Logline: In the Summer of ABC Burns, Gem learns there is a lot she doesn’t know about her ‘best friend’ Drew.
Current Status: Completed.
Length: 13 minutes
Writer/Director: Dannika Horvat
Producer: Stephanie Westwood
Looking for distribution offers and media interest
Where can I watch it? Nowhere yet! Still on the film festival circuit, no public release yet.
1. Why did you decide to make this film?
I was inspired to tell the story of Gem and Drew, based on my own experiences with the best friend/worst enemy dynamic that can occur in young female relationships. I was also drawn to explore a story that shows sexuality as more fluid and complex than the binary labels of gay and straight. I am also extremely passionate about stories involving young women within Australia that are sometimes dark and gritty but which are also universal in the experience of growing up.
2. Why is this film called The Summer of ABC Burns?
The title came from my own experience with the schoolyard game of ABC Burns. When the ABC Burn craze swept my school, it became the focus of many interactions and mirrored the social hierarchy of the time. In the film ABC Burns, and their lasting effects, follow Gem. Gem’s ABC Burn leaves a permanent, inescapable mark, that lasts long after the film ends - much like the effects that toxic high school relationships can leave in their wake.
3. The Summer of ABC Burns was produced while you were a final year Swinburne student. What are you working on now?
I am currently in my second year of a Master of Screenwriting at VCA in which I am writing a feature film. The film is a family drama about fifteen-year-old Jess, who lives and works at a caravan park in her costal Victorian town. Jess sees something at a party that threatens to tear her, her friends, and her family apart. I am also in the process of developing a short film with a fellow screenwriter, Rochelle Bevis, about two young sisters and their relationship, which reaches boiling point on a high fire risk day in a bushy suburban town.
4. What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
We have received so much positive feedback about the film which has been extremely humbling and rewarding. The feedback however that has stuck with me was from one of my idols, director Glendyn Ivin, who praised the moral ambiguity of the story and the two leading characters. I love telling stories about people who are flawed and struggling with complex moral issues as I believe it is in these conflicts that we grow and learn, sometimes confronting things, about our human nature.
5. Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
For the most part the feedback has not been too challenging as it has been mostly positive which is very overwhelming. I did receive feedback from Richard Harris of Screen Australia, which was constructive and extremely helpful. I was told that the development of Jess’s character toward the end of the film seemed rushed and not overly believable, which I will take into account when working on other projects.
6. What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on this platform?
As filmmakers we always want to connect with other like-minded creatives to tell stories together. The more visible we are as filmmakers the easier it is for us to find others to work with in the future – who either have similar stories to tell or have ideas that challenge us.
7. Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message and audience?
We are seeking distribution for the film – while we’ve gotten several offers, we are waiting for the best method to share this film with a wide audience, but in a more direct method then just online. As our film is nearing the end of its festival life, the time to share it with a public audience is definitely here.
8. What type of impact would you like this film to have?
I feel it’s always important to reflect on the relationships we had when we were younger, and be reminded on how cruel adolescence can be. As our audience is also teenage girls, I want them to know their emotions and experiences are valid, and universal, whether they be questioning their sexuality, or stuck in a toxic relationship they don’t understand.
Writer/director Dannika Horvat