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28 April 2017
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Indivision News
  May 2008
         
  In this issue

  Welcome to the second issue of IndiVision News for 2008. This month we celebrate the partnership between the AFC's IndiVision and the Sydney Film Festival.

In this issue we also place a special emphasis on performance. Strong performances are key in low-budget features, which don't have big-budget spectacle to hide behind. But the smaller worlds and smaller crews of low-budget films can also create an intimate atmosphere on set that allows actors to do their best work. As always with low-budget films, it's about the creative priorities.

Our feature articles in this issue are taken from sessions at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab with three lab advisors who are also outstanding actors: Rachel Griffiths, Claudia Karvan and Lindy Davies.

New on YouTube: You can see Rachel Griffiths talk at the lab. Go to the IndiVision homepage for the link to her video as well as those of Claudia Karvan and Lindy Davies.


The banner for this issue is from the Chinese low-budget film Little Moth (w/d Peng Tao) screening as part of Independent Focus at the 2008 Sydney Film Festival.
 
         
  Rachel Griffths talks about what she looks for in a role
         
  Rachel Griffiths is an internationally recognised and respected actor who has appeared in over a dozen Australian, British, and American films. She received an Academy Award® nomination for her role in Hilary and Jackie and won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actor in Muriel's Wedding. In 2001 Rachel was cast in the highly acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under earning a number of award nominations, and most recently received another Golden Globe nomination for her role in Brothers and Sisters. She has also directed the award-winning short films Tulip and Roundabout.

Framing the script

Rachel Griffiths: What am I looking for in a role? Just time in my day to read it! [Laughs] I'm now a mother of two, doing a TV show - I get a script every week and our rewrites are such that I'm usually reading three scripts a week. I really do need [a new script] framed in some way by my agent. I need my agent to be excited about my reading it. Coverage is quite important for me because if that first page gets me excited or can put me in a brain frame, [I can] then set aside an hour and a half to read it. I just do not have that space to sit with an open mind on this fresh page. It's a bit like a novel - I need it to have a cover and a little blurb on the back and the cover's got to be attractive. And that's the really important framing, that's my agent saying, "I met them they were really interesting", or, "I read it, I think its great".

Character coverage

The other thing that historically has had an effect on me is character coverage. I will never forget reading the character coverage for Muriel's Wedding and the description of that character. I didn't help get that movie made because I was a nobody, but I read that coverage and felt for the first time in my whole life there was a role for me, that I wasn't trying to squeeze myself into some other voice that wasn't really right, where I was kind of reaching or pretending I was right for the movie. I read that and I thought, "Wow, this is me, no one will play this better than me". Character coverage tells me a lot about the texture of the movie and the filmmaker's voice, and whether the way a character is described can get me excited or not. I think it might be a way to find the right person if that touches an actor, and maybe when something's on offer to an actor you shape the description of the character a little more specifically knowing who's going to be reading that draft and as that changes or you're getting different people to read it you might shift that as you see that person more in the character. But that one thing can either alienate me from thinking that I'm right for the character and you're just wanting me in your film for the wrong reasons, or it can get me excited that I really have something to bring to your project and that we might have a kind of similar vision for it.

Read the full article
 
Rachel Griffiths talks to participants at the 2008 <B>IndiVision Project Lab</B>.
 
Rachel Griffiths talks to participants at the 2008 IndiVision Project Lab.

Rachel Griffiths as Sarah Whedon in <I>Brothers & Sisters</I>.
 
Rachel Griffiths as Sarah Whedon in Brothers & Sisters.

Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette in <I>Muriel's Wedding</I>.
 
Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding.

Rachel Griffiths and Peter Krause in Alan Ball's <I>Six Feet Under</I>.
 
Rachel Griffiths and Peter Krause in Alan Ball's Six Feet Under.

 
       
  Independent Focus at the Sydney Film Festival
         
  For the third year, the Australian Film Commission's IndiVision program is partnering with the 2008 Sydney Film Festival to present Independent Focus, a selection of outstanding films and filmmakers from the world of international independent and low-budget cinema.

These films have been made with alternative production models, including low budgets, small crews, short shoots and new formats, producing vivid performances and bold visions.

The films this year include two from the stable of Warp X, a UK start-up digital 'studio' specialising in low-budget features - Olly Blackburn's thriller Donkey Punch and Chris Waite's hilarious A Complete History of My Sexual Failures, which both premiered at Sundance 2008. Warp X producer Robin Gutch will attend as a guest of IndiVision and the festival.

Also from this year's Sundance crop is Anvil! The Story of Anvil, about two ageing heavy metal rockers: 'No other film that I saw at Sundance brought me to tears as much as Anvil!"... A hilarious and moving tribute to two 50-year-old guys who won't give up on their dream.' (Anthony Kaufman, Wall Street Journal). The producer of Anvil!, Rebecca Yeldham, will also attend as a guest of IndiVision and the festival.

