Young film-maker beats academy award-winner

Journey: an award-winning film by Radheya Jegatheva
Journey: an award-winning film by Radheya Jegatheva

Congratulations are due once again to Radheya Jegatheva, a talented young film-maker from Australia on his latest triumph: he’s just beaten an Academy Award winner at his own game!

Radheya is the 17-year-old son of Second Life’s Jayjay Zifanwe of UWA fame – his also an aspiring film-maker I’ve been avidly watching since catching initial footage of his then work-in-progress piece Journey, and have previously cover his short films, the machinima piece The Tyger, in July 2016 and his live action piece for the #MyFreoStory video competition in May 2016.

Radheya Jegatheva: young filmmaker and machinima maker
Radheya Jegatheva: young filmmaker and machinima maker

However it is with Journey – a story of two astronauts stranded in space – that Radheya has once again triumphed at the Port Shorts Film Festival – and in doing so, has bested 2015 Academy Award winner Patrick Osborne at his  own game!

Osborne, who won his Oscar in 2015 for the animated short film Feast, has submitted a film to the Port Shorts Film Festival entitled Pearl. However, the judging panel comprising actor and comedian Stephen Curry, executive producer Matt Hearn and Australian Film Industry Awards nominated screenwriter Kier Shorey, handed the award to Radheya.

Curry heaped praise on Journey, stating, “it baggers belief that a 17-year-old could produce such a polished and high quality film.”

As Radheya was unable to attend the event, one of the leading Australian film festivals, in person, Curry ensured he was on the telephone as the award announcements were made.

An effective-laden scene from Journey
An effects laden scene from Journey

“It was absolutely incredible to hear the winners’ announcement live and then to hear them call out Journey as the overall winner – I could hardly speak, I didn’t know what to say,” Radheya said. “I was so happy to be short-listed as that meant my film would be shown at the festival in illustrious company. I didn’t think for a second I would actually win.”

The win for Journey at Port Shorts Film Festival is part of a double triumph for Radheya: at the end of October 2016, the film took the Best Film award at the Willoughby Shorts Film Festival held in Sydney, Australia.

Once again, congratulations to a talents film-maker on both awards.

Watch The Tyger, Radheya’s latest machinima triumph

Tyger, Tyger
Tyger, Tyger

I’ve been following – albeit from a distance – the creative talent of young film-maker and machinima maker Radheya Jegatheva. The son of Second Life colleague and friend, Jayjay Zinfanwe (of University of Western Australia fame), Radheya has shown an extraordinary gift for story telling through video and animation.

In May I wrote about Radheya’s success – helped in part by Second Life residents  – in the #MyFreoStory video competition. Now the 17-year-old’s latest work has taken no fewer that three national and international prizes.

Entitled The Tyger and created using iClone 3D animation software, is a visual / aural telling of William Blake’s classic 1794 poem, The Tyger. At the end of June it received the Best Film award at the Asiagraph Reallusion 3D International Film Competition in Taiwan. Just 24 hours later it received the Best Junior Short Film award at the Warburton Film Festival, based in Victoria, in his home country of Australia, before also gaining the Best Australian Cinema Now award at the Sydney World Film Festival.

Radheya Jegatheva: young filmmaker and machinima maker
Radheya Jegatheva: young filmmaker and machinima maker

The Tyger is very much a family affair. Radheya used iClone to create the visuals seen in the film, including the stunning tiger, seen in the still in the banner to this piece. He then enlisted the help of his father to narrate the poem over the images.

Radheya selected the poem as being symbolic of a piece of very personal family history.

“The poem is a favourite of mine,” Jayjay explained as we discussed his son’s successes. “My mum would recite it to me when I was young. Then Radheya learned from his grand-aunt that the poem was the reason my mum and dad met.”

Jayjay continued, “My mum won an oratorical competition reciting The Tyger. Her prize was the opportunity to act in a major stage drama – and my dad was acting in that same drama. So they met purely because of The Tyger.”

Nor do things end there. “We’ve been informed that Tyger, Tyger has been selected for showing at two further international film festivals,” Jayjay told me.

In August, the film will be shown at the International Festival of Animated Film for Children and Youth, which will be held in Nis, Serbia – and Rayheya’s work is the only non-European selection made by the festival organisers in the 13-17 year-old category.  Then in November, it will be shown at the 6th Festival Internacional Pequeno Cineasta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The film has had an impact in other ways as well. Tim Heath,  Chair of the Blake Society in London, contacted Radheya to say the Society would be covering the film is their newsletter. Radheya and his family have also been contacted by universities and schools from across Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australia, stating they would like to use the film as a teaching tool in classes on literature, poetry and romanticism, as it presents a new means by which poetry can be interpreted.

This is another remarkable set of achievements for Radheya, and I’d like to take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations to him on all of his recent success, and to wish him all the best for the upcoming festivals in Serbia and Brazil.

Young Film-maker wins People’s Choice with a little help from Second Life

Radheya Jegatheva
Radheya Jegatheva – #MyFreoStory peoples’ choice winner, thanks to the help of Second Life users

In March 2016, the city of Freemantle in Western Australia launched the #MyFreoStory video competition. The challenge was for budding film-makers to produce a short video, promoting what the city means to them.

Run entirely on-line, the competition was intended ” to showcase the many different aspects of Freo through the eyes of locals, visitors and anyone else with an interest and passion for Freo.”

