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Interview with Filmmaker Trent Bartfeld of Great Western

This week's NewFilmmakersLA Spotlight is on Trent Bartfeld of the film, Great Western. Get to know Bartfeld's' work, learn about his latest project, inspirations and catch a few tips for filmmakers just starting out.

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it. 

I commenced writing the film in November 2007, during a federal election, provoked and disappointed by the way that the conservative government in Australia, desperately trying to hold power, so cynically exploited divisive questions of national identity in order to create a wedge issue to drive their otherwise moribund campaign. I subsequently worked on the script off-and-on for a few years between other projects, before coming back to it for a major re-write in 2010, after some insightful notes from my then writing partner. The film was always intended to be a chamber piece, where the question of who and what is a ‘real’ Australian could be explored... Unfortunately, setting it in a moving taxi needlessly complicated the making of film.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

There are more people that deserve thanks, than I can name. However, I’d like to include those who had no direct contribution to the finished film like the friends and family who offered encouragement and/or space for me to be creative. Plus, the entire cast and crew of this project, Screen New South Wales for funding it, and finally my wife – the director – without whom nothing would be possible.

How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?

It’s a privilege any time a filmmaker gets to share their work, and screening at NewFilmmakers at Sunset Gower Studios is particularly exciting and delightful as it provides us with the opportunity to reach an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience in the world’s filmmaking epicenter. Additionally, it is gratifying that our film - with its Australian themes, storyworld, and issues - has the chance to expose a little bit of contemporary Australia society to an international audience.

What inspires you?

I find those who take the complex and abstract, and make it digestible, entertaining, and hopefully a little bit enlightening, inspire me. Those who pursue their passion, taking chances, in spite of all practicality and logic also inspire me. Plus, those who simply seek to learn something new every day, and then apply their knowledge are very inspiring.

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

The list is almost endless, although at the top are: my grandfathers, Noam Chomsky, Tony Wilson, Daniel Elsberg, Bradley Manning and Stanley Kubrick.

What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

Be humble. Be respectful. Be patient. Work hard. Re-draft, then re-draft again. Find the joy in what you are doing.  Never stop learning. Work will always be improved when collaborating with talented people who you like and respect. And, controversially, I find that the Three Act Story Structure is indispensible to crafting a workable screenplay.

If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

In a fantasy world… Billy Wilder and Jean-Pierre Melville. In the real world… Anyone that has a great vision or idea, and the commitment to see it come to fruition.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

In the industry – learning to accept rejection, and to deal with people that don’t necessarily deserve your respect and/or trust.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Know what you want… but more importantly, know when you have it.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?

Refer to answers for the previous questions about lessons learnt so far, toughest experiences, and best advice. Oh, accept that William Goldman was right…You, just like everyone else, know nothing. It’s incredibly liberating.

Where can we expect to see you next?

You can see me at the bar, after the screening, happy and excited to chat with everyone.
I have written two short films, THE TRAIL and DEPTHS, which due to make their debut this year. Otherwise, I am currently working in development at a Hollywood-based production company.

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.  

Ask me directly or refer to my wife, Tanya Goldberg, who is not only a great director, but also serves as my unofficial publicist. I’m terrible at promoting myself. You can see updates of our projects at:

For more information, visit:

About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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