Portland House Foundation Harry Hains Memorial Scholarship provides new opportunities in Film and Television at the Victorian College of the Arts

Harry Hains' first album Glitch in Paradise was released under his moniker AntiBoy. Image Supplied.
Harry Hains' first album Glitch in Paradise was released under his moniker AntiBoy. Image Supplied.

Determined to support equal access opportunities in the arts, The Portland House Foundation has awarded the inaugural Harry Hains Memorial Scholarship in Film & Television, adding to their already significant philanthropic contribution to diversity at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. Mireille Stahle speaks to Jane Badler-Hains, and scholarship recipient Ada Tzinis about the importance of financial support in the creative arts.

In memory of their much-loved son Harry Hains, Jane Badler and Stephen Hains, through the Portland House Foundation, set up the Harry Hains Memorial Film Fund. This generous gift will support creatives studying Film & Television at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2021.

The Memorial Film Fund comes in addition to significant support of the VCA Theatre program, through Portland House Foundation relief grants, that provide financial support to identified culturally diverse students from low SES backgrounds.

"There are so many gifted, talented people that don’t have the resources to complete their studies or create works in the creative arts," reflects Jane. "It is such an important outlet, particularly for those who struggle with feeling different and isolated in their unique inner life as Harry did. Often extremely gifted people struggle with mental health the most, feeling out of touch with what is considered normal. It is a great honour to help talented young people find their voice and create great works of art.

"I am particularly excited that we are able to reach out and be of assistance to the filmmaker Ada Tzinis, Ada like Harry is part of the LGBTQ world. She is also extremely talented and looks at life and her art through superheroes, gaming and video games. Much like Harry who also used fantasy, avatars and superheroes in his art forms. We are currently working on a film project, Sapphire, written by Harry, where the lead role is a fantastical trans character who struggles with addiction.

"Creative projects are also a way for young talented artists to work through their demons and find creative solutions to the many difficulties they face. We recently released Harry's first album Glitch in Paradise under his moniker AntiBoy. The album shows Harry grappling with his deep need for connection and love in a complex and addictive relationship. He expresses his deep insecurity and worth for the ever elusive 'pure love'.

"The culmination of the release of Glitch in Paradise was the video Dream which is a hyper real fantasy celebration of the difference and diversity in the LGBTQ community.

"Since Harry has passed I have discovered a huge body of his work. Three volumes of poetry, short films and screenplays. Writing was his way of making sense of the voices and madness in his head. It is very meaningful to my husband and I to make a difference in young lives.

"Although Harry died at 27 we have a rich body of work and hope through his legacy to enrich the lives of other young people who struggle with gender identity, mental health and addiction.

The Harry Hains Memorial funding was used to create a scholarship for one Master’s level student and one-off payments in the form of bursaries for 22 undergraduate students studying Film & Television at the VCA in 2020.

Ada Tzinis, who will receive support for the duration of her Master of Film & Television degree through the Harry Hains Memorial scholarship expresses her gratitude to the Portland House Foundation for offering support in a time "where everything was scary."

Ada’s film STUCK, a direct response to filmmaking in lockdown, is about a girl having a nightmare where she was a faceless doll being yelled at by a disembodied narrator, angry at the way the men treat her.

"A whole bunch of different life threads that I'd be working toward were coming together in one big knot," describes Ada. "I went back to film school in March, my daughter was born in September, I started HRT in November. And somewhere in the middle of it, all the world fell into a state of pandemic and we had to do all this hard stuff in unprecedented lockdown.

"I want my films to be fun. I gravitate to all these pulpy places – science fiction, superheroes, gaming –  and I see value bringing queer perspectives, and voices, and characters to these otherwise cis-heteronormative worlds.

Ada’s second-semester film, Game Genie DX, was about a magical Super Nintendo game that grants three wishes, is a film about transition. Supplied.

"It's incredibly difficult to find words that contain the quantity and quality of feelings I have toward receiving the scholarship. There is an overwhelming sense of gratitude, of course, because when presented with overwhelming generosity I'm not sure we have many choices but to be, well, overwhelmed by it.

"To have the capacity to change someone's life like this and to wield it so generously and with such kindness, to support the arts, to support someone silly enough to have a baby in the same year she decides to return to study – the people who do that can only be amazing, admirable, people, and I will never forget the generosity of this scholarship and I will never stop thanking the Portland House Foundation.”