Another highlight is the striking and fast paced Jerusalema from South Africa, which was selected for this year's Berlin Film Festival. "A propulsive, glossy, Johannesburg-set actioner charting the rise of an ambitious ne'er-do-well a la Scarface, City of God and virtually every other rags-to-riches-to-ruins underworld epic. Jerusalema overcomes derivative genre cliches and daunting length to punch home its crime-doesn't-pay message on chutzpah alone." (Variety)

The Independent Focus films also include the unusual and mysterious Helen from the UK, the moving Little Moth from China, and the powerful and much-awarded The Class from Estonia.

For the full program of the Independent Vision films and events, go to the IndiVision Independent Focus page on the AFC website.
 
<i>Donkey Punch</i>, produced by Robin Gutch and Mark Herbert, directed by Oliver Blackburn
 
Donkey Punch, produced by Robin Gutch and Mark Herbert, directed by Oliver Blackburn

<i>A Complete History of My Sexual Failures</i> - produced by Mark Burke, Henry Trotter, Robin Gutch, Mark Herbert and directed by Chris Waitt
 
A Complete History of My Sexual Failures - produced by Mark Burke, Henry Trotter, Robin Gutch, Mark Herbert and directed by Chris Waitt

<I>Jerusalema</I> - produced by Tendeka Matatu, directed by Ralph Ziman.
 
Jerusalema - produced by Tendeka Matatu, directed by Ralph Ziman.

 
       
  Claudia Karvan: Opening up the performance space: rehearsals, the actor and the writer
         
  Claudia Karvan is one of Australia's most respected and acclaimed film and television actors. Her big screen roles have been numerous and illustrious, starring opposite Ethan Hawke, Guy Pearce, Jim Caviezel and Hugh Jackman to name a few. For television, she has starred in, produced and directed several hit series including Love My Way and The Secret Life of Us.

At the IndiVision Project Lab 2008, she was a Performance Consultant and here she challenges directors about their relationships with actors.


Claudia Karvan: There are two things I feel really passionately about - one is rehearsals and the other is the relationship between the writer and the actor. Writer and actor - when do they ever meet? Usually never, but it's something that I feel really passionately about.

Rehearsals: Every director has the best intentions, and initially the approach to rehearsals is something like Mike Leigh's, but by the time you get to pre-production it's suddenly Home and Away. Script meetings, production meetings, casting sessions, location recces, camera tests, all take precedence. But there is also a natural ambivalence, or even a fear, that takes over in regard to rehearsals. Sometimes rehearsals aren't processes that bring forth tangible results, and in our budgetary dominated medium they often get pushed to the side. But I want to make a plea for rehearsals because I think they are invaluable.

What are rehearsals? In my mind, firstly, and this is my personal gripe, they are not the place to start rewriting the script. I believe rehearsals are anything from going to lunch with the cast, to sitting around the table discussing the script in any sort of detail. Even just reading the script through over and over again, up to the point of kind of kooky '101' acting lessons like throwing around the imaginary ball, all comes under the heading of rehearsals. Everyone, I think, feels trepidation towards rehearsals - they have this aura of the esoteric, some kind of earnest process which could possibly unveil you as a complete fraud or someone who doesn't have the faintest idea about what they're doing. But I think everyone feels like that before they go into a rehearsal room, so it's no excuse not to do it. Rehearsals can be arduous and amorphous and frustrating, and sometimes it feels like nothing is being achieved. But I really believe it's a great place to start off subconscious thinking. It gets ideas bubbling, and it's a really invaluable process of development. I once said to a director that I personally think of it as a place where I get to do all my worst acting, and he said, "Oh good, that's the place where I want to do all my worst directing". That's what it's there for; to have fun, relax, and allow yourself the possibility of being humiliated. It's the chance for the director to take their hands off the reins, off the script, and to muck around. You can do the scene in a million different ways, you can send it up. You never know what kind of ideas you're going to stumble upon from the script. But even if all you get out of it is making a fool of yourself then I think you've possibly achieved the highest result - because now the worst possible scenario has happened, it wasn't that bad, and you can trust each other.

Read the full article
 
Actor, producer and director Claudia Karvan speaks about performance at the Lab in January.
 
Actor, producer and director Claudia Karvan speaks about performance at the Lab in January.

Claudia Karvan as Frankie in <i>Love My Way</i>. Photo: Jimmy Pozarik. Courtesy Southern Star Entertainment.
 
Claudia Karvan as Frankie in Love My Way. Photo: Jimmy Pozarik. Courtesy Southern Star Entertainment.

Vince Colosimo (Rex) and Claudia Karvan (Alex) in <i>The Secret Life of Us</i>.
 
