magazine FOR SCREEN CONTENT PROFESSIONALS ISSUE #185, OCT-NOV 2018 $7.95 AUD / WWW.IF.COM.AU
HOTEL MUMBAI ANTHONY MARAS MAKES HIS FEATURE DEBUT
STATE FEATURE: IFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to screen production in South Australia. SCREEN FOREVER: We talk to keynote speakers Dominic Minghella and Sascha Rothchild. TELEVISION: IF talks to those behind new ABC serial drama The Heights. REPORT: Where to for social impact documentary? TAKE TWO: Richard Becker and Robert Slaviero on their new venture, R & R Films.
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It’s now over a year since the Weinstein scandal broke. The period since has been one of necessary reflection and catharsis for the industry. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have empowered people to take a stand against inappropriate behaviour, and industry bodies in Australia have made proactive policy steps towards safer workplaces. The fallout from the scandal has also brought into an even sharper focus the need for an industry that is equitable for all. The shifts in the conversation around harassment, gender and diversity have been largely regarded as positive. The argument that the screen industry needs to be more inclusive and reflect contemporary Australia – on screen and off – isn’t new. There's a fair point to be made that everybody can make a difference: whether it’s in who they choose to employ or collaborate with, the characters they create, the projects they fund, program or commission, or simply just in how they treat their colleagues. As WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham writes on page 6, change is driven by discomfort. She believes that with the right leadership, right tools and by listening to one another, the dial on gender equity in the Australian screen industry can truly be shifted. Or as SAFC and SDIN CEO Courtney Gibson puts it on page 29: “If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.” Enjoy the issue.
This issue 14 ✪ FEATURE
COVER STORY HOTEL MUMBAI Anthony Maras makes his debut feature with Hotel Mumbai, starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs and Tilda Cobham-Hervey.
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THE SA REPORT
IF checks in on the social impact documentary space.
Our guide to production in South Australia.
6 Voice of the Industry WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham reflects on where the industry is on gender equity a year after the #MeToo movement began.
www.if.com.au THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS MAGAZINE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF THE EDITOR AND PUBLISHER. THIS MAGAZINE IS NOT TO BE PRODUCED IN WHOLE OR PART WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.
8 Take Two Industry veterans Robert Slaviero and Richard Becker on their new venture, R & R Films.
16 Screen Forever Ahead of SPA’s Screen Forever conference, we hear from CEO Matt Deaner and talk to keynote speakers Dominic Minghella and Sascha Rothchild. 22 New Heights Matchbox Pictures and For Pete’s Sake Productions’ The Heights is something different in the production landscape.
25 Fighting Season Blake Ayshford on writing and producing Foxtel’s latest six-part drama. 42 Accounting Moneypenny CEO Jane Corden explains the benefits of the paperless production office.
REGULARS 4 Letters, 15 Seconds 44 If I Had a Gadget 46 In Production
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LETTERS Heard on Twitter... Follow IF magazine at twitter.com/insidefilm.
Alex Billington @firstshowing
All hail Jennifer Kent!! The Nightingale is phenomenal, this film RULES. Best of the
Noticeboard Written in response to ‘Vale Damian Hill, gifted actor, writer and producer’, published 24 September, 2018.
fest. If it were a just world, this would win Golden Lion, hands down. Deserves it. Here’s hoping. Emily Nussbaum @emilynussbaum
I am guttered, shattered. Dame, you will be missed by everyone that has ever met you. You were a kindred spirit, a genuine nice guy.
I didn’t realize Please Like Me was also going to break my heart. If you haven’t watched this show, you should. Felicia Fasano @Fleafasano
Thank you @netflix for bringing us all these brilliant Aussie female driven/created comedies. First obsession @TheLetdownTV thanks to @Alison_M_Bell @sodsarah and now this weekend #sisters just enough real and twisted and all funny and amazing performances! Jason Di Rosso @jdrrr
Was charmed by all the interviewees in WAYNE but whats kept me reflecting is what a time capsule it is - of Australia, of a certain blue collar, anglo masculinity. Before Howard, the culture wars. The film is not ABOUT this, but it’s beneath the surface, open for interpretation. Sam Adams @SamuelAAdams
RIP popular films, which now have no way to be recognized outside of cultural dominance and massive box office takes Gabe Dowrick @GabeDowrick
The most relatable moment in Australian cinema for me is Eric Bana excitedly describing the movies he watched on the plane in THE CASTLE. Absolute perfect verisimilitude. TIFF @TIFF_NET
Dev Patel on HOTEL MUMBAI: “This film is an anthem of resilience and a very important film for India.” — #TIFF18 Scott Menzel @TheOtherScottM
HOTEL MUMBAI: Intense, Chilling & Downright Scary! One of the most terrifying films I have ever seen. A haunting & harrowing experience that will leave you completely speechless. This is Anthony Maras’ masterpiece. It will shake you to the core. #TIFF18 #HotelMumbai Guy Lodge @GuyLodge
It’s weird that people are interested in the Emmys this year when, as far as I can tell, Nicole Kidman isn’t nominated for anything.
Send your letters to email@example.com 4 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
I will always remember watching Pawno at Lido in Hawthorn and how I was awestruck that you had the same charisma and screen presence as Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. I remember how in our first chat in March 2016 outside the VCA cafeteria, you whipped to me about Mitu Bhowmick Lange, the distributor of Pawno: “She is one of the genuine ones, there are only a few like her, she is so special.” Those words usher your attributes. Everyone you have met, you touched with your sincerity. You had boundless integrity. You inspired me as the Australian Matt Damon, truly gifted and I had no doubt you could win an Oscar. My heart weeps today as we have lost a true great artistic soul. We have lost you. Condolences and prayers to your beautiful family and loved ones. Thank you for your kindness. Rest in peace with the angels. Gone too soon. Ridwan Hassim Written in response to ‘AACTA announces feature documentary shortlist’, published 11 September, 2018. Where the devil is The Song Keepers? A commercially successful doc that has moved audiences to tears and applause both times I saw it in cinemas and has a vitally important cultural story to tell. Paul Buscombe Written in response to ‘Venice festival chief unmoved by lack of female directors’, published 04 September, 2018. Barbera’s comments demonstrate the depth of ignorance surrounding reasons for the lack of opportunity many women face as they try to participate meaningfully in arenas that have been jealously guarded by men for years. The stats alone don’t support his spurious assertions: Almost a quarter of the films submitted for consideration were directed by women. Having watched films all my life, many made by women, I simply cannot stomach this unreconstructed festival director trying to tell me that out of a field so large, only one by a woman’s film was deemed to be worth considering. Monteur_Cinema
Rarriwuy Hick has appeared in ‘Wentworth’, ‘Cleverman’, ‘Redfern Now’,‘The Gods of Wheat Street’ and 'Black Comedy'.
The biggest issue facing the Australian film or TV industry is: #METOO! The industry has a lot of healing to do! We all really need to look after one another because at the end of the day we (cast and crew) spend most of our time away from our families. It’s our job to take care of one another and ensure that everyone is safe and okay. Best movie quote of all time: “Molly, you in danger gurl.” I’m a huge fan of Whoopi Goldberg and Ghost is mine and my mother’s favourite movie to watch together. Do you Google yourself? Of course I Google myself. I still find it cringeworthy but also quite funny and surreal. If you could live inside one of your shows, would you? Which one? I would move to north NSW and be a goddess living on Wheat Street. I fell completely in love with Jon Bell’s ‘Freeburn’ family. If you haven’t seen it yet, then you must watch ABC family drama The Gods of Wheat Street. Classics I would like to remake: The Blues Brothers but the lead roles as women (I’d keep the title the way it is). Favourite comedy film/show of all time: Have you ever watched Bush Mechanics? Now that a funny show! Worst filmmaking experience? I once filmed in an icy cold lake and almost ended up with hypothermia. Unsung Australian film/TV hero/heroine? Leah Purcell! If I weren’t in the film/TV industry, I’d be… I’d be a dancer. If money were no object, what would your next film/show be? My nephew really wants me to be in a Jurassic Park movie! I think I’d become the coolest aunty. If a film about your life was made, who would play you? I would play me. In the most humble way, but there’s no one else like me in the industry who has the ability to speak as many languages as I do and that’s a big part of my story and who I am. I'd spend my last $20 on: Two glasses of shiraz.
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WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham.
VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY Change is driven by discomfort, writes WIFT Australia chair Katrina Irawati Graham. Now a year since the #MeToo movement began, she believes that with the right leadership and the right tools, the screen industry could lead the way in achieving gender parity. EXACTLY A YEAR AGO, the
Weinstein allegations ignited the momentum of the #MeToo movement. Since then there has been an overwhelming shift in conversations around gender, sexual harassment and diversity. The exposure of the pain and damage of abuse is unprecedented. This has also given rise to fear and uncertainty about what to do next. I think it is timely to recall the words of #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, who describes one of the specific purposes of the movement as radical community healing. WIFT Australia was created earlier this year to unify the voice of 6 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
female-identifying screen practitioners under an umbrella of joint support and advocacy. Key among this is the issue of gender parity in our industry. What I have come to appreciate is that to do this work we must also be in the business of radical community healing. This is nuanced and tender work that can only be done with care, intelligence and an open heart and mind. We must understand, on a deep level, that the current organisational and cultural structures within which we all operate were created by, and therefore favour, those who hold the social power while marginalising those who do not.
The screen industry is moulded by these same power imbalances and gender pressures. While we cannot separate ourselves out from the environment in which we create, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate how strong our positions are as highly visible storytellers. We can be a shining light to other industries. Imagine if our community turned this around in a way that no one else has done. Imagine if the telecommunications industry, the mining industry, the hospitality industry could say: “Let’s do what the screen industry is doing”. This is possible. Change is driven by discomfort. This sense of discomfort is what the #metoo movement has created. That’s what makes it a gamechanger. It has brought visibility to what was once invisible – and that mass of stories cannot be unseen. So how do we harness this discomfort and move towards something healthier? First we need to accept that addressing societally embedded inequality requires a broad willingness to commit to long-term cultural and structural change. This will need to come from as many directions as possible including from the top down and the bottom up. Secondly, we must realise that we are all in this together. Gender inequality is a long-standing human power imbalance that affects us all. Intersectional forces mean some of us are more affected than others. We must be willing to listen and to have respectful and hard, honest conversations which includes learning how to say sorry for the hurt we have created. We must understand that not only are we capable of solving this – we are the only ones who can and we have a moral imperative to do so. At WIFT Australia we look at industry entry and exit points – this shows us where the rubber tyres of gender inequality hit the road. We know that gender balance in film schools is around the 50-50 mark, yet this plummets within a few short years. Parents and carers, like myself, face additional challenges when trying to combine work and caring commitments. A striking 73 per cent of respondents to the recent Raising Films Australia survey reported a negative impact of caring work on their role in the industry and again intersectional women faced disproportionate challenges.
Sexual harassment figures also outline a clear exit point for those impacted by abuse, with WIFT NSW’s recent survey revealing 72 per cent of respondents had experienced either harassment or discrimination which negatively affected their career. When women prematurely exit the industry, our community loses years of experience and education. Fresh, vibrant perspectives are excised from our on-screen stories and we allow trauma to seep further into our community. I’ve been working closely with my colleagues at WIFT on solutions: the MentorHer Program matched women across Australia with mentors; our Raising Films Australia initiative launched the first ever national screen industry survey on parents and carers and is one of the partners behind the Screen Forever creche; we created the first industry-wide forums on sexual harassment and I maintain a board membership on NOW Australia. What this has taught me is the importance of leadership. Not just the top down CEO, policy type leadership – though that is undoubtedly influential – but also the type of leadership every individual exerts daily within our personal spheres of influence. So how do we all become better leaders? I believe that a person armed with self-knowledge has the capacity to make better decisions, to be a better form of themselves and to support others. To this end, I am training in bystander leadership, and WIFT Australia, with the support of Griffith University’s powerful MATE Bystander program, is applying for grants to create a national training tour. I am also learning more about the language and structures of consent so that we can bring best research and practice into that area as well. These three ideas – we are all leaders, we can be better bystanders, we can get better at hearing and speaking about consent – all meld into one point: we can train ourselves to do better. If we don’t actively work towards positive change in ourselves and our structures then we are endorsing the status quo. By arming ourselves with the tools and knowledge we can take this journey together as an industry. It’s only the beginning of a long road, but we can support each other to do what needs to be done. This is how we make radical community healing possible.
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R&R Robert Slaviero and Richard Becker.
Earlier this year, industry veterans Richard Becker and Robert Slaviero announced they were launching a new venture, distribution and consultancy company R & R Films. Their first acquisition, director Kim Farrant’s Angel of Mine, starring Noomi Rapace, is expected for release next year. Both men bring to the company considerable legacy and knowledge of distribution. The Becker family founded Australia’s first indie distribution business more than 50 years ago, with Richard serving as CEO of Becker Group from 1985 and MD of Becker Film Group since its sale in 2008. Slaviero is a former CEO of Hoyts Distribution and Studiocanal Australia and former MD of 20th Century Fox Film Distributors. The two speak to Jackie Keast about how their longstanding friendship evolved into a business partnership.
RICHARD BECKER OH GOD, IT was so long ago [when
we first met]. Slav was working at Fox at the time. When you know somebody from an industry perspective – that is, you see them at functions, events and premieres – your relationship starts off like on slow-mo and then evolves as you get to know each other a little bit more. You go to more functions together, then you might go out and have a beer, and next minute it becomes a real friendship. But we’ve been friends for years, certainly [during] his time at Hoyts we were friendly and then ever since. In fact, AIDA [Australian Independent Distributors Association] chose me to present his indie award a few years ago. So the industry obviously knows that we’re very close. My daughter [Elle Becker, Becker Film Group sales and acquistions manager] had her second child and told me, “Dad, I’m not going to be able to spend as much time helping you as I have been.” Slav had moved on from Studiocanal and we were having one of our infamous lunches. It just sort of popped up in conversation: “Why don’t we do 8 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
something together?” It formulated from there. We joked about the fact that [if we had] a JV together we’d have to call it Becker Slaviero: BS Films. But if we did that the politically correct wouldn’t be too happy so we had to change it to something else, so we went for R & R. Becker Film Group is inactive in the sense that I’m exporting the library but I’m not acquiring any new films; I’ll be acquiring them under R&R. Slav is doing some consultancy work with Umbrella and also Ambiance...There are going to be times where he’s going to have plenty of time to help and consult, and I’m doing some consulting on some independent projects as well. But the films that we’re going to be working on, we’re going to be working on together and bringing into this joint venture. We’ve been around a long time; it’s not like we’re launching something that we want to grow into a multinational operation. We want to enjoy the fruits of our labour. We want to evolve this business into something we enjoy. We like working with certain people and trying to get a result.
It’s just evolved very gently and very naturally. There are 400 features or more a year released theatrically in Australia. The only way that you can get noticed is to have something that’s different; something that the others don’t have. We’re looking for films that not only have that quality but also have some cast that are going to make an audience sit up and pay attention. We need something to hang our hat on and most importantly of all, we need cast to support these projects. We can’t just rely on an ad campaign and hope to get through if we don’t have names that can talk to the press and have more editorial space to talk about the film in a relaxed atmosphere. A business partnership is like a marriage; trust is fundamental to that relationship and I completely trust Slav. It gives you shorthand in transacting any plans or arrangements when you trust somebody. You don’t have to cross the i’s and dot the t’s if you know that person has got your back. We get things done quickly. We know how each other thinks. It just makes life easy when you have to be a little
bit faster than your competitors. I’ve worked in the family company all my life; I worked with my father from the 70s and then I worked with my daughter from the early 2000s. But it doesn’t feel any different working with Slav. Working with a man you know so well and trust is the same as working with your father. There’s an inherent safety net that you know is sitting under you; that you’re not going to get caught out. I admire Slav’s honesty and I admire his forthrightness. I admire his experience. He’s very talented, and can apply all that experience to that talent. He’s well regarded in the industry; people like him. I haven’t met anybody that doesn’t speak highly of Slav. He can open doors and get things done and that’s why I like working with him, and that’s why I think we’re suited. I haven’t felt we’ve ever been at odds, or had a different view about the way we approach it. It’s amazing – whether it’s a marketing plan, a negotiation strategy or plans for the future, we seem to be of like minds, which makes life easier. As I say, he’s like family. That’s the best thing I can say about him.
TAKE TWO ROBERT SLAVIERO We’ve known each other for probably 30 years, but we probably only really became close over the last 10 years, which has all led to what we’re doing currently. He came to me a few months back and just said look, “I’m going to put Becker Films to the side. I’m thinking about starting a new distribution company, would you like to be my partner?” I think I said yes within 10 seconds. It was quick. I didn’t really even have to think about it. It just made sense because Richard and I are very close. We love the business, and we’ve been around the block a couple times. We know what we want. It was a very easy decision. The focus is going to be on Australian products, for sure, although we will still be looking at the markets [as to] what’s available from the international side of the business. We’re not looking for a certain type of film. We’re trying to find stuff that’s a little bit different, a little bit unique with a specific target audience so that we both go,
“Okay, we know who to sell this to”. The door’s open to the type of stuff we’ll be chasing. But we’ve agreed that we both have to be on board with the project before we greenlight anything. The production stuff which I’ve been working on for the last couple of years, I’m still going to pursue because I’m attached to a number of projects. Storm Boy’s in the can and there’s an animated feature at Flying Bark which is in preproduction. I’ve got two projects with Prodigy which I’m EP on, and at Ambience at least three or four features that I’m attached to EP as well. But the way production is, it’s lumpy; you can be twiddling your thumbs for weeks and nothing’s going on and then all of a sudden its chaos. I’m [also a] consultant to Umbrella and looking after sales... I spoke to Richard about getting involved and he was 100 per cent supportive of me doing it. But you have to remember that R&R is my company with Richard. So when the time comes for us to be acquiring and releasing, it’s certainly a priority, because it’s my company.
I trust Richard with my life, basically. We’re very close. We’re mates apart from anything else. He’s very upfront. He has great knowledge as far as how the film business works, and he understands that it’s changing dramatically. He’s got good relationships with producers in this market and exhibition as well. Between us we worked out we’ve got about 80 years of experience, which is kind of frightening. But we’ve got everything covered. We throw ideas off each other, we listen to each other, we respect each other’s opinions on things. It’s been great so far, it’s just like working with my brother or something; it’s easy. It’d be strange if we didn’t have differing opinions on some things. The good thing is we can sit down and we nut through any issues that come up. That’s just the relationship we have which is what makes it a lot easier to do business together. I don’t think there will be ever any screaming matches. It’s just not us. It’s not how we work. He’s probably had more production experience than me. I have focused
on that for last two years and obviously [have been] working with producers over the last 20 years, but he has a lot of that under his belt. We both know distribution on our ear, and internationally we have great relationships with international sales companies. So it all works – it makes life a bit easier when people return your phone calls. He’s a very smart man; a very astute businessman. He’s been very successful. Honesty is the key thing to me and his support for me over the last couple of years has been terrific, because the production side’s been tough. He’s always been there to put a hand on my shoulder and say “Come on, you can do this.” We’ve only just started working on the business, but we go back a long way. We’ve had plenty of good times together, that’s for sure. Probably too many. Firstly we’re mates and then we can talk business, but we always have a good time doing it. I think it’s a healthy way to be; it’s nice to be with someone who you trust and who you have respect for. It’s a match made in heaven.”
The ABC’s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’.
When it comes to documentary, ‘impact’ has been the inescapable buzzword of the last few years. How has the idea of social impact influenced the sector, and where is it heading next? Jackie Keast reports.
lot of documentaries have always had social or cultural aims at their core, seeking to shine a light on a particular issue or to encourage consideration of different perspectives. However, over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, using documentary as a tool for social change has really taken flight. Accompanying this has been the rise of the ‘impact producer’, whose job it is to drive the film as an advocacy tool and get it to audiences who can affect change. Typically that means running an ‘impact campaign’ that is executed in partnership with likeminded organisations. Whereas key creatives may step off after a film’s release, the impact producer may continue to campaign using the film for years; an impact campaign often keeps a film alive long after it has disappeared from traditional windows.
