Australian Film Commission
This is archived information from the website of the former Australian Film Commission (AFC), now part of Screen Australia
23 September 2017
Home News Archive AFC Newsletters IndiVision News
AFC ARCHIVE CORPORATE INFORMATION NEWS ARCHIVE AFC Newsletters Archive AFC Media Release Archive FUNDING ARCHIVE CATALOGUE ARCHIVE POLICY & RESEARCH AFC ARCHIVE CORPORATE INFORMATION NEWS ARCHIVE AFC Media Release Archive FUNDING ARCHIVE CATALOGUE ARCHIVE POLICY & RESEARCH Annual Reports AFC Publications Files Created by AFC AFC Newsletters Archive AFC Media Release Archive Approvals Programs IndiVision Regional Digital Screen Network Catalogue Archive AFC Policy Archive Annual Reports AFC Publications Files Created by AFC AFC Newsletters Archive AFC Media Release Archive Approvals Programs IndiVision Regional Digital Screen Network Catalogue Archive AFC Policy Archive

AFC News

IndiVision News

Screenings

Festivals & Awards

Skills & Networking

In Conversation

Feature Stories

Publications

 
Indivision News
  August 2006
         
  In this issue

  Welcome to August IndiVision News. In this issue we look at the case for and against editing your film at home or using post-production facilities. We cover the 2006 IndiVision Marketing Lab held in Melbourne last month, and feature interviews with guest advisors from the US Laird Adamson and Thomas Mai. Local filmmakers Robyn Kershaw and Kate Woods share their experience of taking the project Moving South through the IndiVision integrated development process. Catch the award-winning, low-budget features screening in the AICE Israeli Film Festival in Sydney and Melbourne, during August-September.

And remember...applications for the 2007 IndiVision Project Lab close on Friday 6 October 2006!

IndiVision News helps you keep in touch with the latest issues and developments in low-budget filmmaking.

You can subscribe to receive IndiVision News 2-3 times per year. Also keep an eye on the IndiVision homepage on the AFC website for the latest updates.

The banner for this issue is from West, a film workshopped at the 2005 IndiVision Project Lab and due for cinema release in 2007.
 
         
  The pros and cons of DIY vs facilities editing
         
  DIY editing systems like Final Cut Pro present an exciting alternative for post-production on a low-budget feature. They also offer the producer the possibility of owning some capital that can be used as an equity investment in their projects. But is there more to consider when deciding whether to edit in your office/home, or whether to use a facilities house? Are there hidden traps, or is DIY the future?

US indie writer/director/actor Ed Burns and Australian editor Jason Ballantine put up their cases for opposing sides of the argument.


Ed Burns' first feature, The Brothers McMullen, was made for US$25,000, won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and went on to gross more than US$10 million in the US alone. He has gone on to make nine features (including She's the One and Sidewalks of New York), but still has to bring the budgets down as low as possible to get his films up. On his recent feature The Groomsmen, starring himself and Brittany Murphy, he was faced with the reality of bring his $6m budget down to around $3m. He did that in part by choosing to go the DIY route for post-production. "The big change is that on previous films we needed to go to an editing facility, where you pay to rent an Avid. But on this production we owned the Final Cut Pro station. You eliminate a big cost right there," he says.

Read the article Ed Burns: Risky Business by Joe Cellini on the Apple website (link permission courtesy Apple). It includes a full list of the equipment used to cut The Groomsmen.

Now read Jason's case...

Australian editor Jason Ballantine is one of the most experienced Avid practitioners in the country, having worked on some of the first Australian features cut on Avid. He has recently edited three low-budget features this way - Wolf Creek, The Caterpillar Wish and The Bet - in professional post houses. Here Jason outlines the benefits of cutting on a fully supported system in a professional facility, and warns of some of the traps to beware of in the DIY 'prosumer' set-ups.


