Steven Ball
Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
Daryl Dellora

Melbourne independent filmmakers

Leo Berkeley
Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph

Leo Berkeley
b. August 3, 1956, Sydney, Australia.

BIOGRAPHY:   Although born in Sydney, Leo moved to Melbourne with his family at the age of three and has lived here ever since. On leaving school in 1973, he became an obsessive film viewer, possibly as a way of avoiding having to deal with other people. He dropped out of two universities in his early twenties and spent the majority of his waking hours in cinemas for several years, before making the move into film-making.

His early films were ultra low-budget and often awkwardly pretentious productions made with a small group of patient and forgiving friends. Over time he made several short dramas on 16mm that gradually increased in scale and quality. This process culminated in the production of the low-budget feature Holidays on the River Yarra in 1990, which was an official selection for the Cannes Film Festival the following year.


He is self-taught as a filmmaker and, at different times, has worked professionally as a writer, director, producer, sound recordist, camera operator and editor. From the mid-eighties onwards, he has taught film, television and video production at RMIT University, initially part-time, while working in the film and television industry the rest of the time. From 1998, he has taken on a full-time position as a lecturer in the School of Applied Communication.

He has also made educational videos (Do Care, A Career in Social Work), worked on television news (GTV 9 Melbourne, as a camera assistant and sound recordist), produced films for other people (Park Street, directed by Nick Kavalieratos), and directed a series of the satirical puppet show "Rubbery Figures".

Since he made Holidays on the River Yarra in 1990, he has written several further feature film scripts but in the crazy and highly speculative feature film business none of them have got financed. Frustration with this process led to the production of Stargazers, a 300-minute fully-improvised experimental drama made between 1997-1999, shot on Super VHS and completed on DV.

More recently, he has been combining his filmmaking practice with his work as a university academic, making the short machinima film Ending With Andre (2005) and writing an article on the process, which was published in the Australian Journal of Emerging Technology & Society. He has also made the feature film How To Change The World (2008) as part of a research degree exploring the constraints and possibilities of micro-budget screen production. An article coming out of this production was published in the Global Media Journal Australia.

Summer was a Blur

CRITICAL OVERVIEW:   Leo Berkeley's films are often concerned with exploring the drama of the everyday - the distance between characters' ordinary lives and their dreams, between one person and another, between the appearance of things and their significance. He is interested in the poetry of the mundane and dramatically unfashionable material like people's relationship to their work and the chores, commitments and routines which fill their days and limit their individual freedom. However, his approach has always been to deal with this material in a lively and entertaining way.

There is a clear French New Wave influence in his work, in the sense that he applies concepts from traditional Hollywood narrative to dramatic material which is far from Hollywood. Through both desire and necessity, he has explored the formal and stylistic possibilities of low-budget filmmaking - from extensive use of the visual and dramatic possibilities of urban locations, available light, improvised acting (Summer was a Blur), backyard post-syncing (Out of the Frying Pan), one-person crewing (Stargazers) and machinima (Ending With Andre).

See also Selection of media quotes


Watching the Test Pattern (1977, 10 mins, 16mm)

Sleepwalker on the Second Floor (1978, 40 mins, 16mm)

Sleepwalker on the Second Floor

Grils (1979, 20 mins, 16mm)

Work Without Pay (1981, 30 mins, 16mm)

The Bodyguard (1984, 25 mins, 16mm)

Out of the Frying Pan (1986, 20 mins, 16mm)

Summer was a Blur (1989, 32 mins, 16mm)

Holidays on the River Yarra (1990, 90 mins, 35mm)

Stargazers (1997-99, 309 mins, DV)

Ending With Andre (2005, 12 mins, Machinima video) Available for download.

How To Change The World (2008, 75 mins, DVCam)



The Bodyguard

Melbourne Film Festival (1984)
Melbourne Cinematheque (1986)
Longford Cinema (support to the feature Valentina)
Brighton Bay Twin Cinemas (support to the feature Ladies on the Rocks)

Out of the Frying Pan

Melbourne Film Festival (1986)
Melbourne Cinematheque (1986)
St.Kilda Film Festival (1987) (Certificate of Merit)

Summer was a Blur

St.Kilda Film Festival (1991)

Holidays on the River Yarra


Melbourne - Valhalla & Brighton Bay Cinema (Sept/Oct 1991)
Sydney - Valhalla Cinema (Oct/Nov 1991)
Perth - Lumiere Cinemas (May 1992)

Channel 4 U.K.
Channel 9 Australia
SBS TV Australia

Columbia Tristar Hoyts Home Video (Australia)

Cannes - Official Selection in Un Certain Regard (1991)
Melbourne (1991)
Edinburgh (1991)
Montreal (1991)
Tokyo (1991)
Vancouver (1991)
Chicago (1991)
Annonay, France (1992)
Valenciennes, France (1992)
Umea, Sweden (1992)


Melbourne Underground Film Festival (2005)

Ending With Andre

New York Machinima Film Festival (2005) Available for download.

shooting Work Without Pay (1981)


"Signs of life from moribund industry" by Rae Kaspiew, The Australian; April 23, 1991

"Low budgets, but directors aim for top prize" by Rebecca Lancashire, The Age; April 24, 1991

"Low-budget first-timers favoured" by Tracey Pisk, Encore; May 10-23, 1991; pp 1,4

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by David Stratton, Variety; May 13, 1991

"Australian-made and over there" by Andrew L. Urban, The Bulletin; May 28, 1991; pp 92-94

"Cannes Film Festival Report" by Louise Keller, Moving Pictures International; July 18, 1991

"Australia at Cannes" by Jan Epstein, Cinema Papers; Edition 84, August 1991; pp 32-33

"Dreamy journey along the River Yarra" by Greg Burchall, The Age EG; September 27, 1991; page 14

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Adrian Martin, Business Review Weekly; Volume 13, number 38; September 27, 1991; page 112

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Tom Ryan, The Sunday Age; September 29, 1991

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Jan Epstein, Melbourne Report; October 1991; page 13

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by David Stratton, The Australian; October 12, 1991

"Tokyo calling" by Sandra Hall, The Bulletin; October 15, 1991; pp 103-104

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Tony Rayns, Vancouver Film Festival Program; 1991; page 26

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Karl Quinn, Cinema Papers; Edition 86, January 1992; page 55

"Holidays on the River Yarra Review" by Mark Naglazas, The West Australian; May 26, 1992; page 31

"Holidays on the River Yarra" Guest Reviewer by Belinda McClory, News from Cinemedia; July 1999; page 3

"Best Of Movies" by Leigh Paatsch, Herald Sun Guide; Wednesday, October 23, 2002; page 13

Selection of media quotes

Leo Berkeley, Jan 2008.

Back to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page



Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis