Meet award-winning film duo, Michael Leonard and Jamie Helmer

Award-winning short film directors, Michael Leonard and Jamie Helmer are headlining our Flickerfest Film Masterclass at our Melbourne campus this month.
Film duo Michael Leonard and Jamie Helmer

Through their production company, Golden Moss Films, the duo’s films have been featured at film festivals internationally and won multiple awards including the prestigious Best Australian short film award at Flickerfest. We caught up with Jamie and Michael, to discuss the upcoming event, their different approaches to filmmaking and what advice they’d give to year 12 students looking to make their mark in the industry.

Hi Michael and Jamie, what’s it like to make films together?

Michael: We both have similar tastes, whilst not being exactly the same. What is great is we’ll often get excited by the same films, music and art, and have similar adverse reactions to work we think is terrible – so it’s fun and pretty easy for us to talk through a project and figure out how we’d like to execute ideas.

Do you feel your skills compliment one another?

Jamie: I think so. We tend to approach concepts from opposite ends, in a good way! Michael from the wider ideas inwards and myself from the smaller details outwards. It results in us meeting in the middle, where our ideas intertwine into a richer whole.

Your most recent film, The Diver, won Best Australian short film at Flickerfest and has gone on to be selected at the Venice and Melbourne film festivals. Can you explain the inspiration for the film?

M: In terms of the film’s themes, it was a long process beginning with us wanting to interrogate systemic misogyny in our society. This required a lot of self-reflection, which took us back to our own upbringing.

J: The natural landscapes we grew up with were a deep inspiration for us. We both spent our younger years near the ocean and rugged coastlines, which had a deep influence on our creativity.

Do you think it is easier or more competitive than ever to make it in the film industry?

M: I think it’s always been a difficult industry to crack, especially if you want to make your own work. I find it’s best to make what you’re interested in and hopefully someone recognises your unique voice and wants to support you with further films.

J: It definitely seems more competitive than ever, as advances in technology have made filmmaking more accessible to people wanting to express themselves. In the time we’re living in, we all carry around movie cameras on our phones now! At the same time, there are more platforms for films of all types to be seen – which I think allows more opportunity for filmmaking outside the mainstream industry.

What advice would you give a year 12 student who was thinking about getting into the film industry?

M: Just grab a camera and some mates and make something. Don’t think about festivals or be too precious – just have fun!

J: Also, watch, read, listen and expose yourself to lots of interesting and challenging things. You never know what might spark inspiration for new ideas or help existing ones grow in fruitful and unique ways.


Film students looking at a camera on a green set.

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