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19 September 2018
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Indivision News
  February 2006
  In this issue

  This issue of IndiVision News features interviews with two important indie filmmakers, in Australia as advisors to the AFC's 2006 IndiVision Project Lab: US producer Andrew Fierberg and French producer Marc Missonnier. We also announce an exciting line-up of international indie features for the AFC's 2006 IndiVision Screenings in Sydney and Melbourne from 16 February, including three Australian premieres.

Helping you keep 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 is from Israeli film Close to Home, part of the IndiVision Screenings 06.
  SPECIAL FEATURE: Andrew Fierberg on trust + the well-planned shoot
  Veteran New York producer Andrew Fierberg has made more than 20 indie features, many of them low-budget. He produced the unforgettable Secretary with James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. He's worked with Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey Jnr, Matthew McConaughey, and acclaimed filmmakers such as Sally Potter and Steven Soderbergh. He spoke to IndiVision Lab director Megan Simpson Huberman about his film, Keane, which features in the IndiVision Screenings, and which was produced by Fierberg and Soderbergh, and directed by Lodge Kerrigan. Keane is the second film of Kerrigan's to be selected for Cannes.

MSH: How did you come to be involved in Keane?

AF: After Lodge completed his last film, he approached me to work with him on this film. I had just finished producing Sally Potter's Yes and had been talking with him about writing films which could be made within a limited budget. We both agreed to work with each other based on those conversations. I think Lodge is an extraordinary talent. It was a joy to work with him.

How was the script developed?

It was based on an emotion Lodge had while losing sight of his daughter in a drug store. We spent the better part of a year turning that into a narrative which we felt was as compelling as the emotion. The script went through many rewrites with notes and suggestions coming from both Steven Soderbergh and myself. The most important part of our involvement was to encourage Lodge to write the script as a project which could be made with limited resources. In exchange, we made the promise to go into production as soon after completion of the script as possible.

What do you see as the strongest qualities of the film?

The single biggest strength of the film is the focused point of view. This allowed its most obvious strengths - acting and camera work - to express themselves. This focused point of view comes from the writing and the directing. In the end, as good as Damian Lewis is, and as good as John Foster's camera work was, it is a Lodge Kerrigan Film.

How was the film financed? How are most low-budget feature films in the US financed at the moment?

Most low-budget films in the US are private equity funded. This was the case with Keane. It was funded through Steven Soderbergh's company. Steve felt very confident in Lodge's vision and my ability to use our scarce resources to their best end. Both Lodge and myself honoured that trust.

The film has a lot of production value. We see lots of the streets of NY; there are crowd scenes; and the cast is quite big. How did you manage to make it for such a low budget?

We spent a lot of our time planning and rehearsing. I have been making films on the streets of NYC for some 15 years. Hopefully one learns something along the way. As to live locations, limiting the range of the camera allows you to achieve an illusion of being a larger film than it actually is.

The film was shot on 35mm. What was behind that decision? Would you shoot on HD? Will the new digital formats affect financing?

Big questions. Every film should have a defined look. It should be well thought out and specific to the film one is making. In this case, we felt we needed to be in the lead actor's state of mind. We felt we could only accomplish that in 35mm. As a result, we shot limited takes and did not print dailies.

As long ago as 12 years I made a film called Nadja, which we shot over 50 per cent using a toy camera - PixelVision. In Hamlet we used five different formats. In Sally Potter's Yes we intercut formats. Each film should use whatever tools it needs to represent itself as a completed work of art.

You made the film Secretary with director Steven Shainberg, and you have just made another film with him, Fur. How has your collaboration with him evolved?

Steven Shainberg and I first met when he walked into my office some six years ago with a script called 'Secretary'. He had been pounding the pavement looking for a producing partner and had reached the bottom - my office.