Given the decreasing price of some prosumer editing software packages, Ed Burns' experience raises an important question: is it better to buy your own or rent from a post-production facility? Of course with every argument there is a 'for and against', generally heavily informed by financial considerations, especially when making a feature film in Australia. However, the decision is not clean cut and requires some careful consideration.

There was certainly a day, not too long ago, when the only option was to dry hire editing equipment from a post-production facility. The equipment outlay was equivalent to a home mortgage, whereas now it is more like the cost of a nice car. Of course the introduction of software such as Premiere and Final Cut Pro has made the experience of editing accessible to many in their own home. Yet there is always a gap between expectation and ability. Avid has also recently released Media Composer software-only packages, minus some professional features, to combat the prosumer market share. But these come with limitations of usability and reliability and this is why the high-end film editing systems remain in the marketplace. Yes they carry a price tag for their dedication to professional filmmaking, but I guess you get what you pay for. Some of the prosumer editing software overlooks the needs of professional environments such as media creation efficiencies (sharing files between picture, VFX and sound departments), multi-seat editing with shared storage, real time playback over rendering requirements, media management, future-proof upgrades and of course technical support - the responsibility for software and hardware not being spread over multiple third-party companies.

Read the whole article.
 
 
Writer/director/actor Ed Burns favours owning his own editing suite. Photo: Apple website.

 
Editor Jason Ballantine, in the cutting room of Rogue, is a fan of post-production facilities.

 
       
  The 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop
         
  Six top international sales agents from the US and Europe attended the AFC's 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop in Melbourne 24-28 July, which coincided with the Melbourne International Film Festival. The 11 teams participating included projects that went through IndiVision Project Lab in February, a project developed through the AFC's SP*RK script development program, and completed projects that have recently received IndiVision production investment funds. Workshop director Iain Canning (General Manager of Becker Films International) programmed and hosted a series of panel discussions with local advisors and reps from leading international agencies. They covered topics related to film financing and marketing issues at all stages of film production: development, completion, festivals and markets, distribution and exhibition.

The international guests for 2006 were:
* Laird Adamson, HDNet Films. See The rise of digital and simultaneous release: HDNet below
* Thomas Mai, Katapult Film Sales. See Katapulting films round the world below
* Dorothee Grosjean International Sales and Publicity Manager, Gaumont
* Adeline Fontan Tessaur, Senior VP International Sales and Acquisitions, TF1 International/TF1
* Himesh Kar, Senior Executive of the New Cinema Fund, UK Film Council
* Ashley Luke, Vice President Development and Acquisitions, Fortissimo Films
* Michael Wrenn, independent consultant (NZ/AUS).

Local speakers were:
* Sandie Don, Hopscotch Films
* Kristian Connelly, Village Cinemas
* David Redman, Instinct Entertainment
* Mark Sarfaty, Dendy Cinemas
* Tait Brady, FFC
* Helen Campbell, Zealot Productions

Read words of wisdom and hot tips from the speakers who included our international guests.

Workshop director Iain Canning shares a cautionary tale.

Around a year ago a group of students decided to test the major studios and US producers by submitting a script. The film was a romantic drama, a love triangle set against troubled times. Fronted by a sympathetic agent and therefore beating the 'no unsolicited scripts' embargo, the students managed to get 'their' script considered by many a dream factory. A few weeks later a set of standard pass emails hit the inbox: 'too depressing', 'not what the studio is looking for', 'the end just doesn't work', 'why do you need a piano player in the film?' - just a few examples of the sound of rejection. Then, after a month or so, another email hit the inbox. It was from an independent producer who had read the script himself and had only one thing to say: 'Why have you sent me Casablanca? Do you have the remake rights? I love it!' Of course they didn't, the whole process was a test to see if a good script would be picked up by the system.

Whenever I tell this story to acquisition executives it strikes a cord of horror: 'Would I pass on Casablanca?' Likewise when I tell this story to writers, the same panic creeps in: 'If I wrote Casablanca would I struggle to get it made?' My response to both is the same: without a real passion for the material then both could happen. The students proved one thing with their scam - you need to find the right people to get a project made, whether those people are design companies, sales agents, distributors, financiers, producers, cast or crew. Only when we have those 'beautiful friendships' in place can we hope to create a classic piece of cinema.
 
