Thursday, December 22, 2011


This time of year, every woman, man, blogger, columnist (and his dog) is publishing a "Year in Review 2011" piece. Why?

Surely looking back on the year, when it's not even finished yet, is somewhat of an exercise in futility.

What if aliens invade on December 30th?

And really, what value do you get out of someone reviewing the year that has just past for you?

The time to reflect, and the lessons you feel you need to learn, surely are your own. For your own time.

Unless, of course, you are someone who likes being told what to think. I hope not.

So, what if we reviewed 2012 in advance instead? Looking forward with an open mind, instead of backward with nostalgia.

What to expect in the year to come?

Starting with the bad news. Well, first of all, movie piracy will continue ad nauseum, but I think you are going to hear more stories about prosecution of movie pirates. The film industry is getting more aggressive than ever before on this, with Internet service blocking deals and legislation against pirates. And then, there was the news, just in the last week, of the film pirate who put 'XMen Origins: Wolverine' online (before it was released in cinemas) being sentenced to a year in Federal prison in the USA.

He could have at least pirated a GOOD movie.

In the world at large, the economic news is going to get gloomier, as we break through the European Debt crisis and feel the aftershocks of unravelling the messes caused by 30 years of poorly regulated financial markets. But new ideas will start to come, as bright and optimistic new minds start to think of ways to sustain our economies without bankrupting people who are already below the poverty line (read "Prosperity Without Growth", if you don't believe me). For filmmakers, expect this to result in more and more cries of "There is no money out there for films!", "it is too hard to make films!" and "you should get out of the industry and get a job that pays!". All of these are true in part, but have always been true in an industry of high risk but high rewards.

DVD's will be almost dead in 2012. The sales of DVD's are PLUMMETING fast, and the next big thing, watching movies via the internet, doesn't require any new players or technology (e.g. like a DVD player) for people to purchase to make the switch. They can just use the computer they already have. Blue Rays will likely keep up sales due to their HD Quality and price decreases of late, but there is still the inconvenience factor of having to go out and physically buy them, as compared to just going online and watching the film you want.

As far as the quality of films being released, I can't say whether they will improve or not. I am encouraged by the number of quality independent films coming out, but there will be just as many super hero movies: Spiderman (rebooted), Superman (rebooted), The Avengers and, of course, Batman 3. Overall, expect 2012 to be 'the year of the bat' as the last Christopher Nolan Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises' makes an absolute fortune and is most likely the highest grossing film of 2012.

Which brings me to the good news for the year ahead!

People will start to watch more and more movies on the internet. As a result, 2012 will see much more positive news about the money being made in online video-on-demand (VOD) distribution for films. As a matter of fact, it has already started, with films like Lars Von Trier's 'Melancholia' making as much money in VOD as he did in the cinemas!

2012 looks like it could be the year of new original films! This is because major franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight have run, or are running, out of books to adapt into films. This is great news for people with original movies to make, or original scripts to sell. In Hollywood, for example, 2011 saw the highest new original (i.e. 'spec') script sales in 4 years.

2012 will see the continued return of our cinema audiences and will be the year of the highest worldwide global box office! 2010 was the highest ever, despite the Global Financial Crisis. The 2011 box office is down overall, but are having a record US Summer/Christmas that is being touted to bring them back to record breaking territory. As economic conditions first worsen then improve, and the major blockbuster 'The Dark Knight Rises' is released mid 2012, audiences will flock back to cinemas for cheap (relatively) entertainment.

And finally, the technology to make films will keep getting cheaper. This will mean more people will be making films in 2012 than ever before, with their high quality cheap digital cameras. But, this will also mean that filmmakers who are creative, dedicated and work hard will have the chance to rise to the top. Also, with crowdsourcing now seeing filmmakers raise over $100,000 to make their films, purely from donations from supporters of their film, 2012 will see more filmmakers engaging with their audience to produce great films that people have supported financially AND want to see.