LOCAL STORY A milestone for social impact films locally was the launch of the Good Pitch Australia events in 2014. Hosted by Shark Island Institute
and the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), the pitching forum ran until 2016 and saw filmmakers present their films in front of NGOs, philanthropists and other potential partners in the film. In total, Good Pitch helped to raise more than $14 million for 19 films and their impact campaigns, such as box office hit That Sugar Film; Gayby Baby; which sparked a nationwide debate about marriage and adoption equality after it was banned in NSW schools, and Call Me Dad, which had parliamentary screenings, and was used in training by prisons, police services and sporting codes. “The core of the model was the idea you connect those documentaries with different stakeholders in the space, who probably don’t work together, who also have different resources or networks, or potentially finance behind them that the others don’t, but together as a collaboration they can achieve something quite powerful. The documentaries were in some way there to facilitate that collaboration,” Shark Island Institute and Good Pitch executive director Malinda Wink tells IF.
Many of the films from Good Pitch’s final year are now or are about to be released theatrically. Maggie Miles producer and impact producer for Guilty, released in cinemas in October, describes the work of Good Pitch as “life changing for filmmakers”. The film follows the last days of convicted drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran before he was executed in Indonesia in 2015. Its three-year impact campaign is multifaceted, though its primary goal is to support organisations working towards the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. Miles credits Good Pitch with helping her to establish a “coalition of partners” around the film such as Reprieve, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with whom she worked with during development and production to shape an impact strategy. Another Good Pitch film recently released is Ghosthunter, about a security guard and part-time ghost hunter who can’t remember his childhood. The film’s impact campaign is designed to raise awareness about childhood trauma and to build capacity for services. It was devised with partners such as NSW Police, Blue Knot Foundation, SAMSN and Act for Kids, in what impact producer Jackie Turnure calls “an incredible consultative process”. The partners have helped to introduce it to other organisations and organise screenings for magistrates, legal aid and social workers. “They were really our guides, and they were the ones that recognised this film would be an incredible tool in terms of a case study for the way complex trauma manifests,” Turnure says. Miles agrees partners are critical in order to achieve real change; a film like Guilty simply “lends its voice” to existing work towards ending the death penalty. Impact producer of That Sugar Film and the upcoming 2040 Anna Kaplan agrees that while filmmakers may be passionate about a cause, they are not necessarily professional advocates. Partners bring expertise, credibility and networks. “It’s about acknowledging that every issue area generally has its own movement.” As Wink says: “When a film is connected to partners who know how to use that film strategically to shift consciousness, change behaviour, influence policy settings
– that’s when this model works. It starts with a compelling, well-told story but without the partners, you don’t get the impact.”
ONGOING INITIATIVES Good Pitch co-host DAF turns 10 this year. In the last decade, CEO Mitzi Goldman says the impact sector has changed dramatically, with Good Pitch “rocket fuel” to the fire. Filmmakers can use the DAF website to both crowdfund and raise funds from philanthropic donors – any donation made via its website is tax deductible. To be accepted for the site, a film must fit within six key issue areas: human rights and social justice; health and wellbeing; youth and education; environment; Indigenous; and the arts. Goldman believes many of the most successful Australian impact docos would not have existed at such high production value if Good Pitch, as well as DAF and Shark Island Institute more generally, had not arisen. Many sit outside of the traditional broadcaster-subsidy model. “It’s been the survival of independent documentary. I think that without what’s happened here in the last decade, that form of documentary may have really struggled,” she tells IF. In the first year of Good Pitch, many of the projects were in advanced post-production. However, by 2016, Good Pitch was first in with films like 2040, Beautiful Minds, Dying to Live and KIDS. “It meant we were much more hands on in terms of helping nurture their development as storytellers as well as impact filmmakers,” says Wink. This has influenced the approach Shark Island is taking now. Earlier this year, it launched 12-month development labs which invest $25,000 into six projects per year and provide local and international mentorship. “That was taken from the experience that so many of our films might not have ever seen the light of day had we not gotten behind them at an early stage,” says Wink. “That’s including Blue, which was outside of the traditional broadcast model and Constance on the Edge, which had been turned down a bunch of times and then went on to be this gorgeous, compelling and high impact film.” www.if.com.au 11
(Photo credit: Peter Milne)
As for DAF, it is looking at how it can work in a more strategic way with the not-for-profit sector, and grow the alliances around films in the impact campaign space. To celebrate 10 years it will launch a new website with a range of online resources for filmmakers. This includes template letters to donors and an online course about finding funding partners and creating an impact strategy. In addition, DAF also holds workshops for filmmakers once a quarter in Sydney, and a 10 month support program for early career practitioners in Victoria. DAF also hosts Trailer Trash, a pitching event from DocYou, which connects filmmakers to philanthropic funders and other partners.
THE SMALL SCREEN In recent years we’ve seen impactdriven docos increase on TV. The ABC’s War on Waste was not just a ratings winner, but also sparked a national conversation about waste and recycling. In its wake, we have seen things like Coles and Woolworths phase out single-use plastic bags. War on Waste commissioning editor Stephen Oliver had worked on impact docos and with impact producers as a filmmaker – he was aware how projects could be leveraged in partnership with organisations with networks of their own. “I knew how effective that could be in both amplifying the content you’re putting on screen, but also in creating real change out there in the world – which is something we [as the ABC] need to do to stay relevant. Television remains such a powerful medium,” he tells IF. War on Waste was the first show for which the ABC hired a dedicated impact producer, Andy Marks, who developed partnerships with organisations such as Responsible Cafes, Compost Revolution, Planet Ark, and Food Bank. 12 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
However, working with partners, the ABC had to be more transparent about the development of the show than it might have been otherwise, Oliver says. Partners were invited to give input about the issues they thought it was important the show covered, and how those issues were then approached. In exchange for their intelligence, research and contacts the ABC shared assets they could use in their communications. War on Waste had a pan-ABC campaign, with complementary content produced across news, radio and digital platforms. Oliver believes the national reach of the ABC as a public broadcaster makes it uniquely placed to achieve real social change, and is an advantage over its competitors. Indeed, the success of War on Waste, its impact campaign and its pan-ABC approach is inspiring commissions going forward. The ABC has now hired a permanent impact producer in Teri Calder (Call Me Dad), and the broadcaster’s next impact project is Artemis Media’s Don’t Stop The Music. Airing in November to coincide with AusMusic Month, the project looks at the importance of music education in schools for children’s literacy, numeracy, social skills and self-esteem. Its main partners are the Salvation Army and Musica Viva, who will help co-ordinate a campaign to get people to donate unused or broken musical instruments to the Salvos so they can be repaired and distributed to children in need. Within the ABC, there’s by-in from Classic FM, Triple J, the arts department, and the education department. “When we’re commissioning, we’re looking at how we can leverage an idea or a story across as many platforms as possible.”
NEW SHIFTS Impact campaigns can often tie in with distribution strategy. Wink says that on That Sugar Film the partnerships and the impact campaign generated publicity that had a positive influence on the film’s commercial outcomes. It can also give power to negotiate different distribution agreements. “They’re bringing all the partnerships and they’ve got more power at the negotiating table,” says Wink. Distributors have also had strategies to help bolster the
impact campaign. For instance, Madman released Guilty in cinemas on October 10, World Day Against the Death Penalty, to coincide with the impact campaign launch – a version had even aired on the ABC in April. “I’ve been closely involved in all the discussions with Madman,” says Miles. “Because they have worked on many impact films, they understand that impact is as important as the box office take.” Wink says a film that doesn’t perform as well commercially may still have a powerful impact campaign, and cinema-on-demand platforms have been useful in this regard. “Sometimes we’ve had films that have been incredible in the impact space that haven’t had a really strong theatrical run. When it’s been given back to the hands of community, advocates, stakeholders and partners who then host ticketed screenings, they’ve been much more successful.” But a film’s distribution strategy and the impact campaign do not need to be intertwined. For instance Ghosthunter is being marketed theatrically by Madman as a mystery, and so the impact campaign will ramp up when the film is released in different windows. However, the media teams for both the campaign and the distributor are in close conversation. “It takes an army – an army with very different kinds of remits all working closely together,” says Turnure. Kaplan has worked as an in-house impact producer at Madman. However, more broadly she has witnessed a conflation with marketing and impact. “When I talk to other impact producers, it’s a common concern that a fair bit of the marketing grunt work is landing on them, and that it’s not something that’s really been budgeted for in the impact budget,” she says. “They are two separate campaigns, with two separate objectives.” The idea of impact is also seeping across into other genres like feature film.“One of the things Good Pitch has done is illuminated that film is a fantastic tool for change, whether it’s a fictional film, a documentary or a TV series. If it speaks to something that the audience or organisations care about, it’s a fantastic and dynamic way to communicate ideas and get people talking,” says
Turnure, who has also worked as an impact producer for two fiction features: Ali’s Wedding and Sweet Country. The campaigns she built around both films were based on documentary techniques.
LOOKING FORWARD Earlier this year, then Screen Australia senior manager documentary Liz Stevens told IF that the pitches for the Producer Program were getting better. She attributed that to competition for funds, but also the “huge impact that Good Pitch Australia has had on the education of producers. “Producers are thinking about audiences more than they ever have in the past and thinking about stories in layers, not just in linear ways.” With Good Pitch Australia over, Kaplan is encouraged to see the Shark Island Labs up and running, though notes they are not in the same league in terms of the amount of funding that can be attracted to a project. She feels the absence of the forum will be missed as a means to raise philanthropic funds. “They created a forum where you could attract large amounts of financial resources to a campaign quite quickly. When you’re oneby-one to individual funders, that’s labour intensive.” However, she says Good Pitch has seen the role of the impact producer become better recognised and “opened funders’ minds to the possibilities” of documentary film. Goldman says there are very few documentaries produced in Australia today that don’t have DAF or philanthropy as some component of their finance plan. In this way, she was pleased to see Screen Australia loosen its documentary funding guidelines around marketplace attachment a few years ago. However, while filmmakers are generally experienced in pitching their projects to broadcasters and screen agencies, they are often less familiar with what might appeal to philanthropic funders, Goldman says. It’s an impact campaign’s nonfinancial partners that often lend kudos and credibility to a film, and therefore can attract donors. “It’s what the films can make happen out there in the world, in communities and with partners that is interesting to philanthropic funders.”
TALE OF TRAGEDY Writer-director Anthony Maras makes his feature debut with Hotel Mumbai, a harrowing depiction of the attack on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Shot across both Mumbai and Adelaide, Jackie Keast finds out how the production came together.
Armie Hammer in ‘Hotel Mumbai’.
n 2008, Arclight MD Gary Hamilton and his wife were invited to the Goa Film Festival, booked to stay in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. However, on the way to India they got stuck in Thailand due to a military coup. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While they were stranded in Bangkok, a group of terrorists staged attacks across Mumbai, including at the Taj. More than 160 people were killed, and hundreds more injured. Hamilton was haunted by the events for years. After seeing 2012 film The Impossible, about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami he began to wonder if there was a human story about the Mumbai attacks that could be told in film. He came across the ABC documentary Surviving Mumbai, produced by Electric Pictures’ Andrew Ogilvie, and found it extraordinary. “What was most interesting about it was that it was the perspective of people who were working in the hotel, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, that story has never been told,’ because there is no equivalent anywhere in the world like the Taj Mahal Hotel,” he tells IF. “The people working in the hotel could have left, but because it had such a tradition [of customer culture] they stayed. Most of the people who died were the people working in the hotel.” 14 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
Hamilton optioned the doco, with Ogilvie joining the producing team, and then took it to South Australian writer-director Anthony Maras. At the time Maras, who was behind the AACTA Award winning short The Palace about the Turkish and Greek invasion of Cyprus in 1974, had been identified as an upcoming directorial talent and had several projects in development. At one stage, Maras had been attached to direct The Water Diviner for Hopscotch Features. While that didn’t eventuate, he remained friendly with company co-founder and writer John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). He asked if Collee wanted to help him pen what would go on to become Hotel Mumbai. Another project Maras had in play was with Thunder Road, run by Basil Iwanyk – a producer behind franchises like Sicario and John Wick. Iwanyk then stepped on to produce Hotel Mumbai, becoming heavily involved in the scripts development and then later, establishing cast and crew. What drew Maras to make the film were the human stories behind the event. In order to craft the screenplay, he and Collee undertook a lengthy research process. They spent around two months in India at the Taj itself. By day they do would interviews, including with guests, staff, police, and the lawyer for the sole surviving gunman Ajmal Amir
Kasab, and then try to workshop ideas at night. “The starting point was going back and looking at the unedited videos from the Surviving Mumbai documentary, the many hours of those, just to try and get our heads around what the different experiences were of the people who lived through it,” Maras tells IF. “From there, we made contact with many of the survivors... We wanted to get a real insiders look at what went on.” Maras was struck that the attacks seemed to separate divisions between people, such as that between the hotel workers, often of modest backgrounds, and the wealthy
guests. In particular, he found the stories of the staff who stayed to protect guests, despite numerous opportunities to escape, moving. Given the attacks happened to real people in such recent memory, he felt a tremendous sense of obligation to do justice to their stories and make a film as true to their experiences as they could. “The more I got into this project, the more I realised this is a story that needs to be told. The way we often hear about terror in the way of factual news reports or [via] the barrage of different things we see in the media is only one perspective.” Authenticity was a powerful driver throughout the film’s development and production. Much of the script that would eventuate between the handlers and the gunman is taken from real transcripts of their calls that were intercepted by Indian police. “We did put whole chunks in verbatim; things as a screenwriter you could probably never think to come up with yourself. What was most chilling about the way the handlers were speaking to the gunmen was how matter of fact it was – in some cases it was in the way that someone would instruct someone how to change a tyre on a car.” Hamilton says Maras’ approach to the characters in the film was very deliberated and even-handed. “There are certain films that have been made about terrorism where it’s a very one-sided view. We were very much determined that it had to be balanced; that the people that perpetrated the crime were being manipulated and used.”
Nazanin Boniadi, Dev Patel and Armie Hammer in ‘Hotel Mumbai’.
And while the research phase was lengthy, the actual writing of the script was fast. In a matter of three or four months, Maras and Collee had the script they would cast on. Instrumental in both the financing and casting process was Xeitgeist Entertainment producer Jomon Thomas. “Without Xeitgeist we wouldn’t have been able to make the film,” Hamilton says. When the idea for the film was first pitched to Thomas, he had just finished up working on The Man Who Knew Infinity with Dev Patel, and asked if he could send him the script. Patel would go on to become attached. However, this was still before Lion – Patel wasn’t quite as big a star as he is now. Hamilton had concerns about how they were going to finance a movie of this scale with only one name actor. Xeitgeist then came on with a large piece of equity, that also helped them to attract Armie Hammer (who was also not quite as big as he would become after Call Me By Your Name) and to lock pre-sales and the other pieces of the financing. Hamilton says: “We were able to tell the story on a proper scale which was very important – that we didn’t try to compromise the movie in anyway.” Equally, Maras says Brendan Liebman, an agent at William Morris who represents both Patel and Hammer, was a huge believer in the script and played an instrumental role in securing both actors. Patel plays a waiter in the hotel, working under head chef Hermant Oberoi, played by Anupam Kher. Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi play a recently married couple whose baby is stuck upstairs with his nanny
(Tilda Cobham-Hervey) during the attack. Jason Issacs plays a Russian businessman, while the four assailants are played by Amandeep Singh, Suhail Nayyar, Yash Trivedi and Gaurav Paswala. Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Angus McLaren also star a pair of Australian backpackers who get caught up in the events. Joining Hamilton, Thomas, Iwanyk and Ogilvie as producers were Mike Gabrawy and Julie Ryan. Ryan had worked with Maras on his short The Palace, and came on board once lead cast were attached. “Within a month, we were in India on location surveys and by six months the film was essentially financed and we were in preproduction,” she says. Production of the film, which took place in 2016, was split across Mumbai and South Australia at Adelaide Studios. There were multiple reasons the team couldn’t shoot the whole film in India – for one, they were not allowed to shoot in the real hotel. Adelaide was attractive in part because it’s Maras’ home town, but also because interiors of the South Australian Film Corporation’s office (adjacent to the Studios) had many architectural cues and similarities to the Taj. As much as possible, the same crew was used across the Indian and Australian shoots. In India, the team worked alongside India Take One Productions, who also worked on films like Lion, Slumdog Millionaire and Zero Dark Thirty. Maintaining a sense of realism extended through the production methodology. Rather than using storyboards or shot lists, Maras and DOP Nick Matthews instead tried as much as possible to rehearse
‘Hotel Mumbai’ stars Armie Hammer and Tilda Cobham-Hervey on set with writer-director Anthony Maras.
with the actors – without blocking or marks – and just see where they naturally fell and work from there. “Nick would come and spend a lot of time with me in the rehearsals. As [the actors] worked through the scenes or other exercises, we would silently move around the drama looking at different ways we could shoot it.” They worked off of two to four cameras to capture the action, with more during early takes in order to get more genuine reactions from extras and smaller players. In the edit, they also interspersed documentary footage – partly for budgetary reasons, and partly because, as Maras says: “There are certain things you just can’t recreate and capture, and they are profound, moving and shocking, or heartwarming in some cases. We worked really hard to integrate that into the film.” Hotel Mumbai’s production wasn’t without hiccups: Maras cut off the end of his thumb on a fan blade, just 10 days out from the end of the shoot in Mumbai. The production then went on hiatus for several months. However, the thumb wasn’t the only obstacle in the film’s journey to screen. Originally, the film was to be distributed in the US and the UK by the Weinstein Company, who had also committed to spend over $US10 million on marketing. Allegations about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct surfaced just as test screening was about to begin. Suddenly a huge shadow of uncertainty was cast over the future of the film. Maras praises the post-production team, particularly Kojo in Australia, for remaining positive and continuing to charge ahead to finish the film. “Everyone was really behind it even though we didn’t know what the hell was going on. The motto was, ‘Doesn’t matter, just keep pushing forward, finish the film and we’ll figure it out.” The producers rescinded their agreement with the Weinstein company in February this year. However, TWC listed the title as a “top unreleased picture” to bidder Lantern Capital – an investment fund with no prior entertainment industry experience – in its bankruptcy filing. Through the courts the producers eventually struck a deal with TWC to reclaim the rights to the film in exchange for an undisclosed sum.
Since then, the US rights have been sold to Bleecker Street, and is expected for release in the first quarter of 2019. “It was a huge legal fight to get it out – just to get back to zero, to get back to the point of, ‘Okay, now we have a film, can we get distribution for it?’ For an Australian film to get American distribution can be tough,” says Maras. “I’m really glad we’ve got a great company in Bleecker and they’re going to give us a really great release and get the film seen.” In terms of other territories, it has sold in almost everywhere, with those remaining in negotiation. Hotel Mumbai premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September to standing ovation, followed by the Adelaide Film Festival in October (it was funded with the support of the festival’s investment fund). Reviews out of Toronto were largely positive, though some criticised the film for being relentless and disturbing. “I’m pleased the film sparked debate,” Maras says. “A lot of the critics loved it. Some had bones to pick about one thing or another… It’s not the film that you can make that’s going to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s really confronting and it’s challenging. Whilst it shows human compassion, resilience and people co-operating and helping one [another]… it’s also really brutal and holds a mirror up to what’s going on in many pockets of our world.” Hamilton feels Maras will make great impact with his first film – just like Andrew Dominik did with Chopper, a Baz Luhrmann with Strictly Ballroom and David Michôd with Animal Kingdom. Maras “really did sweat for this movie”, he says, and embraced his role head on. “He became an incredible expert on everything to do with the incident. I’m sure he’s probably got enough stories in his head to do a huge 12-hour mini-series on it; he knows so much about the perpetrators, the terrorists and the people in the hotel. He was incredibly well prepared, and he’s a very smart guy, but to have somebody with that level of commitment who just totally immersed himself into the whole process is quite rare.” Icon will release Hotel Mumbai in Australia January 10. www.if.com.au 15
THE RISE OF THE OUTSIDER
SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.
