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19 September 2018
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Indivision News
  June 2007
  In this issue

  This month we focus on some of the low-budget films in the upcoming Sydney Film Festival (SFF), featuring interviews with two of the international guests being hosted by the festival and the AFC's IndiVision initiative - US director Jeff Nichols and Danish producer Sisse Graum Jorgensen. Both Jeff and Sisse will be part of the IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues in Sydney during the festival. We also catch up with Australian director Kriv Stenders on the eve of the screening of his new low-budget feature Boxing Day at SFF.

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 from the Dutch low-budget film Iles Flottantes (w/d Nanouk Leopold) which will be part of the Independent Focus screenings at the 2007 Sydney Film Festival.
  US director Jeff Nichols on making the low-budget Shotgun Stories
  US director Jeff Nichols' first feature Shotgun Stories premiered in the Berlin Forum this year, and was hailed by Screen Daily as "one of the most striking debuts by a young American director". Set in the cotton fields and on the dusty roads of Arkansas, the film is centred on a man who's fathered seven sons by two women. When he dies a feud erupts between the two sets of half brothers, and they discover just how far they will go for family and revenge. Made on a low budget, the film's stunning wide-screen cinematography is drenched in emotion and a sense of place. Command of form, superb production values and great performances make it a tense and memorable thriller.

Shotgun Stories screens at this year's Sydney Film Festival (8-24 June), and Jeff Nichols will be a guest of the festival. He will also be presenting a masterclass on the film on 19 June as part of the AFC's IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues. Jeff Nichols recently spoke to IndiVision News.

How did you develop Shotgun Stories?
I collected images, characters, locations and story points for this film over a period of a year. After this, it took me about five months to write the script. I was inspired greatly by contemporary southern American writers like Larry Brown and Harry Crews, as well as writers like Flannery O'Connor and Raymond Carver. I was also greatly influenced by films like Hud, Badlands and Tender Mercies. The concept of a feud came from a song called Decoration Day by the Drive-By Truckers and an article in The New Yorker about an Israeli woman. The song deals with an older, more typical feud scenario. I wondered what a present-day feud in rural Arkansas would look like and how it would play out. The article from The New Yorker concerned an Israeli mother who was willing to sacrifice the safety of her son for her religious convictions. I found it interesting that a mother would make this choice for her children. All of this came together in my mind and Shotgun Stories was the result. It is a work of pure fiction.

How was it financed?
The initial production was financed with the help of friends and family in Arkansas. Once production was finished and we had a sufficient rough cut of the film, Upload Films, a new company based in LA, came on board for the finishing costs. This mainly included a professional sound edit and mix, taking the film back to a print (neg cut, colour timing, etc), and some additional marketing costs.

How long was your pre-production?
Pre-production lasted roughly three months. Given budget constraints, I couldn't afford to have a lot of people hanging around Little Rock, Arkansas. So the first two months consisted of me finding the locations, casting, gathering crew and props. A month before filming, Paul Skidmore, my invaluable production manager and associate producer, showed up and really got things going. He was a master at scheduling for the shoot.

What was your rehearsal process and period?
We really didn't rehearse for this film. At no point did I sit with the actors and go over lines. We were, however, fortunate enough to have Michael Shannon (Son Hayes) and Barlow Jacobs (Kid Hayes) come to Arkansas about five days before production. They were able to spend time getting to know one another, and I actually had them spend a day working at the fish farm their characters work at in the film. I had never met Michael Shannon before he arrived for the shoot. We sat and talked about the characters, which was very valuable. He's an amazing actor. I could literally feel him soaking up information. By the time we began filming, Mike knew the characters and story as well as, if not better than, me.

You shot the film in 21 days. How long were your days?
We worked 12-hour days, six-day weeks. It was really the only way to get things done. We had one day of rain delay, so we ended up shooting roughly 15 days straight towards the end. I don't advise this, but you do what you have to to complete the film. Working any longer than 12 hours is pretty useless, not to mention dangerous.

Read the whole interview.

A masterclass (followed by drinks) with Jeff Nichols will be held: 2:30-5:30pm, Tuesday 19 June.
The event is free but places are strictly limited. To request a place email or call 02 9321 6476.

Shotgun Stories will screen at the Sydney Film Festival (at the State Theatre):
8:40pm Monday 18 June AND
12:10pm Wednesday 20 June
How to book.

US director Jeff Nichols delivered a masterclass at the AFC when he was in Australia as a guest of the 2007 Sydney Film Festival.

A scene from Jeff Nichols' low-budget feature Shotgun Stories, which screened at the 2007 Sydney Film Festival.

Director Jeff Nichols looks though the camera alongside cinematographer Adam Stone on the set of Shotgun Stories.

  IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues and Independent Focus screenings
  The AFC's IndiVision initiative is again presenting two special events for the Australian film industry in partnership with the Sydney Film Festival. This year the events are entitled the IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues, and will be a key opportunity to hear from two international guests visiting the Sydney Film Festival. Danish producer Sisse Graum Jorgensen (Red Road, After the Wedding) will talk about financing and developing at her dynamic company Zentropa, and US director Jeff Nichols will discuss his film Shotgun Stories.

Sisse Graum Jorgensen - producing & financing at Zentropa
Industry Breakfast
Friday 15 June

Jeff Nichols - Shotgun Stories masterclass
Talk & drinks
Tuesday 19 June

Tickets for the IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues are free, but places are strictly limited. To request a place email or call 02 9321 6476.

A selection of international independent feature films will be screened at the festival under the banner Independent Focus. These films have all been produced in innovative styles on budgets of less than A$3 million. They've been made with alternative production models, including small crews, short shoots and new formats. These intimate and innovative ways of working pay creative dividends: vivid performances, visceral emotions and bold visions.

The films include Jorgensen's Cannes Jury Prize-winning Red Road from the UK/Denmark, Nichols' Berlin-selected Shotgun Stories from the US, and from South Africa the vibrant Bunny Chow.

For more information about the films, check the IndiVision pages on the AFC website and download the Independent Focus program PDF.

How to book films - SFF website.

There will also be a public forum on international independent filmmaking on Monday 18 June at 4.15pm at Metro Theatre, George St, with guests Jeff Nichols and Netherlands director Nanouk Leopold. No RSVP is required for this event.
The Dutch low-budget film Guernsey (w/d Nanouk Leopold) will be part of the Independent Focus screenings at the Sydney Film Festival.

  Sisse Graum Jorgensen - Zentropa producer in Australia
  Sisse Graum Jorgensen is one of the most dynamic Danish producers working today. Only 35, she has already produced more than nine features, including the Oscar-nominated Susanne Bier film After the Wedding, as well as Bier's acclaimed Brothers, and Lone Scherfig's Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. In 2003, she was named European Film Promotion's Producer on the Move; she made Screen International's Talent Watch list in 2004; and the same year she was named one of Variety's 10 Producers to Watch at the Cannes Film Festival. Jorgensen executive produced the Cannes Jury Prize-winning Red Road, screening in this year's Sydney Film Festival (SFF), (along with After the Wedding).

Sisse Graum Jorgensen will be a guest of SFF and IndiVision this year. She will speak at an industry breakfast about her dynamic company Zentropa, as part of the IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues. She spoke to IndiVision News in the weeks before her Australian visit.

Red Road was produced as part of a joint Danish-Scottish initiative called The Advance Party, where three different directors are given the opportunity to each make a film set in Scotland using the same set of characters and actors. How did this initiative come about?
The Advance Party sprung from the collaboration between Scottish producer Gillian Berrie and me. We began working together on Lone Scherfig's film Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself. On this film we experienced the meeting between the Danish and Scottish film traditions. It was really interesting so we decided to combine and refine those traditions. The idea was to come up with a set of rules for the production that contained what we believe to be the best from Scotland and the best from Denmark. Then we got hold of the three directors we wanted to work with: Andrea Arnold, Morag McKinnon and Mikkel Norgaard.

After Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen created the set of characters for the initiative, how was the script of Red Road developed?
Andrea wrote her own story and screenplay. However, one of the ideas behind The Advance Party is that the directors have the opportunity to use one another and collaborate throughout all the stages of the filmmaking process. So far they have chosen to do so.

The budget for the film was around US$2 million. Is there much potential to draw different international production partners together for films of this size?
It is a small budget in Denmark and extraordinarily small in the UK. I believe all public funding schemes should contain an incitement to support low-budget films. There should be a sense of obligation to get as much as possible out of the subsidy funds. The cheaper the films the more films you can produce. Volume is one of the keys to success - of course having said that, success is still primarily about good stories and original talent.

Read the whole interview.

Red Road screens at 6.15pm Thursday 21 June at the State Theatre, and 4.15pm Saturday 23 June at Dendy Opera Quays. After the Wedding screens Sunday 17 June at 7.15pm and Tues 19 June at 12 noon at the State Theatre.

An industry breakfast with Sisse Graum Jorgensen will be held 9-11am, Friday 15 June. The event is free but places are strictly limited. To request a place email or call 02 9321 6476.
Danish producer Sisse Graum Jorgensen will deliver one of the 2007 IndiVision Filmmaker Dialogues at an industry breakfast. Photo: Jan Buus.

A scene from Red Road, executive produced by Sisse Graum Jorgensen, who spoke at an industry breakfast in Sydney in June 07.