So, what should you be doing to make 2012 your most successful year?

First of all, CREATE!!! No matter whether you are a filmmaker or a plumber, the world is crying out for people who are good at what they do and are actually out there completing great work. Stop procrastinating and make something. The world needs you to take your brilliant new ideas and then use your work ethic to polish them into something amazing!

Second, the bullshit era is failing. The 'hype with no substance model' is a dying, as seen by the catatonic ratings of the once-successful reality music TV shows. The pervasiveness of social media and the internet has changed the world, because finding out if you are a "fake" (or that your film is terrible) has never been easier. 2012 will see the return to being judged by the quality of your work. So, don't be a hype machine with no substance. No matter what your industry, 2012 will reward people who focus on being the best at what they do.

Most of all, be aware! In the era where you can make high quality films cheaply and talk directly to your audience with technology, you need to know what is going on in the world and take your destiny in your own hands. You may not think about the world at large, but the world most certainly has an impact on you and your success. For example, did you know that the Free Trade Agreement with the USA has an impact on how much Australian TV stations can require there to be Australian shows on TV? This has a direct impact on how much Australian TV production there is, and therefore how many Australian TV Production jobs there are. If you didn't know this, why not? The information is freely available, you just have to shake off apathy and be informed enough to make good career choices.

2012 will be big, shiny and new. There will be challenges and opportunities. Winners and losers.

Aliens are unlikely to invade, but you're going to be a winner. I can feel it.



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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


As a filmmaker outside of Los Angeles, you get used to hearing "No".

We live in a culture of "No".

"No" that is only possible in Hollywood.

"No" you should get a proper job in mining or accountancy.

"No" way there is room for you in the overcrowded film industry.

For the thin-skinned it's demoralising.

There are far worse alternatives though. Apparently, in LA, compliments are free flowing, but the all important "Yes" to your film project is rarely forthcoming. There is even a famous line about it:

“Hollywood is the only place where you can die from encouragement.”
- Dorothy Parker

And it's worse if you take a lot of meetings. "Death by Meeting", I call it.

Even a thick skinned person has trouble enduring weeks of meetings where all you hear is "No".

This week's meetings were unusual for me, hence the late newsletter. In one evening alone I was fortunate enough to meet luminaries such as Paul Cox (the noted director of 'Exile'), Chris Murray (Popcorn Taxi director who launched Empire Magazine in Australia) and Vincent D'onofrio (acted in everything from 'Full Metal Jacket' to 'Men In Black').

But while this shoulder-rubbing was fun, as was the horrifically blatant name dropping I just did, it wasn't actually the best part of my week.

Earlier in the week, I had a meeting to discuss a strategic proposal around social networking and marketing. It had the potential to be dreadful, truly truly dreadful.

Instead, there was a metaphorical sparring match. It was polite, but we challenged each other. Ideas were thought of, and then replaced with better ideas.

Just over an hour later, we shook hands and headed our separate ways. "No" had not been said once, only "What if instead..."

My mind was flowing with ideas. I was energised.

And I realised, one good meeting will outweigh a calendar full of bad ones.

A good meeting will remind you why you expend the energy in pursuit of an idea.

To be challenged. To connect with peers. To produce your best work.

So, don't be dismayed by the sea of bad meetings you have to navigate. They serve a purpose.

They remind you what a good meeting looks like.

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Thursday, December 08, 2011


Good news! The feature film I worked on, John Duigan's 'Careless Love' has secured a limited cinema release in 2012!

In preparation, check out the trailer at:

In the first 20 seconds, my good friend and collaborator Kyle Sellers features as the guy eating pizza. Never a more impressive debut has been seen.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Have you ever played "buzz word bingo"?

The basic premise is to keep a tally of ridiculous buzz words used in meetings, like "synergy" or "strategic", and laugh quietly to yourself. It makes the meetings go faster, trust me.

