Mountains start helped Katoomba couple to international success

Tessa McKay, star of The Paper Boat, in a still from the film.
Tessa McKay, star of The Paper Boat, in a still from the film.

A Katoomba couple who won the audience award at the Blue Mountains Short Film Festival earlier this year have just returned from the US where they gained further honours.

The Paper Boat by Rachele Wildmare (known as Mare, the director and composer) and Nellie Collins (director of photography) won the audience choice award at The Lonely Seal International Film & Screenplay Festival in Boston, USA.

The short film was also selected as a semi-finalist at Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder Colorado, for best film score and made official selection for the International Sound & Film Music Festival in Pula Croatia.

This week, it made the official selection for the Los Angeles Film Awards in the category of best score.

And it all started at this year’s Mountains film festival, Blue Shorts, where they won people’s choice and best music awards.

The Paper Boat is based on the true story of Mare’s progressive school teacher mother raising her to believe in her creative power. The main character is played by one of her young violin students, Tessa Mckay.

“It’s also about me as an adult forgetting, then remembering, my childhood dream of becoming an accomplished violinist living a creative and exciting life,” she said.

In their day jobs, the couple run Strings on Fire, performing shows for corporate and special events around Australia, Asia and worldwide. Mare fiddles while Nellie literally burns – performing with fire.

Mare teaches at her home studio in Katoomba and also runs the strings program at Blue Mountains Steiner School.

“Through teaching violin and performance craft, I endeavour to pass on my performance experience and give something back to aspiring musicians.”

She paid credit to local guitarist, Bernie White.

“I doubt I could have won the film music awards without his help. Bernie added another dimension to the film with exquisite flamenco improvisations to my original music.”

The couple are already thinking of their film for the 2019 Blue Shorts (see story here)

”If all goes to plan, we will again premiere at this warm-hearted, community-minded event,” said Mare.

Tessa McKay

Tessa McKay

Rachel Wildmare - Mare - in a still from the film

Rachel Wildmare - Mare - in a still from the film

Mare and her partner, Nellie, in their day jobs. This is at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Mare and her partner, Nellie, in their day jobs. This is at the Brisbane Convention Centre.