Pursuing a dream to make Epic Films

By Nick Carne

Winning awards is a sign that things are going well, as is expanding your team. Both are happening for Kirsty Stark and her Adelaide-based company Epic Films.

Late last year the company was named Breakthrough Business of the Year at the Screen Producers Australia Gala Awards, just weeks before its new comedy series Goober launched on ABC iview. Then in February, Kirsty advertised for an assistant producer to help her handle increasing demand and a diverse range of projects.

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ABC iview series, Goober – Series 1 Episode 1 ‘Girl Talk’

It’s an interesting success story, because Kirsty wasn’t planning to be a producer when she walked into Flinders University to study a Bachelor of Creative Arts – or even when she graduated, having specialised in cinematography for her Honours year in 2007.

She worked in the camera department with some of Australia’s most prominent directors for four years before she and fellow Flinders graduate Viv Madigan decided to set up Epic Films.

This was not intended to be a money-making business; it was a hobby vehicle to allow them to gain experience shooting on film while their day jobs were moving more and more towards new technology. The irony is that it quickly became a viable business opportunity, and new technology played a large part in that.

The company’s first major project, Wastelander Panda, directed by Victoria Cocks, was the first drama series commissioned for ABC iview in Australia.

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Online series, Wastelander Panda: Exile

“We told Victoria we would make a teaser to help raise funding, but when we put the three-minute film online, we had 100,000 hits in 3-4 days,” Kirsty said. “That led to us going down the online route and to me becoming a producer rather than a camera person.”

That was six years ago and Epic Films, which Kirsty now runs on her own after Viv returned to camera work full time, has gone from strength to strength.

Melbourne-based Madman Production Company came on board for the second series of Wastelander Panda, and Kirsty then worked alongside MPC’s Nick Batzias to produce her first feature film, A Month of Sundays, which premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and picked up three awards at last year’s 3rd Annual China Australia Film Festival.

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2015 Film, A Month of Sundays

Other projects followed, including Goober, the story of a rideshare driver with autism, which is a joint initiative of ABC iview and the SA Film Corporation. And there are several feature films and TV concepts in various stages of production in Kirsty’s office in the Adelaide Film Studios at Glenside.

“I have connections in Sydney and Melbourne but I love being based in South Australia and I’d like to keep building from here rather than moving to make things happen,” she said.

She also is developing another side to the business – a series of online courses to help people transition for film school into the industry. For more information, click here.