Jonathan Burrows' entry 'Circus Avalon' given top prize at Newcastle's short film festival | PHOTOS, VIDEO

BEHIND THE CIRCUS: Jonathan Burrows' entry into the Real Film Festival focused on John Campbell's Circus Avalon.
BEHIND THE CIRCUS: Jonathan Burrows' entry into the Real Film Festival focused on John Campbell's Circus Avalon.

The Real Film Festival invited film producers to “create a short film that shares the best story of one of [Newcastle’s] many business operators”, and showcase why the company has stayed in town.

It was Jonathan Burrows – an editor and animation director by trade – that answered the question: “Why Newcastle?”

Burrows’ short film entry, titled Circus Avalon, was an idea that the editor had to showcase the circus, so it was a surprise when the debut director’s piece was named overall winner, earning $15,000 in cash and prizes.

“It was a fantastic way to showcase some great things in Newcastle, and I thought that doing a piece on [Circus Avalon] would be a bit ‘out of the box’,” Burrows said of the category. “I heard about it all really late and I was trying to think of something more interesting than the usual, so I definitely didn’t expect to win.”

Burrows’ debut entry focuses on John Campbell, a man who has been involved in the circus for more than fifteen years through training and travelling.

“I think that the community that Campbell is a part of is really supportive and creative and I wanted to give them the focus that they deserved,” he said. “The whole focus of the competition was showcasing a unique business, and showing why they are doing work in Newcastle.”

“That’s one reason why I loved doing this so much, it shows off all these amazing people who deserve to be in the spotlight for their loyalty to Newcastle.”

Taking out the top spot was a shock for Burrows, who joined the competition just to share the story of John Campbell and his circus.

“I haven’t really entered anything like this before. I wanted to do something interesting and I had to be creative,” he said. “John conveyed the ideas really well and it was an interesting piece, so I’m glad that it all came across okay. I’m just happy I got it in.”

“I was drawn to the concept of the competition. There’s so many great communities in Newcastle that have stories worth telling.”

Information about the film festival can be found online at

Full Nominee List

Why Newcastle:

  • Adam Khamis with Laughs of Steel
  • Jonathan Burrows with Circus Avalon

Real Stories (13-18 year-old):

  • Lachlan Thompson with Silence
  • Jack Soepono with Tom

Real Stories (Open):

  • Derek Griffith with Kurzeme Fortress
  • Demitris Katsimiris with Mum, I’m Back

Threatened Species:

  • Laughlin O’Connor with Project Airship 
  • Jordan Delvescovo & Riyan Manakau with Ocean
  • Daniel Bell with Fractured Future

Future Energy:

  • Stephen Hester with Solar Energy 
  • Samuel Hancock with Cut The Power 
  • Peter Hyslop with Renewable Energy