I read the script and found the project very intriguing. It was very hard from reading the script to know what tone the film would take. Based on my reading I made two preconditions to move forward: that it would have to maintain what I perceived to be its sense of humour and that it had to be under two hours in length. I felt as the subject matter was very challenging, the audience had to have moments of relief and be finished before the audience started reflecting too much on what they were watching. He agreed to work with me on getting the script into shape and we began a rather long and interesting journey.

It was a film no one wanted to pay for, no one wanted to act in, no one wanted to distribute. The process of getting it made was extraordinarily difficult. People had a hard time wrapping their head around the subject matter. Very few understood that at its root it was a romantic comedy. In retrospect this is hard to imagine, but it's usually how it works when a film breaks through in the manner of Secretary. In an odd way it has almost started a new genre.

Through the process we became partners on the film - both of us spending all of our energy to get it finished and sold. It created a close bond which we abuse to this day.

Not only have we moved on to his next film Fur together, but together with Christina Weiss Lurie we have set up a small development company, VOX3Films. The company has two objectives: the first to find additional projects for Steve to direct and me to produce, and the second to find smaller projects to work with writer/directors in developing and finding funding to make.

What do you see as the future for low-budget films internationally?

Low-budget films will continue to be the format where cultures exchange their stories. Increasingly the larger films can only address large, almost corporate, issues. The day-to-day, the small story, is left to either television or the lower-budget films. This is why the film festivals have become such an important venue of cultural exchange. It is the venue where the real marketplace of ideas takes shape.

Read the full interview.
Producer Andrew Fierberg (right) with actor Damian Lewis on the set of <I>Keane</I>.
Producer Andrew Fierberg (right) with actor Damian Lewis on the set of Keane.

The 6-year-old daughter of William Keane has been abducted and an anguished Keane returns compulsively to retrace the events of that day. Selected for Director's Fortnight Cannes, Toronto and Telluride.

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

An excitingly strong group of experienced Australian teams and their projects has been selected to take part in the second IndiVision Project Lab, to be held in Sydney 16-22 February 2006. The teams will be announced at the launch of IndiVision 06 on 15 February.

International advisors for the 2006 Lab have now been confirmed. From the US comes dynamic indie producer Andrew Fierberg, producer of the acclaimed Secretary (starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal), Keane (selected for Director's Fortnight at Cannes and produced with Stephen Soderbergh), Hamlet (starring Ethan Hawke), and most recently Fur, the story of Diane Arbus, starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jnr.

From Europe comes prolific French producer Marc Missonnier, producer of all the features of the internationally acclaimed director François Ozon, including Swimming Pool (starring Charlotte Rampling), 8 Women (starring Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Fanny Ardant and Emmanuelle Béart), and 5 x 2 (nominated for the Gold Lion at Venice 2004). Missonnier will also produce the next feature for Palme d'Or -winning director Emir Kusturica.

Read the feature interviews with Andrew Fierberg and Marc Missonnier in this issue of IndiVision News.

The 06 Lab will include a special focus on visual language, with visual consultant Rowan Cassidy conducting a day-long session with the filmmaking teams. Rowan has degrees in visual art and design, was trained at Disney, Animal Logic, and Digital Pictures, and has worked on the visual development of films such as Moulin Rouge, The Quiet American, Hero, The House of Flying Daggers, Alexander, and The Lion, Tthe Witch, and Tthe Wardrobe.

The teams will also work with performance consultants on rehearsal strategies, as well as with actors, DOPs, editors, script consultants, and other producers, as they prepare their projects for production. Three projects from the first IndiVision Project Lab have gone on to be financed and produced, and will be released later this year. One of these is West, directed by Daniel Krige and produced by Matt Reeder and Anne Robinson; read how the IndiVision Lab experience affected the making of the film in this issue's interview with the team.

As well as the Lab, the AFC offers IndiVision Single-draft Development Funding for low-budget feature projects. The next deadline is 21 April.

And the deadline for the next round of IndiVIsion production funding is July 2006. The AFC can now invest up to $1 million dollars in a low-budget feature with a budget of up to around $2 million. All eligible teams can apply - you don't have to have attended the Lab or received IndiVision development funding.
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

  Edgy + inspiring: IndiVision Screenings 06
  Some of the hottest indie feature films from around the world, including three Australian premieres, will screen in Sydney and Melbourne in February at the Australian Film Commission's second annual IndiVision Screenings.

