Step up … Andrew Kavanagh hopes to make a full-length film. Photo: Rodger Cummins
A s usual, Rob Luketic is juggling projects.
''My schedule changes hourly,'' says the director of Legally Blonde. ''There's a project in China I'm considering, and there's one in New York … ''
Luketic has worked with Kevin Spacey and Reese Witherspoon. He's so busy he rarely has time to return from his Los Angeles base to Australia. Now, though, Luketic is especially excited by the prospect of working with Andrew Kavanagh, a 28-year-old who only last year finished his film and TV studies at the Victorian College of the Arts (which, coincidentally, is also where Luketic studied).
Today, Kavanagh will be announced as the winner of the SOYA (Spirit of Youth Award) in filmmaking.
As part of his prize, Kavanagh will be mentored by Luketic, spending an extended stint on a film set with the director. The details are still being finalised, given Luketic's mercurial schedule, but Kavanagh is thrilled.
''It'll be a real eye-opener,'' says Kavanagh, from North Carlton in Melbourne. ''Someone in his position has a lot to teach someone in my position. I've never made a feature, though I'd like to and am writing a script at the moment. It'll be really good to pick his brains.''
Run by Qantas, the Spirit Of Youth Awards have been rewarding talented creative types aged 18 to 30 for seven years. Each winner receives travel to an overseas cultural event, and a mentorship.
The fashion winner is Michael Le Sordo, who will be mentored by the people behind the Sydney label Zimmerman; the interactive content and gaming winner is Harry Lee, to be mentored by the digital agency Soap Creative; the writing winner is Andrew Bifield, whose mentor will be Markus Zusak; and the visual design winner is Luke Brown, to be mentored by Vince Frost of Frost Design.
A Hollywood wunderkind, Luketic was still in his 20s when he directed Legally Blonde. He's thrilled to able to mentor.
''I'm offering an internship on the set of a film, and as well as that I guess I'll be a facilitator or introducer,'' he says. ''This industry can be about relationships, and that can be so daunting.
''When I was in Australia trying to make it happen, I wish [I'd had] a mentor. I had sources of inspiration, like Bruce Beresford and Jane Campion, but I never had a mentor. The first time I was flying to Los Angeles, Peter Weir was a few seats in front of me but I never had the courage to speak to him.
''I'll talk about how do you get an agent, how you develop a treatment, about having a plan for next five years. I'll talk about the mistakes I've made, and perhaps not made, and how it all works. And I'll debunk some of the myths.''
What mistakes has he made?
''I've done films for the money,'' he says. ''That's something I don't think I'll do again. People wave large amounts of money in front of you and what are you going to do? But a movie like 21 I did because I loved it.''
Kavanagh won the SOYA on the strength of two short films, At the Formal and Men of the Earth. Each cost about $10,000 and was shot on 16mm, and both are proving popular at international festivals.
''They're explorations of modern and ancient rituals,'' he says. ''They're both long shots that draw you into a situation that you might be familiar with, then they jolt your perspective.''
Much like the jolt Kavanagh got last week, when he received the call telling him he'd won.
''This is really exciting,'' Kavanagh says. ''It's still sinking in.''