From indie feature film to working with the ABC – A Conversation with Filmmaker Nat Kelly

Nat photographed by Sophie Turner

Nat Kelly is an Australian filmmaker, reporter, and TV presenter. He has made multiple award-winning short films, written and directed a feature film and web series and now works as a reporter and presenter for Behind the News.

 As soon as I discovered Nat’s work I was fascinated. At such a young age he has already accomplished so much and still constantly puts out shorts while working as a reporter.  Nat is truly an inspiration for indie filmmakers and this conversation made me excited for the future of Australian films.

Short Films

Where did your filmmaking journey really begin?

“When I was 5 or 6 I was interested in video cameras. Me and my sister had one camcorder which we would use to film and pretend we were newscasters. The whole storytelling side came when I was 10 when I was involving my sisters and friends to make skits.”

How did After Tracy change your filmmaking journey?

“I really appreciate what it did for me at the time and what it meant for me and my friends. It gave us a lot of confidence to go forward and make other things.”

How have you consistently put out so many short films in such a short period of time? (Process)

“Sometimes we want to make a film so bad that we write it that afternoon and shoot it the next day. The ones that take a bit longer have to be done in the holidays.”

We’re Family Now?

Can you run through the process making an indie feature film?

“I was rewriting the film as we were shooting. We were casting as we were going as well (something which is reflected in the costumes). It was all us – me, Thomas, Max, Joseph and my sister. Having such a small crew made us really bond and develop a shorthand. It was a lot of admin cause I knew no one who wanted to produce.”

Most challenging parts of shooting a feature

Nat Kelly (left) and Joseph Baronion (right) on set

“The biggest hurdle was writing. My struggle was actually putting pen to paper. Once it was done, it became the on set morale. There is this uphill battle of trying to get your crew on board with your ideas. The pressure is on me to giving them everything they need. But eventually you reach a point where you are getting feedback and collaborating together. It takes the pressure off you and makes the end result better.”

How did selling out a cinema feel?

“It felt validating for us because we had only made short films before. Feature films had always been a bar to reach and once we hit it, it was a bucket list item ticked off.”

Fracketty Frack

Your process writing Fracketty Frack

“It was inspired by the Government in the NT threatening to lift the fracking ban. I put a line of tape across a wall and put beats in between as I think of ideas. We wrote it originally as a feature and they didn’t want a feature so we changed it to a web series. It took me around 4 months to write.”

How did Screen Australia and Screen Territories grant help?

“It was really good. They were very hands off. I only had funding to write the script and not the actual production. It was almost like I had all the control over the production. I only wished it got a bit bigger towards the end since it was a screen Australia project.”                                  

Cast / crew of Fracketty Frack

What has making a webs series taught you?

“One key thing it taught me was being okay to rewrite on set. Being close with the writer or being the writer yourself helps make sure you know what is best for the story. Nothing is sacred, you just have to care for the final project.”

Behind the News

Nat on Behind the News

What have you learnt from working on an ABC News Program?

“It’s taught me the skill of being okay with repetition. It’s about bringing freshness to it every day and always keeping it entertaining.”

How has running Behind the News helped you with your filmmaking skills?

“It’s ultimately helped me hone my skills every day to being able to make content as quickly as possible. It has given me the confidence to make my own stuff quicker cause I know I can make 5 minutes of content daily.”


4 of your favourite movies?

The Castle, Hunt for the Wilder People, Hot Fuzz. There’s also one film that I have never told anyone because it is ridiculous. It is Thomas and the Magic Railroad. I think what fascinates me about it is the production woes it had have taught me a lot about filmmaking. The making of it is more interesting than the actual film.”

Nat Kelly (middle) and Thomas Field (right) on set

Who are your biggest filmmaking influences?

I love everything Working Dog do. I love the way they work; they just make something no matter what. That ethos of lets just do something is something I love. Also, Taika Waititi and Edgar Wright.”

What is your one film wish?

“I would love to be involved with a Wes Anderson film. Especially the Art Department.

The Future

If you want to say, what is next for you?

“I really want to make some short films. I would also love to make another longer film for storytelling reasons. It’s more of an event and people sit around together to watch your film.”

Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?

“I would like to see the Australian film industry pivot in a way where there is more of an opportunity for filmmakers to take risks. We have some amazing talent that I would love to see more of.”

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