Australian Film Commission
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21 August 2019
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Indivision News
  August 2005
  In this issue

  IndiVision is an initiative of the Australian Film Commission aimed at re-energising low-budget feature filmmaking in Australia.

This is the first IndiVision News. It aims to keep Australian filmmakers in touch with the latest issues and developments in low-budget filmmaking. You can subscribe to receive IndiVision News twice a year, and also keep an eye on the IndiVision homepage on the AFC website for the latest updates.

The IndiVision News banner features Victoria Thaine in Caterpillar Wish.
  SPECIAL FEATURE: Lean, Mean + Keen: the New York Indie Scene
  Joshua Zeman, co-producer of celebrated US low-budget features The Station Agent and Mysterious Skin, was an advisor at the 2004 IndiVision Project Lab. He talks below about his latest US project, and the keys to producing on a low budget.

I just recently wrapped production on Choking Man, an extremely low-budget film written and directed by Steve Barron. Steve is an accomplished feature/music video director from the UK, with such credits as Ah-Ha's Take on Me, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean and Dire Straits' Money for Nothing. Those videos were so inspirational to me, that I couldn't say no. Steve had also directed one of the most successful independent films of all time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so there was no question about his track record or skills.

The script for Choking Man was great, but also ambitious. Then again, we knew Steve could come up with some really creative solutions for our budget constraints, so we kind of just threw ourselves into it.

We shot the film in NYC on an accelerated 18-day schedule. To be honest, I was actually inspired to embark on such an ambitious project after returning from Australia working with the IndiVision folks. I remember, I was so inspired, so filled with that 'can do' attitude that I decided to once again put on those blinders, and embrace the idea that you don't need to money to make a good film. Amazingly enough I think it seems to have worked. We plan on taking the film out to festivals. Since this film centres around the multicultural staff of a restaurant in New York, and with Steve's reputation in the UK, we thought it would be best to try to go for a festival with a much more international appeal like Toronto.

The NY indie scene is really exciting at the moment. Hollywood is really looking towards New York for not only great films, but great filmmakers. Additionally with the recent implementation of a 15 per cent state and city tax rebate, some films that would normally shoot in Canada, and some major studio films, are currently shooting here. Anything we can do to woo the stars to either travel or stay in NY is wonderful. Documentaries are also helping to fuel the NY indie scene. I think there's some very exciting work coming out of documentaries right now.

How to get a film in the can for $400K... that's a tough question. Feed everyone really well, because I'm sure you're not paying them what they are really worth. I think one of the biggest pitfalls in trying to make a low-budget but quality feature is finding a script with elements that serve the budget, yet don't shortchange the storyline. Most scripts can't be made for $400K, even most dialogue-driven films can't be made for 400K. Just because there's no special effects or car crashes doesn't mean you can automatically make the film for that low a price.

With Choking Man, we knew we could make the film for that price because three quarters of the film took place in a diner with minimal cast. That's a huge saving, not just in locations, but vehicles, gas etc. Also the Above the Line (directors and producers) took only what they needed to pay rent. We gave away credits and backend in an effort to get good people for less dollars, or sometimes no money at all. Lastly, we kept the film small no matter what the mental cost. Even interns eat, so nothing is technically free. At times it was exhausting, but we all had to get in there and get our hands dirty. Even the director ended up bringing props with him to set everyday.

Well we have yet to sell the film, but it's an experience I'm becoming more and more familiar with everyday. Basically making a film this way is a hardcore gamble, so having a good script, directors and actors are just the tip of the iceberg. Your film has to be bold, but also entertaining. Of course, it doesn't have to pander to any Hollywood crowd, but people should still have a desire to plunk down their hard earned cash to go see your film. As much as your film is a gamble for you, it's also a gamble for festivals, sales agents and distributors, so make sure it's a film people will want to see.

