beach. If I can make films that brilliant, I will die a happy man.”