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23 September 2017
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Indivision News
  April 2008
         
  In this issue

  Welcome to the first issue of IndiVision News for 2008. This month we look at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab that took place in February.

In this issue, our feature articles give us an insight into the complexities, struggles and joys of independent filmmaking from the perspective of two producers, a writer and a trailer maker. These extracts are taken from sessions and interviews with Lab advisors and guests: acclaimed American producer Christine Vachon (Boys Don't Cry, I'm Not There); Helen Campbell, co-founder of film marketing business, Zealot; low-budget film producer Julie Ryan (The Tracker, Ten Canoes); and award-winning London-based writer Laurence Coriat (Wonderland). We also catch up on all the latest news about past IndiVision production-funded and Lab projects, and provide lots of links to international film festivals and opportunities.

Now on YouTube: Advisors at the 08 Lab speak about producing, writing and acting. Go to the IndiVision homepage for the link.

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

You can subscribe to receive IndiVision News three times per year. Why not pass this issue onto a friend who may like to subscribe? Also keep an eye on the IndiVision homepage on the AFC website for the latest updates.

The banner for this issue is an image from IndiVision-funded feature Black Water (d/p: Andrew Traucki, David Nerlich; p: Michael Robertson) which opens in cinemas this month.
 
         
  Producer Christine Vachon talks about producing, surviving, and investors
         
  Christine Vachon has produced some of the most acclaimed US independent films, including Kids, Happiness, Boys Don't Cry, and Far From Heaven (nominated for four Academy Awards) amongst nearly 40 other features. Along with partner Pamela Koffler, she runs the iconic New York production company Killer Films whose recent releases include Todd Haynes' I'm Not There (nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA). She has worked with acclaimed filmmakers such as Robert Altman, Larry Clark and Todd Solondz, and has won several major awards including the Independent Spirit Award in 2003 for Far From Heaven. Christine was an advisor at the AFC's 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.


Christine Vachon: Producing is such an unsung art form. It certainly doesn't get the kudos writers and directors do. The thing is, if somebody says to you, "I am going to invest a million dollars into your film, but I would like a co-director credit", the response would be: "What do you mean, are you out of your mind?" But frequently the request is "I would like a co-producer credit" and the response is "OK, no problem". This is partly why producing is so hard these days, especially since financing has become so complicated and global. On I'm Not There, the financing was literally being pulled together from equity, soft money, Germany, and from foreign presales that were quite substantial. We would have conference calls in four different languages in the middle of the night because it was the only time we could all convene. Having a working knowledge of all the different kinds of ways you can put a movie together and how to best protect a movie so that it can make its way from the page to the screen is a lot. I am finding more and more that I need to work with co-producers so that we can tag team a little bit, especially at the talent end and the financing end.

There are two ways you make your money as a producer. The first way is with your upfront fee on a studio movie - and you could argue why would you defer money when you are making a movie for Twentieth Century Fox, which is what Searchlight is (whatever anyone says it is). The other way is to make a film that you finance independently and then sell afterwards for a lot of money. With Boys Don't Cry, we made it for $2 million and then sold it for $5 million. Nobody really got rich off it but we all got our fees.

Did we have any idea that we could sell Boys Don't Cry for $5 million? It was what we hoped. We hoped we would be able to sell it for that kind of a sum. The equity investors came into it with that end game. That's why it was a big risk for them because there weren't any stars in it. The reason why there is so much pressure to put in those stars is if you take it to a film festival and it doesn't have a big splash, then at least you have got some video box value from your B+ stars.

Read the whole article.

Watch the video of Christine speaking at the Lab.
 
Producer Christine Vachon speaks to 08 Lab participants.
 
Producer Christine Vachon speaks to 08 Lab participants.

Julianne Moore in the Academy Award-nominated <I>Far From Heaven</I>, produced by Christine Vachon.
 
Julianne Moore in the Academy Award-nominated Far From Heaven, produced by Christine Vachon.

Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal as Brandon Teena in <I>Boys Don't Cry</I>, produced by Christine Vachon.
 
Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal as Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry, produced by Christine Vachon.

 
       
  IndiVision Project Lab 08 Wrap-Up
         
  The IndiVision Project Lab 2008 has been one of the most successful to date.

Advisors and guest speakers included acclaimed American producer Christine Vachon (Kids), award-winning London-based writer Laurence Coriat (Wonderland), internationally renowned development executive Vinca Wiedemann from Demark, as well as agent and producer Stacey Testro (Saw), distributor Alan Finney and actor Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under). Lindy Davies, known for her work as performance consultant to Julie Christie on films such as Away From Her and Hamlet, joined actress/producer/director Claudia Karvan (Love My Way) to form the Lab's team of performance advisors.