  West to screen at Sydney Film Festival
  The low-budget feature film West, which was workshopped at the inaugural IndiVision Lab in 2005 and was funded under the IndiVision Production Fund, will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on Wednesday 13 June at 8.30pm at the State Theatre. West was directed by Daniel Krige and produced by Matthew Reeder and Anne Robinson. It stars Khan Chittenden, Nathan Phillips, Michael Dorman, Gillian Alexy, David Field, Tim McCunn and Anthony Hayes.

Following the screening there will be an after party with live bands at the Metro on George Street, where you can meet the stars and filmmakers.

"With its gentle, brooding realism, West is an Australian film that says something about us and who we are. It's a film that more than deserves our attention and it will stay with you long after you leave the cinema." Megan Spencer, JJJ

West will be released in cinemas on 5 July, playing in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Brisbane.

Visit the West website.

Sydney Film Festival bookings
Gillian Alexy and Khan Chittenden star in West.

  UK theatrical release for Black Water
  IndiVision Production Fund-backed feature Black Water has secured a prestigious deal with The Works for UK theatrical release. This follows two other Australian low-budget features securing UK theatrical releases this year - Kenny and Razzle Dazzle.

Black Water made other strong sales at Cannes, with territories including Brazil (PlayArte), Indonesia and Malaysia (Ram Indo), Middle East (Falcon Films), Philippines (Pioneer), Thailand (J-Bics) and Turkey (Horizon International). Deals previously closed in Berlin include Japan (Presidio), Spain and Portugal (Notro Films) and Benelux (FEG). Other deals are also in negotiation for North America, Germany and Mexico.

Inspired by true events, Black Water is a terrifying tale of death and survival in the mangrove swamps of Australia. The three-hander stars Maeve Dermody, Diana Glenn and Andy Rodoreda, and was written and directed by Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich.

Producer Michael Robertson from Cannes said, "This vindicates the faith the AFC has had in Black Water from the outset. To have achieved a theatrical release in the UK proves Australian low-budget genre can and does sell in overseas markets."

Co-producers Paul Cowan and Chris Wheeldon of Territorial Film Investments were also on hand for the success in Cannes, and all sales were handled by the UK's AV Pictures.
Andy Rodoreda and Diana Glenn in Black Water, which has secured a prestigious deal with The Works for UK theatrical release.

  Kriv Stenders on the attraction of low budgets, tiny crews and fast shoots
  Australian director Kriv Stenders is fast becoming known for challenging, true and poignant drama in the Dogme style. His latest feature, the ultra low-budget Boxing Day, is a series of long shots in real time. It will screen at this year's Sydney Film Festival. He talks here about the process of getting it to the screen.

How was Boxing Day conceived, developed and financed?
In 2005 my debut feature, The Illustrated Family Doctor, screened at the Adelaide Film Festival. After that screening I went out and had a fateful beer with the festival's director, Katrina Sedgwick. Katrina was a big fan of my no-budget digital follow-up, Blacktown, and asked me if I was interested in developing a similar digital-based project that the festival could fund. As it was I was already working on the script for Boxing Day, which was a film I planned to make using the same methodologies I had started to develop on Blacktown. I was wanting to work in the same open and organic manner, and had an idea that was based around a central character that would be played by Richard Green, an Aboriginal actor I had worked with on my short film Two/Out. The idea was to make a film in real time - a suburban siege drama that would be told in one single, continuous shot. That was the basic kernel of the idea and Katrina loved it, so the festival kindly gave us $100,000 to go out and make the film. I remember thinking: 'Am I crazy making a feature film for only 100K, or am I crazy not to?' I decided I was crazy not to.

Were the long takes and real-time action part of the original concept? What was your reason for making these choices?
Yes they were. I was just interested in working with that kind of canvas for a change. Blacktown was a very consciously edited film, and I was keen to work in real time, with long takes, using digital to shoot openly and without fear. I had seen Russian Ark and Timecode and thought they were successful failures - interesting, but still kind of flawed narratively. I was really interested in simply telling a linear story in real time, and to not get too avant-garde about it. Plus, I had just seen Gus Van Sant's Last Days and was really inspired by it, and loved how he used long takes to physically draw you into the world of the characters.

What was your rehearsal process and period? How experienced was your cast?
The cast was a mixture of professional and non-professional actors. That's the best kind of mixture for a film like this, as the non-actors draw from the experienced ones, and vice versa, and that gives you a really directional, yet authentic and naturalistic dramatic tone. The rehearsal period was two weeks, in which we actually shot the film twice. We rehearsed the film chronologically and by the end of each week we had a version of the film that we could all watch, discuss and refine. In this case the rehearsals were actually an integral part of the process of physically shooting the film.

Read the whole interview.