Films could be entered into one of two categories, adjudicated and People’s Choice. One winner in each category would be awarded Aus $2,250 in cash and a further Aus $1,250 in prize vouchers, with the winning entry in the People’s Choice category being decided on the highest tally of likes and comments received though social media platforms such as Titter (hence the hashtag title of the competition), Facebook, Google+,  and so on.

In April, I was one of a number of people friend and colleague Jayjay Zinfanwe contacted concerning his son’s entry in the People’s Choice category of the competition. Having previously witnessed Radheya Jegatheva’s narrative and film-making skills through his excellent Journey, I was immediately intrigued and, having watched the film, more than happy to show my support. 

I wasn’t alone. People from Second Life and around the world were liking and praising the video as word spread. Even so, as Jayjay reports, writing in the University of Western Australia’s SL blog, Radheya faced an uphill battle. His entry came just four days before voting closed, and the leading contender for the Peoples’ Choice award, Virtuosity by Harry  Jones & Jordan Swindell had been gathering points for some two weeks. Nevertheless, My Journey Through Freo – entirely filmed using an iPhone, I might add – quickly gained traction.

“In the first day [it] had cut the lead by half,” Jayajay comments. “This swift rise by the newcomer was quickly noticed, and the ante was upped by other contenders with varied posts on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Google+ and Instagram, among others, and the battle was on.”

Even so, it was a close-run thing between the two top entries, again as Jayjay relates:

A surge of support from Twitter then pushed Virtuosity in front, by a seemingly insurmountable margin one day before the close of voting. Twitter votes seemed to surge by the hundreds with every Twitter post. However, steady support across the following 24 hours a great number of which came from Second Life saw the lead change hands again leading to a tense final 12 hours where it remained close enough to go either way.

In the end, My Journey Through Freo pipped Virtuosity at the post, allowing Radheya to deservedly take #MyFreoStory People’s Choice prize.

In commenting on his son’s winning entry, Jayjay is convinced that it was the input from Second Life residents which gave Radheya the win. More particularly, it is interesting to now that throughout the voting process, Second Life users appeared to demonstrate greater involvement with the film than was perhaps witnessed through other social media channels, providing Radheya with a lot of direct support through comment and feedback.

This has led Jayjay to ponder whether research is warranted into the nature, strength and responsiveness of the various communities built via the various social media channels. It would certainly be interesting to see how effective a medium Second Life is in terms of providing a social platform on which to share news and information.

For now however, I’ll leave the closing words to Radheya himself, while congratulating him on a great little video and a great win. And who said Second Life users don’t have a voice? 🙂

Getting a little bookish with Berry


Strawberry Singh offered another of her Monday Memes. I don’t tend to do a lot of them, but every so often one grabs my attention and does prompt me to actually start, well, thinking. Her Book Meme is one such example, in which she asks her readers to divulge their reading habits through a series of questions. So here are my answers…

Are you a bookworm? Probably, yes. There are bookcases crammed with books in almost every room in the house.

Which do you prefer: hardcover, paperback or electronic? Depends. My reference books, cookery books, history books, biographies etc., are almost all hardcover. Novels, anthologies,  etc., are almost all paperback, as they’re the ones that travel with me on holiday, etc. I’ve yet to really like electronic formats. That may eventually change now I have a tablet.

Which book is your favourite? That’s a tough one. I’m not sure I have “a” favourite, but there are a number I love to read and try to make a point of diving into every so often just for the “old friend” feeling I get from them.

Which children’s book is your favourite? That’s easier: The Hobbit, because it takes me back to my childhood and Dad reading it to me at bedtime.

What’s the last book you’ve read? Criminal Shadows, Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer by David Canter, the UK’s pioneering expert in psychological profiling. Prior to that, Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox’s memoir.

Name your top five favourite writers.  I can’t do five! Arthur Conan Doyle, P.D. James, James Ellroy, Patricia Cornwell , Colin Dexter; J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, David Eddings, G.R.R. Martin; Greg Bear, Kate Wilhelm, Melinda Snodgrass; Douglas Adams, Tom Holt; Shakespeare, Homer, Chaucer, Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan,  …  I’ll stop there … 🙂

Name a book that had a strong impact on you. Fiction-wise, probably Juniper Time, by Kate Wilhelm. A little dated nowadays, but a powerful story with compelling characters.  Non-fiction, there’s more than one that stands out to me, all for different reasons.

Favourite & least favourite book genres? Favourites: fiction-wise: crime, science-fiction, fantasy; I also like biographies, and I read a lot of reference works. Least favourites: historical romances, romances, anything to do with Harry Potter (see, you’re not alone, Berry!) …

Favourite & least favourite book-to-movie adaptations? In terms of number of times watched, probably Lord of the Rings (there’s a surprise!). I’ve been enjoying Game of Thrones (GRRM’s Song of Ice and Fire), and have DVD boxed sets of things like Sherlock Holmes (Brett & Hardwicke) and Inspector Morse, which can be the visual equivalents of sitting down with the books.  Least favourite: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. No studio can match the power of one’s own imagination when it comes to travelling through Adams’ wonky galaxy.

Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone? No.

Where do you usually buy your books? Waterstones for the most part, or on-line.

Do you go to the library? No.

How many books do you own? A lot. Seriously.

If you were to write a book about Second Life, which topic would you focus on? The history of the platform and its social positioning.