Ahead of the organisation’s Screen Forever conference, Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner outlines the lay of the land, arguing that 2018 has allowed independent voices to get louder.
here is an uprising in Australian media right now. Not just in the disruptive shifts in leadership or ownership but at the most powerful core: on our screens. If we pay attention to what Australian producers are creating and what the world is watching, the outsider has finally been let in. The anti-hero is the narrator; the marginalised, often silenced voice has now been given a platform. Meanwhile, the notion of who holds the power in the entertainment industry is being scuttled. Despite aggressive threats to its viability, the Australian production industry has remained resilient and thrived in 2018, both locally and globally. It is producing content with a reputation of bucking the system and is giving voice to that which many mainstream media gatekeepers traditionally suppress, such as Sweet Country, Romper Stomper and Sunshine. According to the inaugural Screen Production in Australia report released by Deloitte Access Economics, the Australian independent screen sector generated $1.2 billion in production 16 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
revenue in 2017, with export activity representing 14 per cent or $163 million of total revenue. Disturbingly, nearly a quarter of the production companies surveyed in the report made a loss in 2017. The fragility of the business of production is a paramount concern as global distribution models significantly tilt, local media companies engage in merger and
to hold intellectual property in the works that they create, in order to permit returning revenue streams to reward our entrepreneurs and creative partners for their collective risk and to build the development of brilliant new content. Being able to create, develop and monetise – often through the export of – original formats is the best example of
“Our unique voices are not only breaking through but are being amplified.” acquisition activity, and access to ongoing levels of adequate government support and funding remains in question. The importance of Screen Producers Australia’s mandate to defend and support the economic and cultural viability of the Australian production sector – particularly the independent or non-vertically aligned part of this sector – is critical, and the ongoing fight to attain the correct and most constructive policy settings will be core priorities in the months ahead. The key for our industry and our screen businesses is their capacity
an opportunity for our sector to develop sustainable practices and increase our local and international trade potential. It is important that our funding bodies and broadcast partners understand and support this. At SPA we have now passed the milestone of 500 member organisations. This represents a robust production community that is engaged in generating a united voice in the constant evolution of the media sector. Without these active, agitated internal voices supporting the common goals of our industry, we would not have the opportunity
to shape progressive policy shifts or have the momentum to hold those in positions of power accountable for the future direction of our sector. The continued combination of our members with that of the other key bodies in the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) and the Australian Directors’ Guild to create a single industry voice to #MakeItAustralian remains our industry’s priority. This year has also witnessed the uprising of voices calling for a halt to practices and behaviours that not only harm individuals and creativity but destroy the viability of a functioning industry. We have called for the end to this dysfunction and our industry-wide work and collaboration has resulted in the implementation of workplace safety industry codes that pave the way for productions to be developed and executed in safe places of work for everyone. When it is safe to contribute and express creativity and difference we all stand to gain. A cursory look at our most successful production work this year, including Ladies in Black, Gurrumul, Mystery Road and Grace Beside Me, clearly and proudly shows that our unique voices are not only breaking through but are being amplified, finding an international audience that embraces Australian stories and accents supported by demand from international co-production partners and buyers. Australian productions are broadcast in over 225 territories globally. According to the Screen Production in Australia report, 59 per cent of export revenue came from the United Kingdom, 32 per cent from the United States and 7 per cent from Europe. There is more to gain here by having a structured trade strategy for our industry. As the underlying theme of Screen Forever 2018 and this year’s incredible speaker line up attests: the mavericks are going mainstream, and it is difference that will ultimately unite us and power us forward. The rich diversity of our producers, creatives and the audiences that they serve are now being empowered to tell their stories – in many cases for the first time – in their own way, across a myriad of platforms, authentically and with Australian expertise at their heart.
DOMINIC MINGHELLA ON THE PRODUCTION ‘BUBBLE’ Dominic Minghella was an EP and writer on the first season of A&E Studios/History Channel’s ‘Knightfall’.
As a keynote speaker at Screen Forever, UK writer/producer Dominic Minghella will share his experiences as the creator of Doc Martin and Robin Hood. He speaks to Don Groves.
ustralian producers who lament the time and resources devoted to developing projects that don’t eventuate can take heart from Dominic Minghella. Despite a stellar track record as the creator of Doc Martin and Robin Hood, the UK producer/ writer says his strike rate is just one in six of all the projects he’s developed. “I have been incredibly lucky, but what you don’t see are the projects I wrote which I was sure would work and didn’t work,” he tells IF via Skype from his home in London. “Development isn’t fun.” Minghella will be a keynote speaker at Screen Producers Australia’s Screen Forever conference in Melbourne this November, marking just his second trip down under. In 2008 he took part in Spark, the script development program by the Australian Film Commission run in conjunction with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). He looks forward to discussing several projects with Blackfella Films’ Darren Dale and Miranda Dear and with Moody Street Productions’ Gillian Carr. While the showrunner is excited by the opportunities offered by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms, he does worry about the worldwide glut of drama production. 18 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
“I don’t fully understand how all these shows are monetised in the end and I don’t really believe they all can be. It does feel there is a bubble and that over the next three or five years it will shrink back a bit and there will be fewer players,” he says.
“A lot of other people think like that too, so it comes down to, ‘How can I be among those that stay in the game?’ They may think that instead of making five mediocre dramas they should make two expensive ones. It’s like a big game of poker. You have to keep seeing everyone else, otherwise you’ll be out. “It is overheated, which is crazy, really mad, but it’s a great time to be a creator because if you can get a show away the challenges are really interesting. You can cast people who aren’t
famous, because nobody wants to pay someone who is already famous millions of dollars on a show that is already costing too much. You can be a kingmaker by casting unknown faces.” One issue which concerns him is what he describes as the “gigantic haemorrhage” of UK talent to the US, similar to the talent drain which Australia has experienced. “Even if you felt you could make your show quite well on the smaller British budget, you find the actors you want are used to be being paid quite a lot more money than your budget would allow. It’s a global inflation,” he says. Among the shows which he and his colleagues at Island Pictures are developing is a true-crime drama based on a mass shooting in the remote New Hampshire town of Colebrook in 1997. The 67-yearold gunman killed four people and wounded four policemen before he was killed in a shootout. “This is a case that everyone forgot. It happened before Columbine and it has a very human, relatable story. It happened in a community of fiercely independent, strongminded folk, the kind of place where nothing like this will ever happen, and [yet] it does,” he says. The screenplay will be adapted from Richard Adams Carey’s book ‘In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town.’ The producer intends to start with a podcast and then sell the series to one of the OTT operators such as Netflix or Hulu. Another project is a series about a brilliant, charismatic and maverick philosopher who tries to repair his relationships with his ex-wife and their teenage son, inspired by a Spanish TV show Merlí, which ran for three seasons on Catalanlanguage channel TV3. The protagonist reminds Minghella of one of his tutors at Oxford University, whom he much admired despite misbehaviour which included sleeping with some students, and with whom he became great friends. After studying politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford, Minghella worked as a runner for a TVC company and then started reading and critiquing scripts and books for ITV broadcasters around the country. He enjoyed the experience but the pay was lousy. At £20 ($A36.30 at the current exchange rate) per report, it was barely enough to buy petrol for the Mercedes entrusted to him by his brother Anthony Minghella while he flew around the world directing movies such as the Academy Awardwinning The English Patient, The Talented Mr Ripley and Cold Mountain (Anthony died in 2008, aged 54). Dominic got his first break when he was hired as assistant to producer Deirdre Keir, initially working on the second series of Firm Friends, an ITV comedy about a middle-class white housewife who sets up a catering business with her Indian cleaning lady, starring Billie Whitelaw and Madhur Jaffrey. After that Keir asked him to serve as script editor and a writer on Hamish Macbeth, a BBC comedy/mystery/drama starring Robert Carlyle as a Scottish cop. That taught him how to make shows that the whole family can see together, that are occasionally about something real but mostly
focus on a warm-hearted community – lessons he would apply to his next production. Minghella got a call from actor Martin Clunes, who wanted to hire him to write a series which would star Clunes as a doctor in Cornwall. His somewhat surprising response was: “‘I know what that show is and I don’t want to see it.’ Although Martin had played a supposedly naughty boy in Men Behaving Badly, he was still a cuddly, good old Martin kind of figure. I thought it would be one of those shows you can see on a Sunday night with the sound turned down, a chocolate-box village with a dog in it.” Clunes saw his point and agreed to Minghella’s concept, succinctly put as: a show about the world’s best physician with the world’s worst bedside manner. It was and is, of course, a breakout hit, but Minghella quit after the second series because he was offered another gig: co-creating, writing and producing the series Robin Hood for the BBC and production company Tiger Aspect. He helped Clunes find new writers for Doc Martin but never intended to stay beyond two series, explaining: “I’m a control freak. That show was already controlled, run by Martin and his wife [producer Philippa Braithwaite], who were doing a fantastic job. I like to be in on the ground, making choices of cast and directors and design, and that was for them to do.” In 2012 he produced Charles Sturridge’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat, which starred Matthew Rhys, Eileen Atkins and Anton Lesser.
Most recently he served as the executive producer and one of the writers on the first season of Knightfall, the historical action-adventure created by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner for A+E Studios and the US History channel, which screened here on SBS. Much as he enjoyed working with the cast and crew on the 10-episode production budgeted at about $US50 million, he found the logistics of shooting in Prague and liaising with the Los Angeles-based executives at A+E difficult. “I loved the show but it was very, very hard, particularly making calls to LA at 2 am,” he says. “It’s done pretty well in Europe and internationally but not as well as everyone hoped in North America. Part of the problem was the positioning in the US, launching late on a Wednesday just before Christmas, which is not the time when people are looking to commit to a new show. I knew I could not bring in [a second series] in a way that would have been right for them and me.” Nonetheless History has renewed the show. So with all that experience, what guidance and tips on constructing mainstream shows can he share with Australian producers? One core principle is having strong, relatable central characters. Another key ingredient is the supporting characters and the environment around them. In Doc Martin, for example, the protagonist has no access to his emotions, so the people around him articulate on his behalf.
‘Knightfall’ creator Richard Rayner, actor Olivia Ross, actor Tom Cullen, Dominic Minghella, actor Sabrina Bartlett and actor Simon Merrells in Cannes for ‘Knightfall’.
“In the old days you could have a character who stayed the same, like Columbo [the longrunning US series which starred Peter Falk as a homicide detective in Los Angeles], which began and ended each week in exactly the same place,” he says. “You can’t do that now. You have to drip-feed new stuff into your main characters and move them a little bit or even a lot, depending on whether your show is a serial or a series.” Minghella notes there is still some resistance among writers in the UK to the showrunner model. He was surprised to be told that model has been embraced enthusiastically here, which perhaps suggests the Australian creative community is more collegial.
GET UP AND GLOW
Sascha Rothchild is a co-executive producer and writer for ‘GLOW’.
Among the keynote speakers at November’s Screen Forever conference is Sascha Rothchild, co-executive producer and writer for Netflix’s GLOW. She talks to Jackie Keast about how she got her start, and the landscape for women in Hollywood.
t took 10 years for Sascha Rothchild to become an overnight success. After studying playwriting at Boston College, Rothchild moved to LA at 21 with the goal of writing half hour TV comedy. After writing a few spec scripts, she quickly managed to get an agent and thought, at least temporarily, that she’d made it. However, she’d go out to meetings but never get staffed in rooms. Frustrated, she turned her focus instead to features. Those scripts got more attention, yet nothing sold. All the while Rothchild was waitressing and doing odd jobs to make ends meet. She was trying and trying to crack it as a writer, but in the meantime, seven or eight years had gone by. Around that time, she kept getting parking tickets, and was wondering if she could even afford to live in LA. It seemed like even if she was only 10 seconds over the meter, an inspector appeared to fine her. Frustrated, she wrote an article about how parking inspectors should be superheroes – as in they are always in the right place at the right time – and submitted it to the LA Times. They published it. 20 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, my voice, my humour and my personality came across in this article’. It got published immediately and I felt this huge sense of not only success, but also relief that what I have to say is worthwhile,” Rothchild tells IF. So she kept writing articles. One day she came across an ad in the back of the LA Weekly calling out for writers and submitted some examples. In 2008, when she was 31, her story ‘How To Get Divorced by 30’ – about the collapse of her first marriage – was published on the cover. Within a week, she had a book deal with Penguin, and a movie deal with Universal. “I had the 10 years of work that didn’t quite get there, and then all of a sudden in a week everything came together.” Rothchild spent the next few years selling feature scripts. Then with best friend and fellow writer Randi Barnes, she sold comedy pitch My Best Friend is a Lesbo to NBC. It never went to series, but the experience convinced Rothchild that she wanted to concentrate on TV development. In 2013 she was staffed on CW’s The Carrie Diaries, and every year
since Rothchild has also developed shows – she wrote a half hour dark comedy inspired by her family for HBO, and half hour comedy about the women who started Juicy Couture for Freeform. Then around two and half years ago, she was tapped for Netflix’s female-driven 80s wrestling comedy GLOW, which stars Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin. Executive producer Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black, Weeds) and showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch had apparently liked Rothchild’s HBO pilot. “They were looking for women who could come in and explore this crazy voice of 80s female wrestling. My pilot was so specific and sort of strange, because my family is very specific and strange, and I think that’s the kind of writers that they wanted – people that could really make a team of women, each woman so different and clear.” GLOW’s third season is about to get underway, and Rothchild will discuss working on the show at Screen Producer Australia’s Screen Forever conference in November. GLOW remains somewhat of an anomaly in Hollywood in that the majority of the cast, crew, writers and showrunners are women. “It brings
out, I think, better material for the writers and the actors because it’s a safe place to bring up feelings about different things. It feels really amazing to know that many women can work together and succeed,” Rothchild says. “It really feels like there’s room for everybody.” Rothchild says a constant topic of discussion in the writers room is the male gaze versus the female gaze. “These women are wearing these small leotards, but when we’re looking at them, we’re not looking at them to try and make them sexy. We’re looking at them as athletes or as being awkward, or as being angry. Starting from that point is so different. When you see women characters that are built by men – when you see women superheroes in the past that wear teeny little sexy outfits and women in battlefield wearing teeny little armour that would never actually help them at all win a battle – it’s such a different perspective. “Even when we’re clearly showing these women are beautiful, it’s shot in a way that isn’t about objectifying them. It’s about just telling the stories about these people. That’s the biggest difference from day one, and that kind of encompasses all the stories we tell. Do we know somebody who would really act like that? As women,
would we say this or do this? What are the implications of that?” GLOW has been a great success for Netflix, garnering 10 Emmy award nominations and one win, and Rothchild herself was nominated for an Emmy and a Writers Guild of America Award. However, she’s frustrated when people still seem shocked that audiences watch female-driven content. “I would like to get to a point where when there are movies about women or TV shows with a lot of women, there’s no longer that conversation of how surprised we need to be that women actually watch things, that men are interested in watching things about women, and that women can make things that men like. Everyone just assumes men can make things that everyone likes.” Ditto the fact that when shows and films are made by women, they garner such attention for that fact alone. “Wonder Women was directed by a woman; that’s incredible. But it was such a conversation, which shows how far we need to go – for enough women to be directing that it’s not a huge story.” This year, GLOW’s stunt co-ordinator Shauna Duggins was the first woman to ever win an Emmy for stunt coordination. “I didn’t know that a woman had never won. It was very emotional to be part of a first.” One of the things that excites Rothchild about GLOW is that so many of its directors are also women – including Aussie Kate Dennis. “That’s a big push now, that women who are in a place to hire other women actually hire women directors,” she says. “It’s not that there aren’t women who want to be directors, it’s just that they’re not often hired. That’s been a big shift this year in Hollywood, and I think that ties into the #MeToo movement in a way; everyone working together to say ‘Alright, we’re done with the old system.”
In the second season of GLOW, there is a storyline in which Ruth, played by Brie, is sexually harassed by a TV executive. It was written before the Weinstein scandal broke; the writing team had heard the horror stories of such men in the industry. “We wanted to tell that story, and then to have it actually all break publicly was extraordinary and nauseating at the same time,” Rothchild says. “Because it’s [set] in the 80s, we think ‘Oh my God, it was so long ago’. Then we realise, ‘Oh no it’s still happening today’.” Rothchild feels the #MeToo movement has allowed women to feel empowered to stand up to abhorrent behaviour. “Women are being listened to in this moment in time. It’s from top to bottom, everywhere in Hollywood; everyone really is trying to address when people are uncomfortable. It’s a touchy, strange time but it’s something that’s really necessary and exciting that it’s happening.” Reflecting on her beginnings, Rothchild now feels that two decades ago, LA wasn’t really ready for her. Back then, there weren’t the outlets for her voice and sense of humour – but there are now. “I feel like there are so many shows with strong women which have room for emotion and comedy. There weren’t quite as many 20 years ago,” she says, attributing that shift in part to the rise of cable television and streaming services, which have demonstrated there is room for edgier material that serves niche audiences. Rothchild is also co-executive producer on another Netflix show, the upcoming Huge In France, which follows famous French comedian Gad Elmaleh (playing a version of himself) as he grapples with his lack of celebrity in The States. She also has a development deal with CBS Studios, but it is still early days as to what will come out
Sascha Rothchild and Jackie Tohn, who plays Melrose in ‘GLOW’.
of that. Her dream project remains a show about her family, and she is always working on potential angles in her mind. As for the projects she’s written that haven’t gone into production, she says it can be frustrating when they’re put the shelf, but it’s all part of a larger plan. “Everyone out here that’s very successful has 30 things that didn’t get put into production or didn’t get made. If you let yourself get too frustrated, you’re not going to make it because it’s a marathon and not a sprint. A lot of people end up
making a living on things that other people never see and that’s part of the business.” Rothchild’s advice to emerging writers is simple: write. “It’s your job if you want to be a writer to just keep producing material and eventually something will break and something will happen. That’s what you have to do. And it does take time... For the most part it takes a solid decade to get your foot in the door and understand what you’re doing and meet enough people. So my advice is actually write, and don’t give up when it’s really hard.”
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Acting – Design – Directing Props – Production & more www.if.com.au 21
(Photo: Bohdan Warchomij).
Actor Marcus Graham, director James Bogle, co-creator Warren Clarke and actor Shari Sebbens on the set of ‘The Heights’.
Matchbox Pictures and For Pete’s Sake Productions’ The Heights for the ABC is a different kind of show than many currently being produced. A 30-episode serial drama in a six to eight-episode world, the series was shot in Perth with predominantly local crew and with gender parity across HODs and crew. Jackie Keast speaks to some of those behind the show.
ith the exception of flagship serials Home and Away and Neighbours, for the last few years, long-form adult drama has all but disappeared from our screens, replaced by high budget, short-run shows. With that has also come a reduced number of training opportunities for emerging writers and directors, something that producers, writers and directors alike have lamented. Given the landscape, it was somewhat of a surprise to see the ABC announce in June that it had commissioned a 30 x 30” serial drama in The Heights. Produced by Matchbox Pictures and For Pete’s Sake Productions, The Heights explores the relationships, work lives and everyday challenges of six families living in a social housing tower and the rapidly gentrifying inner-city community that surrounds it. The diverse ensemble cast includes Marcus Graham, Shari Sebbens, Roz Hammond, Fiona Press, Dan Paris, Calen Tassone, Saskia Hampele, Phoenix Raei, 22 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
Yazeed Daher, and newcomers Bridie McKim, Mitchell Bourke, Koa Kuen, Cara McCarthy and Carina Hoang. Kelton Pell, Briallen Clarke and Bernie Davis will also be series regulars. The show was developed in-house at Matchbox Pictures by Warren Clarke and Que Minh Luu. Clarke is the showrunner and Peta AstburyBulsara the producer. Luu has since moved to the ABC but is executive producer for the broadcaster together with head of drama, comedy and Indigenous Sally Riley. According to both Clarke and Luu, providing an opportunity for emerging talent to work alongside experienced hands was an overt strategy in The Heights’ 30-episode design. “We were very conscious of the decision that we were creating something that was long-running and had the potential to grow... to provide opportunities [for new talent] and to be a real fixture in the Australian television landscape,” Clarke tells IF. James Bogle, Andrew Prowse, Renee Webster and Darlene Johnson are the directors of the
series, written by Hannah Carroll Chapman, Romina Accurso, Peter Mattessi, Megan Palinkas, Nick King, Clare Atkins, Niki Aken, Dot West, Magda Wozniak, Mithila Gupta, Tracey Defty-Rashid and first-time TV writers Larissa Behrendt, Miley Tunnecliffe, Katie Beckett and Melissa Lee Speyer. It was also Webster’s first time directing TV drama, having worked on shorts and TVCs previously. Clarke believes what sold The Heights to the ABC was the strength of the story pitch. The driving force behind the show was to reflect all realities of inner-city life, and demonstrate where people continue to have points of community, despite diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. “At that point in time, we were looking at a world that felt like it was pulling itself apart a little bit. People were becoming more isolated in their politics and their opinions. We talked a lot about well, ‘Where are the places where we’re not isolated, and where does community still exist?” Clarke says. Luu saw rich dramatic territory to explore within the idea of
gentrification – how it affects a place’s original residents and the “middle class guilt” of those that move in. She believes The Heights fits within the ABC’s charter in that it reflects a diversity of lived experience within Australian communities. “We do a lot of heightened, high-concept shows and comedies. This show is offering something really different, which is something relatable, comforting and familiar. It’s positively geared.”