Sometimes though, the jokes on you. Someone uses a word that everyone else seems to know...except you. Your only defense is to smile and nod, like a moron, hoping no-one notices your ignorance. Don't worry, it happens to all of us. William Shakespeare is said to have invented up to 1700 new words, including "skim milk". Imagine how often his peers had no idea what he was talking about.

A new word that keeps popping up for me is 'Gamesification'. The first time I heard it was in a new media presentation. I immediately looked around to see if everyone else knew what the speaker was talking about. They were all nodding. This means either they knew what 'Gamesification' was, or they were trying their hardest to appear that they did.

Months later, I was reading an article, and the word came up again. Hearing it twice told me it wasn't going away.

So I looked it up.

The only definition I could find was:

"Gamesification: Turning Other Things into Games".


There was not a lot more resources on this available, but over time I have managed to piece a few things together, which I am happy to share.

So, what is 'Gamesification'?

Allegedly, it's the future. 'Real life games'.

Instead of just going to a ski resort, you have a special chip in your ski pass which tracks all of your achievements - like you are a player in a game. Successfully ski the highest peak, and you earn a "badge" that shows you have. This shows up on your online profile, which you share, compare and compete with friends and other skiing fanatics.

Or you're a holidayer at a resort in Ibiza, and a special chip in a wristband allows you to track which dance party events you went to, like a badge of honour. Using your Facebook account, you can share these experiences with friends and link photos taken by professional photographers at the events. So, attending the parties becomes a game.

Or the movie premiere, a mystery movie, where you are given clues to follow to find the theatre and engage in the story. Like a game. (Note: a long video, but very good and he mentions the 'Transmedia/Gamesification' campaign for a film)

What is 'Gamesification'? It's about making real life experiences into games.

But, why would you create a real life game?

The money makers will say it's so that people attend your nightclub, ski at your resort, or watch your movie.

But the creators are saying it is about engaging with your audience and making the experience even better. The movie-goer loves the movie because they are more immersed in the world of the story. The skier loves the ski holiday because they can compete with their friends and track their winter vacation. The Ibiza clubbers can say "I was there!" to their friends and share stories.

And they buy things too, so everybody wins.

The consumer of the future is focussed on the "experience", not just buying things. Play to that, and people will show up in droves, like they did for the "3D Experience" of Avatar ($3Billion sales and counting).

That is why 'Gamesification' is not going away.

Making games of real life. Like 'buzz word bingo'.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011


This one will be very short and sweet.

I wouldn't wish food poisoning on anyone.

I had this great idea for this week's newsletter, about the 'Gamesification' of the world, especially in entertainment content. Like any idea, it was fermenting nicely over a few days.

Then, on the weekend, I went for a lunch with a friend of mine and a mutual acquaintance. We chatted about film, possible moves to L.A. and the idea of living comfortably off of arts grants. It was lovely and we all parted ways after a few hours and a good chin wag.

That night, a wild and violent party broke my stomach.

I'll save you the detail, but 5 days, 2 doctors visits and some strong medication later, and I am starting to feel a bit better. Yeesh.

But the show must go on. So, with that in mind, I thought I would share something small I noticed while on Facebook Chat. I was talking to a writer/director friend of mine, who was contemplating what he should do next. He made a good short film, has a few options now, but is paralysed by the thought of actually choosing something.

There is a lot of debate about whether we are living in a "short attention span" world now. There are a lot of negatives to this development, but one positive is it forces us to be more concise.

When I read back my reply to my friend, I realised that being forced to write small sentences in Facebook Chat, made me give better advice than if I had a page of free text.

I said:

when you're lost in the edit
go back to the script
good advice I got once
you had a story to tell
you told it well
it still has life out there
and is a stepping stone to a next thing
or the weight around your neck of the one great thing you did
up to you which one

That may not mean a lot to you, but it did to him.

So, what advice can I offer you?

Don't eat the grilled chicken sandwich.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The Good Neighbour and Reflection were both very well received at the Sandfly Film Festival in Jervis Bay.

