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ARIA nomination sets the tone for homegrown filmmaker

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Now this is a story to get your down by the beach teeth into. Young man from McCrae meets female busker from Frankston because of someone else’s stuff-up. Music video is produced after a single that reaches No.1 in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Germany and Sweden, among others, is released by a girl with a funked-up melodic vocal rip.  An ARIA nomination for Best Music Video is announced via Instagram and director/editor Liam Kelly is freaking out at midnight in his home studio. Now let’s fill in the gaps.

I’m chatting with 21-year-old Liam while he’s in Red Hill scouting out a location for his next music video. The phone dips in and out like it always does and the crackling hums like an earworm that just doesn’t want to give in. But one thing is clear: this Mornington Peninsula creative is making his dream happen by hard work and forming like-minded connections along the way. As they say, it’s not what you know but who you know. Maybe so, but there’s no way you get the gigs if the product ain’t top dollar.

Liam explains: “I’ve been playing guitar for years and initially wanted a music career. Then I was going to study audio engineering or maybe do a film degree. I was just obsessed with making videos and short films during the last couple of years of my schooling at Padua College. I met the founder of the Peninsula Film Festival, Steve Bastoni, through the Victorian Government-run FReeZA program and got a job as his personal assistant on one of his short films, then met my mate, cinematographer Anthony Littlechild, and other film and video makers. I also won the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Peninsula Film Festival for my short film Drawn. I’ve been working full-time as a freelance director and editor for the last three years.”

And how did he get the Tones and I gig? He continues: “I didn’t know Tones before doing her video, which happened by chance. It was just a coincidence that she came from the Mornington Peninsula. I was doing some work for the production company Visible Studios when the job landed on the table. Another production company had pulled out at the last minute, Tones and I’s single Dance Monkey had already been released and the video had to be produced fast, so that’s what my co-director Nick Kozakis and I did. Shooting happened in a day and the weather was against us. The best thing about being on the set was how funny Tones was. She just wanted to have fun playing a crazy character and made it clear that guys always get to have fun in videos while girls are often seen as more serious and ‘sexy’, and she wanted to change that. She was wearing prosthetics to make her look like an old man and everyone is having a great time on the Eynesbury Golf Course, which is past Hoppers Crossing. It worked.”

Yes, it did. The ARIAs will be broadcast on the Nine Network on November 22, which is when Liam and Nick will find out if Dance Monkey wins Best Music Video. Until then, this young man who grew up between the Middle East and Australia to land in Boronia and then McCrae will continue to direct and edit his young heart out. He frequently collaborates with three production companies covering everything from corporate videos and social media advertising to TV advertising/shows and music videos. He’s thinking big.

He chuckles: “Being nominated for an ARIA music award gives us some credence. At least my family, including my four younger brothers, and my friends actually think I’m doing something now.”

Keep on keeping on, Liam. And Tones too. From the Mornington Peninsula out into the world, we rock. 


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