Participants came from Western Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. In addition, the NZFC paid for a team from New Zealand to attend, to foster cross-Tasman relationships. The experience of participants this year was particularly high, and a number of Australian and New Zealand distributors brought projects as producers to the Lab. Participants included actor and writer Brendan Cowell (Love My Way) and producer Nick Batzias (Madman Entertainment), actor and director Joel Edgerton (The Secret Life Of Us) and producer Rachel Okine (Hopscotch Films), director Darren Ashton and producer Jodi Matterson (Razzle Dazzle), and Academy Award-nominated director Peter Templeman.

The filmmakers said:

Indivision has a benefit beyond the usual script development workshops or feedback. It focuses a writer/producer/director team to look not just at their script, but what happens next - taking what's on the page and all the elements that will make that script the best film it can be. - Joel Edgerton, writer & director.

As an Australian distributor you're acutely aware of how little money there is around to finance production, and as a result there is a degree of scepticism about how much money goes into development. But having now been a part of this week and seeing the real value of the development money in terms of what it does for the filmmakers, and the value they're going to take back to what they're doing currently, being making ads, working in distribution in my case, making short films, or indeed getting feature projects up, it's been an amazing week across everything from script, story, finding your themes, production methodologies and working to timelines. I don't think you could get that sort of value in a week in any other sort of lab that I'm aware of. Most focus on one aspect or another. I think it's a fantastic experience, and it's certainly changed my view on the value of development money. - Nick Batzias, Madman Entertainment, producer.

It was such a privilege so early in the development of the project being able to work with a couple of actors on the opening scene of the script, just to start visualising performances of what's on the page. And a real privilege as well just to be able to spend the whole day jamming on one scene, so I certainly got heaps out of that and it's something that is not usually afforded. When you start working on a project you are working on the script alone for so long before you ever do a reading or anything like that so it was great being able to do that. - Peter Templeman, director

IndiVision is a powerful experience for any low-budget filmmaker. It is a unique and once in a lifetime experience to test assumptions in a risk-free environment with globally experienced advisors. - John Davies, Arkles Entertainment, producer.

IndiVision is an emerging filmmaker's dream. You are left more determined, more centred about your film and keener than ever to make it a reality. The Lab is intense, empowering, and invigorating - it physically runs for a week but what is learnt will stay with you for years. - Nicole Minchin, producer.

The IndiVision process was incredibly helpful to us as a team, in that it helped develop team solidarity and unity of vision, as well as providing pragmatic advice. - Rachel Okine, Hopscotch Entertainment, producer.

Any person who is thinking about making a low-budget film should do anything to be a part of IndiVision…It was amazing. - Jodi Matterson, producer.


You can see the filmmakers talk about the IndiVision Lab here.
 
(back l-r) Claudia Karvan, Joan Sauers, Megan Simpson-Huberman, Lindy Davies (front l-r) Laurence Coriat, Christine Vachon, Gillian Armstrong, Vinca Wiedemann, Lori Flekser at the 08 Lab.
 
(back l-r) Claudia Karvan, Joan Sauers, Megan Simpson-Huberman, Lindy Davies (front l-r) Laurence Coriat, Christine Vachon, Gillian Armstrong, Vinca Wiedemann, Lori Flekser at the 08 Lab.

Joel Edgerton and Rachel Okine at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.
 
Joel Edgerton and Rachel Okine at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.

Peter Templeman, Jodi Matterson and Michael Lucas at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.
 
Peter Templeman, Jodi Matterson and Michael Lucas at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.

Brendan Cowell, Nick Batzias and Boyd Hicklin at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.
 
Brendan Cowell, Nick Batzias and Boyd Hicklin at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.

 
       
  Helen Campbell: The Essence of Trailers
         
  Helen Campbell and her business partner Shaun Farrington established Zealot in 1999 as a specialist marketing business for the film and broadcast industries. They work alongside sales agents, distributors and producers to create the strategy and marketing materials for feature films and television programs. These materials include sales promos, trailers, posters, television commercials, radio spots and press kits. Today Zealot has offices in Sydney, London and New York and in 2007 created over 50 trailers in the UK and Australia. In 2008 Zealot will work for a broad range of studios and major Indies - Magnolia, Think, Warner Bros, Fox, Sony Classics, Dendy, Madman, Momentum and Miramax, and sales agents such as The Works, Fortissimo, Myriad, Handmade, Content and Capital.