Wildly divergent in style and content, this year's program has been curated by dynamic director of the Melbourne Film Festival, James Hewison. It presents films from the USA, Europe, and the Middle East that have wowed critics and audiences at festivals including Cannes, Venice, Sundance, and Berlin. And all have been made for budgets of less than A$2 million.

In a coup for IndiVision, three of the films will make their Australian premieres at the Screenings. Close to Home, from Israel, will appear at the Screenings only days after its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. The film is a striking and contemporary look at occupation through the eyes of two young women soldiers on patrol in Jerusalem. Allegro, a stunning sci-fi love story from Danish director Christoffer Boe, comes to Australia hot on the heels of its Sundance 06 selection. And Down to the Bone, the gripping story of an American housewife addicted to cocaine, screens in Australia for the first time after winning both the Sundance Director's award and Performance award.

Audiences will also have the opportunity to meet the two international Project Lab advisors, Andrew Fierberg and Marc MIssonnier.

The program will run in Sydney from Friday 17 to Sunday 19 February and in Melbourne from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 February. Both seasons will feature a closing night panel discussion on international low-budget indie filmmaking with a top line -up of international speakers.

Go to the IndiVision Screenings for a full program and more info on the films, including links to:
<B><I>Allegro</I></B> - <B>Australian premiere</B>
Allegro - Australian premiere
When introverted pianist Zetterstrom denies his love (for Danish supermodel Helena Christensen), his feelings take up independent residence in a mysterious part of the city called The Zone. Selected for Venice 2005 and Sundance 2006.

<B><I>Down to the Bone</I></B> - <B>Australian premiere</B>
Down to the Bone - Australian premiere
Irene appears to be a loving wife and mother, but her life is precariously built around a cocaine addiction. Winner of the Director's Award at Sundance 2004.

  View from the pool: Marc Missonnier
  French producer Marc Missonnier and his partner Olivier Delbosc are one of the most dynamic producing teams in Europe. Their production and distribution company, Fidelité, has produced all of the films of acclaimed director François Ozon, including Swimming Pool, which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes. They now work with many directors, from first timers to established players.

Marc will be an advisor at the IndiVision Project Lab 06, and also a guest of the IndiVision Screenings. He speaks here to IndiVision Project Lab director, Megan Simpson Huberman.

MSH: Can you tell us about how you started your company, Fidelité?

I met my partner, Olivier Delbosc, at the French national film school, and we founded our company while we were still students, in December 1993. We also met François Ozon at film school and decided to start our productions (short films) with him. The first film was Action Verite (Truth or Dare), a five-minute short shot in video in 1994. We have since produced all of his films.

Your latest release in Australia was the Ozon-directed 5 x 2, which was nominated for the Golden Lion at Venice. What do you see as the strongest qualities of that film?

This film reflects a very personal - non consensual - vision of the couple. It never leaves people indifferent. They can adore it, because they think it's a true vision of the couple today, or hate it for the exact opposite reason. The backward construction of the film allows François to be very dark in his vision, and still finish the film with a touch of romance.

How was the film financed? How are most quality art house films in France financed at the moment?

It's a combination between pre-sales (distributor, foreign sales agent, pay TV, free TV) and co-production, which is how most films are financed in France.

In 2002 you made the low-budget supernatural horror film Malefique. What was your reason for choosing a low-budget project? How was the film developed?

At that time, France was not producing genre films, partly because of the system in which the TV stations have a big part of the finance of a film. So we decided to create a label, 'Bee Movies', which was a division of our company set up to produce genre films for a small budget. The 'strategy' was to prove we could produce smart films in that genre for little money (around €1m, A$1.6m) and get rid of free TV in the finance.
We then developed a slate of projects with a structure that doesn't exist any longer (Canal+ Ecriture) and produced four films of that kind, of which Malefique was the fourth.

