Running late... Dan Ilic still has to do the final edit on his Tropfest entry, a short film featuring inflated balloons twisted into the shape of Tony Abbott. Photo: Tamara Dean
That old adage of never working with children or animals should also include balloons, according to comedian and aspiring Tropfest entrant Dan Ilic.
"They're very temperamental," he said. "You never want to burst their egos."
But it is not just balloons, which all Tropfest short films must feature this year, that is causing headaches for Ilic before Thursday's 6pm deadline for entries to the short film festival.
Muscles … a scene from the short film It's Tony Time. Photo: Supplied
Nursing a serious case of man flu, Ilic said he was waiting for the sound mixer to finish his work on It's Tony Time before he does a final edit of the short film.
Ilic's film follows the adventures of a muscle-bound balloon model of Liberal leader Tony Abbott, naked except for a pair of budgie smugglers, as it visits the outdoor gym at North Bondi, Abbott's electoral office in Manly and celebrity scientist Karl Kruszelnicki.
The short film also features a pine cone that represents Liberal MP Christopher Pyne: "He's a bit prickly. They are dangerous to be together."
The idea for the short film came from Ilic's housemate, who challenged a balloon artist at her work Christmas party to create an inflatable Tony Abbott.
This inspired a blog (tonyballoonabbott.tumblr.com) and now Ilic's Tropfest entry.
Ilic, who is a regular on the Ten Network's Can of Worms, said the film would be submitted online - only Tropfest Jr entrants can enter DVDs - sometime on Thursday.
"I know we're running pretty late with it," he said.
Ilic is not the only short filmmaker madly scrambling to finish their Tropfest entry.
More than 700 short films were entered in Tropfest in 2011, and organisers expected a similar number of entries this year.
"I suppose at the moment we have about 500 entries," said Tropfest's film and entries manager, Henry Kalaf. "We're expecting a last flurry of entries [on Thursday]."
Digital technology might have made the mad dash of filmmakers to Tropfest's offices a relic of the past, but this year's deadline was still causing headaches.
On New Year's Day, Twitter user Alister (@alisterrobbie) tweeted: "seriously, how bloody stupid is the 3rd January deadline for tropfest? my fault for agreeing."
Kalaf said he had been contacted by a filmmaker who pointed out that the Christmas-New Year period meant filmmakers had insufficient time for sound and visual effects.
A precedent for giving filmmakers more time to submit entries was set by Tropfest Arabia last September, which extended its deadline by one week.
"Unfortunately we can't," Kalaf said. "We have a very limited time to look at all the entries, only two or three weeks."
But Kalaf said there were situations in which Tropfest would accept submissions after the 6pm deadline.
"We'll be a bit flexible with that," he said.
Tropfest is on at The Domain on February 17.