PERTH AND PRODUCTION Production for The Heights was located in Perth, predominantly on set at ABC Studios. Supported by Screenwest, it was a welcome boon to the WA industry, with the producers employing nearly 100 local crew, and casting 93 speaking and extra roles from the state. Perth is home for Clarke, so he had insight into local opportunities and want on the ground to make a show of this scale. “There’s a fantastic studio here at the ABC and all our edit suites are upstairs, so we can basically do everything as a one-stop-shop.” Contrary to the idea that a majority of crew might need to be flown in for a production of this scale, only a few seats have been taken by interstate players, with
(Photo: Bohdan Warchomij).
Crew on set at ‘The Towers’.
producers determined to find talent on the ground. Luu says: “We had a very limited amount of travel budget to allocate to people traveling from interstate. The majority of the crew is from Perth. A lot of the actors are from Perth. There’s been a really, really strong commitment to keep it local. “Also the flipside to that is: how are you meant to grow the talent pool if you don’t provide opportunities in situ?” Many of the cast are new faces, which both Clarke and Luu attribute to the diversity of the characters. “As we all know, for diverse actors
(Photo: Bohdan Warchomij).
Producer Peta AstburyBulasara and co-creators Warren Clarke and Que Minh Luu (seated)
there aren’t always a huge amount of opportunities. You do have to look hard to source those actors and find that talent. That has resulted in a lot of green talent, which are of course bolstered by our more experienced actors like Shari Sebbens and Marcus Graham,” Clarke says. Further, women make up more than 50 per cent of the show’s heads of department and crew. The Heights’ authentic portrayal of inner-city Australian life was one of the things that drew producer Astbury-Bulsara to the project. Emulating that off screen was a key goal for her, though she says there was never a “gender target” per se. It came about organically; all crew were employed as they were the best pick for the job. “I knew the calibre of people here in WA and what would be required to make this series. I knew we could do it with gender parity across the crew,” she tells IF. The Heights has borrowed from soap production models and story flow, and has hired many writers with backgrounds on Home and Away and Neighbours. However, Luu says they are not calling The Heights a soap, and have been keen to separate the show visually. The team’s initial reference in terms of aesthetic was the vérité Steadicam style of Friday Night
Lights. It was predominantly shot on four cameras – a decision that also allowed for full coverage while also meeting the demands of shooting 8-10 minutes per day. “The idea here was that the audience will have the sense that the deeply human moments on screen are something truthful that is being captured, not staged, with the upside being this style would also mean that we would be able to move quickly, i.e. no long set up time for dollies,” Astbury-Bulsara says. As the show was being written there was ongoing dialogue between Astbury-Bulsara and Clarke to ensure writing was kept to budget without the story world being constrained. With the shoot spanning just 17 weeks, Astbury-Bulsara was determined to create efficiencies in the production methodology without reducing production value on screen. She describes the production of the show as “contained”. There are 12 key interior locations designed by production designer Emma Fletcher, and all outside locations were shot as close to base as possible. Other efficiencies made the way actors were contracted, the number in the ensemble, lighting and crew sizes. Post-production was also completed as much as possible during filming – when the shoot wrapped on October 1, all bar six episodes had picture locked
NEW VOICES AND RELATABLE STORIES When it came to scripting, Clarke says providing new scribes with their first television credit together with structured support from more experienced members of the writing team was a key focus. In addition to writing their own episodes and being involved in the plotting of others, each of the new writers observed other rooms and were mentored by story producer Clare Atkins, who also provided them additional rounds of notes. “By the time they were sending their scripts into the network, they’d had a couple of runs at it and they were bolstered up,” Clarke says. For Melissa Lee Speyer, a current AFTRS Masters of Arts (Screenwriting) student with a background in playwriting, The Heights was her first screen credit. She ranks her experience in the writers room as very supportive, noting there was plenty of opportunity
to contribute, get feedback and learn from the other writers. “There just really aren’t very many opportunities for first-time writers to get their first credits now in Australia with series being shorter-run nowadays,” she says. “This was a totally different way of operating which allowed a firsttime writer to not only get the kind of side-by-side training they need to develop to deliver their first draft, but also the number of episodes meant that they could take on four first-time writers, not just one.” The philosophy of supporting new talent with old hands was continued throughout production, with a mixture of experience levels within each department. Astbury-Bulsara says: “If at the end of the series – and we hope there will be more than one series – if we’ve got people who are going off and working on other things and not coming back, whilst we would have to bring in new people, we’ve really done our job. Everyone throughout the production feels very passionately about that.” As well as providing new opportunity for emerging creatives, Luu says a long-running format seemed to be the best platform to tell a range of authentic stories with the requisite amount of depth. She says the writers have nailed the tone of the show, making something that is realistic but fun to watch. “We really wanted to have a show that was honest about the fact that life could be difficult, but [showed that] even in those circumstances there’s still room to laugh and find joy and have fun. A really simple idea, but the tone of that is really difficult to capture and the writers have done such a great job.” She hopes audiences will relate to the everyday, three-dimensional portrayals of people’s lives. “I come from a family of former refugees; my family were boat people. What we rarely saw were authentic characters onscreen that spoke to us and our experience as Australians.” NBCUniversal Distribution is handling international sales, and while it is still early days, Clarke says shooting in sunny Perth does give the show an Australian appeal that will hopefully play well overseas. “Our London-based sales team is really excited. They’re going to roll out really hard at MIPCOM with this; we’re all super optimistic.” The Heights will air on the ABC in 2019. www.if.com.au 23
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BEYOND THE FRONT LINE ‘Fighting Season’.
Blake Ayshford, writer-producer of upcoming Foxtel drama Fighting Season, talks to Jackie Keast about the genesis of the series and stepping into producing.
oalpost Pictures’ Kylie du Fresne and Rosemary Blight came up with the initial concept for Fighting Season, set to debut on Foxtel in late October, at a departure gate at a US airport. They noticed that military personnel were called over the loudspeaker to board flights before other passengers, and had their own lounges. It struck them that there was no similar recognition of servicemen and women in Australia – instead, they were largely invisible. Around the same time, several news stories cropped up about PTSD in Australian soldiers who had been involved in the wars in the Middle East. The producers began talking with writer Blake Ayshford (Devil’s Playground, Barracuda, Cut Snake) – with whom they had previously worked on An Accidental Soldier – about a project about the impact of returning from war. Ayshford was attracted to the idea having grown up in a military family. “My father was in the armed forces and when he came out in the mid 1970s, he found it very difficult to transition between Air Force life and civilian life,” he says. The writer would spend the next three years doing research and conducting interviews with returned soldiers to get an insight into what they had gone through.
“The stories they were telling us were very different to the popular conception of what life is like for soldiers and their families. “ The end result is Fighting Season,a six-part drama which follows a platoon of soldiers who in 2010 return from Afghanistan after their section leader, Captain Ted Nordenfelt (Ewen Leslie), is killed in a controversial mission marred by mistakes and cover-up. The ensemble cast includes Jay Ryan as a sergeant struggling with unacknowledged symptoms of PTSD, Kate Mulvany as an Army captain and Ted’s widow, and George Pullar, Marco Alosio and Julain Maroun as other young members of the platoon. Sarah Armanious, Paul de Gelder, Sabryna Walters, Jay Laga’aia also star. Ayshford was joined in the writers room by Kylie Needham, Belinda Chayko and Tommy Murphy, and also produced with Du Fresne and Elisa Argenzio (Wolf Creek, Underbelly). When crafting the script, Ayshford tried to draw from his interviews with soldiers the different ways that they had experienced PTSD or transitioned back to Australian life. Initially, each character was meant to represent a different version of that transition, though as they gained flesh as characters that idea dropped away. The key challenge then was crafting a script that had a mystery hook while also balancing authenticity. For Ayshford, it was always top of mind that they were basing the show off of stories told to them by real people.
“I hope people think about the experience of army families and what we ask them to go through,” Ayshford says. “We’re prepared that not every soldier or every soldier’s family will agree with some of the conclusions we’ve come to, but we would hope that it starts a real dialogue, rather than us just saluting on ANZAC Day and then forgetting.” Producing a project that you have written is incredibly gratifying, says Ayshford. “When I started my career, writers’ involvement with a show would end after the scripts were delivered. Realising that you have a lot to add through production and especially post-production, I found so rewarding. “It’s very difficult to go back to the ‘send it in and hope for the best’ style, which I think most writers of my generation have grown up accepting.” However, Ayshford says that as the writer-producer on Fighting Season he wasn’t a ‘showrunner’ in common sense of the word. He maintains Argenzio and Du Fresne were the main producers, as was Helen Bowden on a previous show he produced, Devil’s Playground. “As far as I know, in the United States, a writer takes on more producing responsibilities as they gain seniority as a writer. Here it’s like you have none at all... and then [as a showrunner] you’re expected to jump in to the very top. I found that very daunting.
“If we had a less freelance-based industry, then perhaps there would be more opportunities to learn more producing responsibilities so that when [writers] get their chance to showrun, it would be more of a genuine showrunning experience. Whereas I think I’m a junior producer.” However, Ayshford says that he does think the writer-producer model is the way forward, and should lead to stronger work the more it is taken up. “Production companies are now realising that there is money well spent in providing funds for a writer to stay on, whether that’s a producer or just in some kind adjunct way; that the production itself will benefit from having that other voice.” Ayshford also recently worked on Requiem, a BBC/Netflix co-production with fellow Aussie Kris Mrska, and is currently adapting Louise Doughty’s novel 'Whatever You Love' as a British series to star David Morrissey. It is at ITV at the moment with hopes of being greenlit. Elsewhere, Ayshford is working with Co-Curious to help emerging Western Sydney-based writers develop projects for its Behind Closed Door initiative. So what’s Ayshford’s advice to new writers? While the industry is changing all the time, he says you should keep pursuing your own work. He wrote the screenplay for Cut Snake in 2000, and although it wasn’t produced until 2014 it still got him his first TV writing gig, followed by his first staff writing gig. “It sounds lame but don’t forget – in all the worry about ‘Am I going to get this job?’ or ‘Is this a good career move?’ – the wellspring of why you wanted to do it in the first place. “Keep observing the world and finding the time to write what it is that’s special to you, because that’s the thing that’s going to pay off.” Blake Ayshford.
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THE SA REPORT
THE SA REPORT IFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GUIDE TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA
THE SA REPORT
SOUTHERN CHARM Murray Mouth, Limestone Coast.
South Australian Film Corporation CEO Courtney Gibson started with the agency in April, and hit the ground running. She speaks to Jackie Keast.
he South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) was first established in 1972. Under the stewardship of founding director/chairman Gil Brealey, it played a vital role in the renaissance of Australian cinema – producing projects like Ken Hannam’s Sunday, Too Far Away and Henri Safran’s Storm Boy, and funding Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. Since starting with the SAFC in April, CEO Courtney Gibson has thought a lot about the organisation’s legacy, particularly as Brealey died the same week she started.
– which extends from those early films, through to contemporary projects like Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays and Warwick Thornton’s Samson and Delilah and Sweet Country. “Time and time again you see the Adelaide Film Festival and the South Australian Film Corp back really innovative projects that then speak to a large number of people and become very significant pieces of work.” There is a lot of interest from the industry to see what Gibson will do at the helm at the SAFC. During her time at Screen NSW, she significantly increased production levels, attracted international film and TV projects, introduced a gender equity initiative and a VR/AR development program. SA is a much smaller state than NSW when it comes to production, but there are learnings Gibson carries over to her new role, especially around both growing the sector and working in partnership in order to develop strong content and outcomes for practitioners.
ROOM TO MOVE
“He was in my mind that week, and he continues to be because his ethos was quite akin to ours. He got in there, built something and worked with the best people. They turned it into such a going concern. The outcomes from it were such great films that had such a profound impact on Australian audiences that other states and territories then said: “I’ll have what they’re having”,” Gibson tells IF. “It really beget the birth of the idea of state subsidy, to lever co-finance into the business of screen production which is the basis of our industry.” Gibson is a former CEO of Screen NSW, and has also worked as an executive at the ABC, Nine, Southern Star and SBS. She was drawn to the SAFC because of the agency’s history of innovation 28 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
SAFC initiatives designed to bolster participation of under-represented groups in the sector fall. In the months since, she has restructured the organisation, introducing an industry development, partnerships and engagement arm which will work separately to – albeit alongside – the production, development, attraction and studios arm. The new structure is modelled from one that existed at Screen NSW during Gibson’s tenure; one she found incredibly effective. She feels it is important that industry development is given its own focus; otherwise it can slide against the ‘god head’ of content development and production. Accompanying the restructure has been a number of new hires. Among them is Satu Teppo, a former executive officer at Arts South Australia, who leads the industry development team. Her key role is to build relationships with other screen organisations as well as the arts, business, philanthropic and government sectors. In November, the current Adelaide Film Festival CEO and artistic director Amanda Duthie – a former colleague of Gibson’s at the ABC – will step on to head up the production arm. Gibson says Duthie is uniquely positioned to take on this role: she has experience with the full gamut of screen content, has worked across financing and commissioning, and has meaningful relationships with a variety of businesses and institutions internationally, domestically and in SA. That sort of background is a boon for a small team like the SAFC’s. Further than that, Duthie is “an unbridled enthusiast about screen content.” “She is somebody who challenges people around her and really interrogates the work – the thinking, the ideas – in a very thorough, constructive and imaginative way,” Gibson says. The Adelaide Film Festival – particularly thanks to its investment fund – is often a primary or first presentation platform for Australian films to local audiences. Managing that has given Duthie a much more detailed understanding of audience engagement – a fresh perspective she hopes to bring to the SAFC. “It’s time for a change and a new challenge. I remain committed to doing everything I can to enable more innovative and exciting screen production, so this is a perfect opportunity,” Duthie tells IF.
In the months prior to Gibson joining the agency, SAFC made a number of significant policy changes designed to attract production to SA and build the sector’s capacity. They included moving to 100 per cent grant model, Hilary Swank in ‘I Am Mother’. removing the funding cap for drama production across both TV/features, and a 10 per cent uncapped, non-discretionary post, digital and visual (PDV) effects rebate. On Gibson’s first day on the job she further introduced new policies and initiatives, including simplified development funding streams and an umbrella program ‘Delivering Diversity’, under which all
THE SA REPORT A VISION FOR GROWTH Since Gibson started, the SAFC has moved from the Arts portfolio to the Industry and Skills portfolio. For Gibson, the shift is a positive and logical one, as she was already trying to pursue an industry development agenda; one of her key objectives for the SA sector is growth. Among the SA government’s current priorities is retaining young people in the state. At present, there is a view that many young people are leaving the state in order to find work in the screen industry, Gibson says. If the SAFC can bolster the level of work in the ground, that brain drain might be avoided. “To grow audiences and to grow diversity in the sector, you need to grow the sector itself,” she says. “We have only a bench of two, i.e. two crews at any given time. I’d like to see us grow that to about four; I think NSW is around six.” In that regard, SAFC is working with the tertiary sector to enable clearer pathways from graduate certificates into the industry, as well institutions such as the Media Arts Production Skills (MAPS) school. The agency is also ramping up its paid attachment scheme across all departments. In order to find out what gaps exist at present in the SA sector, the agency has also engaged Ken Crouch, CEO of regional film body Screenworks, to conduct an industry development analysis. Part of the analysis will look at if/where SAFC should grow regional screen hubs; Gibson is conscious that when it comes to production in South Australia there is a very strong Adelaide-focus. Gibson is also keen to support the documentary and factual sector in the state so that it operates as more of a community, arguing that at present SA documentary makers can often be “disparate” from each other. That will be accompanied by project-byproject support and industry development programs via the Media Resource Centre (MRC) and SAFC.
PRODUCTION PLAN Increasing the production pipeline in tandem with the talent base is vital, lest the state become a training ground for people to then go work elsewhere, Gibson says. SAFC’s budget allocation for the 2018-19 financial year is $4.76 million, however, the agency also generates revenue from Adelaide Studios – both the studio facilities and tenant businesses – which is then fed back into production. While Gibson believes South Australia has always punched above its weight with regards to feature film, she’s keen to bolster television production. Earlier this year the SAFC incentivised Screentime and Matchbox to open Adelaide offices – the former’s SA-shot Pine Gap for the ABC/Netflix will air in October as will Matchbox’s third season of Wanted. Closer Productions is prepping The Hunt for SBS and Lingo Pictures’ Upright is based at Adelaide Studios as it shoots across SA and WA. In addition, SAFC is currently supporting the development of a number of TV drama and comedy series. Gibson says: “We will co-fund development of projects for and with the networks. Often networks like to go it alone and keep their slate close to their chest, but we are
‘Hotel Mumbai’. very happy to support that in order to then deliver more production outcomes to the state.” In addition, the CEO keen to support new forms of screen entertainment and storytelling, such as VR. “We want to be in everything. I think to decide you’re not in something is a big call, and when you have limited funding you do sometimes need to make those decisions. But right now we’re trying to put our toe in the water in a whole lot of different areas of screen-based content and activity while we are getting to know the new government and department. “[We’re] just trying to work out how we can lever greater support among a range of partnerships, including government, to deliver greater finance into the sector and stronger outcomes.” Shooting in SA doesn’t make sense for every project, but according to Gibson when it does, Since starting at SAFC, Gibson has introduced it works incredibly well. the Delivering Diversity umbrella, under which “We are the only state with world-class studio the agency’s existing Aboriginal Screen Strategy facilities that are within an hour’s drive of the and Gender Agenda program sit, along with new desert. We have a 10 per cent PDV rebate that programs like Full Tilt, an initiative to support is exclusive to the state and we have a city in filmmakers with disability. Adelaide which is very easy to shoot in. You can be Other new initiatives introduced under Gibson shooting at the beach in the morning, you can do a include She Shoots, She Scores, to assist female lunchtime scene in the CBD and you can be in the composers, and the $20,000 Lottie Lyell Award to rolling green hills of Adelaide Hills for afternoon support female-driven projects. tea and afternoon shoot because everything’s 10 The SAFC and Create NSW have also funded a minutes’ drive away. free crèche at the Screen Forever conference, and “So instead of spending money on mileage, off the back of the Raising Films Australia survey you’re spending money on the screen which SAFC will also introduce a range of initiatives means producers and broadcasters then get designed to get parents/carers back in the sector and better outcomes in terms of bang for buck. maintain their skills while continuing in a caring role. “I know exactly how difficult it is to shoot in What drives Gibson to do this work? “As a other capital cities and the ease of shooting in South Caucasian, middle class person who has and does Australia and in Adelaide is quite profound.” perform senior executive roles in this business, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the A MORE EQUITABLE SECTOR problem. And who wants to be part of the problem?” When it comes to the role of state funding agencies, However, the great thing about the industry, Gibson is of the belief that for the most part, the Gibson says, is that when conditions are put on market will look after itself. funding to promote such aims, producers generally It’s the other goals of such organisations – such as rise to the table. “I personally don’t have any promoting industry development and diversity – that problems with the idea of government funding – have to be worked harder at. public money – coming with strings attached.” “You’ve got to put the time in, and you’ve got to engage rigorously, intellectually with that work because it doesn’t happen organically,” she says. Indeed, passion for creating a more diverse and equitable sector has driven much of Gibson’s recent career. • Hotel Mumbai • I Am Mother “The screen industry I would argue has a more • The Nightingale important role than any other business category • The Flip Side to reflect the contemporary realities of Australian • Awoken society because it’s showing who we are on screen, in • 2067 front of you, writ large,” she says. • Top End Wedding In addition to the SAFC, Gibson is the current • Sweet Country • Cargo CEO of the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network • Rabbit (SDIN), a member organisation established in 2017 • Animals as a means to foster a more diverse industry. • Storm Boy In 2015, under Gibson’s stewardship Screen • Pine Gap NSW was the first agency in Australia to set a • Upright gender equity target, and she also introduced the • The Hunt • Wanted (Season 3) Screenability program to deliver opportunities for practitioners with disability.