Along the same lines, you also need to develop a long-term strategy for selling your film - even before you begin production. Knowing who those festival programmers, sales agents and indie distributors are will help you focus your strategy. Without distribution in place, festivals are going to be your best opportunity to showcase your film, so keeping their schedules in mind as you develop a post strategy is paramount. And know which festival will best cater to your film. Everyone wants to get into Sundance, but sometimes that's just not realistic, so know the other festivals out there. You should also be positioning your film, trying to get press, and use it, to make folks take notice. Maybe it's your home town newspaper, who cares - all press is valuable.

Also, try to find your fans and fans of the script. I think naturally people like to help indie filmmakers, we're the underdogs, so use their contacts to help you get your film out there and get noticed. Also use feedback screenings to try to get filmmakers talking about your film. Start a buzz of your own. Festival programmers, sales agents, buyers, distributors are always looking for the next big/small film. They are out there and they're looking for what's in production and what's just wrapped so get the word out. Besides having a great film, it's all about getting your film into the right setting for a distributor to say 'yes, we'll buy it'. It's just as important as development of the script, shooting the film and editing. You never want to be a one-time filmmaker, you want to be a producer or a director with a career, so working to sell your film is not a cop-out, it's what you need to do to make your next movie!

- Joshua Zeman, producer

To read the full newsletter, or to subscribe, visit:
Inspiring moments in low-budget filmmaking - how to get free milk for coffee
Inspiring moments in low-budget filmmaking - how to get free milk for coffee
Josh Zeman, US co-producer of The Station Agent

  The IndiVision Lowdown
  IndiVision started in February 2005, with the first IndiVision Project Lab, and IndiVision screenings. It has continued throughout this year, with IndiVision's association with the Sydney Film Festival's Indie Screen Focus. Audiences responded enthusiastically to the low-budget features presented in the festival, and Kriv Stenders' DV-shot Blacktown received an audience award.

Filmmakers behind some of the UK low-budget features presented in the festival - directors Amma Assante and Richard Hawkins, and producer Charles Hansen - also spoke at the Indie Screen Hot House, a one-day creative workshop on low-budget filmmaking for Dendy-nominated filmmakers, presented by IndiVision and the Sydney Film Festival.

In June, IndiVision Marketing, the follow up to the Project Lab, was held, featuring intensive sessions over three days with two international arthouse marketing and publicity experts, John Durie and Lucius Barre. IndiVision will also present a session at this year's ASDA Conference in Sydney on 16-18 September, which will be focused on low-budget filmmaking.

A record 135 applications were received in April for the AFC's IndiVision Single Draft Development round, so there is currently strong interest around Australia in developing low-budget feature projects.

The AFC can now invest up to $1 million dollars in a low-budget feature with a budget of around $2 million or below, and has $3 million per year for this purpose. There are two rounds a year and the deadline for the next round of production funding is 27 January 2006. All projects with eligible teams are able to apply. It is not necessary for projects to have attended the Lab or received AFC development funding in order to apply for IndiVision production funding.

The team of AFC Project Managers are involved in managing the development and production programs for IndiVision, together with other industry practitioners who assess for different rounds. Megan Simpson Huberman is the Director of the IndiVision Lab.

Applications for the next IndiVision Project Lab (two drafts of funding plus attendance at the Project Lab and IndiVision Marketing) close on 2 September. The lab focuses on whole-project development (script, budget, schedule, production methodology, performance, and director's vision). The lab will be held in Sydney in February 2006.

We're looking for strong teams with great, distinctive features, that can be creatively realised for a low budget. It could be $200,000, it could be $2 million, depending on the individual project and approach. This is a fabulous opportunity - seize it!
Susie Porter in the IndiVision feature <I>The Caterpillar Wish</I> - in cinemas in June.
Susie Porter in the IndiVision feature The Caterpillar Wish - in cinemas in June.

  Slate Update
  Caterpillar Wish (p: Kate Whitbread, w/d: Sandra Sciberras), the first of the IndiVision Lab projects to be financed, has completed shooting in Robe, South Australia. Shot in 24 days for a budget of $1.38 million, the shoot was completed on time and budget, with no overtime, thanks to some tight producing and a top team. Editing now continues in Melbourne. Read Sandra's take on the process.

