Jillian is on a train, taking her young girls home from the Easter Show. They’re all tired, it’s been a big day. Three year old Marli is verging on hysterical as she flirts and plays peekaboo with a man sitting opposite. Jillian begins to be feel disturbed by the interest the man is showing in her daughter. Leaving the train, they enter a multistory car park to retrieve their car. Marli disappears amid a game of peekaboo, and Jillian races off to find her, leaving behind Marisa, 5. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Jillian’s search grows increasingly frantic as she struggles to suppress her fear that something terrible has happened to Marli. Suddenly she sees the man from the train sliding shut the side door of a white van. Jillian runs to her daughter’s rescue.
I grew up in Launceston, Tasmania: pop: 60,000; cinema: 1. It was there, as a teenager at the local film society, that he fell in love with movies. After completing an Arts/Law degree in Hobart, he moved to Sydney to take up a position on the Film Classification Board. He started writing and directing soon after he arrived, and after making a few shorts, he enrolled in a MA in Directing at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).
Damien recently directed two short films (Bat Eyes, Boot) for the Voices Project – an initiative by Australian Theatre for Young People to nurture the next generation of Australian writers. Both films were semi-finalists (from 15,000 submissions) in YouTube’s inaugural Your Film Festival. Bat Eyes was voted a finalist and screened at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. Since their debut online in March 2012 the films have had over 240,000 views.
In 2011 Damien’s short film Peekaboo was a finalist in the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films at the Sydney Film Festival and screened in the Australian Shorts Program at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Peekaboo has won many awards including the Showtime Talent Assist Scheme award, Best Editing at Flickerfest and WOW Festival, the SBS Award and Audience Award at the WOW Festival, the Audience Award for best film at the Canberra Short Film Festival, and a Best Short Film award at the BOFA Festival. It received its international premiere in the Wide Angle Short Film Showcase at the 16th Busan International Film Festival in October 2011 and had its US premiere at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival.
In 2010 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) commissioned him to write an Interactive Shared Learning program about cyberbullying, and Tagged, a short educational drama. Tagged won the Best Secondary Education Resource at the 2012 ATOM awards, a Gold Award at the 2012 WorldMedia Festival in Hamburg – where it also won an intermedia-globe GRAND Award for Web & Web TV (a best of category award), and a Silver Medal in the Instruction & Education Category at the 2012 New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards.
He is currently developing several projects as writer/director, including a feature with Peekaboo producer Joe Weatherstone (currently financing) and a children’s television series.