Flickerfest brings Hunter filmmakers' work to the big screen

Reward: Madeleine Jones and Jake Nielsen on the set of On Hold. Nielsen said he can’t choose between filmmaking and composition and hopes to be part of the growing interest in musical cinema.
Reward: Madeleine Jones and Jake Nielsen on the set of On Hold. Nielsen said he can’t choose between filmmaking and composition and hopes to be part of the growing interest in musical cinema.

HUNTER filmmaker Jake Nielsen believes it will be a “dream come true” to bring the comedy inspired by his own hellish job at a call centre to his hometown audience.

Former Hunter School of the Performing Arts students Mr Nielsen and Matthew Predny’s On Hold will show at Tower Cinemas on February 17 as part of Flickerfest International Short Film Festival’s national tour.

Warning: coarse language

It follows the film being named the festival’s Best Australian Short Film last month. “We weren’t expecting that award at all, so we were absolutely floored,” Mr Nielsen, 26, said. “We thought we did not stand a chance. We were up against some incredible films by filmmakers we know and respect. We had 70 people working on the film and all of them for free, so it was good to say we have something to give back to them now.”

On Hold, starring Madeleine Jones, is a film-musical about a woman working at a call centre and choosing between following her dreams to be a composer and making the next week’s rent. Jones recently won the Sydney Theatre Awards’ gong for best performance by a female actor in a supporting role in a musical for her part in Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.

Mr Nielsen said inspiration struck while he was working at a call centre and after a privately-commissioned rewrite of his and Predny’s 2012 Sydney Fringe Festival piece fell through. “It was an incredibly depressing [job] and I wrote On Hold over five months as a therapeutic exercise,” he said. “I wrote any chance I got –  in lunch breaks and after the nine to five –  just for fun, then started thinking ‘This is turning out pretty good!’”

Director Mr Nielsen wrote the screenplay and lyrics and collaborated with musical director Mr Predny to write the music. “It’s about creativity and following your passion,” he said. “Growing up we’re told you can do anything, you’re special, but then you have the feeling ‘I have to be part of the machine now’.

“It’s so easy to be drawn into a path you don’t want because it’s sensible or appropriate or that’s what you’re supposed to do. This is a call to arms, an antidote to everything out there like ads for insurance and questions about ‘Where’s your husband and children?’

“That’s all good if you want it, but you don’t have to fall into a cog position - there are other options out there.”

Flickerfest’s Best of Australian Shorts program will show at 6pm and includes Melon Grab featuring Novocastrian lead actor and skater Noah Regan. It will be followed at 8.45pm by the Short Laughs Comedy program, featuring On Hold. Complimentary drinks and nibblies will be served in between sessions. Tickets from Tower Cinemas.