UPCOMING/RECENT SA PRODUCTIONS:
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SAFC INCENTIVES AT A GLANCE
Flinders Ranges at dusk.
Gibson is adamant the work that comes through the door after making policy changes that prioritise gender equity and support practitioners from underrepresented backgrounds is just as strong creatively – it’s just been accessed by different criteria. “Inevitably where you end up is with the decisions you’re making enabling more diverse authorial voices and key creative inputs.”
• Drama production investment: SAFC expects to contribute 10 per cent of the total expenditure as an uncapped grant. Grants are subject to project evaluation and are discretionary. • Documentary production investment: For theatrical projects SAFC will contribute up to 10 per cent of the total production budget to a maximum of either: $300,000 for a SA-led production or $200,000 for a non-SA led production. For broadcast/digital platform docs, SAFC will match marketplace presales for single documentaries up to: $80,000 per hour or $40,000 per half hour. • PDV rebate: SAFC will rebate 10 per cent of PDV work undertaken in the state. The rebate is uncapped and non-
MAINTAINING IMPACT Overall, Gibson believes South Australia is on the cusp of a very exciting period, with Hotel Mumbai, The Nightingale, I Am Mother, Storm Boy, Pine Gap, and Wanted all about to be released onto screens. It’s momentum she’s keen to continue. “They are all profoundly strong films that will have really interesting lives in Australia and more broadly around the world. The bar is very high, and we need to maintain that level of quality and that scale
SUPPORTING NEW TALENT WITH THE SUPPORT of the SAFC, filmmaker Anthony Frith (Lessons from a Middle Class Artist) recently
had the opportunity to participate in one of Werner Herzog’s filmmaking workshops in Peru, and then later to work with him on a documentary in the NT. Here, Frith writes about his experience with the German auteur. I learnt so much from Werner. He’s a mad-genius type but also the sweetest guy. He’ll freely (and, correctly in my opinion) admit that he’s a great filmmaker but it won’t feel smug. I really appreciate that; it made me feel like this industry isn’t all ego and smugness. I also learnt a ridiculous amount about storytelling and what Werner calls ‘the ecstatic truth’, which is now my favourite excuse for really pushing what the truth is in documentary. The workshop had me and 47 other filmmakers from all over the world go out and make a film and Werner would help us out. My film was a Spanish language documentary about the many eccentrics in the jungle town of Puerto Maldonado. I don’t speak Spanish and thought the word ‘barco’ meant shop. It means boat. A couple of months after the workshop, I received a call from the SAFC explaining there was a potential opportunity for me to undertake a production attachment on a documentary with Werner in Alice Springs. Now, this was the real deal. This was working with Werner Herzog, not some jungle workshop. Watching Werner interview someone was the most mesmerising thing I have ever seen. He crafted this strange atmosphere that you could feel. He would cause this odd tension with people who he thought were holding out on him; he’d stare at them for 30 or more seconds with a blank expression until they’d nervously start to spill. And most amazingly, people wouldn’t show up or locations would fall through, and Werner would shrug it off. This guy has really seen the worst of it. After each interview, Werner generously sat down with me and explained what, why and how he did what he did – about the mistakes he made or what parts of the interview he’d use and in juxtaposition with which footage. It was the most incredible experience of my life. During the final night, the wrap party, we drank scotch and I lauded Werner about my love for Stroszek. It’s my favourite film. He told me it’s the best ending for any film that’s ever been made. He’s right.
Anthony Frith and Werner Herzog.
30 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
discretionary, however has a minimum spend of $250,000. Combinable with the federal 30 per cent PDV Offset. • Payroll Tax Exemption: May reduce a project’s total payroll liability by approximately 4.95 per cent. • Revolving Film Fund (RFF) Loan: Secured loans to finance long-form dramas and documentaries that are either stand-alone projects or series. Up to $1 million is available for SA-based production companies or projects and $500,000 for non-SA based companies or projects. The interest rate on all loans provided under the RFF is charged at the 90 day Bank Bill rate, with a 2 per cent margin for SA-based applicants and 3 per cent for non-SA based applicants.
of impact with all the work that we fund, because it’s public money – it’s so important you get profound, big outcomes out of it. “I’m not saying everything needs to have a huge audience, but everything should have the biggest possible audience that it can get.” And while the legacy of the SAFC has been on Gibson’s mind since her arrival in the state, she says the South Australian production industry isn’t about the agency. “South Australia has this illustrious history, not because of the agency, but because of the sector that it has supported. It’s very important to keep that in mind all the time. We are a service-oriented team. We are advocates for the sector and for production. I think that successful agencies keep that front of mind.” Adelaide Studios.
ADELAIDE STUDIOS Adelaide Studios feature two sound stages, a Dolby Premier 7.1 mixing theatre, ADR and foley studios, a set construction workshop and 100-seat screening theatre. There are edit suites and production offices available for dry-hire.
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MORE THAN A PLATFORM Amanda Duthie.
Adelaide Film Festival has always sought to do more than simply present films. Through its investment fund, it has contributed to the production of some of Australia’s most celebrated screen works. Jackie Keast talks to outgoing CEO and artistic director Amanda Duthie.
he 2018 Adelaide Film Festival forms CEO and artistic director Amanda Duthie’s swansong. After the festival wraps late October she will head over to the South Australian Film Corporation to lead the agency’s production, development, attraction and studios arm. Duthie has helmed the Adelaide Film Festival since 2012 - curating some five festivals despite it being officially a biennial event - as well as two Hybrid World Adelaide events and the 2013 Adelaide Festival of Ideas. During her tenure, she’s also been responsible for the festival’s investment fund, leading the commissioning of 58 projects, including The Nightingale, Hotel Mumbai, I Am Mother, Sweet Country, Charlie’s Country, 52 Tuesdays, Girl Asleep, Spear, Collisions, Ali’s Wedding and the upcoming Animals and Top End Wedding. When IF asks Duthie to reflect on her time at the helm of the festival, she says: “We need to care and cherish such a rare thing that is a film festival with an investment fund, because it just allows so much amazing screen storytelling.” It has been a privilege, in her view, to have been both a curator and a commissioner. “It’s not just presenting, it’s about enabling work to be made.” “The patterns of distribution and the patterns of audience 32 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
engagement have changed so radically over the last number of years. That’s why I think that the film festival and the South Australian government had foresight to go ‘Let’s be innovative, and let’s shapeshift a traditional film festival – which is usually cinema, feature-based – and think about what a fund could do as an innovation to a screen presentation platform.’ “The fund invests in feature films, feature documentaries, shorts, VR, interactive and online series, and moving image and installations. It means that we’re in a very holistic, contemporary way looking at the market, providing for audiences and engaging with the industry.” Adelaide was the first Australian festival to instate an investment fund, and it can be the first or the last pot of money on the table. It’s typically a minority investment for larger budget works such as features, but for smaller projects, its contribution can be significant. In its 15 years, it has supported 100 projects, which in total have won 100 international awards and 188 national awards. What drives the decisionmaking behind the fund? “It’s a combination of wanting to create an investment fund slate for each festival that shows the best of Australian screen storytelling from the experienced through to emerging practitioners. It’s about engaging with innovation and risk
taking within filmmaking, whether that’s a feature, TV series, a short or a VR work,” Duthie says. “The great thing is that the legacy is so strong, that filmmakers approach the film festival to explore the fund’s opportunities. It now has this incredible reputation, where you go to festivals or meetings with other festival programmers and they’re really, really keen to find out what is on our slate, what we’re putting money into – whether it has been announced or not – because it’s become a discovery platform for international festivals.” Venice Film Festival regional consultant Paolo Bertolin told IF at the 2017 event that when a festival supports the production of projects, it creates a synergy with cinema as a whole. That is, it not only brings the work to an audience, but supports filmmakers to keep making work – the kind of work the festival’s audience wants to see. “A festival can only exist when there is cinema. It’s like an ecosystem: you have to create an osmotic relationship,” he says. “I deeply respect and admire the work of festivals that are going beyond the sheer basic mission of showing films. In this more and more complex and challenging reality for cinema, it has become a real mission for festivals.” As for the 2018 festival, Duthie has every right to be “beyond thrilled” with her last hurrah. The line-up featured the Australian premieres of Hotel Mumbai, The Nightingale and a work-in-progress screening of I Am Mother, as well as a swag of Venice, Toronto and Telluride titles including ROMA, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and At Eternity’s Gate. Almost 45 per cent of this year’s program was Australian, and indeed, the tone and the pace for this year’s festivals as a whole was led by its national poll to find Australia’s three favourite local films. Out of 450 films The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding and Samson and Delilah came out on top, and each receives a special screening at this year’s event. Duthie saw the festival’s campaign as a “lovely dovetail” with the guilds’ Make It Australian campaign. “That was all about highlighting to industry, government and stakeholders how important it is to retain our Australian language through screen stories, whether that’s for cinema or TV or even online, or streaming services. When we came up with a campaign in the
end of last year it was very much focused on audiences... this was an opportunity for the audience to share what they find is important, what they love and what they respond to.” The search for Duthie’s replacement will begin ahead of the festival’s next iteration in 2020. There were hopes that the festival would move to a permanently annual after 2017 and 2018 were held back-toback – the former Labor government made it an election promise to make the festival annual if re-elected. However, in the recent state budget the new Liberal government outlaid $1.1 million towards a festival in 2020, noting in the budget paper: “The former government elected to bring forward the 2019 Adelaide Film Festival to occur in 2018. In the absence of this additional funding, the next Adelaide Film Festival would be in 2021. This funding ensures the festival continues to occur every two years from 2018.”
‘I Am Mother’, supported by the festival’s investment fund.
SUPPORTED BY THE ADL FILM FEST FUND: • Hotel Mumbai • I Am Mother • The Nightingale • She Who Must Be Loved • Sweet Country • Cargo • After the Apology • Guilty • Fucking Adelaide • Ali’s Wedding • Collisions • David Stratton: A Cinematic Life • A Month of Sundays • Girl Asleep • Spear • 52 Tuesdays • Charlie’s Country • Tracks • Snowtown • Hail • Ten Canoes • Mrs Carey’s Concert • Samson and Delilah • My Tehran for Sale
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MORE ON THE HORIZON
Rising Sun Pictures recently completed more than 100 shots for 20th Century Fox’s ‘The Predator’.
Rising Sun Pictures has expansion plans. Head of business development Jennie Zeiher tells Jackie Keast Adelaide is on the cusp of becoming a creative hub that rivals the likes of Vancouver, Montreal and London.
hen Tony Clark, Gail Fuller and Wayne Lewis established Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) in 1995, it was rare to hear of VFX companies producing work outside California – let alone in South Australia. But now head of business development Jennie Zeiher believes that Adelaide is on the cusp of becoming a creative hub that could rival industry clusters in places like Vancouver, Montreal and London. Over two decades, RSP has grown substantially and its work now world-renowned. The studio boasts more than 120 credits on projects including Thor: Ragnarok, Logan, Game of Thrones, Gravity, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Great Gatsby, and films in the X-Men, Harry Potter and Hunger Games franchises. The VFX maestros have just completed The Predator, Tomb Raider and Peter Rabbit and are currently working on Tim Burton’s Dumbo, Captain Marvel and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, with more projects expected to be announced soon. RSP also recently finished its first major project for a Chinese film in
Animal World, which Zehier calls the company’s “most significant project in recent years.” “It demonstrated the level of creativity and quality that the [Chinese] market is seeking,” she says. Indeed, RSP has had its sights on China for several years now, identifying it as a strong growth market. One of the company’s VFX supervisors Tim Crosbie is currently supervising work on Guan Hu’s retelling of 800 Heroes, a film about the defence of the Sihang Warehouse ahead of WWII. The company has also hired Ivy Zhunan Li, who is solely focused on business development in the Chinese market. Over the past 12 months, RSP has reported a “considerable uptick” in international production. In addition to the Australian dollar normalising against the US, Zehier says the South Australian Film Corporation’s introduction of an uncapped, non-discretionary 10 per cent post, digital and visual effects (PDV) rebate last December has been a “gamechanger” for the South Australian VFX industry. This rebate is combinable with the 30 per cent federal PDV Offset, which then levels the playing field
with rebates offered in places such as Canada. The cost of living is also lower in Adelaide than in the eastern states of Australia, which also means the dollar goes further again, says Zehier. “It’s not all about the money however; RSP has spent considerable time and effort increasing its capability over the past few years. It offers a full suite of visual effects services that are hard to match in Australia, with a stable core team. Its recent work on Thor: Ragnarok demonstrated this capability, which included dynamic effects, environments and digital character work.” Towards the end of 2017 and into early 2018, RSP found that it was constrained by the amount of work it could take on due to physical space restrictions. This, along with the new rebate, has fuelled expansion plans. The company intends to grow its staff numbers by a third, and add space and resources to its Adelaide studio. It is commencing hires across all departments and levels of experience, and expects total staff numbers to top 280 before the end of 2018. Earlier this year the studio brought on veteran visual effects
supervisor Tom Wood (Mad Max: Fury Road), who led the team on The Predator, and intends to continue to grow its character animation team. In addition, RSP is also bolstering the education program it runs in conjunction with the University of South Australia. It recently added new undergraduate courses in visual effects skills, and has expanded its graduate certificate program, which includes compositing and tracking, and dynamic effects and lighting. Zehier says that while it has always fostered relationships with educational facilities, it identified an opportunity with UniSA to offer additional industry-specific training options. Classrooms are set up to mirror real-world production environments, and students have access to working VFX artists and the RSP production pipeline. In that regard, students are designed to graduate industryready. Around 70 per cent of students who have gone through the program are employed in the industry, at Rising Sun Pictures as well as companies like Resin, KOJO, Cutting Edge, Animal Logic, Method Studios and New Zealand’s Weta Digital. www.if.com.au 33
THE SA REPORT
RESIN ON THE RISE Boutique VFX studio Resin has grown in profile over the past few years, working on projects like Hunters, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, Tidelands and Storm Boy. Founder Lincoln Wogan tells Jackie Keast how it’s established a footing both in Australia and internationally.
n 2015, Adelaide’s Resin scored a contract to work as the sole VFX vendor on Hunters, a Universal Cable Productions/ Valhalla Entertainment series for NBCUniversal’s Syfy. This, founder Lincoln Wogan tells IF, was “the flag in the ground” for the business model the company has today – that is, a focus entirely on VFX. When Resin was first formed in 2006, its primary focus was on TVCs. The market was small, and so it had to offer the full suite of production – often directing and producing in addition to VFX/ animation work. In around 2010, Resin started working in LA via The Ebeling Group. However, over the next few years advertising began going through massive upheaval. Resin started to work on film and television projects such as Kriv Stender’s Red Dog, though it still wasn’t necessarily pursuing longerform screen work as a focus. 34 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
However, winning the Hunters gig, which also involved on-set supervision, changed that. The studio has gone on to do on-set supervision and VFX for Sony’s Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, and has also done additional VFX for CBS/Fox’s Limitless, season two of Fox21’s Queen of the South and Amazon’s The Tick. Locally, Resin was the primary VFX vendor on Shawn Seet’s feature Storm Boy and sole VFX vendor/on-set supervisor on Netflix’s Tidelands. It has also done additional VFX for Harrow for the ABC/ABC Studios International, and helped out on Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai and Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Resin’s opening title sequence for Stan’s Romper Stomper also won it Gold at the AEAF Awards. Resin’s background in ad land is an advantage when working in film and television, argues Wogan. “Our past in advertising required us to be multi-skilled and able to
tackle anything that came our way, be it CG vehicles, creatures, liquids, title design or even augmented reality. That heritage has translated into the ability to provide small shop agility with bigger shop results. The sheer volume of work in series production creates similar time pressures to advertising. So we are well accustomed to achieving the visual sophistication expected from film within the compressed timelines and budget constraints of series productions.” Screen businesses in South Australia are well supported at both the local and state government level, says Wogan. The introduction of an uncapped, non-discretionary 10 per cent PDV rebate by the South Australian Film Corporation last December has helped Resin to have a competitive edge internationally, with Wogan noting that clients such as Sony, Netflix and Amazon acknowledge it as a different and compelling offering.
According to Wogan, the other key benefits of being based in Adelaide are the local council’s 10Gbps fibre optic network, and the emerging VFX talent coming out of the tertiary sector, including the “excellent” education program run by Rising Sun Pictures and the University of SA. As for the challenges, Wogan says they’re the same as those faced by companies everywhere: growth and staffing. Yet he counters: “As a boutique studio we are less impacted by the rise of the large overseas VFX factories. Knowing your strengths and working to them are important factors.” Over the next 12 to 18 months, Resin will remain focused on highend series work as well as smaller budget films. “We will continue to focus on quality and versatility, rather than capacity for volume, as that has helped us establish a strong foothold internationally and more recently within Australia.”
THE SA REPORT
The Mill previously won an Oscar for its work on ‘Gladiator’.
In February, following on from the launch of SAFC’s PDV rebate, Technicolor announced it was going to reboot the Mill Film brand and open a $26 million studio in Adelaide. Jackie Keast speaks to Mill Film Australia MD Mark Thorley about the company’s plans Down Under.
he South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) launched an uncapped, non-discretionary 10 per cent post, digital and visual effects (PDV) rebate last December. Combinable with the 30 per cent federal PDV offset, it was expected to be a boon for established Adelaide-based post and VFX companies like Rising Sun Pictures, Kojo and Resin. Of course, with the Aussie dollar also now relatively low, it should be of little surprise that other companies wanted to get in on the action as well. In February, French entertainment giant Technicolor announced it had plans to open a $26 million, 3,000sqm VFX studio called Mill Film in Adelaide. The deal was sweetened by a $6 million grant from the then state government’s Economic Investment Fund, given with the expectation the studio would bring $252 million to SA over 10 years. The Mill is an existing Technicolor VFX brand, which for more than 15 years has focused primarily on advertising. However, it was involved previously in films such as Gladiator, for which it won an Oscar. The Adelaide announcement signalled a move back into film VFX for the banner, and has been followed by the announcement of other new
Mill Film offices in Montreal and Bangalore, and a new business team based in LA. Clients will also have use of the wider group’s edit suites in New York and LA, in aims to provide a global post-solution. Mark Thorley was announced as Mill Film Australia’s managing director in July. Thorley has previously worked in executive leadership positions at Lucas Film Singapore and is a former head of production at Animal Logic. His credits include films like Kong: Skull Island, Rogue One, Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thorley tells IF the Adelaide studio will be focused primarily on film VFX from the six major studios and episodic/film content from services like Amazon and Netflix. At the same time, it will also look to emerging opportunities in the realm of virtual reality, augmented reality and AI. “From a client perspective, we have the tools and technology to connect to anywhere in the world and are assembling an industry leading team that challenges creative assumptions and broadens artistic horizons to deliver fresh, inspired visual effects for feature and episodic content.” The Mill Group sought to get back into film VFX because of the convergence of technology
and innovation across games, film, advertising and immersive experiences. “It’s a very natural extension for us to do this at this moment in time. While you need a very dedicated team and resources, we do want to create a very porous relationship between The Mill and Mill Film in terms of technology and culture and innovation, so we can ultimately maximise what both parts of the company can do for their respective clients,” Thorley says. Beyond the benefits of the SAFC rebate, Thorley says Technicolor saw opening Mill Film in Adelaide as an opportunity to access Australia’s existing VFX talent. In addition, it sees Adelaide as a growing creative hub that is affordable for creatives and offers a good lifestyle. “We believe that the entertainment ecosystem and global nature of our business will make South Australia an attractive destination for digital artists. As Technicolor has learned from establishing studios in burgeoning artist communities, such as Montreal where at the time MPC was one of the first to open a studio, establishing a solid pipeline of projects will spur growth and we will meet demand as necessary.” Thorley says since the initial announcement, there has been considerable interest from industry both within Australia and globally, and the recruitment team is currently hard at work. The added announcement from the Federal Government that in order to be eligible for its $140 million Location Incentive Program, productions
must utilise the services of one or more Australian PDV providers, has been yet another boon. In addition to the studio, Technicolor will operate the Adelaide Centre of Excellence and VFX Academy, a specialised program which will target new graduates, aiming to provide a bridge between tertiary education and the VFX/ animation industry. It is based on programs that have been successful in developing new talent for Technicolor’s Canadian and Indian studios. It is expected that the Mill Film studio and the academy will together accommodate 500 people when running at full strength within five years. The academy will also work with studios to continue artists’ training throughout their careers, and will it engage with the education sector in South Australia, both in terms of talent and educators, in order to be sure they are aware of the opportunities within the VFX sector globally and to be a resource on latest technology. Thorley says the academy is part of a longer-term vision to expand and establish Adelaide as a meaningful contributor to the global VFX community. “We know that we have to continue to invest in talent locally for the success of the studio, and the decision to base a Technicolor Academy here in Adelaide was part of that long-term vision.” Mill Film will be located in North Terrace in Adelaide CBD, and should open for business February 2019. www.if.com.au 35
THE SA REPORT
KOJO: KEEPING BUSY Kojo recently completed post on ‘The Nightingale’.
