After years of backpacking around the world, UTS alumnus Sean Kruck decided it was time to get serious. He enrolled in a Bachelor of Business degree with the aim of establishing a career in the music industry, but his elective subject choices started a love affair with filmmaking that led him down a different path – earning him festival awards and much-deserved respect by peers in the process.
“I kept on enrolling in subjects that took me well beyond my elective credits, mainly because I wanted to keep making things,” says Kruck of his drive to learn about and practice all aspects of his craft. He took away a wealth of knowledge about film history and production, adding to the skills honed through his business major. “There is no set career path in film: people come at it from so many different angles – as writers, designers, photographers, business people,” he adds.
“I kept on enrolling in subjects that took me well beyond my elective credits, mainly because I wanted to keep making things.”
Now a widely acclaimed filmmaker, Kruck’s latest short feature, Snowblind, won him the Best Director award at Flickerfest, and screened at numerous other film festivals in Australia and overseas, including the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.
Snowblind delves into the complex and emotional world of a teenager during a difficult weekend in his life. Set in rural Australia in the seventies, Kruck says the script – which he also wrote – was partly inspired by his adolescent years in Canberra. “From my experience, teenage life in the country or suburbia at the time was permeated with an inescapable feeling of isolation and ennui.” And, like the film’s main character, Kruck also confesses to being a big fan of KISS when he was about 10.
A glance at Kruck’s growing list of credits reveals a fascination with themes of adolescence. Like many filmmakers, he is drawn to the characteristic raw emotions and first time experiences: “Seemingly small events have major significance at this age, as these can be events that shape us as [we] move toward the adulthood”.
In fact, Kruck made his directorial TV debut on Channel Ten’s hit drama Puberty Blues. “It was such an honour and a pleasure to be able to work with some of Australia’s best actors and on such an iconic story”, he says, and cites shooting surfing scenes and hanging out with the actors at the beach amongst the project highlights.
Kruck draws inspiration, support and encouragement from colleagues in the field, amongst them good friend Nash Edgerton, Leah Churchill Brown, Paul Goodman, Animal Kingdom director David Michod, and Somersault director Cate Shortland.
On the back of Snowblind’s success, there are more exciting projects in the pipeline for Kruck. Earlier this year, he attended the Binger Writer’s Lab in Amsterdam, a prestigious screenwriting incubator that only takes eight projects a year, each in the early stages of development. Here, he worked on his script for a feature film about “a real life Australian Evel Knievel-style motorcycle daredevil”, centred on a father-son relationship.
Although his university years are behind him, Kruck’s enthusiasm for learning and experimenting remains, and is a big factor in his success. He loved his UTS experience, and urges students to take full advantage of these experimental years to know and understand their passions, and then work towards applying it to a suitable career – rather than needing to know their exact vocation at the outset.
It certainly seems as though Kruck has discovered a winning formula for reaching fulfilment in life and work. And his advice for others looking to follow his path and enter the filmmaking industry? “Jump in and make films, try as many different roles as you can and see what you like. [After all,] the best filmmakers have a strong understanding of all facets of the industry”.
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