Billy Smedley, Tim McCormick, Michala Banas, Sally McLean, Shaun Herbertson and Thanassi Panagiotaras from Speaking Daggers arrive for St Kilda Film Festival 2018 Opening Night on May 17, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Sam Tabone

Is it June already!? Time for an update! Or rather, a re-cap of our wonderful experiences at the 2018 St Kilda Film Festival – two weeks to the day after the Closing Night.

May was a huge month, for many reasons, but particularly due to Speaking Daggers being an official selection for the 2018 St Kilda Film Festival, as well as Republic creator, Sally McLean being invited to be on the panel “Let’s Talk Web Series” for the festival alongside fellow web series creators Warwick Holt, Leanne Tonkes and Alyce Adams.

Billy Smedley, Sally McLean, Tim McCormick and Shaun Herbertson at St Kilda Film Festival Opening Night 2018

The Opening Night of the festival was huge with 3,000 people cramming into the Palais Theatre, St Kilda to view the opening night films, before those of us lucky enough to have a pass heading off to the Official After Party. There were many highlights from the evening, but we got a special thrill unexpectedly seeing a clip of Sally McLean as “Beatrice” in Speaking Daggers appear on the big screen!

Speaking Daggers on the big screen at the Palais Theatre on St Kilda Film Festival Opening Night 2018. Photo by Sally McLean

Billy Smedley, Tim McCormick and Shaun Herbertson and audience in the Balcony of the Palais Theatre at St Kilda Film Festival Opening Night 2018. Photo by Sally McLean

Shaun Herbertson, Tim McCormick and Billy Smedley devouring their Uber Eats outside the Palais Theatre at the St Kilda Film Festival Opening Night 2018. Yes, apparently they will deliver to iconic film festivals as well as your home! Photo by Sally McLean

Sally McLean, Dominique McCusker and Alex Hipwell at St Kilda Film Festival Opening Night After Party 2018.Photo by Sally McLean

One of the great things about St Kilda Film Festival is the various ways they provide to help filmmakers come together and spend time networking or just catching up! The Republic team especially loved the Festival Bar at St Kilda Town Hall and spent many a fun evening there with colleagues over the fest.

Sally McLean with fellow official selection Director/Producer, Don Percy in the Festival Bar at St Kilda Film Festival 2018. Photo by Billy Smedley

Speaking Daggers trailer screening in the Festival Bar at the St Kilda Film Festival 2018. Photo by Sally McLean

The team were also rather chuffed to be featured in St Kilda’s Opening Week newsletter with a lovely photo of everyone on the red carpet. But there was no time to rest on laurels, as not only was Speaking Daggers screening at the fest, but Republic Creator/Director Sally McLean (also director/producer of Speaking Daggers) had to prepare to be on the upcoming panel for St Kilda Film Festival’s Filmmaker Development Program Day – “Let’s Talk Web Series: Web Series Hollywood: Downunder”, moderated by friend of the Republic, Warwick Holt (Bruce)

Screenshot of St Kilda Newsletter featuring the Speaking Daggers team and the “Let’s Talk Web Series” Panel page on the SKFF website

The panel was sold out about a week before the day, which was amazing. No pressure!

The 90 minute time-slot seemed daunting, but as it turned out every minute was required! So much information was shared with the assembled crowd about web series creation from Sally, Alyce, Leanne and Warwick – calling on their combined knowledge of this side of the biz from not just a creator’s perspective, but also their other roles in the business as festival general managers, Screen Australia Investment managers, feature and short film producers and comedy television writers. There were several questions fielded from the audience and some lovely feedback sent afterwards via Twitter and other social media. Warwick was an excellent moderator who had plenty of questions and they didn’t actually get through the whole list in the end! Maybe a Part 2 next year is needed? 😉

Sally McLean, Alyce Adams (Screen Australia/i can’t even series), Warwick Holt (Bruce) and Leanne Tonkes (This Is Desmondo Ray!) speaking on the “Let’s Talk Web Series (Web Series Hollywood: Downunder)” Panel for St Kilda Film Festival 2018. Photo by Steinar Ellingsen

Finally, the last day of the festival arrived and with it the official screening of Speaking Daggers, which was in the last screening block of the festival. Sally and Billy, along with several other members of the team rocked up, expecting the place to be half empty (as the Closing Night Awards were happening not long after and they figured most people would be out having dinner). Boy, were they wrong! The final screening block had a full house of about 4oo people, including several friends and supporters of Shakespeare Republic who had turned up to support the short film. There were so many people unexpectedly there that the festival ran out of Audience Choice voting forms!  Just amazing and such a wonderful way to finish a truly wonderful two weeks of film.

Speaking Daggers screening at St Kilda Film Festival 2018. Photo by Sally McLean

If you want to get a taste of what the festival was like this year beyond our photo collection here, check out their 2018 festival highlights reel (and if you look closely, you’ll see Sally and Billy in the bar too!)

And so that brings us to the end of this roundup about the fantastic experience that was the St Kilda Film Festival for 2018.

More news coming soon about Speaking Daggers in particular, along with where else you can catch both Shakespeare Republic and Speaking Daggers over the next couple of months. But for now, stay well, be safe and see you anon.

Sally McLean and Billy Smedley in front of the official selection wall (with Speaking Daggers teaser poster in background) at the Festival Bar, St Kilda Film Festival 2018. Photo by Sally McLean

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