Two IndiVision Lab projects have been selected for this year's SPAAmart in August. Lou (w/d: Belinda Chayko, p: Michael McMahon, Tony Ayres) and Life for Life aka Tui Lee (p/d: Pauline Chan, Penelope MacDonald, w: Martin Edmond) will get the chance to pitch to international distributors, sales agents, and financiers in Queensland.
Co-director Pauline Chan and co-producer Penelope McDonald at IndiVision Project Lab 2005
Co-director Pauline Chan and co-producer Penelope McDonald at IndiVision Project Lab 2005

  Heartbreak, Joy + the Equity Model
  Short feature The Heartbreak Tour was invited to attend the IndiVision Project Lab as a special guest project along with its team - director Ben Chessell and producers Joanna Werner and Jason Byrne. Below, Jason talks about what they got out of the lab experience.

It is now four weeks since Ben Chessell, Joanna Werner and myself completed principal photography and entered our offline. It was an extremely enjoyable (if intense) shoot, typified by an overwhelming feeling among the cast and crew of involvement in the vision and the story. They felt that they understood the through line for the characters, and that the film, although complex, was bound by a clear, cohesive point of view.

I attribute this to a well-organised and able director, to a thorough writing and rehearsal process, but also to the rewarding exploration and validation of the project at the IndiVision Project Lab.

During IndiVision we were faced with strong truths regarding what we needed to do to complete the script before filming commenced. We entered the lab with a feeling that we were ready. What we found was an environment that nurtured and imparted advice and showed us the work we still had to do.

The opportunity to listen to the advice of proven masters like Rolf de Heer, and international guests, and learn from their experience and ask questions was invaluable. Their successes and failures were like the navigation coordinates from which to chart our own journey.

One week, managed with military-like precision, allowed us to discuss a broad spectrum of issues that covered script, sales, distribution, performance direction and communication, but it took weeks afterwards to fully absorb and process the new information.

IndiVision provided four different impartial appraisals of the script. These helped us to really identify the strengths and weaknesses. We faced the music, wrestled with our demons and sought solutions to the issues that we had ignored.

The lab allowed us to elevate our script and our project to the place it needed to be. We found a clear point of view, and had dialogue with mentors that allowed us to develop our marketing and distribution plan. It offered us a comfortable forum within which to ask all the questions one more time.

As a producer I found the lab to be an invaluable resource that made, beyond any doubt, our strategy clear. We have limited resources. We have limited time, but, after the lab, we had a script that was ready to shoot. We embarked upon principal photography knowing that we had left no stone unturned in pursuit of the most prepared script possible.

That feeling gave us the confidence to spend the money we had, and pointers on the best way to do that.

At the IndiVision Lab I had the pleasure of meeting Joshua Zeman (see his feature article in this newsletter), one of the producers on the US feature film The Station Agent. It was critical during the process of IndiVision that we had an international reference point for the discussions we had over the week. In the case of Josh I also made a friend who has been an invaluable sounding board on financing, especially on a particular model we have both used in the past: The Equity Model.

In its simplest form, an equity investment structure involves any profit after the original equity has been paid back (the investment and any percentage on the dollars) and the deferments (if there are any) and any other deliverable related costs (additional inter negatives etc) is split between the equity investors and the producers 50/50, thus creating the equity pool and the producers pool. The equity pool is split among the investors with each investor taking their percentage of profit based upon their proportional investment (unless some investors have special arrangements). The producer pool is usually split among the producers, writers, directors, cast, (typically you give cast some points to be in the film for scale) and crew (who can be anyone including lawyers, casting agents or anyone else you can't pay, or would rather supplement their low pay rate with profit points).

I recently adopted this model a second time while establishing the feature film Rats and Cats.

IndiVision gave us the confidence of peer and industry assessment and support, to go out and make the best low-budget film that we could, and feel like we were part, not only of an industry, but of a movement.