The film has a lot of special effects and CG effects. How did you manage to make it for such a low budget?

The deal was clear for the writers and the director: four people in a room (a prison) and 20 days of shooting. We established for that label and those films an original chain of post-production: we shot on 16mm with a brand new small Aaton camera, transferred to Beta Digital for post (including the CG effects), and then transferred to 35mm. If I had to produce this film today, I would probably use HD.

Do you believe any film can be made on low budget if you are inventive enough, or do you think that there are certain kinds of story elements or production elements that should be avoided?

I don't think any film can be done low budget (try to do King Kong with $1m!); you have to think it from the beginning, from the original idea, to be totally coherent from A to Z.

What do you see as the future for low-budget films internationally? Is it easier or harder these days for non-American films to reach an international audience?

The low-budget range is now full of genre films (horror, supernatural...), but I still think there is space for the expression of an original and personal universe in low-budget filmmaking. I have to say that the curiosity of the market for non-American films is not very strong. It is probably harder today to break through than it was some years ago.

What's next for you?

To stay independent in our choices and still be able to produce what we love. It's an every day fight.

Read the full interview.
Marc Missonnier:
Marc Missonnier:
"What's next for me? To stay independent and still be able to produce what we love. It's an every day fight."

  Project update: sun rises over West
  West was the second film from the 2005 IndiVision Project Lab to be greenlit for production. The film follows a group of friends as they struggle with the uneasy transition into adulthood and deal with the life-changing consequences of their actions. It was shot on HD with a budget of around $1.2 million and is due for release late in 2006. IndiVision Lab Manager Kate Riedl spoke to writer/director Daniel Krige, and producers Matt Reeder and Anne Robinson about the film and the IndiVision experience.

Dan, did you conceive of this film as one that would work within the low-budget realm?

Daniel Krige: No. The script has been around for quite a while. I wrote the first draft back in 1986 and have been working on it in fits and starts since. I guess you could call it my 'baby'. It wasn't until producers Matt Reeder and Anne Robinson came along that the film really had any momentum. IndiVision seemed to be perfect for us and the project. And it has been.

What was the experience of HD like? The look, the ratio, the freedom, instant rushes, playback on set, etc? Did it affect the way you worked with your actors and the crew?

DK: Being my first feature, I found the experience of working on HD to be quite liberating. DOP Damian Wyvill understands the format inside out and his team worked quickly and efficiently. The look Damian achieved was quite amazing. I also had the luxury of having an HD monitor on set so I could see each shot in full resolution as we went along.

HD didn't expand our ratio very much. I was pretty clear about the coverage and performances I wanted. We never really 'shot the shit' out of anything. The other bonus with HD is the shorter set-up time for each shot. It allows the actors to keep the performance level up and helps to keep the ball rolling all round. I didn't really experience any disadvantages. We shot primarily at night and it's perfect for those conditions. It doesn't respond well to high contrasts, so we worked to avoid those situations.

How did your budget of $1.2 million impact the way you approached writing and directing it?

DK: The budget didn't really affect the writing of the film as the script existed prior to the money. We just had to make the money work to the script. So in that regard the budget didn't affect the story. However, it did affect the way I approached directing some scenes and sequences. For instance, there are a few stunts in the film, and we really couldn't afford to crash any cars, so I had to come up with creative ways of shooting a car crash without the car actually crashing. The budget restrictions just forced us to be more creative in our approaches. And that can't be a bad thing.

Matt and Anne, how did you find producing a low-budget feature?

Matt Reeder: Low budget is all I've ever known - for me having $1.2 million was a luxury. It has been a very steep learning curve and very rewarding. The crew were fantastic. I really believe it's so important to get the right bunch of people because given the nature of low-budget filmmaking everyone is going to be 'roughing it' to some extent. It has been inspiring to see the hard work from the actors and technicians alike and very rewarding to see the film start to come together.