<b>The 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop</b>
 
The 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop
Participants engrossed in a panel discussion.

<b>The 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop</b>
 
The 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop
A panel discusses trailers and posters. LtoR: Iain Canning (Becker Films International and workshop director), Thomas Mai (Katapult Film Sales), Dorothee Grosjean (Gaumont).

 
       
  Deadline approaching for IndiVision Project Lab 2007
         
  Applications for the IndiVision Project Lab 2007 close 5pm Friday 6 October.

The Lab is a dynamic hothouse for low-budget features that includes an integrated package of development support. Feature projects and teams that are selected for the Lab have access to:
* the one-week IndiVision Project Lab, with international advisors
* two drafts of project development funding after the Lab
* the follow-up IndiVision Marketing Workshop with international marketing advisors, which is held several months after the Lab
* ongoing development support.

In addition, project teams who have attended the Lab can apply for:
* IndiVision travel grants for overseas travel to pitch and finance their project
* production investment, depending on assessment and the experience of the director.

The Lab is looking for talented mid- or high-level experience teams with distinctive feature drama projects of any genre that can be made for less than A$2m. Experienced teams can submit an outline of their project to apply for the Lab, while teams with less experience are required to submit a full draft script. Applicants must check the AFC Film Development Funding Guidelines for further details.

The IndiVision Project Lab will be held in Sydney in early February 2007, and focuses on whole-project development for low-budget features. During the week, directors have access to actors, performance consultants, DOPs and editors to workshop, shoot and edit a scene. Teams meet with a visual consultant to be challenged on the development of their project's visual language, and also discuss script development with local and international advisors (who provide an international perspective). Producers will work with advisors on budget and production strategies.

Past Lab advisors have included US producers Andrew Fierberg (Secretary) and Joshua Zeman (The Station Agent), French producer Marc Missonnier (Swimming Pool), Australian directors Gillian Armstrong and Rolf de Heer, Australian producers David Lightfoot, Lynda House and Su Armstrong, and performance consultant David Field.

Applications close 5pm Friday 6 October.

For more information, application forms and funding guidelines visit the IndiVision Project Lab funding page on the AFC website.
 
 
Winston Cooper and Joel Edgerton workshopping Angry Young Man at the 06 IndiVision Lab. Photo: Simon Cardwell.

 
Lawrence Johnston at the 06 IndiVision Lab. Photo: Simon Cardwell.

 
       
  Want to know everything about making a film but too afraid to ask?
         
  The new Satchel is coming!

Later this year the AFC will publish a completely updated edition of Production Budgeting and Film Management (aka the Satchel) - almost everything you need to know about the mechanics of making a film. This publication is a detailed step-by-step guide to the AFC's A-Z feature budget and a week-by-week guide to production management. The new edition will contain brand new sections on digital visual effects, working with children and OH&S. The new animation chapter has been written by Oscar-nominated producer/director Anthony Lucas. La Spagnola producer Philip Hearnshaw contributes a thought-provoking chapter on 'An Approach to Low-Budget Filmmaking'. Throughout, there are hints and recommendations for low-budget filmmakers.

The Satchel's contributors are all currently working in the Australian film industry, and the content reflects the most recent technological changes including digital intermediate post-production. The Satchel will be supported by the AFC website which will make available standard production forms and templates.

While dealing predominantly with drama production, the Satchel has invaluable information for documentary, animation and digital media practitioners. Immensely practical and, at 400+ pages, very comprehensive, the Satchel is an essential resource for Australian filmmakers at all levels on all aspects of production.

The updated Satchel is scheduled to be published by the end of October. Keep your eye on upcoming issues of AFC News for a confirmed publication date and price.

