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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Real Life of Pi a winning recipe for Byron filmmaker

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Byron Bay filmmaker and art director Justin McMillan has won an international short film competition designed to showcase Tropical Far North Queensland.

Tourism and Events Queensland’s ‘1 Day in Paradise’ short-film competition, run in partnership with Tourism Tropical North Queensland, has struck a chord with local and international audiences, generating almost three-quarter of a million views on YouTube and featuring extraordinary people, places and experiences throughout the region.

Twenty Australian and New Zealand filmmakers were handpicked to take part in a film challenge in April.

In a bid to win the $75,000 prize money, each produced a two-minute film capturing their own version of ‘paradise’. Forcing them to harness their creative thinking and capture the adventure and magic of the Tropical North, all footage was shot entirely on wearable GoPro cameras.

Filmmaker and art director Justin McMillan was determined to be the winner, based on his creativity, how closely he adhered to the film brief, as well as his community engagement.

Tourism and Events Queensland’s CEO, Steven Wright said ‘Justin’s film Pascal’s 1 Day in Paradise showcased Tropical North Queensland’s beauty while at the same time telling the authentic, engaging story of a real-life Life of Pi character – a 14-year-old boy who has lived much of his life on a boat in Tropical North Queensland.

Mr Wright added, ‘the idea was to use authentic and engaging stories set in paradise to present the region in an inspiring new light – which is exactly what the campaign achieved.

According to organisers the competition, created phenomenal footage and experiences, ranging from discovering a pearl farm in Cape York to snorkelling with a turtle on the Great Barrier Reef and mountain-biking through the Daintree Rainforest.

‘The response to the films exceeded expectations with more than 600,000 minutes of content watched within the first month of the clips being posted to YouTube on May 15,’ Mr Wright said.

‘The films were viewed across the globe by people from Australia, the UK, USA and Asia with select films receiving more than 100,000 views individually.’

The 20 films were judged by a panel of film, creative and tourism industry experts based on a range of weighted criteria.

‘Due to the overwhelming response to the films locally and internationally, two highly-commended awards were also given to filmmakers Gulliver Page and Drew English, whose respective films Scuba Skydiving and If I Had One Day… were also considered highly creative, engaging, and inspiring.’

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Rob Giason welcomed the 1 Day in Paradise initiative saying it was one of the largest domestic tourism campaigns in six years for Tropical North Queensland.

‘Its timing is opportune as it coincides with the thousands of extra seats domestic airlines have added to their Cairns routes for the peak season. It will help boost visitation from our key interstate markets by dangling a warm, tropical lifestyle in front of people who are shivering through winter in Sydney and Melbourne,’ Mr Giason said.

Highlights from the 20 films were also used to create movie trailer-style 30 and 60-second clips which were aired in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne last month via cinemas, television and online, including roving pop-up cinemas.

To view all 20 1 Day in Paradise films, including the winning and highly commended films, visit www.youtube.com/ExploreTNQ.


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