Vince Colosimo (Rex) and Claudia Karvan (Alex) in The Secret Life of Us.

 
       
  Independent Focus Industry Breakfast
         
  As part of the Independent Focus program, IndiVision and the festival are hosting an industry breakfast with Australian-born US-based producer Rebecca Yeldham.

Yeldham is the producer of The Kite Runner, nominated for two Golden Globes, and Executive Producer of the Oscar-winning The Motorcycle Diaries by director Walter Salles. She produced Salles' feature Linha de Passe which was screened in competition at Cannes this year, and, with Francis Ford Coppola, will produce Salles' next film, based on the Jack Kerouac novel, On The Road.

Yeldham was Senior Vice President, Production at FilmFour (the film division of the British broadcaster Channel 4) and ran its US production wing; and was Senior Programmer of the Sundance Film Festival (1996-2001) overseeing world cinema programming and selecting dramatic and documentary features for the festival. She also served as Associate Director of the Sundance Institute's International Programs organising initiatives to support screenwriters, producers and directors throughout the world. Yeldham currently serves on IFP/LA's Executive Board. She has recently produced Anvil! The Story of Anvil, screening in the festival as part of the Independent Focus program.

Yeldham will speak at the breakfast about the latest trends in international independent filmmaking. Go to the IndiVision Independent Focus page to request a place at the breakfast.
 
Rebecca Yeldham producer of <i>The Kite Runner</i> will speak at the industry breakfast.
 
Rebecca Yeldham producer of The Kite Runner will speak at the industry breakfast.

<i>Anvil! The Story of Anvil</i> - produced by Rebecca Yeldham and directed by Sacha Gervasi
 
Anvil! The Story of Anvil - produced by Rebecca Yeldham and directed by Sacha Gervasi

 
       
  Lindy Davies: An actor's craft: approaches to screen acting
         
  Lindy Davies is an AFI-winning actress, and a prolific actor trainer, director and performance consultant. She has worked as performance consultant for many years with Academy Award® nominated actress Julie Christie, whose recent performance in Sarah Polley's Away From Her won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a SAG Award, a Critics Circle Award and many others. Lindy's work includes Sally Potter's The Tango Lesson; Alan Rudolph's Afterglow for which Julie Christie received a 1998 Academy Award® nomination; Dennis Potter's Karaoke; and Kenneth Branagh's production of Hamlet. She was one of the key contributors for the Toronto International Film Festival Talent Lab for emerging directors in 2006. From 1995 to 2007, Lindy was Head of Drama at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

At the IndiVision Project Lab 2008, Lindy was a Performance Consultant, and here she shares her thoughts on ways to approach working with actors to elicit compelling screen performances.


Lindy Davies: I am not an acting coach, I can promise you. I can't coach actors, because I am philosophically opposed to it, I am passionately against it. I want to talk a little about that because I think it's terribly important in terms of where we all are and where we're going. Why am I not an acting coach? Why am I philosophically opposed to it? Well, it would be like having a directing coach, or a producer's coach or a writer's coach. I believe in the autonomous artist - it's something I believe in passionately.

If there are 10 actors in a room, I will work with these actors in 10 completely different ways because no one works the same. I don't have a system, I don't have a method - I have an approach, and that approach changes with the culture and the artistic and the atheistic sensibility I'm working with. But here are the key values of the approach.

First of all I value the actor - why wouldn't I? I think acting is the art of compassion and that to me is the most important art to be practising at this time in this world. Secondly, I value collaboration above all things. For me, there's a seamlessness between the relationship between the cinematographer, the editor, the composer, the actress, the writer - that whole. I can't separate that because I experience things in a non-hierarchical way. I don't like the term 'acting coach' because it means I'm focusing on the acting. But I'm not; I'm involved in a film. And the two things that actors understand intuitively, and directors always forget this, are time and space. So if you make someone aware that they're in a particular progression that is not character-based but image-based, an actor will do it. An actor can do anything; you just simply have to give them the parameters. Essentially the process I developed brought two things together - form and the organic, spontaneity and the formal, instinct and reason. So as a director, the main thing you need to do is never put the actor in an objective state when they're in the process of actually being the character - take them aside and have a conversation. You need to know that there are states that we go to between there, we go into a subjective state or an objective state.

Read the full article.
 
Lindy Davies, actress, actor trainer, director and performance consultant talks to participants at the January Lab.
 
Lindy Davies, actress, actor trainer, director and performance consultant talks to participants at the January Lab.

Lindy Davies was a performance consultant for Julie Christie in <I>Away From Her</I>.
 
Lindy Davies was a performance consultant for Julie Christie in Away From Her.

<I>The Tango Lesson</I>, one of the many films Lindy Davies has been a performance consultant on.
 
The Tango Lesson, one of the many films Lindy Davies has been a performance consultant on.