In the meantime, the current Satchel, published in 2002, is still available and has been heavily discounted to $66. Much of the material is still very relevant to film budgeting and management today. If you would like to order a copy of the current Satchel email publishing@afc.gov.au or call 02 9321 6582.
 
 
The current Satchel is still available, and a new edition will be issued in late 2006.

 
       
  Eight new low-budget features to screen in Sydney and Melbourne
         
  Filmmakers keen to see the latest in international low-budget feature production have a chance to see eight new films, all made for budgets of under US$1.2m, screening in Sydney and Melbourne. The eight features - shot on HD, DV, Super 16 and 35mm - come from Israel, a country following hot on the heels of Denmark as a centre for critically acclaimed low-budget feature production, and are part of the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2006.

The Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (ACIE) advances the exchange of culture between Australia and Israel as a means of encouraging art and artistic links. In May-June this year, Israel was treated to a host of Australian films in the AICE Australian Film Festival 2006. In August-September, Israeli films come to our shores.

Screenings:

Melbourne
22-27 August
Como Cinema, South Yarra, and the Bay Street Cinema, Brighton

Sydney
29 August-3 September
Academy Twin, Paddington

For those who missed it in the IndiVision Screenings earlier this year, the opening night film will be Berlin International Film Festival-winner Close to Home, a frank and fresh look at two teenage female soldiers on the streets of Jerusalem. The season also includes the Israeli/German co-production What a Wonderful Place, which won five Israeli Academy Awards including Best Picture. The other films are: Salt of the Earth, Three Mothers, Love and Dance, Little Heroes, Something Sweet and Out of Sight.

Full film details, including budget and shooting format, are listed on our Festivals and Awards pages.

For the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2006 full program go to their website.
 
 
The award-winning low-budget feature Close to Home is screening at the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2006.

 
Out of Sight is also screening at the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2006.

 
       
  IndiVision integrated development for Woods/Kershaw/Moore project
         
  The feature project Moving South and its team - producer Robyn Kershaw, director Kate Woods and writer Cath Moore - were selected to attend the IndiVision Project Lab in February 2006. After the Lab they received draft funding to develop the script further, an IndiVision Travel Grant to pitch the project overseas, and places at the recent IndiVision Marketing Workshop. Robyn and Kate spoke to AFC Information Officer Jain Moralee about the IndiVision integrated development process.

Your international advisor at the IndiVision Lab was US producer Andrew Fierberg (Fur, Secretary, Yes). How was discussing your project with Andrew beneficial?


RK: I thought Andrew was sensational for us because he 'got' our project instantly. He also got us as filmmakers fairly instantly and he made us laugh…always a healthy start. That made it so much easier to be very frank and open and exposed really, about everything to do with our work and what we were trying to achieve. We had a tremendous dialogue with him at the Lab and continue to have a dialogue with him.

KW: You also get really clear, strong feedback [on] production stuff as well as script. Like: "Have you thought about where the dent on the car's going to be?" Little simple things like that. It was also wonderful to see that the international market has a human face - that you are in a big community, not the poor cousin.

Did the discussions you had with Andrew change the way you were approaching your project in any way?

KW: It made me feel incredibly confident about my own voice and sensibility.

RK: Yes, because there are times when you are in development and being challenged by the process - trying to reach the potential of the work - that you lose some of that confidence and it is very…well they don't call development 'hell' for nothing!

KW: It really gave us something to go back to every time things got a bit hard. And he was so much fun. It actually was very invigorating.

How was working in the Lab as a team, and with other teams?

KW: The sort of critique that came out of the Lab from conversations we had with Lab advisors was refreshing for us as a team, because we were able to negotiate that in consultation with each other. When all three of us were in a dialogue about the script or the film or what we were trying to achieve, we all spoke with one voice, even though we had not developed a shared dialogue beforehand. Prior to [the Lab] we only had phone meetings and email contact and one or two face-to-face meetings. It was really bonding for Robbie, Cath and I, incredibly vital for our development as a team and for the project.

Read the whole interview.
 