Kojo’s Dale Roberts and Kate Croser talk to Jackie Keast about the company’s recent projects.
ale Roberts, chief executive officer of production and post house Kojo, is determined to run a global business from Adelaide. “I feel like we’ve built an incredible library of knowledge for a small town,” he tells IF. While he dislikes the cliché, Roberts believes South Australia punches above its weight. He argues Kojo, together with compatriot Rising Sun Pictures, have over the last two decades looked to continually produce work that is of world standard. “It was never ‘That’s good enough for Adelaide’, or ‘That’s good enough for Australia’,” he says. “We’ve put really high standards on ourselves and haven’t slept until every frame is polished.” In terms of post-production, Roberts says the last 12 months are among the busiest the company has ever experienced, working on six features, and TV series Pine Gap, a Netflix/ABC co-production, and season two of Stan’s Wolf Creek. It completed full post-production on Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, 36 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
which premiered in Venice. It did the colour grade on Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy, and is working on Grant Sputore’s debut feature I Am Mother, Top End Wedding, directed by Wayne Blair, and is about to start on Sophie Hyde’s Animals, an Australian-Irish co-production. Increasingly the company is working in VFX in addition to picture and sound, with Roberts tallying 1,500 shots on recent work. “It’s been the most challenging year. The standard of work and the expectations for the budget have been incredibly high. But the quality of the work, we’re really proud of. “We think, along with Rising Sun and The Mill, there’s three studios in South Australia that are delivering the work at the level you need to play on the world stage.” Last December the South Australian Film Corporation launched a 10 per cent, uncapped, non-discretionary post, digital and visual effects (PDV) rebate, and so one might expect that over the coming months, Kojo might get busier again. With the Aussie dollar now buying around 71 US cents, Roberts points out you can buy around $AU1 million worth of work in Adelaide for around
$US430,000 once the federal and state rebates are applied. “[That’s] an unbelievable commercial arrangement, assuming the quality of the work’s at the standard that it needs to be.” Kojo has been fielding international and domestic enquiries as a result of the PDV rebate, with the most amount of quoting it’s ever done in play. “It applies to interstate work as well, which might have got a bit lost early on with the messaging. People thought it was the Hollywood clause,” says Roberts. Kojo Entertainment, the company's film and television development and production arm, has recently worked on the aforementioned Top End Wedding with Goalpost Pictures and is prepping Seth Larney’s 2067 with Arcadia. The Kojo Entertainment banner was launched in 2016 after Kojo joined forces with Kate Croser, who previously ran Hedone Productions with creative partner and husband Sandy Cameron. “After having been in fee-forservice post for so long, we wanted to be a part of and generate our own stories,” Robert says, noting its focus is on stories that will resonate with global audiences. As Kojo Entertainment’s head of production and development, Croser brought Hedone’s existing slate of projects to the company. It has an active development slate across both film and television at the moment, including a coming-of-age series with NITV. With regards to features, Croser is keen to develop mainstream films for a broad audience, in order to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing distribution landscape. “In terms of the content and style, we want to make films that have heart. It can be any genre, but we want to make human stories that appeal to an audience on an emotional level.” In television, the company is in conversation with each of the broadcasters as to what they
are looking for and trying to find stories to suit. Kojo’s ability to partner across productions – like with Goalpost Pictures on Top End Wedding and Arcadia on 2067 – is a key benefit of its new structure, says Croser. “We can really offer a partnership that extends right through every single stage of the filmmaking process now, right from development and conception through to delivery and marketing,” she says. “It’s nice to have that flexibility, and be able to work with people that we like working with on stories that we believe in.” The aim from 2019 onwards is to do at least one film or TV series a year that has been generated through Kojo Entertainment’s development pipeline, guaranteeing a base level of post-production for Kojo. However, Croser says it doesn’t always need to be the post-production house. It won't be on 2067, for instance, due to the way the financing has come together. “In filmmaking it’s never good to have anything locked in stone as a definite. But it does give us a great advantage, being able to package up our projects a lot more easily.” According to Croser, the benefits of being a production company based in South Australia include the support of SAFC (she is a board member), the Adelaide Film Festival’s investment fund, the array of locations, and ease of working in Adelaide. Being away from the east coast can mean you are less distracted by the politics of the domestic industry, but at the same time does mean you are away from decision makers. However, for international relationships, it’s less relevant – maintaining those relationships means a long-haul flight no matter where you’re based in Australia. Roberts adds: “Internationally, talking about Australia let alone this place called Adelaide, South Australia is a challenge. But we’ve always just been absolutely focused on what the positives are and played to our strengths.”
‘Top End Wedding’, produced by Kojo Entertainment’s Kate Croser with Goalpost Pictures.
FP AD 2017 – Sweet Country, Cargo 2016 – Jasper Jones, Goldstone 2015 – The Daughter 2013 – The Last Impresario, Mystery Road 2011 – Toomelah This is a really big ad with a really simple message. If you have a project you love and want a company to care for it with emotion not accounting, talk to us. We're a small company with a big heart and lashings of technical and creative skill. We don't overload ourselves with projects, but those we work on we put all our energy into. It’s what we do because it’s what we believe storytelling needs, to make it the most effective it can be. Over the last few years we have been privileged in working on some really great projects (with premieres at Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Sundance, London, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide International Film Festivals). We're really proud of the role we've played in helping these films be so successful. We’ve worked on other projects as well – documentaries, short films, online content, VR even the odd advertisement. Come visit, we have edit suites, online suites, a little theatrette with Dolby reference monitor and Christie DCP server / projector. We also have a really good coffee machine. We do sound, partnered with others and in our studio. We invest, both financially and emotionally in the projects we work on. If you’re interested in us working on your project give us a call, email or visit. We’d love to discuss your next project.
THE SA REPORT
Closer Productions’ Bryan Mason (DOP/editor) and Sophie Hyde (director/producer) on the set of ‘Animals’.
Closer Productions’ Sophie Hyde talks to Jackie Keast about the company’s upcoming projects Animals and The Hunt, and being based in Adelaide.
ontrary to the common perception that broadcasters only want to set shows in Sydney or Melbourne, SBS actually requested that Closer Productions set its upcoming four-part series The Hunt in Adelaide. While Closer always planned to shoot the show in the city, it was originally going to stand in for Sydney. But of course, The Hunt isn’t the only Closer production set in the City of Churches – its playfully-titled short-form series Fucking Adelaide launched on the ABC earlier this year. Closer co-founder Sophie Hyde tells IF that she feels networks are now looking for different locations and experiences. “One of the reasons we made Fucking Adelaide and called it that was so that we could shoot it here without apology. It felt like a long time where to shoot here would have to be for a reason, that it was a very specific locale.” Scheduled for a January shoot, The Hunt will follow two idealistic high school teachers who discover students are sharing explicit photos of their underage friends and peers. Scripted by Cormack and Niki Aken, Hyde will direct, and produce alongside Rebecca Summerton. “It’s about teenagers navigating the world of sexuality and consent, and looking at images spreading online and how teachers, parents and students are all dealing with that,” Hyde says. All post-production will also take 38 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
place in South Australia. Hyde feels Adelaide is a great city in which to make TV, and argues the state hasn’t done as much of it is as it could, noting the adaptable crew. But asked if the notion that producers need to ‘fly-in’ cast and crew to shoot TV in SA is a misconception, Hyde says: “It is a very tricky thing to answer. There are a certain amount of people that you would need to find [from interstate] because people haven’t got the credits here that networks require. I think people move faster in their careers in the eastern states and that’s because they’re around and people will take risks on them... it’s harder to make a leap in South Australia from a crew member to a head of department, and I think that that’s because we’re isolated. “So it does mean there is a necessity to support people into those roles as we start to grow an industry that can work without flyins. That’s really crucial. There are people definitely talented and skilled enough to do it; it’s just whether they’re trusted enough.” When we chat, Hyde is also in the edit suite for feature Animals, her follow up to her feature debut, 52 Tuesdays, which won Best Director, World Cinema Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival and a Crystal Bear at Berlinale in 2014. An Australian-Irish co-production shot in Dublin, Animals is adapted by Manchester-born writer Emma Jane Unsworth from her 2014 novel by
the same name. As well as directing, Hyde is producing with Closer’s Summerton, UK-based producer Sarah Brocklehurst and Vico Film’s Cormac Fox. It follows Laura (Holliday Granger, My Cousin Rachel, Cinderella) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat, Arrested Development, Transparent), best friends and drinking buddies whose hedonistic existence is disrupted when Laura gets engaged. “They’re quite outgoing women who sit up and realise they’ve been partying for the last 10 years, and they’re just trying to work out whether that’s the right thing for them to do,” Hyde says. Hyde was sent the project by her US agent following 52 Tuesdays – Unsworth and Brocklehurst were looking for a director who had had some international success with their debut feature. Hyde loved both the script and the book and pitched her take. They began work quickly on a handful of drafts, before the film was moved from Manchester to Dublin, with Closer productions and Vico Films then coming on to make it into a co-pro. Closer is a somewhat unique production company in that it isn’t just led by producers – the collective also includes directors, cinematographers, editors and writers. In that way, its approach to work is often different. Projects like The Hunt and Animals are larger scale than what the company has done before, but Hyde says it tries to maintain the bespoke approach it has had since its early days. “We try not to lean on how something’s done but always just look at what we want to do and therefore what’s the best version of that.” Other recent projects from Closer include VR work Summation of Force, which opened last year’s Adelaide Film Festival and also screened at Sundance and SXSW. It was directed by Matthew Bate in collaboration with photographers Trent Parke and Narelle Autio, and a documentary about its creation, The Art of The Game, also screened at this year’s Adelaide Film Festival. Hyde is a producer of Maya Newell’s (Gayby Baby) upcoming doco KIDS, and Closer produced Tilda Cobham-Hervey’s short A Field Guide to Being a 12-Year-Old Girl, which won a Crystal Bear in Berlin earlier this year. With a catalogue that spans documentary, drama and virtual
reality, the company has always been form agnostic. “We all came up straddling different art forms or different parts of screen work. We also moved around in different roles quite a lot within that. We did want to make a variety of work. We always had strong connections into the arts industry here, and continue to. We never had a goal or a path driven by a particular career; we always wanted to just make really good work and work that was interesting to us,” Hyde says. The collective’s first two major feature documentaries, 2011’s Shut Up Little Man and Life in Movement were made without market attachment. 52 Tuesdays was also made through initiative and nonmarket finance, and followed a unique production schedule – it was shot on consecutive Tuesdays for 52 weeks. Hyde says it is a luxury to make projects in this way, and in a way attributes that to Adelaide. While 52 Tuesdays could have been made in a different city, “something about the way that you strategise your life, the budget and way that you’re working together is more plausible somewhere like this.” Many of Adelaide’s advantages are the same as its challenges, says Hyde. Distance from the major screen hubs means you can focus on projects without distraction or interference, and there is a tight-knit industry on the ground. Yet it also means you fly “under the radar” until projects are about to be released and aren’t around decision makers, making frequent travel necessary. “There’s a sense that you’re regional, that you’re less important or that you’re not playing in the big pond from some people. We decided to try and ignore that.” The Closer team behind the scenes of 'Fucking Adelaide'.
THE SA REPORT
FROM SA TO CHINA
Over the past few years, 57 Films has worked to establish strong relationships in China, leading to the company shooting projects for Chinese broadcasters and assisting Chinese productions in Australia. Founder Paul Ryan and producer Nicole Miller speak to Jackie Keast.
here’s a certain irony as to how the Adelaidebased 57 Films started forging relationships with broadcasters and producers in China. Around five years ago, the production company – which was at the time predominantly working for corporate clients – won a contract from the South Australian government to promote the relationship between sister cities Adelaide and Shandong. The brief was to make collateral for the government that showed the benefits of that relationship in terms of trade, culture and soft diplomacy. As well as the benefits for Australia, 57 Films looked at the relationship from the perspective of its Chinese counterparts. Yet by spending time with Chinese TV stations, government officials and other key stakeholders, 57 Films ended up developing relationships that would lead to trade partnerships of its own. Around 2015, 57 Films began developing Chef Exchange with Qingdao TV (QTV), which follows Adelaide chef Jock Zonfrillo and Shandong chef Qu Jianmin as they 40 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
explore each other’s food, culture and customs. While Chef Exchange remains primarily aimed at a Chinese audience it has been picked up by SBS locally, and in China has been rebroadcast on CCTV. The third season is due to begin production in the coming months. Next was The AFL Show broadcast on CCTV5+, a sports channel. Port Adelaide Football Club was about to play an AFL game in Shanghai, and engaged with 57 Films as they were keen to expose Chinese audiences to the relatively unknown sport. The 25-episode show followed Chen Shaoliang, a player from a remote village in Guangdong in South China as he joins Port Adelaide to pursue his dreams to one day play in the AFL. 57 Films founder Paul Ryan explains that that project helped greatly in terms of branding in China. “People got to know 57 Films as a viable production company that was working extensively in China,” he tells IF. “Now we have quite a good network in China for inbound projects; so Chinese production companies that want to come over and shoot in an exotic location.”
Last year, 57 Films handled Australian production for Bejingbased company Ciwen Media Co on its series Speed, which shot 15 out of 32 episodes in SA. That was followed up with another TV drama series, CHS Media’s If Time Flows Back, which stars Jin Dong (The First Half of My Life, Ode to Joy). It shot three episodes in SA back in July, spending $1 million and creating more than 140 local jobs. Producer Nicole Miller says that 57 Films’ collaborations with Chinese companies are simply the result of consistent networking. “The more relationships you build, and the more you work with people over there, the more opportunities that seem to come up.” Ryan says Chinese producers are drawn to South Australia’s weather, cost-effectiveness, the experience of the crew and the state’s varied and accessible locations. The ease of business is then bolstered by support from both local and state government. Ryan expects 57 Films will work on three Chinese films in Australia in the first half of next year. He agrees with that in order to successfully work with Chinese companies, you need to be on the ground in order to establish relationships. “A lot of people say things like “Next time I’m back in China, I’ll visit you.” Our mantra is: “When would you like to see us again?” And we’re there; we’re there whenever. Obviously logistically business sense has got to prevail sometimes, but it’s certainly not about when it’s convenient.” 57 Films’ success in China is a testament to the global nature of the industry nowadays, he says. “You can be based anywhere and make it work.” With regards to the South ‘Speed’.
Australian industry, Ryan says it is quite collegial, and producers will try to work together to ensure that consistency of work for crews and to avoid schedule clashes. “There’s a good sense of community and support. We all want South Australia to be viable and grow, rather than just get by.” However, he does concede that being based in Adelaide can make it harder to get up domestic work than in bigger cities such as Sydney or Melbourne due to economies of scale. He feels a distance from key decision makers, especially with regards to television. “Going to a conference here or there is okay, but being on the north shore [in Sydney] for a beer with someone on a regular basis is probably better than twice a year.” Ryan and Miller argue that this means there is a determination on the ground in SA to get things done well and cost-effectively in order to grow. What advice does Ryan have for to producers who want to work in China? Firstly, think about what it is you can offer – do you want to sell existing content to China, produce co-productions, or assist on Chinese productions in Australia? Further, he says producers would do well to remember that China is a large country, and should narrow their focus on a region of China, or on a genre. Miller adds: “I’d recommend, as with any kind of cross-cultural relationship, just taking time to understand the culture and the tastes of the audience over there – the use of WeChat and all that kind of stuff, sense of humour. The more you get to know people, the easier it is to do business.”
THE PAPERLESS PRODUCTION OFFICE When the average number of documents generated by individual production is estimated to be well in excess of 5,000, going paperless will not only save producers time and money, but benefit the environment too, writes Jane Corden, CEO of industry financial and accounting services company Moneypenny.
n the last 25 years the pace of technical change on set and in the edit suite has seen exponential shifts: from film to digital, Steinbeck to Avid, and entire worlds created by VFX. Moneypenny has watched as drones have replaced cranes, and more portable cameras, lights and equipment have created opportunities and increased accessibility for film crews. All of this has fed a hunger for content; to supply the ever-growing number of viewing platforms that the public are accessing through a plethora of devices. In the meantime, a digital revolution has also gone on behind the scenes in the production office, reducing the need for documentation – whether it is invoices, contracts or call sheets – to be printed or produced on paper. In 2012, the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) conducted a global survey of businesses with between 10 and 5000+ employees across a range of industries and sectors about going paperless (see box). Two key findings of interest to the film and TV sector were: • The consumption of paper and the number of photocopies is decreasing among 35 per cent of organisations, particularly larger organisations. However, 32 per cent of survey respondents, mainly smaller organisations, recorded an increase. • Forty-two per cent of organisations achieved a payback period of 12 42 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
months or less from investments in scanning and capturing documents, and 57 per cent 18 months or less. The nature of film and TV production remains project oriented, and those projects are typically generated from small, independent production companies. This means that in 2012 (when this survey was published) a majority of the industry would likely have fallen into the 32 per cent of businesses reporting an increase in paper, and would not have expected to see ROI in going paperless within the short life of a production. However, what has changed in the last six years is that the technology for scanning, collecting and processing paper has become more affordable. Nearly all businesses already see the savings in postage and couriers that can be realised from emailing documentation. The payback of going paperless is now immediate; it requires very low levels of investment in technology. The main investment required is some time at the beginning of a production to establish systems. Film and TV have long established systems which the freelance community know, understand and take from one project to another. This is the success of an industry which brings different groups of people together on every project and yet can instantly get on with things and know how to work together. The paperless office is becoming part of this understanding. Larger production companies and studios are insisting on it to varying degrees.
The average number of documents generated on an individual production would be well in excess of 5000, and on large productions 10,000+. Cost will always be a significant consideration in any business. With downward pressure on production budgets, consider the average paper and photocopying budgets on a production range from $5,000$25,000. Add to that the cost of storing and ultimately destroying that paper, as well as the time costs of managing sorting, filing and transporting that paper. It takes time, but it makes sense to go paperless or to use less paper. Print a call sheet, write all over it and if you want to keep it, scan and destroy/recycle. Based off AIIM’s findings, reasons for even the smallest of independent filmmakers to invest their time in going paperless (for productions of any scale) include: • Improved searchability/ sharability of documents: A central document hub will lead to an easier and faster audit process • Improved process productivity: Less double handling, more immediate reporting and access • Reduced physical storage space: Save the five year document storage cost (commonly $20005000 on productions with an average amount of paperwork) • Records security and compliance: There is increased policing of data protection rules internationally • Faster response to questions from producers, investors, crew, and agents • Improved accuracy and quality of data: Overcome the difficulties reading poor handwriting with input at source • Remote access for teleworking: An advantage if shooting at distant locations and for post-production • Reduced postage/ transportation and document logistics • Sustainability/environmental initiatives Though environment was ranked among the lowest among reasons to go paperless by businesses surveyed by AIIM, there are so many reasons why it should be top of the list, including that: • 40 per cent of the world’s
commercially cut timber is used for the production of paper • Pulpwood plantations and mills endanger natural habitats • 30 million acres of forest is destroyed annually • Paper production uses lots of water; 10 litres per A4 sheet • Most materials in landfill are made of paper which emits methane when it rots or carbon dioxide when it is burned. The major studios in the US, BAFTA in the UK and New Zealand’s Ministry of the Environment are all implementing tools to measure the carbon footprint of a film. Most documents need never be paper. The majority of invoices are now received digitally; even cafes and department stores will offer to email receipts. Contracts can be produced and signed digitally. The advance of smart phones and apps to organise digital receipts can also keep paper at bay. Call sheets, scripts and script amendments can all be distributed more securely and more efficiently through various document hub options. Purchase orders can be raised, approved, emailed to clients and processed in the accounts without ever being printed. Auditors accept digitally signed purchase orders as adequate approval of an invoice without the need for hard copy signatures. No need to print the invoice. Practices are changing and the efficiency, security and financial management capability is increasing. What is the future? Artificial intelligence is increasing the affordability and capacity of capturing information with OCR (optical character recognition) increasingly accurate and accessible. The affordability of cloud based solutions are improving access to and the sharability of digitally stored documents. Tax offices around the world are becoming increasingly digital, as they also take advantage of the opportunities this brave new world provides. There is increasing pressure from governments and funders or commissioning networks to be environmentally accountable, and legislation demanding data protection with heavy fines for those that don’t comply. All of these considerations are with us now and demanding that we take the paperless office seriously.