Anne Robinson: It has been a rewarding experience. Low-budget has been a hard and gruelling process, but no different from making short films and music clips, just on a larger scale. Both Matt and I are used to squeezing the budget. Having a low-budget production manager was a godsend and she saved the day many times. On a feature, $1.2 million does not go very far and we needed to be financially creative. Deals and sponsorships are necessary.

How has IndiVision helped?

DK: IndiVision gave me a real sense of community with other filmmakers and that was quite inspiring. It also helped to refocus me and reminded me about how single-minded you have to be to get a film made. You gotta be like a dog with a bone. Don't let go. No matter what.

MR: Apart from the extremely obvious - the cash - IndiVision was a great primer for our team. It kind of acted like a 'pre pre pre production' period for us; it brought the team closer and sharpened the focus. I also gained a lot of inspiration from the speakers, particularly Rolf de Heer's words of support from the front line of independent filmmaking.

AR: As Matt said, IndiVision was our pre pre production. It was a time to be nurtured, and it prepared us to go out and make West. IndiVision covered everything the West team needed. Some workshops were catered towards the three of us as a team, some towards the writer/director, and others for the producer. It was invaluable to be able to select a number of workshops that were specific to where each project was at.

Read the full interview.
The <I>West</I> team
The West team
Writer/director Daniel Krige (centre), with producers Anne Robinson (left) and Matt Reeder

The cast of <I>West</I>
The cast of West
(left to right) Michael Dorman, Nathan Phillips, GIllian Alexy, Khan Chittenden

  Hot links: websites, books + articles
  Check out the resources list on the AFC website + some recent articles here:

Pondering Sundance takes a look at Sundance Film Festival jury and audience winners 2006 + back to 1985

Digital technology loosening Hollywood's grip?
Indie film market eyes digital future at Sundance - an article by Bob Tourtellotte, Reuters UK online

Live at Sundance
Interviews, panels, presentations - streaming media (needs broadband)

Happening now
International Film Festival Rotterdam 25 January to 5 February

And An insider's guide to Rotterdam Cinemart
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
  Check out the International Festival Profiles section on the AFC website for info on history, specific programs and screening sections for key festivals. Many also have an Australian screening history and a 'Tips from Filmmakers' PDF.

Upcoming Deadlines for 2006

Cannes Film Festival, France
17 - 28 May 2006, Deadline 15 March 2006
including sidebar events:
Directors' Fortnight: 3 April -
Critics' Week: 7 April -

Edinburgh Film Festival, United Kingdom
August 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline 18 April 2006

Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Czech Republic
30 June - 8 July 2006, Deadline 14 April 2006

Locarno International Film Festival, Sweden
2 - 12 August 2006, Deadline June 2006 (to be confirmed)

Toronto Film Festival, Canada
September 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline June 2006 - Date TBA

Valladoid International Film Festival, Spain
October 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline June/July 2006 - Date TBA

Venice International Film Festival, Italy
August/September 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline June 2006 - Date TBA

Venice Days - the sidebar festival screening the 'Dirty Dozen' of first time feature directors from around the world
September 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline July 2006 - Date TBA

Cork Film Festival, Ireland
8 - 15 October 2006, Deadline 1 July 2006

London Film Festival, United Kingdom
October/November 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline July 2006 - Date TBA

Mannheim Heidelberg Film Festival, Germany
16 - 25 November 2006, Deadline 30 July 2006

Telluride Film Festival, US
1 - 4 September 2006, Deadline 15 July 2006

Pusan International Film Festival, Korea
October 2006 - Festival dates TBA, Deadline July 2006 - Date TBA

Montreal World Film Festival, Canada
24 August - 4 September 2006, Deadline late June/late July 2006 - Dates TBA

San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain
21 - 30 September 2006, Deadline 31 July 2006

Other festival links

Titanic Film Festival Budapest, Hungary

Ann Arbor Film Festival, US

Nashville Film Festival, US

Brooklyn International Film Festival, US

Chicago Underground Film Festival, US