The Woodcutter – The International Success of a Short Film by an SAE Creative Media Institute Graduate

The story of James Rutkin, a graduate of the SAE Creative Media Institute, highlights the potential and possibilities of newly acquired skills through education.

James’ short film, the thriller “The Lumberjack”, produced as part of his Bachelor Of Film final project, met with international success. It has won 11 awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Los Angeles IndieX Film Festival and Thrills And Chills Film Festival to date.

The film is an example of our own backyard directorial talents and potential for CAS students, as well as an exciting project and the start of a potentially successful career in film.

Here we chat with the SAE graduate and laureate about his film, his success so far and his time at the Institute.

Tell us a bit about “The Woodcutter”?
‘The Lumberjack’ is a horror drama short I made in 2020.

What did you have in mind when you started to build the story?
I wanted to create something that showed a gradual, abrupt decline in sanity – and I wanted to show it through constant nightmares.

The filming process was not the easiest for you. Talk about it a bit.
Obviously in a movie called “The Woodcutter” you’re going to be circling around a lot of trees – and unfortunately when we started filming we were starting to go through a very difficult time as a country with the bushfires.

On a more positive note, what was the best part of this film’s creative process?
Working with such a great team of people, it was really satisfying for a student film to have 14+ cast and crew up to Cooma to collaborate on a pretty big-scale short.

The film has already met with success abroad. How does that kind of recognition feel ?!
That’s fine, the idea of ​​someone overseas watching “The Lumberjack” is pretty surreal.

You are a graduate of the SAE Creative Media Institute. Why did you decide to enroll in this particular establishment?
I was told that SAE has fantastic equipment and very good connections in the industry.

The Lumberjack 2

What is perhaps your most memorable moment when it comes to attending CAS?
Aside from obviously filming “The Lumberjack” – whenever we were in the world the filming was awesome – we got to do a web series in Forster by the water, it was a really positive experience.

And what is the most valuable thing you took on board / learned during your time there?
I learned a lot about working with different people and how people react in different scenarios. I am sometimes a fairly chaotic person and it is important to be surrounded by other work ethics to see what works and what does not work on sets.

“The Lumberjack” was developed as part of your final undergraduate project – have you started to think about what kind of film you’d like to make now that you’ve graduated?
I have a short ‘Applause’ I’m trying to get funding for right now, I’ve been working on the script for a few years now and I’m really excited to try and make the movie – it’s an eyesore psychological dependence for people on the approval of others.

Check out the SAE Creative Media Institute’s offerings on their website.


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