Helen Campbell: There is an awful lot of science to try to get a film down into a minute-and-a-half trailer that helps people make a buying decision. Phillip Noyce, when he was working with a filmmaker on a script, said that what the filmmaker needed to do was to imagine the scenes they needed to have in their trailer because if those scenes aren't in the film, they can't then be in the trailer. I didn't take that to mean that the trailer comes first, but what it does mean is that nothing is going to highlight the challenges of your film (and sometimes that is going to be the weaknesses) like a trailer will. This is simply because the trailer needs to boil down the essence of your film - if all of that is just script and no visuals it makes our job really, really difficult. The visual language of your film needs to be something that comes out in your trailer so we can show the uniqueness of your film. At the end of the day what a trailer needs to boil down to is the essential moments. That might sound really obvious but the three things we look at when we do a trailer is: Who is this person or these people? What is their problem? And, why should I care? That is what your audience is going to be looking at. They sit in a cinema and that's the three things, whether they are conscious of it or not, that they ask.

I was catching up with [distributor] Andrew Mackie a few weeks ago and he said that Working Title had once told him that they ensure every film they do has five really big trailer moments. In terms of budget that means, I think, taking the time to get the two shots, taking the time to get the cutaways. It's not just about getting explosions and lots of people and all those sorts of things; it's about finding those moments that allow turning points in your film, and those moments can also be the turning points in your trailer. So what we love to see in these five moments are:

Characters clearly delivering their lines. If one of your characters is going to tell another character that they love them, we really want to see them saying that line. I know it sounds obvious but there have been a number of times that we were not given the 'money moment' that we needed for the trailer.

Read the whole article.
 
Helen Campbell (co-founder of film marketing business Zealot) at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.
 
Helen Campbell (co-founder of film marketing business Zealot) at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.

 
       
  News & updates about IndiVision-funded projects
         
  * This year the IndiVision Project Lab videoed some sessions so that more filmmakers can see the guest speakers and have access to their insights on low-budget feature filmmaking. To see and hear sessions featuring Christine Vachon, Laurence Coriat, Vinca Wiedemann, Claudia Karvan and others, visit the AFC page on YouTube.

* Black Water opened in the UK in February on 53 screens, released by The Works. "Does for crocodiles what Jaws did for sharks." - Gorezone. It opens in Australian cinemas this month.

* All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane received the Audience Choice Award at the London Australian Film Festival where it screened in March. The film's first screening sold out so quickly that a second screening had to be programmed.

* The Caterpillar Wish screened this month in New Delhi as part of 'Australian Visions: A Festival of Acclaimed Australian Films' that was held from 6 to 17 March.

* The AFC has released a trailer providing a sneak peak at some of the films funded through the IndiVision Production Fund. The trailer includes excerpts from Lake Mungo, Black Water, Cactus, Son of a Lion, The Caterpillar Wish, West, Ten Empty and All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane. The trailer also offers an insider's perspective on the IndiVision Lab through interviews with filmmakers who have attended the first three IndiVision Labs. You can view the trailer here.
 
Internationally renowned Danish development executive, Vinca Wiedemann was a guest speaker at the 08 Lab.
 
Internationally renowned Danish development executive, Vinca Wiedemann was a guest speaker at the 08 Lab.

<I>All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane</I> received the Audience Choice Award at the London Australian Film Festival this month.
 
All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane received the Audience Choice Award at the London Australian Film Festival this month.

 
       
  Julie Ryan: Why I love low-budget filmmaking
         
  Julie Ryan is without a doubt the most prolific producer of low-budget films in the country. She has worked with Rolf de Heer for 10 years, and with him has produced The Tracker, Alexandra's Project, Ten Canoes, and Dr Plonk.


Julie Ryan: I'm going to give you my perspective on how Rolf de Heer and I made films in the last 10 years. I think after so many films we realised we had come up with a production methodology that really suited low-budget filmmaking. One of the first films I produced for Rolf was not a low-budget film. It had a budget of AUD$14 million, we shot it in South America in 75 locations with 92 crew. It was a massive Australian/French/Dutch/Spanish co-production, hence lots of producers. And the more producers, the more above the line fees, the more business class tickets, the more everything. The crew was just massive and to move that crew around the jungle just took so long and took time away from working with the actors. A lot of money was wasted, a million dollars or so on travel and accommodation, which doesn't go on the screen.

Rolf and I came away from that realising that it's really difficult to work on that scale and with people you don't know. When you're working in a high-budget area there's going to be heaps of people like that. Maybe it suits some people but it didn't suit Rolf and I. So we decided we wanted to work in a different way. The most important point for low-budget filmmaking is to set the parameters at the writing stage. You need to watch for the number of locations and the size of the cast because these are the two things that will determine how small your crew can be, so you need to get that balance right.