AIIM’s full report ‘The Paper Free Office – dream or reality?’ is available at www.aiim.org/research.
DECEPTION AND DISGUISE
Script consultant Scott A. McConnell outlines how writers can enterain with this dramatic technique.
ne the most important (and least discussed) ways to create drama in a story is by using disguise and deception. The 1940 film The Mark of Zorro dazzles with its use of the technique. The story opens in sultry Madrid, where the “California Cockerel,” Don Diego Vega (Tyrone Power), is training in the art of war when he is suddenly called back to California by his father, the Alcalde (mayor) of Los Angeles. Diego reluctantly obeys, believing that he is leaving behind a life of adventure for a land “where a man can only marry, raise fat children, and watch his vineyards grow.” Arriving in California, Diego finds – teased out in clever and suspenseful ways – a land under the heavy heel of despotism. His father has been deposed and the new Alcalde, Don Luis Quintero, is a
bloodthirsty weakling obsessed with extorting money through heavier and heavier taxes, aided by the cruel and vain Capitan Esteban. After meeting the villains (and Don Luis’s lonely wife, Inez) Diego assumes his first disguise, Diego the fop. Hidden are the real Don Diego’s quick, confident laugh, resolute bravery and firm sword hand. These are replaced by a manicured hand trembling over a handkerchief and a dandy’s concern for scents and the latest satins and silks. Diego slyly tells Esteban that “swordplay is such a violent business,” then primps himself with his kerchief. Luis sneers to Esteban, “That’s one little peacock that won’t give us any trouble.” After visiting his father, Diego learns that the former Alcalde and the other nobles will not rise up against the law, even if it is now an evil one. But Diego will, in disguise.
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The bandit Zorro is born. Keeping his makes up the character Batman. Such new identity secret, Diego dons black tri-part personas are an important hat and mask, and atop a black horse reason why Superman, Batman and liberates taxes stolen from the Zorro are among the most interesting peons while leaving behind his mark, and popular of the costumed heroes, a slashed “Z.” Zorro publicly vows to and the ones with the best plots. force Don Luis from power. Watch these films and see The character Don Diego now has how much of the storytelling and three personas: the strong (in private) complications result from the disguise Don Diego, the public foppish Diego and deception of a major character. and the swashbuckling Zorro. When outlining their stories, all A protagonist with multiple, writers should always ask themselves: conflicting personas is integral to What deception can I add to my plot? the best costumed hero stories. How will this force my characters For example, take Clark Kent into internal conflict and create richly in Superman. There is the real ironic scenes? By adding a major Clark, a strong and intelligent man deception to a script, writers use mostly only experienced by one of the most important of all the himself and his parents. Then there dramatic techniques and their stories is the Clark Kent public disguise, become much more entertaining – the mild-mannered reporter. And, and attractive to producers. of course, the public hero in suit and cape, Superman. A similar https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottamcconnell/ three-part personality
IF I HAD A GADGET wysiwyg R41
Release 41 of wysiwyg lighting design and previsualisation software brings a range of new features and functionality, including the ability to scale up, down or stretch any 3D object within wysiwyg, support for NDITM protocol, enhancements to rigging points and new smoke options.
Cooke Optics Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus range
Cooke Optics’ new Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus range has been designed for large format production, while applying the popular anamorphic characteristics including flare and oval bokeh. The range, featuring a T2.3 stop, will offer 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm and 180mm lenses; the 50mm will be the first in production, with the rest following over the next 12 months. The image circle will cover a full 24x36 still size sensor, with a 1.8 squeeze. It will include /i Technology that collects detailed lens data for VFX and post-production teams.
IF MAGAZINE TAKES A LOOK AT SOME OF THE LATEST EQUIPMENT BEING USED BY THE SCREEN INDUSTRY.
ARRI Steller, an app for iOS and Android phones and tablets, can quickly and easily control ARRI lights on set, automatically managing complex DMX. It works seamlessly with the SkyLink, SkyPanel, and L-Series. Its graphic interface has been tailored to the different ways of selecting colour.
Equipped with the next- generation XF-HEVC format, XF705 offers 4K UHD 50P 4:2:2 10-bit recording to SD cards, with impressive image quality and superior levels of detail. Combined with a 1.0 type CMOS sensor and DIGIC DV6 processing, the XF705 delivers improved noise performance, sensitivity and cinematic depth of field. The camera has enhanced HDR capabilities, including an advanced 12G-SDI interface and IP streaming.
VISIT WWW. S C R E E N W E ST.COM . AU FOR MORE INFORMATION 44 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of Blackmagic RAW, a new and modern codec that combines the quality and benefits of RAW with the ease of use, speed and file sizes of traditional video formats. Blackmagic RAW has been in development for years and is a next generation hybrid codec that features multiple new technologies such as an advanced de-mosaic algorithm, extensive metadata support, highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing and more. It can be used from acquisition throughout post-production for editing and colour grading, all from a single file.
TECHNOLOGY Sony BVM-HX310 reference monitor
Sony NXCAM Camcorder HXR-NX200
Sony’s newest model in its NXCAM handheld camcorder line-up, the HXRNX200, is targeted at professional videographers and content creators. It is capable of delivering 4K, thanks to Sony’s 1.0-type Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor with effective 14.2 megapixel, and uses a newly refined colour science. The latest NXCAM camcorder offers users the flexibility to shoot in 4K and cut out in HD during post-production.
Panasonic LUMIX S
Panasonic has developed two models of its first digital single lens mirrorless camera with a 35 mm fullframe image sensor, the LUMIX S1R and the S1. The models offer 4K 60p/50p video recording, and the Dual I.S. image stabilisation system.
ARRI Operator Control Unit OCU-1
The Operator Control Unit OCU-1 is an addition to the WCU-4 lens control system on the ARRI ALEXA Mini, and enables operators to over-ride and return focus, zoom, and iris control. It is designed to save time while framing shots, as the camera operator will always have the ability to control the lens, even when motors are attached. It has the same control wheel, display and LBUS integration as the ARRI Master Grips, and can be easily mounted onto common 15mm or 19mm rods, ARRI Rosette, or 3/8” mounts.
Sony’s new 31-inch Grade 1 reference monitor, the BVMHX310, has been created in response to the industry’s desire to overcome the challenges of accurate picture evaluation, especially in the black reproducibility. The new monitor is fully capable of reproducing 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR) content, supporting industry standard brightness of up to 1,000 nits in full-screen and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio for HDR productions.
Sony VENICE Extension System and Version 3.0 firmware updates
The VENICE Extension System (CBK-3610XS) consists of a front panel cover, image sensor block case with a cable and extension cable at 2.7m each. It is compatible with existing VENICE cameras with Version 3.0 firmware installed. The Extension System adds an HD-SDI output, a 12V or 24V output for powering accessories such as lens servo motors and monitoring. CBK3610XS also comes with multiple screw holes on all surfaces to allow various rigs and accessories attachment. The VENICE Version 3.0 firmware upgrade is free and that further augments the camera’s capabilities, adding a recording profile within the X-OCN (eXtended tonal range Original Camera Negative). The new profile, X-OCN XT, captures imagery with the AXS-R7 portable memory recorder.
Special Effects Design & Supervision All Physical & Mechanical Effects Call David Trethewey 0418 699 873 Email email@example.com www.dtfx.net www.if.com.au 45
For full production listings see www.if.com.au and click “In Production”. If you have a new project you would like included, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Garlin Pictures,
family line of werewolves, is in for a shock when on his 13th birthday his first ‘warfing’ goes awry, turning him into a ferocious… poodle. Despite his pink and poufy hairdo, can Freddy prove he’s still 100% wolf? DIRECTOR: Alexs Stadermann PRODUCERS: Alexia Gates-Foale, Barbara Stephen WRITER: Fin Edquist CAST: Ilai Swindells, Magda Szubanski, Rhys Darby, Akmal Saleh PRODUCTION COMPANY: Flying Bark Productions, Siamese
friends and flatmates for 10 years, wilding it around Manchester, leaving a wake of spent men and drug dealers in their wake. But things are set to change. DIRECTOR: Sophie Hyde PRODUCERS: Rebecca Summerton, Sarah Brocklehurst, Cormac Fox, Sophie Hyde WRITER: Emma Jane Unsworth CAST: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat, Amy Molloy, Fra Free STATE: SA (post) PRODUCTION COMPANY: Closer Productions, Vico Films
enslaved on a fishing trawler and soon realises that his only hope of freedom may be to become as violent as his captors. DIRECTOR: Rodd Rathjen PRODUCERS: Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings, Rita Walsh WRITER: Rodd Rathjen CAST: Sarm Heng, Thanawut Kasro, Ros Mony PRODUCTION COMPANY: Causeway Films
Living with her cray fisherman boyfriend, a local hero in their coastal village, and trying her best to be a stepmother to his young sons, she finds herself out of place. She catches outside Lu Fox poaching from her partner’s territory and the two are powerfully drawn to one another. DIRECTOR: Gregor Jordan PRODUCERS: Angie Fielder, Finola Dwyer, Polly Staniford, Amanda Posey WRITER: Jack Thorne CAST: Kelly MacDonald, Garrett Hedlund, David Wenham, Aaron Pedersen, Chris Haywood, Julia Stone STATE: WA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Wildgaze Films, Aquarius Films
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Freddy Lupin, heir to a proud
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Laura and Tyler have been best
where the earth is on the verge of collapse after humanity’s failure to reverse climate change, 2067 is a ‘Cli-Fi’ dystopian thriller about one man’s journey through time to save his dying world. DIRECTOR: Seth Larney PRODUCERS: Lisa Shaunessy, Kate Croser WRITER: Seth Larney STATE: NSW, SA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Arcadia, Kojo Entertainment
seriously ill teenage daughter Milla has fallen madly in love with a drug dealer, Moses. This romance is Milla’s protective parents’ worst nightmare – but Milla doesn’t want to play it safe anymore. DIRECTOR: Shannon Murphy PRODUCER: Alex White WRITER: Rita Kalnejais CAST: Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Whitefalk Films
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Set in the not-too-distant future
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Henry and Anna realise their
ANGEL OF MINE
who, still struggling to cope with the loss of her daughter several years earlier, becomes convinced that a stranger’s daughter is in fact her own. DIRECTOR: Kim Farrant PRODUCERS: Brian Etting, Josh Etting, Su Armstrong WRITERS: Luke Davies, David Regal CAST: Noomi Rapace, Yvonne Strahovski, Luke Evans, Richard Roxburgh STATE: VIC
Dougie is recruited to work security at a refugee detention centre. There, he is drawn into an underground operation blackmailing detainees to fight for profit. DIRECTOR: Maziar Lahooti PRODUCERS: Veronica Gleeson, Nick Batzias, Kate Neylon WRITER: Ian Wilding STATE: WA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Good Thing Productions
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Angel of Mine follows a mother
46 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: In a near-future, darknet grifter
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: An innocent Cambodian boy is
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: In a fun and furry spin on the
classic “recluse becomes reluctant hero” tale; Maggie Diggins, a wombat turned Wonder Woman, unintentionally becomes the city’s superhero after she begrudgingly saves a rookie caped crusader from certain doom. DIRECTOR: Ricard Cusso Judson PRODUCER: Nadine Bates WRITER: Matthew Kinmonth STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Like a Photon Creative
DANGER CLOSE: THE BATTLE OF LONG TAN STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: The true story of how Major
Harry Smith and his company of 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers hold off an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 battle hardened North Vietnamese and Main Force Viet Cong soldiers in The Battle of Long Tan. DIRECTOR: Kriv Stenders PRODUCERS: Martin Walsh, Michael Schwarz, John Schwarz, Stuart Beattie WRITERS: Stuart Beattie, James Nicholas, Jack Brislee, Karel Segers, Paul Sullivan CAST: Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Richard Roxburgh, Daniel Webber STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Red Dune Productions, Deeper Water
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Georgie Lutland is restless.
DORA THE EXPLORER
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: A feature-length, live-action
“update” of the Nickelodeon animated series, following a now teenage Dora as she explores the world with her cousin Diego. DIRECTOR: James Bobin PRODUCERS: Andrew Form, Brad Fuller WRITERS: Nicholas Stoller, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel CAST: Isabela Moner, Eva Longoria, Michael Pena, Eugenio Derbez, Temuera Morrison, Madeleine Madden, Christopher Kirby, Nicholas Coombe, Adriana Barraza, Micke Moreno STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Paramount, Walden Media
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: After an absence of 20 years,
Aaron Falk returns to his drought-stricken hometown to investigate an apparent murdersuicide committed by his childhood friend, Luke Hadler. But when Aaron’s investigation opens a decades old wound – the unsolved death of 16-year-old Ellie Deacon – Aaron
IN-PRODUCTION must struggle to prove not only Luke’s innocence but his own. DIRECTOR: Robert Connolly PRODUCERS: Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson, Steve Hutensky WRITER: Harry Cripps CAST: Eric Bana PRODUCTION COMPANY: Made Up Stories Pty Ltd
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: 1897. To escape the outback,
a young Afghan cameleer falls in with a mysterious bushman on the run with stolen Crown gold. DIRECTOR: Roderick MacKay PRODUCERS: Kelvin Munro, Timothy White WRITER: Roderick MacKay PRODUCTION COMPANY: Hoover’s Gold
GODZILLA VS. KONG
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: The Gigantic Kong meets the
unstoppable Godzilla. The world watches to see which one becomes the king of all monsters. DIRECTOR: Adam Wingard CAST: Millie Bobby Brown, Julian Dennison, Brian Tyree Henry STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Legendary Entertainment
H IS FOR HAPPINESS
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: H is for Happiness tells the story
of Candice Phee – a 12-year-old girl with boundless optimism and a unique view of the world. DIRECTOR: John Sheedy PRODUCERS: Julie Ryan, Tenille Kennedy, Lisa Hoppe WRITER: Lisa Hoppe STATE: WA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Cyan Films
HEARTS AND BONES
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: A shell-shocked photojournal-
ist, haunted by what he has witnessed on assignment in Africa, returns home on the eve of becoming a father. When one of his photographs threatens to destroy a Sudanese refugee’s new life, the two men are reunited by nightmare events from the past. DIRECTOR: Ben Lawrence PRODUCER: Matt Reeder WRITER: Ben Lawrence, Beatrix Christian CAST: Hugo Weaving, Andrew Luri STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Night Kitchen Productions
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Set in the 1930s in Northern
Australia and is inspired by true events. In a remote corner of a wild country a bloody war rages. Travis is a bounty hunter with one last hope of redemption. Djumbatj is a young Indigenous man trying to save the last of his family. Together they embark on a manhunt, which unravels a secret that ultimately pits them against each other. DIRECTOR: Stephen Johnson PRODUCERS: Witiyana Marika, Greer Simpkin, Maggie Miles, David Jowsey WRITER: Chris Anatassiades STATE: NT, VIC (post) PRODUCTION COMPANY: High Ground Pictures
JUDY AND PUNCH
I AM WOMAN
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Based on a well-known Chinese
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: The story of Helen Reddy
who, in 1966, landed in New York with her three-year-old duaghter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket. Within weeks she was broke. Within five years she was one of the biggest superstars of her time, the first Australian Grammy Award winner and an icon of the 1970's feminist movement. DIRECTOR: Unjoo Moon PRODUCER: Rosemary Blight WRITER: Emma Jensen CAST: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Macdonald, Evan Peters STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Goalpost Pictures, Deep Blue Pacific
I MET A GIRL
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: An aspiring musician falls for
a mysterious woman… who may be all in his head. But when she vanishes, he takes off across the country to find her, forcing his brother to try to rescue him. DIRECTOR: Luke Eve PRODUCERS: Adam Dolman, Melissa Kelly WRITER: Glen Dolman STATE: WA, NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY:
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Two puppeteers – the vain
but charismatic Punch and his resilient and talented wife Judy – attempt to resurrect their show as a means of escaping their decrepit town. DIRECTOR: Mirrah Foulkes WRITER: MIrrah Foulkes PRODUCERS: Michele Bennett, Nash Edgerton, Danny Gabai CAST: Mia Wasikowska, Damon Herriman STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: VICE Media Australia, Blue Tongue Films
LEGEND OF SUN AND MOON
myth, the film reimagines the classic tale of Chang-Eh, Goddess of the Moon and Hou Yi, the heroic archer who shot down 9 of 10 suns that were scorching the Earth. DIRECTOR: Jin (Eva) Yimeng PRODUCERS: Todd Fellman, Beaver Kwei, Eileen Gong WRITER: Jin (Eva) Yimeng CAST: Dilraba Dilmurat, Dou Xiao STATE: QLD, NSW (post) PRODUCTION COMPANY: Story Bridge Films
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: An interpretation of William
Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’, set in Melbourne’s notorious commission flats, that provide the setting for an exploration of love, loyalty and justice. DIRECTOR: Paul Ireland PRODUCERS: Paul Ireland, Damian Hill WRITERS: Paul Ireland, Damian Hill CAST: Hugo Weaving, Mark Winter, Daniel Henshall, Harrison Gilbertson, Megan Smart, John Brumpton, Mal Kennard, Doris Younane, Fayssal Bazzi, Josh McConville, Christie Whelan Browne STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Toothless Pictures
MISS FISHER & THE CRYPT OF TEARS
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: The film opens with the
Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher rescuing Shirin Abbas, a young Bedouin woman, who has been thrown into jail in British Mandated Palestine for making trouble at a time of colonial unrest. After a perilous escape from Jerusalem, she rejoins Shirin as a fellow guest in the home of Lord and Lady Lofthouse, for the London ‘season’ and she pledges to help her right a wrong and discover the truth about the Crypt of Tears - an ancient crypt rumoured to lie somewhere beneath the rolling sands of the Negev Desert. DIRECTOR: Tony Tilse PRODUCERS: Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox WRITER: Deb Cox CAST: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Miriam Margolyes, Ashleigh Cummings, Rupert Penry-Jones, Daniel Lapaine, Jacqueline McKenzie, John Stanton, William Zappa, Ian Bliss, Kal Naga PRODUCTION COMPANY: Every Cloud Productions
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: When a group of lifelong friends
gather in Palm Beach to celebrate a special birthday, bonhomie soon gives way to the messy realities of life... A dramatic comedy for the over 50s! DIRECTOR: Rachel Ward PRODUCERS: Bryan Brown, Deb Balderstone WRITER: Joanna Murray-Smith, Rachel Ward CAST: Bryan Brown, Sam Neill, Greta Scacchi, Jacqueline McKenzie, Richard E. Grant, Claire van der Boom, Aaron Jeffrey, Heather Mitchell, Matilda Brown, Frances Berry, Charlie Vickers STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: New Town Films, Soapbox Industries
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: When a proud sheep town’s
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: A grief-stricken scientist, Julian,
continues forbidden research after the death of his lead researcher, Doctor Lane, and the shutting down of Intech labs. DIRECTOR: Greg Powell PRODUCER: Peter Koevari WRITER: Peter Koevari CAST: Sean Dennehy, Greg Powell, Sabrina Matruglio, Korey Williams, Martin Sta Ana, Winnie Mzembe, Bella Rose, Chantal Elyse, Wilhelmina Lyffyt STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY:
IN-PRODUCTION flocks are threatened by a rare disease, two feuding brothers struggle to preserve their family’s legacy by outsmarting a government plan that jeopardises the whole community. DIRECTOR: Jeremy Sims PRODUCERS: Janelle Landers, Aidan O’Bryan WRITER: Jules Duncan CAST: Michael Caton, Sam Neill, Wayne Blair, Leon Ford, Travis McMahon, Asher Keddie, Hayley McElhinney, Kipan Rothbury, Asher Yasbincek, Will McNeill STATE: WA PRODUCTION COMPANY: WBMC
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Three generations of women
– daughter, mother and grandmother – are haunted by a manifestation of aged dementia that is taking over their family home. DIRECTOR: Natalie Erika-James PRODUCERS: Sarah Shaw, Anna McLeish WRITERS: Natalie Erika-James, Christian White CAST: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Carver Films Pty Ltd
greatest outlaws and the colonial badlands from which he rose. DIRECTOR: Justin Kurzel PRODUCERS: Liz Watts, Hal Vogel, Brad Feinstein WRITER: Shaun Grant CAST: George Mackay, Russell Crowe, Nicholas Hoult, Essie Davis, Sean Keenan, Dacre Montgomery, Harry Greenwood, Thomasin McKenzie, Earl Cave, Charlie Hunnam STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Porchlight Films, Daybreak Pictures, Romulus Entertainment
THE VERY EXCELLENT MR DUNDEE!