 
Kate Woods and Cath Moore listening to advisor Andrew Fierberg at the 06 IndiVision Lab. Photo: Simon Cardwell.

 
Producer Robyn Kershaw with Andrew Fierberg at the 06 IndiVision Lab, discussing Moving South. Photo: Simon Cardwell.

 
       
  The rise of digital and simultaneous release: HDNet
         
  HDNet Films is a New York production company that finances and produces narrative and documentary features shot on high-definition video. Laird Adamson of HDNet Films was a guest advisor at the 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop in Melbourne last month, and he spoke to the AFC's Frances Leadbeter about digital films and knowing your market.

Can you describe your background and current role at HDNet?
My background is a bit of a hybrid of working in international sales and producing. I started working at Miramax in the International Department and then worked at Killer Films (with Christine Vachon). Following that I produced at Archer Entertainment for a couple of years, overseeing development and packaging for projects. Throughout both Killer and Archer I kept working with the international aspect of things. That's much more where my interests lie than Hollywood. So now I'm at HDNet and helping them start their international sales division. HDNet is part of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, which include 29/29 Entertainment (they made Good Night and Good Luck) and the Landmark Theatre cinema chain, which, I would say, is the nicest arthouse chain in the US.

How many cinemas do they own?
I'm not sure how many cinemas houses, but I believe it's somewhere upwards of 300 screens. Wagner/Cuban also owns Magnolia Pictures for distribution and two high def television networks, HDNet TV and HDNet Movies. Our company, HDNet Films, was founded about three years ago. First of all they wanted to maintain a commitment to independent filmmakers. However, with this division they have continued to push the boundaries of the film industry on a number of fronts - shooting all of the films on HD for one, as well as pushing the boundaries regarding traditional assumptions about release patterns.

So you're talking about the vertical release strategy that Cuban/Wagner have become known for - can you elaborate on this?
I'm talking about the simultaneous release. The films that we produce are released by Magnolia in the States. There's also Magnolia Home Entertainment that releases on DVD. And the high def movie channel, HDNet Movies. All release the films simultaneously in the US. Steven Soderbergh's film Bubble was released like this, i.e. in theatres, television, DVD all on the same day across the States. And it doesn't please a lot of the studios and other exhibitors. But we've had success with it so far. My division is the newest, selling the HD titles internationally.

So with regards to the sales division that you have, at present you only sell films that Wagner/Cuban companies have produced?
Yes. We just started in April. So we're still putting in infrastructure and are still in our infancy. However, we have started to discuss taking on additional films shot in HD.

Read the whole interview.
 
 
IndiVision Project Lab Director Megan Simpson Huberman with HDNet Films' Laird Adamson at the 06 IndiVision Marketing Workshop.

 
       
  Katapulting films round the world
         
  Thomas Mai of Katapult Film Sales in California was a guest advisor at the 2006 IndiVision Marketing Workshop in Melbourne last month. The AFC's Frances Leadbeter spoke to Thomas about the film markets he works and the 20-minute window a script has in his hands.

Can you briefly describe Katapult and your slate of films?
Katapult is a fairly young sales company; only two years old. We're looking for global films for a global market. We have an office in LA, an office in Amsterdam and just opened up an office in Copenhagen. Our lawyer's in London, our delivery person's in Berlin, our partner's in New York. We are one Icelander, one Danish, one French, one Dutch and one American. Later this year I also want to hire someone for Tokyo in Japan.

How many films a year can you afford to pick up around the world?
It's not so much what we can afford to pick up, it's more time management. Each film requires a lot of time. But we have eight films so far this year, and we will probably have two, three more before the end of the year; that is definitely pushing it with the current level of employees that we have. But we feel comfortable about that.