'The Good Neighbour' was voted the AUDIENCE VOTE WINNER - SESSION 2 and 'Relfection' was recognised in the Award Ceremony for WINNER - BEST PERFORMANCE - "Sarah Jane Coombe".

A wonderful result for both films, and a big thank you to The Sandfly Film Festival for their hospitality.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


What are my bids?

Up for auction...your dreams.

Unused. Still in the shrink wrap.

What will you offer for them?

There's an old song called 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' about a fiddler challenging the devil for a golden fiddle.

His wager?

His soul.

What price would you pay?

In the current climate, Greece, The USA, and independent filmmakers all have something in common.

No-one will give them any money.

Now imagine a millionaire shows up, offering you the money you need to make your film a reality. They have no experience in film, yet have established a production company funding arthouse films.

You are so desperate for a break, you don't pursue any agreements about creative control or final cut of your finished film.

What could go wrong?

The articles are good, so I'll let them speak for themselves.

But remember, if you dance with the devil, you'd better hope the music stops.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have the secret for you to earn anywhere between $25 million and $250 Million in a single year.

It is so simple, you will wonder how you didn't think of it yourself.

Lean in closer.


Are you ready?

Be one of the 400 most successful people in the world, in your chosen profession.

That's it! Easy, right?

Sarcasm aside, you may not have noticed, but we are currently enduring an "armchair analyst" explosion. "Armchair analysts" are people who have no idea what a particular job entails, yet feel qualified to assume that the protagonists are overpaid for doing it.

By way of illustration, professional basketballers in the USA, millionaires themselves, are in the midst of a major industrial dispute with the billionaire owners of their professional teams. They are fighting over the future rules for the player's employment contracts and salaries. In response, sports bloggers decry that these basketballers should accept a bad labour deal from their team owners because, relative to a parking attendant making $30,000 a year, it is obscene for them to be haggling over millions. By comparison, the highest paid player, Kobe Bryant makes $25 Million a year.

In Hollywood, every year, Forbes publishes a list of the highest paid film actors and film directors, ensuring an annual wave of indignation at the millions of dollars these "entertainers" make. Leonardo Dicaprio reportedly made $77 Million in 2010. James Cameron, meanwhile, made $250 Million in 2010 on the success of Avatar, which by that point had grossed $2 Billion at the worldwide box office.

Compare that to the teenager ripping ticket stubs at the local cinema for $7.25 an hour (minimum wage), is the logic these "analysts" use.

But are we really comparing apples with apples here?

Approximately 2700 people attended the Oscars in 2010. Enough to fill one auditorium.

There are approximately 450 professional basketballers in the professional American league (the NBA). Enough to fill one large hall.

In 2010, there were 6.8 Billion people in the world.

Even if you pro-rata it for the guesstimated number of people that are actually in the film or professional basketball industries, worldwide, you are still talking about athletes or film professionals in the top 0.001% to 0.1% of their field, respectively.

I'm not saying that people who do everyday jobs, not earning millions, don't deserve respect.

But comparing the people who work hard for years to become the top 0.1% of the world in their chosen profession - performing feats that the vast majority are incapable of - is lazy thinking at best, and insulting at worst.

But if you think I'm wrong, just pick up a basketball and play.

It's that easy, right?

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Friday, November 11, 2011


Good news: Reflection, a film I co-produced has begun its festival run and has been selected for some hidden gems on the circuit!

It started with the Offshoot Film Festival 2011 in Arkansas USA.

Then the news that we were selected for the Stepping Stones Film Festival in Bangalore, India - international!

And now the news that we have been selected for the Sandfly Film Festival in Jervis Bay!

The festival is on tonight, and I will be there to see how The Good Neighbour and Reflection are received by the festival audience. Among some excellent industry judges will be none other than esteemed Australian musician/actor Ben Lee.

Hopefully we can continue the festival run, and get these films seen by as many people as possible!