Boxing Day screens at the Sydney Film Festival at 8:35pm on 19 June at Greater Union George Street Cinema 1. More information about the film and crew can be found in the AFC's Australian Feature Films Catalogue 2007/08 online.

Sydney Film Festival bookings
Director Kriv Stenders, whose new low-budget feature Boxing Day is screening at the Sydney Film Festival.

Richard Green as Chris in Kriv Stenders' Boxing Day. Photo: James Geurts.

  IndiVision Marketing Workshop coming up
  Mark Horowitz, H20 Motion Pictures, LA, and Tom Strudwick, consultant for The Works, UK, are two of the advisors confirmed for the 2007 IndiVision Marketing Workshop, which will take place 15-19 July at the Sebel Kirkton in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

The IndiVision Marketing Workshop is a follow-up to the IndiVision Project Lab, and is part of the package of integrated development opportunities available to Lab projects. The workshop is also offered to projects that have participated in the AFC's SP*RK workshop and the Long Black workshop run by the Indigenous Branch.

This year's workshop will be a residential program specifically tailored for the marketing and financing of the low-budget projects, in the new financial landscape as announced in the recent Federal Budget.

The filmmakers will come away from the workshop with marketing plans, finance plans, marketing materials and refined pitches to position their films in the local and international marketplace.

Advisors at past IndiVision Marketing Workshops have included Iain Canning (Becker Films International), Laird Adamson (HDNet), Thomas Mai (Katapult Film Sales), Himesh Kar (UK Film Council), John Durie (Strategic Film Marketing) and international public relations expert Lucius Barre.

Project teams that attend the Marketing Workshop, having participated in any of the AFC's script workshops, are also eligible to apply for international travel grants to assist with the financing of their projects.
Advisors at last year's IndiVision Marketing Workshop. LtoR: Iain Canning, Thomas Mai and Dorothee Grosjean.

  International development initiatives
  Sundance Institute Screenwriters' and Directors' Labs
Application deadlines: 1 September 2007 for the January 2008 Lab.
Sundance Institute has supported nearly 1000 artists' development programs since 1981, and thousands more through the annual Sundance Film Festival. The Institute accepts 4-5 international applications a year, however at the moment specifies it is interested in projects from China, the Middle East and North Africa. Check the website for details. You can also subscribe to the Sundance monthly InSIder e-newsletter.

Binger Filmlab
Application deadlines: 15 September 2007 for the Spring Directors Coaching Programme.
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.

Independent Film Project's filmmaker labs, USA
These are open to non-US citizens as well.
Producers Labs (Fall; application deadlines 3 August 2007 [early] and 24 August 2007 [late])
Directors Lab (Spring; application deadlines 14 December 2007 [early] and 4 January 2008 [late])
  International film festivals
  The AFC website's International Festival Profiles page lists most of the following film festivals. It summarises the history, specific programs and screening sections of the festival. The profiles also have practical, at-a-glance info such as festival URLs, contact details and screening gauges.

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

Locarno International Film Festival, Sweden
1-11 Aug 2007. Deadline 1 June 2007

Toronto Film Festival, Canada
6-19 Sept 2007. Deadline 8 June 2007

Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain
3-26 October. Deadline 30 June 2007

Venice International Film Festival, Italy
29 Aug-8 Sept 2007. Deadline 15 June 2007
Venice Days - sidebar festival screening the 'dirty dozen' of first-time feature directors
30 Aug - 8 Sept 2007. Deadline 6 July 2007

Cork Film Festival, Ireland
4-21 Oct 2007. Deadline 29 June 2007

Mannheim Heidelberg Film Festival, Germany
16-25 Nov 2007. Deadline 30 July 2007

Telluride Film Festival, USA
31 Aug-3 Sept 2007. Deadline 15 July 2007

Pusan International Film Festival, Korea
4-12 Oct 2007. Deadline 31 July 2007

Montreal World Film Festival, Canada
23 Aug-3 Sept 2007. Deadline 20 July 2007

San Sebastian International Film Festival, Spain
20-29 Sept 2007. Deadline 31 July 2007

London Film Festival, UK
18 Oct-2 Nov 2007. Deadline 13 July 2007

Tokyo International Film Festival, Japan
20-28 Oct 2007. Deadline 15 July 2007

Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil
19 Oct-1 Nov 2007. Deadline 6 Aug 2007

Hof International Film Festival, Germany
24-29 Oct 2007. Deadline 10 Sept 2007

Stockholm International Film Festival, Sweden
15-25 Nov 2007. Deadline 8 Sept 2007

Torino Film Festival Cinema Giovani, Italy
23 Nov-1 Dec 2007. Deadline 30 Sept 2007

Sundance Film Festival, USA
17-27 Jan 2008. Deadline 14 Sept 2007