Thoughts on Framed at Open Channel

May 7, 2008

Its been a busy few weeks. I’ve attended three OZ film events and will share my thoughts on them in the coming days. The first was my reaction to the Framed Open Channel forum of April 24. I was on a panel with James Hewison, now Madman cinema’s head, Tait Brady from the FFC, Megan Gardiner from Film Vic and Andrew Apostola from The Portable Film Festival, all hosted by filmmaker Peter George.

The questions were fairly broad concerning getting films into festivals and distribution possiblities. James spoke about Madman’s innovative role in Australian distribution and about how he recently joined them, Tait spoke about the producers off set, the ramifications of Screen Australia and the importance of certain major festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Rotterdam. Megan spoke about the role of Film Victoria in assisting filmmakers selected to International Film festivals actually getting to the festival and various grants for such. Andrew Apostola spoke about content platform diversification and his initiatives at The Portable Film Festival.

James and I spoke of the importance of seeing films still at a cinema. I expounded the importance of DVD’s as a forum for watching cinema today, like Criterion collection and DVD extras, etc. Tait spoke of the lack of or reduced revenue streams that can come from digital content. My own feelings are that Digital formats are great, especialy for short films or music videos and a whole world is expanding, that is open to everyone with a computer. This is all good. But feature films are best viewed at a cinema, at home on Large TV’s or home cinema from DVD or Blu Ray or on a laptop when the other two are unavailable or one is in transit.

Tait from the FFC spoke about the lack of good genre scripts he receives. If you have a good genre script send it to Tait Brady at the FFC, as he does not get enough he says. I know from experience at MUFF at least 20 local filmmakers who have excellent projects, all genre related, in various stages of development or script writing. I said that maybe first time filmmakers might feel intimidated going straight to the FFC, as it requires Sales Agent attachments and Distribution agreements, etc., that most first time filmmakers do not usually have organised. So maybe lets overcome this issue, the FFC I believe can see scripts at various stages of development, i.e. before any attachments, so get those genre scripts in the mail, people.

I spoke about genre, how cool Underbelly was, how getting your first short or feature into Cannes should not always be your first priority. I suggested building up to it through a first film playing fests like MIFF and MUFF, then a second aiming at Berlin / Rotterdam axis, then maybe a third aimed at Cannes, etc. I suggested having a low budget guerilla film in development, at the same time as applying for funding for a larger industry standard budget project.

Andrew Apostola’s ideas were very interesting and we both I think felt like ‘the outlaws’ on stage. Regarding Digital Cinema you can see these portable platforms playing a larger part in how content is viewed in the future. Ever the iconoclast, I quoted David Lynch on watching a feature on a mobile phone or ipod, being “a terrible sadness”. But still one can’t help but be excited at the possiblities for rebel short film making on You Tube, ipods and laptops. Its clear cinema is expanding into these platforms and as small monitor resolution gets better, it becomes another vital medium for us to watch cinema. Shit, I bought one of these cheap mini dvd/monitor sets in Thailand, that I enjoyed on the way back on the plane, with my pirated mainstream release booty, so I dig it, baby…

All round it was productive session with near full attendance. Great people came up afterwards to chat, too.

Stand by for reports of St.Kilda Film Fest and Film Vic’s Mindshift conference.

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