- Jason Byrne
Director Ben Chessell (<I>The Heartbreak Tour</I>) at IndiVision Project Lab 2005
Director Ben Chessell (The Heartbreak Tour) at IndiVision Project Lab 2005

  Local + International Websites
  US sites

An online community of independent filmmakers and aficionados.

Search the news archive at:

Sign up for the Indiwire e-newsletter at:

Methods of micro-budget independent movie making.

Guerilla filmmaking resource.

The online community for digital filmmaking.

The Sundance Institute was established in 1981 by Robert Redford. Since the first labs and workshops, Sundance Institute has supported nearly 1000 artists' artistic development programs in film, theatre, and film music, and thousands more through the annual Sundance Film Festival. The founding values of independence, creative risk-taking, and discovery continue to define and guide the work of Sundance Institute, both with artists from the United States and increasingly with artists from other regions of the world.

Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs
The deadline for applications for the 2006 Labs passed on 1 May. They will next be accepting applications in Spring 2006.

To subscribe to Sundance e-newsletter Sundance Institute Insider, go to:

Practical low-budget filmmaking advice from Greg Pak, director of award-winning films including Robot Stories.

Designed to be a resource for independent filmmakers working with very limited resources. For those needing to do more with less, we will provide as much useful information as possible.

Ask Louise is an online resource that offers independent filmmakers, multimedia producers, online entrepreneurs and others the opportunity to have questions about financing their projects answered by Louise Levison, author of Filmmakers & Financing, 4th Edition, and editor of The Film Entrepreneur newsletter.

European Sites

The demand for well-developed scripts with an international appeal is constantly on the increase. This is one of the main reasons why 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.
Deadline: Script Development Programme (for screenwriters, script editors and producers) - 15 September

Screenwriters' workshops. Twice a year, during one intensive week of work, exchanges and reflections, 10 to 12 selected screenwriters meet with 10 to 12 professional advisors in Paris.

23rd CineMart, 29 January - 2 February 2006
Co-production market at the Rotterdam Film festival.
The deadline for submitting projects for CineMart 2006 is 1 October. Entry forms are now available on the website. The selection process takes place during October and November. The CineMart Projects 2006 will be announced by the beginning of December 2005.

Every year, the Festival de Cannes Residence welcomes 12 young filmmakers from all over the world who are working on their first or second feature film. A jury presided by a renowned director selects six candidates for each of the two four-and-a-half-month sessions per year. The candidates are selected on the strength of the short films, or the 1st feature, that they have already directed as well as on their planned feature and the reasons why they wish to participate in the Residence program.

Next session 28 February - 10 July 2006. Final date for applications: 19 September. Final Jury selection date: 9 December.
(see Residence du Festival logo on the top left) for regulations and entry form.

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, 11-16 February 2006.
Application deadline: 1 November

UK sites

UK site on low-budget filmmaking.

The UK's largest film industry website includes extensive global festival and funding information, as well as an archive of exclusive interviews with leading filmmakers (John Waters, Darren Aronofsky, Jean Luc Goddard, etc).

BRITFILMS acts as a gateway to a world of useful information published on the internet about the British film industry.

Founded in 1994, is one of the oldest filmmaking resources on the internet. The site provides reference and a community for new and independent filmmakers around the world (the internet filmmakers FAQ is especially informative).

Moonstone International Screen Labs is about experience in every sense of the word. Founded in 1997 in consultation with Robert Redford's Sundance Institute, Moonstone supports the work of European independent screenwriters and directors of vision, through its programme of advanced project-based development and training.


Raindance is dedicated to fostering and promoting independent film in the UK and around the world. Raindance combines Raindance, Raindance East and Raindance Kids Film Festivals, Training Courses, Raindance Film Productions and the Raindance Film Magazine, and every year hosts the prestigious British Independent Film Awards in London. Raindance spans the full spectrum of the art, craft and business of independent movies - from guerilla style low or no-budget productions to big budget indie blockbusters.

