The first fragments of success
If a young woman approaches you after you've done a hilarious five minutes on shared housing for your mates in the pub and asks for your phone number, give it to her. Chances are it's Kacie Anning talent scouting funny people for her Fragments of Friday web–based comedy series that she writes, directs and co–stars in.
This little jewel of human observation is quietly gathering a keen audience, not just for its joyous celebration of friendship, but also for its affectionate and incisive reporting back from the edge of modern urban life.
'It's a love letter to female friendship in general, and to my friendship group in particular,' Kacie told fellow Media Super member John Dickson happily revealing that many of her own footprints on the planet are offered up as inspiration. Though she concedes that her character, Alex, is a heightened version of the real Kacie.
In Fragments, we get to eavesdrop as twentysomethings Alex and close mates Sophie (Sarah Armanious) and Maddie (Madeleine Jones), catapult headlong into another weekend, artfully capturing what it means to be open to...well, anything.
Not some well–intentioned amateur outing, Kacie and co–creator/producer Courtney Wise, have surrounded themselves with a troupe of precocious young talent, both technical and in performance. And it shows.
Now in its second season, Kacie describes Fragment's tone as 'laconic and relaxed, punctuated with sudden outbursts of heightened comedy'. Add intelligence to this and a kind of worldly knowingness, and you get the idea.
Thanks for the memories
Kacie is keen to acknowledge the old US sitcom Laverne and Shirley, especially its physical comedy, as a seminal influence on her work. Pile this on to her love affair with film from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema that began from the moment the then 16–year–old stumbled across Breakfast at Tiffany's, and intensified as she feasted on the romances, screwball comedies and the musicals of that era, and you get some insight into the sunny body of work that she is now becoming known for.
A native of Mackay, Kacie earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television from the Brisbane–based Queensland University of Technology, before accepting one of eight places at Sydney's Australian Film Television Radio School (AFTRS) post–graduate directing course.
Here she wrote and directed three new short films, with her documentary Far From You winning Best Experimental Film at the Atlanta International Shortsfest. At the year's end, Kacie was awarded the highly coveted Foxtel Scholarship for Exceptional New Talent.
Then she backed her vision, called in all favours, crowd–funded a paltry $6,000 and eked out the six episodes that make up the first series of Fragments.
Kacie has just finished a year that would exhaust a lesser being. Not only did she complete the second series of Fragments, this time properly funded by Screen Australia Multiplatform Funding, she wrote and directed a six–episode branded content series for Sydney Opera House's Festival of Dangerous Ideas entitled Viral Girl, and a four–episode delicious satire for the same client's All About Women Festival, in which Gretel Killeen stars as the Minister for Men.
She even found time to write and direct the promotional trailer for Flickerfest 25th year of celebrating the short film, in which she resurrected Marilyn Monroe and had her sing a breathy Happy Birthday to Australia's only Academy® accredited and BAFTA recognised short film festival. Kacie is an alumnus of Flickerfest, having shown two of her films at the Media Super supported event. Her third, First & Second, which she of course wrote, directed and starred in, debuted at this year's event in January.
Flickerfest director Bronwyn Kidd said she chooses a different festival alumni to direct the trailer each year. She was very impressed by Kacie's comedy talent exhibited over past films screened at Flickerfest, and believed she would create a clever twist on the Marilyn Monroe theme.
As to the future, Kacie would love to do more with Fragments, even extend it to half–hour episodes for television – a medium she feels is going through a very exciting phase.
'There is, however, one singular advantage to the web–based short–form – preservation of integrity of the voice, which means you don't have to compromise on the tone of the jokes or the language,' she laughs.
There has long been a gender imbalance in the Australian screen industry. This is most notable in film where women make up only one third of producers, 23% of the writers and a mere 16% of directors.
Kacie is thrilled that the Screen Australia has just announced a $5million project, entitled Gender Matters, aimed at redressing this disparity within three years. She also applauded Screen NSW which has already introduced a plan to achieve 50/50 equity by 2020.
'I realise that a quota can be controversial, but there are signs everywhere of young women doing innovative work across our industry, and especially on the web. If we can do anything to support them, the payoff will be worth it – for practitioners and audiences alike. This is the right place and the right time for women to be in the creative industries,' she said.
At this time of her life, while the work is coming in, she is rolling up her sleeves.
'As long as you can still afford a $10 bottle of wine, you're going ok,' smiles an effervescent star on the rise.