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Showing posts from July, 2006

Private Investment in Feature Films

Films in Australia are mostly financed by the government. You need a distributor and around 40% of your budget sourced from the private sector before you can make a $2m+ feature film here. In an effort to keep the riff-raff out, the FFC have added another requirement to their list - a very high quality, developed screenplay. To this end, they employ a team of readers (usually writers) to vet scripts which ultimately land on the desks of two assessors.

In other words - your screenplay had better be tight . . . and interesting.

But do you think the private sector know any of this? Do the Mums and Dads of Australia know that by investing in Australia's film industry, they can write off 100% of their tax bill under the Taxation Department's 10BA tax-incentive scheme? No. But lawyers do and it's probably why the film industry is suffused with them. That and intellectual property protection.

As you know, I had someone approach me recently with a whole lot of cash - like this lady h…

Feature Film Financing - finally?

Phil Jang Kane (screenwriter), Carmello Musca (Producer) and myself (director) have a 20 minute meet-n-greet market briefing with the Film Finance Corporation and a major Oz film distributor this afternoon. Based on our synopsis, they will advise us of sales opportunities in today's marketplace.

Should be interesting. We're going about things the traditional, Australian way. Which isn't a bad thing.

The Australian way of raising feature film finance isn't a bad one. We have limited funds and fewer good scripts than the US (where everybody in LA is working on a feature screenplay).
In Australia, screenplays are thoroughly scrutinised by industry professionals before they are even allowed to jump through a series of hoops. You also need private cash, a distributor and the FFC on board for budgets over about $2m. The system only allows scripts which have been thoroughly vetted to make it to the screen. And for writers, it adds to their growing pile of rejection letters along…

Writing to House Style

If you are getting paid to write - even if it's as little as $500 for a script - you are probably going to be working with a script producer or script editor - especially if it's a TV show with episodes. That's because - whoever is giving you the money - is being told to deliver a certain thing to the broadcaster and your script needs to bend like a reed, Grasshopper in an effort to make it consistent with other epoisodes.

This is writing to house style. More often than not, the script editor (and sometimes the TV producer) will rewrite your piece wholesale. It's not a bad thing - but a lot of people don't know this going in and new writers get burnt (read hurt).

House style means to a writer pretty much the same thing as result-oriented direction means to a director. At some point, you are going to be told what to write. You are not going to be left to your own devices a you are when writing your feature film screenplay.

If you're writing TV, you can bet someone …

Short Film Festivals

I just heard that A Stone Throw is a finalist in the Frankfurt Children's Film Festival (Germany). It seems that somewhere in Germany and India is an Edwin James Lynch fan-club. They've certainly bought films I've directed in the past. But there are just so many bloody filmmakers in the world today.

I'm beginning to understand that AST ain't a crowd-pleaser. How could it be when it was ever-so-loosely based on Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (set in a school). I guess it's a bit dark. In fact, pretty much everything I write with Phil (or by myself for that matter) is a bit dark or creepy.

More good news (for us) is that Phil, Carmelo (producer) and I are having a casual meeting with Tait Brady (Feature Film Evaluation Manager, Film Finance Corporation) and Ashley Luke (Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, Fortissimo Films) to receive informal feedback on our feature film synopsis.

Marx & Venus update

I don't know who the successful appli…

The Three by Five Card Index System

Here's another approach to writing your screenplay. The screenwriter's friend. Introducing the infamous Three by Five Card Index System.

Wow! How can I get one?

In my case - I made it. What it amounts to is this: Three 90cm x 40cm sheets of chipboard hinged together so that the whole thing stands like a concertina on a table or floor.

Every 5cm or so down, I have drawing-pinned small cardboard hinges (triangles if you will) made from old file dividers. These become placeholders for your cards.

A couple of bunches of 3 inch by 5 inch index cards (available in packs of 100 at any newsagency) and there you have it. A sure fire way to make your screenplay bubble to the top of the pile . . . Not. But it's a tool and writers need their tools.

Cool. How does it work?

As you can see - each act has three mini-acts in it (fitting in with Australian script theorist Linda Heys' Second Act Story). Or rather - going one step further and suggesting that all three acts have a beginning, …