Now in its 5th year, the Real Film Festival brings in an estimated $2million into the Hunter economy each year and as she grows, organisers believe this will only increase the tourist opportunity in the region and have a real impact on overnight visitations.

But this was not always the case, Festival organiser, Annette Hubber of Screen Hunter said.

The festival’s early years were held together by sheer determination and passion – those early days have been described by Annette as ‘run on the shell of an oily rag’.

But one woman’s drive and an industry’s unwavering passion has seen the RFF evolve into a significant player on the Australian film festival scene, one that is fast becoming entrenched in the Australian arts calendar.

“Festivals like this are significant to the culture of Newcastle,” Annette said.

“For our industry to sustain we need to have talented people stay here, study here and collaborate here. That is why we include a full day of industry workshops; they are a great way for young emerging talent to connect with industry leaders.”

The festival celebrates the art of storytelling real events through film and attracts a diverse and passionate audience from all over the country. Among them in attendance for 2016 are; director Ian Hamilton (Rabbit Proof fence, Honeymoon in Kabul), filmbreaker Jason Van Genderen (Chocolate, You’re doing it wrong, Tarra Australia).

It is one of the key objectives of the RFF that in future years that accommodation and entertainment sales would increase significantly in the city over the Festival weekend and build on industry awareness.

“We attract some of the industry’s most elite and while these film professionals are in the region it is a great opportunity to promote the Hunter as an ideal location for their next production,” Annette said.

This year, the Festival program will include activities for industry guests at some of the Hunter’s premier filming locations like wine tasting in Hunter vineyards, a tour on Stockton Sand Dunes and other hot spots to showcase the Hunter’s variety of shooting locations.

Not that it needs much introduction, the Hunter’s film industry is literally booming. This year alone Screen Hunter permitted 108 film, stills, and television productions in the Hunter, a further 129 projects were filmed on private land and an additional 155 enquiries were received since

January 2016.This has resulted in 746 short term local jobs created in 270 days – that’s approximately 2.7 new jobs created each day and equates to more than $2million regional spend as a direct result of film!

The visitor economy plays an important role in the Hunter, contributing almost $2 billion and growing. That is around 12.5% of the value of the NSW visitor economy, making the Hunter a key player in the tourism future of the State.

The Real Film Festival offers the discerning tourist a chance to immerse in a complete arts experience, set to the backdrop of Newcastle’s thriving arts community. Leisure Events make up a $83.6million spend in the region and the Festival contributes to this figure by injection about $2million into the Hunter’s economy.

The Festival engages those in the community of diverse cultural backgrounds. More than 31% of the short films screened at last year’s festival were foreign films which were promoted throughout the appropriate communities and we will continue to do this again over the coming years.

“We are working with international distributors to continue screening culturally diverse films and those that help raise awareness on disabilities and disability care,” Annette said.

Opening day is dedicated to fostering the talent here in Newcastle. Friday October 28 brings with it with a bumper series of industry workshops and Q&A events to inspire and motivate young or emerging talent. There will be a full day of industry workshops and a panel discussion featuring leading minds from the Australian film industry.

“These workshops provide incredible opportunities for young, emerging or even established filmmakers to learn from the best,” Ms Hubber said.

The skills development workshops are run by some of the industry’s best practitioners and include topics like: ‘script writing, ‘editing’ and ‘acting for screen’ through to ‘sound design’ and ‘special effects makeup’.

The workshops give participants the tools and knowledge to help them create their next film project and keep abreast of current trends with workshops like ‘introduction to game design’, iPhone cinematography’ plus ‘social media and other online successes’.

There are 10 workshops and a Panel Discussion with some of the industry’s most respected practitioners will be held at Newcastle TAFE Hunter Street Campus – Newcastle Film and Media School.

The workshops give participants the tools and knowledge to help them create their next film project and keep abreast of current trends with workshops like ‘introduction to game design’, iPhone cinematography’ plus ‘social media and other online successes’.

“The festival could not happen without our partnerships – that’s the strength of the festival, both local industry and our invaluable volunteers,” Annette said.

“Our volunteers are unwavering and many are still with us from the very first festival, such is their passion. That’s reflective of the whole city really, passionate about the creative arts!”