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September 26, 2019

Test Fest is a new film festival for emerging South Australian filmmakers

For one night, the Queen’s Theatre will transform into a pop-up cinema as seasoned and emerging South Australian filmmakers present their new works at the inaugural Test Fest film festival.

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  • Words: Jessica Bassano
  • Pictures: Supplied
  • Stills: 'Bushranger' by Andrew Ilicic

The oldest surviving theatre space in mainland Australia will house up to 300 film-enthusiasts for a new Adelaide film festival on Friday, 11 October.

Festival director Manny Ashman says he searched for a venue that was “uniquely Australian” before stumbling across the historic Adelaide playhouse.


Test Fest
6pm Friday, 11 October
Queen’s Theatre
Playhouse Lane & Gilles Arcade, Adelaide 5000
Tickets are $25, or $20 for under-18s and concession holders (contact


“The Queen’s Theatre is a pretty interesting space… It’s basically a warehouse that’s been completely gutted,” Manny says.

“We were really attached to the idea of a pop-up cinema for this screening, this idea of watching films in a different way.

“So, on one side [of the space] we’ve got an eclectic mix of seating, with a small amount of tiered seating, and the other side is a bit more of a cocktail lounge.

“We’re suspending a three-by-three-metre screen in the middle of the theatre – not at the end. We’re going to have two projectors, one on either side, projecting so the screen is double sided… It’s going to be very different to most screening experiences that people will have had.

“We’re trying to lean into more of a music festival, art exhibition kind of vibe.”

Like the test screenings the festival takes its name from, Manny says Test Fest will be an opportunity for filmmakers to receive feedback or simply gauge audience responses before completing their films.

He says the short film festival aims to enable South Australian creatives with a diverse mix of experience to show rough cuts and fully completed films in a single forum.

“The emcee or filmmaker will introduce the film, talk a little bit about what inspired the film and what they’re looking for audiences to give them feedback on,” Manny says.

“We’ll screen the film, which will run for about 10 to 30 minutes, and then there’ll be a break when people can give feedback and fill out forms or… get a drink.”

Manny estimates around eight flicks will show, with genres ranging from documentary to drama, including Bushranger (working title, pictured above) by filmmaker Andrew Ilicic.

The event will also feature a c-stand relay.

“A c-stand is a lighting stand or grip equipment stand. People attach all kinds of rigging to them,” Manny explains.

“They’re a little bit notorious in that there are all different shapes and sizes and it seems like a simple piece of equipment but it can be quite tricky, even for an experienced person, to set up because they’re all so different.

“The c-stand relay is really just like an activity that’s a way of meeting others, that isn’t just chatting and having a drink, and is just something that’s a bit fun.

“Anyone is welcome to do it, and I hope lots of people who have no idea about film-making and c-stands can join in because it will be really cool… It would be a great way for people who are really interested in film-making, and maybe haven’t done it before, to be on a team with some filmmakers.”

Teams of four will race to see who can set up four c-stands the fastest in a relay-style format where an equipment bag acts as a baton.

Manny says he’s hopeful the all-ages event draws people from not only creative industries but a broad spectrum of backgrounds.

“We’re trying to make it more about the arts community that just a regular film festival, which can get a bit impersonal if you don’t know too many people.”

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