 
       
  News & updates about IndiVision-funded projects
         
  The AFC's IndiVision Production Fund has made a production funding commitment to the feature The Waiting City (w/d: Claire McCarthy, p: Jamie Hilton). The feature was developed at the 2007 IndiVision Project Lab.

Black Water (w/d: Andrew Traucki, David Nerlich, p: Michael Robertson) began its release in Australian in May with high screen averages, building up to a 24 screen release. The film is being released on 26 screens in Poland, and a theatrical release is scheduled in Mexico later this year. This low-budget thriller has sold to more than 42 territories, attaining upwards of AU$1.2 million in sales.

Son of a Lion (w/d: Benjamin Gilmour, p: Carolyn Johnson) has been picked up for foreign sales by Fortissimo, and has secured Australian distribution through Gil Scrine Films in Australia. It has been selected for the 2008 Sydney Film Festival.

Ten Empty (w/d: Anthony Hayes, w: Brendan Cowell, p: Naomi Wenck) will be released in July 2008 through Icon Distribution, and has been selected for the 2008 Sydney Film Festival.

Cactus (w/d: Jasmine Yuen-Carrucan, p: Paul Sullivan) was released in May on 40 screens through Hoyts Distribution.

Lake Mungo (w/d: Joel Anderson, p: Georgie Nevile, David Rapsey) has been selected for the 2008 Sydney Film Festival.

Crime thriller Cedar Boys (w/d: Serhat Caradee, p: Jeff Purser, Ranko Morkovic, Matthew Dabner) is shooting in June and July 2008, and will be distributed by Mushroom Pictures.

All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane (d: Louise Alston, w: Stephen Vagg, p: Louise Alston, Jade Van der Lei) screened at the 2008 Natfilm Festival in Denmark where it won the Audience Award, and has been selected for the Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostock where it will screen in September 2008 and Cinema des Antipodes in St Tropez in October 2008.
 
<i>Black Water</I> opened in Australia with high screen averages.
 
Black Water opened in Australia with high screen averages.

Bryan Brown and Travis McMahon in <I>Cactus</I>. (photo: Tony Mott)
 
Bryan Brown and Travis McMahon in Cactus. (photo: Tony Mott)

 
       
  Next IndiVision Project Lab November 08
         
  The next IndiVision Project Lab will be held November/December 2008. Applications will close Friday 11 July 2008.

The AFC's IndiVision Project Lab is a high-level development hothouse, specifically tailored for professional Australian filmmaking teams developing low-budget feature films. Selected teams attend a week-long event where they meet with international and local advisors on script, production strategies, performance strategies, and visual language. After the lab projects receive development funding for the next draft, and are eligible for international travel grants for financing and marketing.

Lab advisors to date have included US producers Christine Vachon (Boys Don't Cry), Paul Mezey (Maria Full of Grace), Andrew Fierberg (Secretary), and Danish writer Mogens Rukov (Festen).

Filmmakers selected for the lab to date include Robyn Kershaw, Rohan Timlock, Kate Woods, Nick Batzias, Joel Edgerton, Kriv Stenders, Jodi Matterson, Darren Ashton, Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon, and Amanda Higgs.

For application details, see the AFC website.

"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 and director.

"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.
 
Check out IndiVision on YouTube
 
Check out IndiVision on YouTube

Joel Edgerton, Claudia Karvan and Brendan Cowell listen to the speakers at the Lab in January.
 
Joel Edgerton, Claudia Karvan and Brendan Cowell listen to the speakers at the Lab in January.

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

Producers Lab - Early application deadline: 9 June 2008
Late application deadline: 7 July 2008
 
       
  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)

Venice International Film Festival, Italy
27 Aug - 6 Sept 2008
Deadline: 16 June 2008

Montreal World Film Festival, Canada
21 Aug - 1 Sept 2008
Deadline: Features 18 July 2008
Shorts and medium-length films 20 June 2008

London Film Festival, UK
15 - 30 Oct 2008
Deadline: Features 11 July 2008
Shorts 27 June 2008

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

Pusan International Film Festival, Korea
2 - 10 Oct 2008
Deadline: Features 31 July 2008
Shorts 30 June 2008

Telluride Film Festival, USA
29 Aug - 1 Sept 2008
Deadline: Features 15 July 2008
Short and Student Films 1 July 2008

Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan
18 - 26 Oct 2008
Deadline: 15 July 2008

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

San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain
18 - 27 Sept 2008
Deadline: 30 July 2008

Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil
17 - 30 Oct 2008
Deadline: 31 July 2008

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

Stockholm International Film Festival, Sweden
20 - 30 Nov 2008
Deadline: 5 Sept 2008

Torino Film Festival Cinema Giovani, Italy
21 - 29 Nov 2008
Deadline: Torino 26 Section - 30 Sept 2008
The Zone Section - 29 Aug 2008

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