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Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge Australia Fosters Local Talent

27 January 2021
Behind the scenes of shortlisted South Australian film Happy Anniversary. Image courtesy Lisa Bishop.

Epic Games together with the South Australian Film Corporation and other state screening agencies are pleased to announce the culmination of the first Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge.

Participating filmmakers ranged in levels of creative and technical experience, and the quality of the resulting short films is a testament to the fantastic talent in the region, and the power that real-time tools put in the hands of creatives.

Over 1,800 aspiring and seasoned artists and filmmakers from all across Australia took part in free Unreal Engine online training over the course of two weeks, through which they learned the latest techniques in real-time animation and virtual production, and then teamed up to create short film pitches. Sixteen of the top pitches were selected and given $20,000 AUS to produce a short film in six weeks. Among these sixteen films were two South Australian pitches:

Time Writers

Filmmaker: Bree Whitford Smith

10-year-old Claire has some issues to discuss, and much to the school counsellor’s surprise, it has nothing to do with her disability. Claire has just moved towns and schools and her imaginary friends CC and Barry have suddenly reappeared. On top of that, she discovered a time travelling encyclopedia and is now enlisted as a ‘Time Writer’ to help guard history. The school counsellor indulges Claire and listens to her fantastical stories, he even asks for more details. Can Claire trust him or is there something more sinister about his interest?

Happy Anniversary

Filmmaker: Lisa Bishop

When happily married couple Jess and Jake take a hot air balloon ride to celebrate their anniversary, things go very wrong as they discover an uninvited passenger on board – a deadly brown snake! Add to the mix an unconscious pilot, a giant wedge tail eagle looking for his next meal, a school of blue ringed octopi, and this bumpy ride is not exactly the “happy” anniversary they thought they’d celebrate

Of the final shorts, “Cassini Logs” submitted by NSW creatives, was selected as the top film receiving a $50,000 AUS grand prize.

“The level of production quality achieved in these shorts is remarkable considering the tight six-week turnaround,” said Connie Kennedy, Head of Los Angeles Lab, Epic Games. “These incredibly talented filmmakers, many who were using Unreal Engine for the first time, produced a portfolio of sophisticated live action and animated films. We’re delighted that many of these filmmakers are pursuing efforts to develop their projects further into episodic series and full-length features.”

All Australian state screen agencies: Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Tasmania, Screen Queensland, Screen Canberra, Screenwest, South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Territory came together to put the call out for participants across the country. The sixteen selected filmmaking teams also collaborated with visual effects facilities, production studios, and universities across Australia to leverage every tool in the virtual production playbook from LED stage shoots, to real-time animation workflows, to performance capture, in-camera visual effects, and VR.

The resulting films portray everything from futuristic journeys into alternate universes under the sea and in outer space, to suspenseful live-action narratives with stunning visual effects, and thoughtful, whimsical fully animated tales. To view the films, visit


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