RMIT media and screenwriting alumnus Julian Lucas always had Tropfest in his sights, but winning the top award at the acclaimed short film festival still came as a shock.
His dark comedy Granny Smith was awarded the festival's eminent first place fruit trophy last year, after being selected from 16 finalist entries by a panel of five top Australian judges.
A 2008 graduate of the Bachelor of Communication (Media), Mr Lucas said he felt proud and excited to be announced the 2014 Tropfest victor.
"When I began filmmaking, Tropfest was pretty much the pinnacle of short film festivals; winning it is still hard to believe," he said.
With an insatiable urge to develop his screenwriting skills, Mr Lucas enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting shortly after completing his undergraduate studies.
"The programs I did at RMIT ignited my hunger to pursue film in a serious way," he said.
"I was exposed to all elements of film production; I soon began to realise that concept and script development was an area I both enjoyed and had a talent for."
A disciplined script developer, Mr Lucas spent almost five months with his good friend and Granny Smith lead actor Jack White creating and assessing the film's script.
With the aid of producer Nicholas Cox, the work culminated in a seven-minute tale involving two best mates, a workplace fib and a grandmother's funeral.
Originating in Sydney, Tropfest has expanded internationally to become a prime content generation platform for film, fuelling originality - as well as careers - for filmmakers worldwide.
Brian Morris, RMIT Media Program Manager, said he was thrilled to see Mr Lucas succeed in the celebrated short film competition.
"It's a real pleasure for us to have students like Julian contribute so much to our program as students, and then see them flourish and receive recognition as major talents in their creative fields," he said.
Despite the outstanding win, life hasn't slowed down for the ambitious filmmaker, who has already begun work on future plans.
With several collaborative projects on the cards, including setting up a production company, developing a web series and working on short form content with local comedians, Mr Lucas is determined to maintain his career's momentum.
"I also would like to start making more branded content for companies who are open to giving us a fair bit of creative control," he said.
"The unpredictability of the industry is what makes it such an interesting and rewarding challenge."