Also Indietips section:

Australian sites

Filminfo is a website devoted to providing FREE educational information on filmmaking and promoting Australian filmmakers. This website guides filmmakers on funding, budgets, pre-production, production, post-production, marketing and provides industry templates (call sheets, location surveys, 2nd AD Reports, etc.) Also provides a monthly magazine that puts the spotlight on Australian technical crew.

Article on low-budget DV productions

A comprehensive, independent movie magazine exclusively on the internet, with a distinctly Australian perspective, offering news, box office figures, reviews, interviews, features and essays. Also carries information on selected video releases. Readers can submit comments and letters; free Movie Club membership.

The ASDA website provides information of interest to its members - film directors, TV directors, documentary filmmakers, animators and independent producers; information on membership; professional development and cultural activities such as the Directors Attachment Program, master classes and directors' screenings and more.

16-18 September
Sydney College of the Arts
Ph: 03 9696 5085

SPAAmart is a competitive entry marketplace in which a select group of highly developed market-ready projects are showcased to potential investors from Australia and overseas. It runs for three days alongside the SPAA conference. SPAAmart 2005 offered up to nine places for Australian feature projects and up to three places for projects from New Zealand. Entries closed 6 May.

Australia's leading annual conference for emerging and low-budget film and television producers.

A free information site for film and TV producers, directors, screenwriters and actors. BLOGs, forums, reviews, articles, interviews and our random story generator. Good for Australian film news and articles.

Where the money is


Feature production funding deadlines in July and January
IndiVision Project Lab deadline: 2 Sept for the next lab in Feb 2006.
IndiVision homepage

Production Investment deadlines: at any time for creative evaluation.



Funding overview and deadlines:
Production Investment deadlines: at any time.


Production fund guidelines (applications open all year):


Production investment guidelines (committee meets as needed)


Production funding guidelines (applications open all year)


The Adelaide Film Festival, through the Government of South Australia, has established a fund for equity investment in Australian films, of $500,000 per year for two years. The Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund is primarily focused on the support of feature films and feature length documentary projects with short films, animation and new media projects also considered from time to time.
<I>The Station Agent</I>, co-produced by Josh Zeman, featured at the 2005 IndiVision Screenings
The Station Agent, co-produced by Josh Zeman, featured at the 2005 IndiVision Screenings

  Books + Articles on Low-budget Filmmaking

Chris Jones & Genevieve Jolliffe, Continuum, London, 2000
A good review of this publication can be found at:

Elliot Grove, Focal Press 2004
Elliot Grove has worked on hundreds of low-budget productions, teaches Low-to-No Budget filmmaking courses and runs the Raindance Film Festival (the largest independent film festival in Europe.)

Louise Levison, Focal Press, 2003.
A step-by-step approach to creating a business plan that will attract investor financing. New CD-ROM includes hands-on exercises and spreadsheets for practice. New chapter on short films.

Dale Newton, John Gaspard, Focal Press, 2001
An inside look at the secrets of making professional-quality digital moviemaking on ultra-low-budgets. How low? How about $10,000 or less? Newton and Gaspard give real-world advice on scripting, financing, casting, production, distribution, trouble-shooting and more using their own 'in the trenches' experience.

Online Articles

These three seminal articles from Filmmaker Magazine were written by Peter Broderick in the early 90s, which helped catalyse the ultra-low-budget movement in the USA.

'The ABC of no-budget filmmaking'
This article contains case studies of: The Living End, Laws of Gravity, El Mariachi.

'Learning from Low-budgets - case studies'
[article courtesy of Filmmaker Magazine, Volume/Issue: Vol.2/No.2 Winter 93/94]
Includes case studies of: Clerks, Grief, Clean, Shaven.

'Crossing the Line'
[article courtesy of Filmmaker Magazine, Volume/Issue: Vol.2/No.3 Spring 1994]
Includes case study on the video-shot film The Last Words.

