Emo The Musical Gets Screen Australia Funding

19/10/2015 8:30 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Emo the Musical is one of only three films to receive funding from Screen Australia this year, after the 15 minute short was a huge hit at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The story revolves around a high school gang of emos, including the moody Ethan, who falls in love with a girl from the Christian gang called Trinity. Needless to say, the match is not met with approval by either side of the fence. But does true love conquer all?

Emo Defined:

A genre of softcore punk music that integrates unenthusiastic melodramatic 17 year olds who dont smile, high pitched overwrought lyrics and inaudible guitar rifts with tight wool sweaters, tighter jeans, itchy scarfs (even in the summer), ripped chucks with favorite bands signature, black square rimmed glasses, and ebony greasy unwashed hair that is required to cover at least 3/5 ths of the face at an angle. -- Urban Dictionary

Emo was written and directed by 27-year-old Melbourne filmmaker Neil Triffett, who also wrote all the music. Triffett told The Huffington Post Australia, the concept of a member of this subculture in a musical was intended as a pun, because most would hate to be in a musical.

He’s hoping Emo will join Australia’s proud history of films with music, such as Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding, Priscilla, Bran Nue Dae and The Sapphires.

Inspiration came from Triffett's high school in Tasmania, where the music department was filled with a big group of goths and emos, alongside a big group of Christians.

“Everyone got on pretty well but there was a bit of tension about using the space together. So that’s when I started thinking about having an Emo in a musical. I sat with the idea for ages, then the ‘holy war’ aspect came into my head and that’s when I thought my idea has legs!” Triffett said.

“We spend a lot of time laughing about stereotypes. But Emo the Musical is really a story about love and tolerance. You can be an Emo if you like, you can be a Christian if you want. Or don’t feel you have to belong to any group. Accept yourself as well.”

The short film debuted to critical acclaim at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival; Neil attributes much of its success to the fact that it’s a light film that came after a run of dark, disturbing films.

“The film that screened in Berlin just before ours was about a young boy killing his dog. So, for the audience, ours was a nice breath of fresh air! But I think the message resonates with a lot of people,” Triffett said.

The short film was shot in just one week, on a tiny budget of just $10,000. The incredibly talented young leading actors didn’t come to the film in the traditional way; through agents.

“We found it difficult to go through agents so we skipped that process. I’d met lead actress Charlotte Nicdao at a film festival and thought she’d be perfect. Then we found Harry Borland, the lead actor, through other short films, after doing a call-out for boys who could possibly be Emo. The shoot wasn’t easy because we were producing an album on top of it. But we had an amazing crew who really carried us.”

While Screen Australia’s funding is generous, there is still a $40,000 gap the film makers need to fill before production starts. They’ve set up a crowdfunding site at Pozible and are already one-third of the way towards their goal. But they are hoping those people who loved the short, will help support the feature. Fans can follow Emo the Musical on social media too.

“Nobody really wants to watch 1950s musicals anymore and the popularity of Pitch Perfect shows audiences do love modern movies with music. Australia has done some great musicals in the past, but it’s not something we’re famous for. So there’s a great opportunity for us to produce a musical that’s new and ground breaking. The irony of having Emos in a musical is quite beautiful too.”

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