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: When Aussie icon Paul Hogan
invites his friends to play hilarious versions of themselves in The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee, his simple life suddenly becomes very complicated... and a whole lot of fun for the rest of us. DIRECTOR: Dean Murphy PRODUCERS: Dean Murphy, Nigel Odell WRITERS: Dean Murphy, Robert Mond CAST: Paul Hogan, Shane Jacobson
TOP END WEDDING
lawyer, Lauren, and her fiancé Ned. Engaged and in love, they have just 10 days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the Northern Territory, reunite her parents and pull off their dream Top End Wedding. DIRECTOR: Wayne Blair PRODUCERS: Rosemary Blight, Kylie Du Fresne, Kate Croser WRITER: Miranda Tapsell, Joshua Tyler CAST: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens, Huw Higginson, Elaine Crombie STATE: NT, SA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Goalpost Pictures
working in Australia for a local company. A fatal accident leads Mark to discover that the new technology developed by the company he works for may have tremendous safety concerns. DIRECTOR: Xue Xiaolu PRODUCERS: Greg Basser, Bill Kong WRITER: Xue Xiaolu CAST: Jiayin Lei, John Batchelor, Tang Wei, Xi Qi STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Perfect Village Entertainment, Edko Films
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: The story of successful Sydney
TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Based on Peter Carey’s
Booker Prize-winning novel, this is a bold, uncompromising film about one of the world’s
48 INSIDEFILM #185, OCT - NOV 2018
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Mark Ma is a Chinese expat
THE WISHMAS TREE
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: A young possum’s misguided
wish for a white Wishmas not only freezes her entire hometown of Sanctuary City, but also threatens the lives of all those who live there. DIRECTOR: Ricard Cusso Judson
PRODUCER: Nadine Bates WRITER: Peter Ivan STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Like A
✪ SERIES 100% WOLF
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Freddy Lupin would be just like
any other ordinary 11 year old boy... except he is neither ordinary nor simply ‘a boy’. He is 11 though... and also a werewolf! Or will be. DIRECTORS: Serg Delfino, Jacquie Trowell PRODUCERS: Michael Bourchier, Barbara Stephen WRITERS: Fin Equist, Tim Leee, Joshua Tyler, Michelle Offen, Jane Allen, Charlotte Hamlyn CAST: Ilai Swindells, Elizabeth Nabben, Aleksander Mikick, Kelly Butler, Raechelle Banno, Victoria Zerbest, Will Cottle STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Flying Bark Productions NETWORK: ABC, Super RTL
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Some mothers are perfect with
a beautiful home and the perfect family but sometimes behind that pristine picket fence, there’s a world of dirty … little … secrets. CREATORS: Rachel Lang, Gavin Strawhan, DIRECTORS: Geoff Bennett, Sian Davies PRODUCERS: Chloe Rickard, Steven Zanoksi WRITERS: Gavin Strawhan, Rachel Lang, Phil Lloyd, Sarah Walker, Tim Lee CAST: Mandy McElhinney, Daniel MacPherson, Don Hany, Shalom Brune-Franklin, Jessica Tovey, Tess Haubrich, Melissa George PRODUCTION COMPANY: Jungle Entertainment, Filthy Productions STATE: VIC NETWORK: Nine
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Bloom is set one year after a
devastating flood kills five locals in an idyllic country town, where a mysterious new plant appears with the power to restore their youth. DIRECTOR: John Curran, Mat King
PRODUCER: Sue Seeary WRITER: Glen Dolman CAST: Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown, Phoebe
Tonkin, Ryan Corr, Daniel Henshall, Sam Reid STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Playmaker Media NETWORK: Stan
DOCTOR DOCTOR (SEASON 4) STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: After serving out his probation
in rural Whyhope and saving the family farm, life is about to go totally, disastrously wrong for Hugh. CAST: Rodger Corser, Nicole da Silva, Ryan Johnson, Tina Bursill, Hayley McElhinney, Matt Castley, Chloe Bayliss, Charles Wu, Belinda Bromilow PRODUCTION COMPANY: Easy Tiger Productions NETWORK: Nine
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: The End is about three
generations of a family with separate but intersecting obsessions – trying to figure out how to die with dignity, live with none and make it count. CREATOR: Samantha Strauss DIRECTOR: Jessica M. Thompson PRODUCERS: Carol Hughes, Louise Smith WRITER: Samantha Strauss CAST: Frances O’Connor, Harriet Walter, Noni Hazlehurst, Robyn Nevin, Luke Arnold, John Waters, Alex Dimitriades, Roy Billing STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: See-Saw Films NETWORK: Foxtel, Sky UK
GET KRACKIN! (SEASON 2)
STATUS: Post-production DIRECTOR: Hayden Guppy PRODUCERS: Tamasin Simpkin, Antje Kulpe WRITERS: Kate McCartney, Kate McLennan PRODUCTION COMPANY: Guesswork
Television Pty Ltd NETWORK: ABC
GLITCH (SEASON 3)
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: We follow the Risen as they move
beyond Yoorana and into the wider world. DIRECTOR: Emma Freeman
IN-PRODUCTION PRODUCER: Julie Eckersley WRITERS: Louise Fox, Guila Sandler,
Pete McTighe CAST: Patrick Brammall, Emma Booth, Rodger Corser, Sean Keenan, Hannah Monson, John Leary, Aaron McGrath, Rob Collins, Luke Arnold, Pernilla August, Jessica Faulkner, Harry Tseng, Jackson Gallagher, Dustin Clare, Susan Prior, Anna McGahan STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Matchbox Pictures NETWORK: ABC
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Unorthodox, troubled cop Molly
McGee leads an investigation into the murder of an unidentified woman. To solve the case, Molly has to team up with Alex O’Connell – a man she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years – and they discover that the murder has links to a cold case from the past. CREATOR: Victoria Madden PRODUCERS: Victoria Madden, John Molloy, Fiona McConaghy WRITER: Victoria Madden STATE: TAS PRODUCTION COMPANY: Sweet Potato Films, 2 Jons, Mushroom Pictures, ABC Studios International, NETWORK: Stan
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: A live-action comedy series that
follows fish-out-of-water Mikey and his two misfit mates, Salwa and Jerry. Their goal? Make Mikey the sweetest-bestest-acest handball champ Western Sydney’s ever seen. CREATORS: Matt Zeremes, Guy Edmonds DIRECTORS: Darren Ashton, Kacie Anning, Fadia Abboud PRODUCERS: Catherine Nebauer, Joe Weatherstone WRITERS: Guy Edmonds, Matthew Zeremes CAST: Semisi Cheekham, Reannah Hamdan, Erin Chow, Logan Regeber, Helene Dallimore, Maria Walker, Dama Sao-Mafiti, Guy Edmonds, Matt Zeremes STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Northern Pictures NETWORK: ABC
HARROW (SEASON 2)
STATUS: Pre-production CREATORS: Stephen M. Irwin, Leigh McGrath PRODUCERS: Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield WRITER: Stephen M. Irwin CAST: Ioan Gruffudd STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: Hoodlum
Entertainment NETWORK: ABC
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: The 30 x 30” serial drama
centres on the inner-city neighbourhood of Arcadia Heights, exploring the relationships between the residents of the Arcadia social housing tower and the people who live in the rapidly gentrifying community that surrounds it. CREATORS: Warren Clarke, Que Minh Luu SHOWRUNNER: Warren Clarke DIRECTORS: James Bogle, Andrew Prowse, Renee Webster, Darlene Johnson PRODUCER: Peta Astbury-Bulsara WRITERS: Hannah Carroll Chapman, Romina Accurso, Peter Mattessi, Megan Palinkas, Nick King, Clare Atkins, Niki Aken, Dot West, Magda Wozniak, Mithila Gupta, Tracey Defty-Rashid, Larissa Behrendt, Miley Tunnecliffe, Katie Beckett, Melissa Lee Speyer CAST: Marcus Graham, Shari Sebbens, Roz Hammond, Fiona Press, Dan Paris, Calen Tassone, Saskia Hampele, Phoenix Raei, Yazeed Daher, Bridie McKim, Mitchell Bourke, Koa Kuen, Cara McCarthy, Carina Hoang, Kelton Pell, Briallen Clarke, Bernie Davis STATE: WA PRODUCTION COMPANY: Matchbox Pictures, Pete’s Sake Productions NETWORK: ABC
STATUS: In production (wraps Nov 30) SYNOPSIS: When Ezra Banks (11, aspiring
entrepreneur) meets Maudie Miller (10, aspiring Columbo), he sees an opportunity to fill an obvious gap in the market: a detective agency run by children. DIRECTORS: Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope, Ian Reiser, Nina Buxton PRODUCERS: Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope WRITERS: Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope, Molly Daniels, Lisa Marie Corso, Maddy Butler, Jayden Mascuilli, Bob Franklin CAST: Abby Bergman, Anna Cooke, Aston Droome, Jamil Smyth-Secka STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Gristmill NETWORK: ABC, Netflix
LITTLE J & BIG CUZ (SEASON 2)
Media, Media World, Blue Rocket NETWORK: NITV, ABC
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Mr Black is a recently retired old-
school sports journalist who unexpectedly has to move in with his daughter, Angela. What he finds out is that her boyfriend, the sensitive Fin, has also recently moved in. It’s game on. CREATOR: Adam Zwar DIRECTORS: Amanda Brotchie, Clayton Jacobson WRITERS: Adam Zwar, Amanda Brotchie CAST: Stephen Curry, Nadine Garner, Sophie Wright, Nick Russell, Paul Denny STATE: Vic PRODUCTION COMPANY: CJZ
MS FISHER’S MODERN MURDER MYSTERIES
STATUS: In production (wraps Nov 30) SYNOPSIS: Set in 1964, audiences will
meet the gorgeously reckless Peregrine Fisher who inherits a windfall when the famous aunt she never knew goes missing over the highlands of New Guinea. CREATORS: Deb Cox, Fiona Eagger DIRECTOR: Fiona Banks PRODUCER: Beth Frey WRITERS: Deb Cox, Samantha Winston, Chelsea Cassio, Jo Martino STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Every Cloud Productions NETWORK: Seven
MUSTANGS FC (SEASON 2)
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: The Mustangs are back to kick it
like girls again. But now they’ve got to field a team without super striker, Ruby. Can they even win without her? And will Marnie ever lift the league cup for reals? DIRECTORS: Corrie Chen, Jess Harris, Roger Hodgman, Ana Kokkinos PRODUCERS: Amanda Higgs, Rachel Davis WRITERS: Kirsty Fisher, Shanti
Gudgeon, Magda Wozniak, Rae Earl, Alix Beane, Jonathan Gavin CAST: Emmanuelle Mattana, Ashleigh Marshall, Monique Heath, Molly Broadstock, Gemma Chua Tran, Celine Ajobong, Hayet Dabbous, Jacek Koman, Pia Miranda, Stephen Hall STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Matchbox Pictures NETWORK: ABC
MY LIFE IS MURDER
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Complex, contrary and compel-
ling investigator Alexa Crowe cannot help fighting the good fight – whether it is solving murders or combatting the small frustrations of everyday life. Fearless and unapologetic, Alexa’s unique skills and insights into the darker quirks of human nature, allows her to provoke, comfort and push the right buttons as she unravels the truth behind the most baffling of crimes. WRITERS: Jane Allen, Peter Gawler, Claire Tonkin CAST: Lucy Lawless STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: CJZ NETWORK: Ten
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Reckoning explores the darkest
corners of the male psyche through the eyes of two fathers, one of whom is a serial-killer SHOWRUNNERS: David Hubbard, David Eick DIRECTORS: Shawn Seet, Jennifer Leacey, Peter Andrikidis PRODUCER: Diane Haddon CAST: Aden Young, Sam Trammell, Simone Kessell, Laura Gordon, Gloria Garayua, Mitzi Ruhlmann, Milly Alcock, Ed Oxenbould, Finn Little, Anthony Phelan, Diana Glenn STATE: NSW PRODUCTION COMPANY: Playmaker Media NETWORK: Sony Pictures Television Networks
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: Little J, he’s five and Big
Cuz, she’s nine. They’re a couple of Indigenous Australian kids living with their Nanna and Old Dog. Little J and Big Cuz are busy with the ups and downs of playground and classroom. There’s always something surprising going on whether it’s at school, in the backyard... or beyond. DIRECTOR: Anthony Thorne PRODUCER: Ned Lander WRITERS: Dot (Dorothy) West, Beck Cole, Jane Harrison, Nathan Maynard, Erica Glynn CAST: Miranda Tapsell, Deb Mailman, Ningali Wolfe, Aaron Fa’aoso, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens STATE: VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Ned Lander
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
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IN-PRODUCTION SYNOPSIS: Reef Break stars Montgomery
as Cat Chambers, a former thief turned fixer for the governor of a Pacific island paradise. SHOWRUNNER: Ken Sanzel CAST: Poppy Montgomery STATE: QLD PRODUCTION COMPANY: ABC Studios International
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Twenty years on, Laura returns to
the beachside paradise of Pearl Bay. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Deb Cox, Sigrid Thornton, Fiona Eagger, David Mott CAST: Sigrid Thornton, John Howard PRODUCTION COMPANY: Every Cloud Productions, ITV NETWORK: Nine
SPONGO, FUZZ & JALAPEÑA
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Aimed at 8-12 year olds, the 26
x 11 minute series follows the adventures of three best buds – Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña – and their life in Champignon, a town full of weird crazy contests. Theirs is a friendship that breaks all the rules as they attempt to achieve a world record at something… anything! CREATOR: David Webster DIRECTOR: David Webster PRODUCERS: Patrick Egerton, Isla Curtis PRODUCTION COMPANY: Cheeky Little Media STATE: NSW NETWORK: ABC, Foxtel (Disney Channel Australia)
THE STRANGE CHORES
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Two teenage wannabe warrior
heroes Charlie and Pierce and spirited ghost girl Que master the skills they need to replace ageing monster-slayer Old Man Helsing by doing his supernatural chores. PRODUCERS: Colin South, Charlie Aspinwall WRITER: Daley Pearson DIRECTOR: Scott Vanden Bosch STATE: QLD, VIC PRODUCTION COMPANY: Media World Pictures, Ludo Studios NETWORK: ABC
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: 12-year-old identical twins Dru
and Kal discover that the government is secretly tracking and manipulating Australia’s youth via electronic tracking devices. Together with a group of underground vigilante kids – The Unlisted – they must stop the evil authorities from creating an army of young soldiers who can be manipulated to serve the wealthiest citizens. CREATOR: Justine Flynn DIRECTORS: Rhys Graham, Corrie Chen PRODUCERS: Polly Staniford, Angie Fielder WRITERS: Mithila Gupta, Timothy Lee, Tristram Baumber, Jane Allen, Greg Waters, Natesha Somasundaram, Chris Kunz PRODUCTION COMPANY: Aquarius Films NETWORK: ABC
STATUS: Post-production PRODUCER: Laura Waters, Chris Lilley CAST: Chris Lilley STATE: QLD NETWORK: Netflix
STATUS: In production SYNOPSIS: A comedy about a down-and-out
musician who has to push a piano from one side of Australia to the other in order to honour his mother’s dying wish. STATUS: Pre-production CREATOR: Chris Taylor DIRECTOR: Matthew Saville PRODUCERS: Jason Stephens, Chris Taylor, Melissa Kelly WRITERS: Chris Taylor, Tim Minchin, Kate Mulvany, Leon Ford CAST: Tim Minchin, Milly Alcock, Heather Mitchell, Daniel Lapaine, Ella Scott Lynch, Daniel Frederiksen, Kate Box, Ningali Lawford, Sachin Joab, Luke Carroll, Rob Collins STATE: SA, WA NETWORK: Foxtel, Sky UK PRODUCTION COMPANY: Lingo Pictures
✪ MINI SERIES AUSTRALIAN GANGSTER
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Drug dealer, gangster,
gym-junky, Lamborghini driver, husband, father, dickhead, Australian Gangster is about the life and death of a new breed of Sydney criminal. DIRECTOR: Gregor Jordan, Fadia Abboud PRODUCERS: Dan Edwards, John Edwards WRITER: Gregor Jordan CAST: Alexander Bertrand, Louisa Mignone, Rahel Romahn, Steve Bestoni PRODUCTION COMPANY: Roadshow Rough Diamond STATE: NSW NETWORK: Seven
THE BLAKE MYSTERIES: GHOST STORIES STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Jean is unexpectedly drawn
into the investigation of a pair of seemingly disparate murders whose only link seems to be a series of newspaper articles recently published in The Courier about Ballarat’s most infamous unsolved mysteries. DIRECTOR: Ian Barry WRITER: Paul Jenner CAST: Nadine Garne, Joel Tobeck, B elinda McClory PRODUCTION COMPANY: December Media, Gambit Media STATE: VIC NETWORK: Seven
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Two idealistic high school
teachers discover students are sharing explicit photos of their underage friends and peers – a revelation that puts unbearable stress on the tightly woven lives of four teenagers and their families. CREATORS: Sophie Hyde, Matthew Cormack DIRECTOR: Sophie Hyde PRODUCERS: Rebecca Summerton, Sophie Hyde WRITERS: Matthew Cormack, Niki Aken PRODUCTION COMPANY: Closer Productions Pty Ltd STATE: SA NETWORK: SBS
LAMBS OF GOD
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: Lambs of God follows the
journey of three Catholic nuns, Sisters Iphigenia, Margarita and Carla, who
are the last remaining members of the enclosed order of St Agnes. They have forgotten the world outside until a young priest, Father Ignatius, pushes his way through the undergrowth in the hope of finding prime real estate. DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Walker PRODUCERS: Jason Stephens, Sarah Lambert, Elisa Argenzio WRITER: Sarah Lambert CAST: Ann Dowd, Essie Davis, Jessica Barden, Sam Reid, John Bell, Damon Herriman, Daniel Henshall, Kate Mulvany PRODUCTION COMPANY: Lingo Pictures NETWORK: Foxtel
NO ACTIVITY: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
STATUS: Pre-production SYNOPSIS: Tasked with a Christmas Eve
stakeout, Hendy and Stokes monitor the scene from their parked car as a disgruntled Santa Claus holds a group of innocent Christmas shoppers hostage inside a suburban shopping mall. CREATORS: Patrick Brammall, Trent O’Donnell DIRECTOR: Trent O’Donnell PRODUCER: Bridget Callow-Wright CAST: Patrick Brammall, Darren Gilshenan, Harriet Dyer, Genevieve Morris, Dan Wyllie and David Field PRODUCTION COMPANY: Jungle Entertainment NETWORK: Stan
STATUS: Post-production SYNOPSIS: A young Iraqi-Australian woman
tears apart her family and defies her community to chase her dream of becoming an elite women’s boxing trainer. DIRECTOR: Shannon Murphy PRODUCERS: Helen Bowden, Courtney Wise WRITERS: Tamara Asmar, Adam Todd, Ian Meadows CAST: Nicole Chamoun, Igal Naor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jack Thompson, Louis Hunter, Michael Denkha, Tyler De Nawi, Neveen Hanna, Nader Hamden, Priscilla Doueihy, Setareh Naghoni, Claude Jabbour, Bonzana Diab, Otis Dhanji PRODUCTION COMPANY: Lingo Pictures STATE: NSW NETWORK: SBS
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