Andrew O'Keefe’s interest in drama and filmmaking started in Grade 5 when he played Ned Kelly in a lunchtime school performance. Whilst his schooling was art-focussed, especially drawing, writing and photography, he never linked them to filmmaking until creating animated flick-books in school text books. Upon leaving school he worked aimlessly and travelled extensively until returning to Australia and going to work for Blockbuster Video in the early '90s during the dominance of VHS.
Andrew was promoted rapidly and sent interstate by the company to open new stores in growth areas. In this time he watched thousands upon thousands of movies and his imagination was ignited. Andrew returned to Melbourne, resigned his job and was accepted into the VCA School of Film and Television. He graduated in 2001 having won a Best Screenplay award three years in a row and Best Film (Fiction) for his graduating film. He began the production company Apocalypse Films in 2002 and still runs that today as well as having returned to the VCA Film School as a full-time lecturer of 3rd year Writer/Directors.
L-R Jonathan Auf Der Hiede, Marita Wilcox,
Sylvie De Crespigny, Lee Mason,
Tony Nikolakopoulos, Christopher Bunworth
on the set of The Independent
My first and favourite film-related memory is from 1978 on a family picnic out behind Epping and coming across a roadblock where they were filming the original Mad Max (1979). We ate fish and chips and watched a car crashing through a caravan. I was hooked. My first short film, 20 years later, was a 15-min long disaster called Mate in Two (2000) although its value was in making me realise I needed training. My six short films at the VCA Film School were capped off by my graduating film, Wednesday (2001) where I felt like I’d made something close to my own film, not a derivative of someone else’s. I continued making short films, many of them crime dramas, whilst working toward my debut feature film, The Independent (2008) in collaboration with commercials director John Studley. I show my true political colours in this film, a left-wing political satire, that was independently released to approximately 30 cinemas during the Australian Federal election of 2008. I guess it’s my All the President’s Men (1976) - one of my favourite all-time films. I directed another two short films, Mother’s Day (2013) and Skinned (2015) whilst in post-production of my second feature film, Crime & Punishment (2016), an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s masterpiece. This burst of activity over the last few years has been a creative godsend and has given me a new direction and knowledge. I have been a student of film at a film school in the past but since beginning teaching I have learned far more than I ever thought I would. I now feel, finally, that I am ready to make a feature that hits audiences. I’m not sure I have done that yet.
Andrew O'Keefe, November 2015
The Independent (2008, 86 mins)
Crime and PunishmentTRAILER (2016)
L-R – Lee Mason and Kevin Summers
on the set of Mother’s Day