If you don't have a large cast you don't need so many production people - you don't need a lot of unit people because you don't need a lot of artist vans. The more locations you have on a short shoot, the more you're just moving all the time. That can't be good for the creative process because as a producer you're there to give the director the best environment for him or her to create the best work. That's all you're there for, it's not your creative vision, it's the director's, and as the producer you should do everything within your power to make that happen. The smaller the crew, the faster and easier to move around, enabling the director to have more time with the actors, which I think is the main point.

Read the whole article.

Watch the video of Julie speaking at the Lab.
 
Producer Julie Ryan talks about the joys of low-budget film at the 08 Lab.
 
Producer Julie Ryan talks about the joys of low-budget film at the 08 Lab.

David Gulpilil in <I>The Tracker</I>, produced by Julie Ryan.
 
David Gulpilil in The Tracker, produced by Julie Ryan.

 
       
  International development initiatives
         
  * Sundance Institute Screenwriters' and Directors' Lab
Application deadline: 1 September 2008 for the January 2009 Lab

* Independent Film Project's filmmaker labs, USA
Screenwriters Lab - Early application deadline: 7 April 2008
Screenwriters Lab - Late application deadline: 5 May 2008
Producers Lab - Early application deadline: 9 June 2008
Producers Lab - Late application deadline: 7 July 2008
 
<I>The Caterpillar Wish</I> screened in New Delhi, India, in March.
 
The Caterpillar Wish screened in New Delhi, India, in March.

 
       
  Laurence Coriat on screenwriting: concepts, beliefs & philosophies
         
  Laurence Coriat is the acclaimed London-based screenwriting collaborator of Michael Winterbottom. Her writing credits include Wonderland, which was selected for competition at Cannes in 1999 and won the Best British Film Award that year. She also collaborated with Winterbottom on A Mighty Heart with Angelina Jolie, and co-wrote Me Without You, which was selected for Venice in 2001. Laurence has also co-written Winterbottom's latest two projects, Genova, starring Colin Firth and Catherine Keener, and Seven Days.


Laurence Coriat: As you know I am French, so I was brought up with the French New Wave, which I think in a way is the precursor of low-budget filmmaking because they decided to make films in the streets without extras, without lights, on the fly. And that gave them the freedom to do the films they wanted to make. In that sense they found a new language of cinema by doing that. So the constrictions of having no money was actually what you express in your philosophy about IndiVision - it is a creative way of making films. I was very much wanting to make films in that way. That was in the 1960s of course. More recently there has been a new, revived way of doing these things from Denmark, for instance Zentropa. Lars von Trier said, "I want to make films and the way to make films is to do it that way. I am not going to wait five years to find the money."

I am a scriptwriter originally but there is no sense in writing the script if it doesn't get made into a film. What is exciting is making the film. So in that sense, I have been very lucky that I have been working with Michael Winterbottom who is very prolific. I have also written a lot of screenplays that didn't get made. I don't know if it is necessarily because they are higher budgets but there is a kind of philosophy of development in England - I don't know so much about Australia - where you end up writing and writing and the more time you are writing the more the script changes and gets done to death in a sense. And then you get frustrated because five years later you have got a script that hasn't been made into a film, so it is not very interesting. Also you don't learn as a scriptwriter, you don't learn how to get better, because what is interesting is to see your words in the script and how they translate into a film. I have been lucky because I have been working with Michael... thinking of ideas that are feasible, which is what I am interested in.

Read the whole article.

Watch the video of Laurence speaking at the Lab.

 
Screenwriter Laurence Coriat gives her opening address at the IndiVision Lab 2008.
 
Screenwriter Laurence Coriat gives her opening address at the IndiVision Lab 2008.

<I>Wonderland</I>, written by Laurence Coriat.
 
Wonderland, written by Laurence Coriat.

 
       
  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 always 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 2008:

Toronto Film Festival, Canada
4 - 13 Sept 2008. Deadline 6 June 2008 (International Entries)

Cork Film Festival, Ireland
12 - 19 Oct 2008. Deadline 28 June 2008 (International Entries)

Mannheim Heidelberg Film Festival, Germany
6 - 16 Nov 2008. Deadline 25 July 2008

Telluride Film Festival, USA
29 Aug - 1 Sept 2008.
Short and student films submission open 15 April 2008 - 1 July 2008
Feature submissions open 15 April 2008 - 15 July 2008

Montreal World Film Festival, Canada
21 Aug - 1 Sept 2008. Deadline for features 18 July 2008. Deadline for shorts and medium length films 20 June 2008

London Film Festival, UK
15 - 30 Oct 2008. Deadline for features 11 July 2008. Deadline for shorts 27 June 2008

Hof International Film Festival, Germany
21 - 26 Oct 2008. Deadline 5 Sept 2008

More info on low-budget features and on the AFC's IndiVision can be found at the IndiVision section of the AFC website.