Visit IndiVision on the AFC website for other tips from filmmakers on how to make a low-budget feature.
Performance advisor David Field and producer Anne Robinson at IndiVision Project Lab 2005
Performance advisor David Field and producer Anne Robinson at IndiVision Project Lab 2005

  International Film Festivals
  The AFC website has an International Festival Profiles section for most of the following film festivals, that summarises the history, specific programs and screening sections of the festival. The profiles also have practical, at a glance, info such as festival URL, contact details and screening gauges. For most of the festivals you can also download an Australian Screening History PDF, so you are able to see what kind of Australian films have screened at the festival in the past. There is also a Tips From Filmmakers PDF, where Aussie filmmakers who have travelled to these events, share some invaluable first hand advice and tips if you travel to these festivals once your film is selected.

Upcoming Deadlines for 2005

The following festivals are particularly relevant for low-budget features:

Sao Paulo International Film Festival
21 October - 3 November 2005, Deadline 8 August

Torino Film Festival, Italy
11 - 19 November, Deadline 23 September

Slamdance Film Festival, United States
19 - 27 January 2006, Deadline 29 August (early); 17 October (final)

Hof International Film Festival, Germany
26 - 30 October 2005, Deadline 10 September

Sundance Film Festival, United States
Approx 20 - 30 January 2006 TBC, Deadline September TBC

International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands
25 January - 5 February 2006 Deadline 1 November

Berlin International Film Festival, Germany
9 - 19 February 2006, Deadline November 2005

Goteborg Film Festival, Sweden
27 January - 6 February 2006, Deadline 15 November

Tribeca Film Festival, New York, United States
25 April - 6 May 2006, Deadline 16 December

Hong Kong International Film Festival
4 - 19 April 2006, Deadline December 2005/January 2006

2006 Deadlines - dates to be confirmed

Cannes Film Festival, France
11 - 22 May 2005, Deadline March 2006

including sidebar events:
Directors Fortnight -
Critics Week -

Edinburgh Film Festival, United Kingdom
17 - 28 August 2005, Deadline April 2006

Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Czech Republic
1 - 9 July 2005, Deadline April 2006

Locarno International Film Festival, Sweden
3 - 13 August 2005, Deadline June 2006

Toronto Film Festival, Canada
8 - 17 September 2005, Deadline June 2006

Valladoid International Film Festival, Spain
21 - 29 October 2005, Deadline June 2006

Venice International Film Festival, Italy
31 August - 10 September 2005, Deadline June 2006

Venice Days - the sidebar festival screening the 'Dirty Dozen' of first time feature directors from around the world
1 - 10 September 2005, Deadline July 2006

Cork Film Festival, Ireland
9 - 16 October 2005, Deadline July 2006

London Film Festival, United Kingdom
19 October - 3 November 2005, Deadline July 2006

Mannheim Heidelberg Film Festival, Germany
17 - 26 November 2005, Deadline July 2006

Telluride Film Festival
2 - 5 September 2005, Deadline July 2006

Pusan International Film Festival, Korea
6 - 14 October 2005, Deadline July 2006

Montreal World Film Festival, Canada
26 August - 5 September 2005, Deadline July 2006

San Sebastian International Film Festival
15 - 24 September 2005, Deadline July/August 2006

Some other film festivals programming first-time feature directors and independent filmmakers include:

Munich International Film Festival

AFI Fest - Los Angeles International Film Festival, United States

Asian Festval of 1st Films

New York Independent Film and Video Festival, New York / Los Angeles / Las Vegas

Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Films, Argentina

Images Festival of Independent Film and Video, Toronto, Canada

Days of Independent Film, Ausburg, Germany

Titanic Film Festival Budapest, Hungary

Ann Arbor Film Festival, United States

Nashville Film Festival, United States

Brooklyn International Film Festival

Chicago Underground Film Festival
Serhat Caradee workshopping with actors on <I>Cedar Boys</I> at IndiVision Project Lab 2005
Serhat Caradee workshopping with actors on Cedar Boys at IndiVision Project Lab 2005