Can you talk about a sales cycle of one film that you have picked up - what you do with it and how long you take it to the markets.
There is a film selling cycle and overall it's a year on the film circuit market. Then we take it to the TV markets because obviously we don't sell every film in every territory and therefore we don't exploit all the rights. If it doesn't go theatrical it will have a TV window and a DVD window. So once the film circuit is finished we work on DVD and TV rights at television markets like Mipcom and MIPTV. But the first thing we do on a film is always positioning. Which is the right festival for this film? Has the director been to festivals before? Is it a first-time director? And then of course, there's the struggle about delivery materials. Are there any marketing materials? We start looking at that right away. And then we start to prepare the festival. Hopefully we get into the festival we target for the film, and we start the cycle from that first festival launch.

And within that one-year cycle, how many markets would you be taking it to?
European Film Market (Berlin), Cannes and the American Film Market. I would go to all three, absolutely.

Read the whole interview.
 
 
Thomas Mai of California's Katapult Film Sales was a guest advisor at the 06 IndiVision Marketing Workshop.

 
       
  Hot links: websites
         
  The 39th Annual AWGIE Awards
25 August

MIFF's Travelling Film Festival 2006
Echuca, 15-17 September

Check out the US Independent Feature Project website. The IFP Market will be held in New York City 17-21 September 2006.
 
       
  International development initiatives
         
  Sundance Institute Screenwriters' and Directors' Labs
Application deadlines: 1 September 2006 for the January 2007 Lab; 15 February for the June 2007 Lab.
Sundance Institute has supported nearly 1000 artists' development programs since 1981, and thousands more through the annual Sundance Film Festival. The Institute accepts 4-5 international applications a year, however at the moment specifies it is interested in projects from China, the Middle East and North Africa. Check the website for details. You can also subscribe to the Sundance monthly InSIder e-newsletter.

Binger Filmlab
Application deadlines: 15 September 2006 for directors; 15 March 2007 for screenwriters, producers and script editors.
The Maurits Binger Film Institute was established in 1996 to provide screenwriters, script editors, directors and producers with the opportunity to upgrade their skills under the guidance of prominent filmmakers and experienced tutors from around the world.

24th Cinemart
When: 28 January-1 February 2007
Application deadline: 1 October 2006
Co-production market at the Rotterdam Film festival. Selection process takes place during October and November. Projects will be announced by the beginning of December. Entry forms are available on the website.

Berlinale Talent Campus
When: 10-16 February 2007
Application deadline: 1 November 2006
The Berlin International Film Festival invites 500 young filmmakers from all over the world to attend workshops, share ideas and mingle with international stars and colleagues during the Berlinale Talent Campus Week. Each year has a theme, with 2007 being 'Home Affairs: Privacy, films and politics'. Online application form only.
 
       
  International film festivals
         
  The AFC website's International Festival Profiles page lists most of the following film festivals. It summarises the history, specific programs and screening sections of the festival. The profiles also have practical, at-a-glance info such as festival URLs, contact details and screening gauges.

The following festivals are particularly relevant for low-budget features. Upcoming deadlines for 2006/2007:

Sao Paulo International Film Festival
20 October - 2 November 2006. Deadline 1 October 2006

Torino Film Festival, Italy
10 - 18 November 2006. Deadline 23 September 2006

Slamdance Film Festival, US
18 - 27 January 2007. Deadline 28 August 2006 (early); 16 October 2006 (final)

Hof International Film Festival, Germany
24 - 29 October 2006. Deadline 10 September 2006

Sundance Film Festival, US
Approx 20 - 30 January 2007 TBC. Deadline September 2006 TBC.

International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands
24 January - 4 February 2007. Deadline 1 November 2006

Berlin International Film Festival, Germany
8 - 18 February 2007. Deadline November 2006 TC

Goteborg Film Festival, Sweden
26 January - 5 February 2007. Deadline 15 November 2006

Tribeca Film Festival, New York, US
25 April - 6 May 2007. Deadline 16 December 2006

Hong Kong International Film Festival
27 Mar - 11 April 2007. Deadline January 2007 TBC

Cannes Film Festival, France
16 - 27 May 2007. Deadline March 2007 TBC
including sidebar events:
Directors' Fortnight
Critics' Week