We humans are social animals. There are really wonderful things that come out of this, and then there is gossip.

I have been gossiped about, back in the small fishpond days of high school. We all have. Jeff Goldblum was declared dead on Twitter. It took a TV appearance to convince the public he was actually alive.

It's always funny to me, however, when a big company decides to respond to gossip. I am sure they think it will help calm the waters, but cynical as we are, it inevitably does more harm than good.

So, with a wry smile, I read about the major film manufacturer Kodak's press release:

"...Kodak says reports of its impending corporate-death have been exaggerated and it is still making billions of feet of film."

By way of context, the world of filmmaking is changing as digital cameras, with wonderfully complicated image sensors, replace traditional film cameras, using actual film negatives. This is true even for major studio films.

This digital revolution has been coming for some time. In the May 2nd, 1999 edition of the New York Times, the renowned film editor Walter Murch (who won an Oscar for 'Apocalyspe Now' and edited 'The Godfather II') made a prediction about the coming 'digital revolution' in film. ( Mr Murch said that, as soon as high quality digital cameras become available and cinemas start using digital projectors instead of analogue projectors (i.e.that use film prints), the use of film to make movies will be on it's death bed. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

In the last five years, both high quality digital cameras and digital cinema projection have become a viable reality.

Kodak, being one of, if not THE, largest producer of motion picture film is obviously affected by this changing paradigm. Movie productions using digital cameras equals no demand for film, after all.

Obviously, others have noticed it too. Hence the gossip.

So what do Kodak do? Assure the world that they have things well in hand and are continuing film stock production.

Seems reasonable.


“Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

As it turns out, the major motion picture film camera makers, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton, have stopped making 35mm motion picture film cameras.

There is even a suggestion that the last motion picture film camera was made as far back as 2009.


Does this mean that film will stop being used immediately?

No, cameras have a good shelf life if maintained well.

But film will become rarer. And harder to get developed. And, therefore, costly.

It will get harder to get parts for and service film cameras. And, therefore, costly.

But maybe Kodak is right. Maybe it is all gossip. Goldblum turned out to be alive, after all.

Or maybe Kodak should have just kept quiet.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


I almost got scammed.

It always starts innocently enough. A well meaning film producer looking to distribute his (or her) film out to the wider world.

So, I did what any short filmmaker does. I started looking at local and international film festivals.

Now, there are some wonderful film festivals out there, with big audiences, prizes, and qualification for major honours, like the Independent Spirit Awards or the Oscars.

However, like all arenas where there are artists, trying to be heard above the din, there are those who are willing to take advantage of the filmmakers who have become desperate. Thankfully I'm not at this stage...yet.

The biggest hook the would-be scammers use is the promise of "exposure".

Filmmakers reading this will laugh, because that is often the carrot people try and use to make you provide your services for free. "Work on our production, and it will be great for YOUR career. You'll get great exposure!"

Sometimes it's true. More often it's not. But I digress.

I was up to my ears in film festival guides and spreadsheets, planning the festivals I would enter 'The Good Neighbour' into. Do the work, I thought.

In the midst of this organised chaos, I received an email for 'The Cannes Independent Film Festival'.

The website looks convincing enough. It even receives film entries through WithoutaBox, which has become a pseudo sign for reliability.

Perhaps I was tired, or vulnerable, or both, but I was ready to enter. Luckily though, something didn't feel right. The main page read:

The mission of the Cannes Independent Film Festival is to provide truly independent films an opportunity to be screened in Cannes during the world's most prestigious film gathering and the biggest International Film Market.

Noble. It goes on to say that:

Being selected as a part of CIFF entitles you to:
- Screen your film at great venues in Cannes
- Sell your film to the world's biggest gathering of film buyers
- Network with and promote new projects to the entire film industry

Sounds great! But then the same page says:


SO, you will be screened during the world's biggest film gathering, that they are in no way associated with?

Alarm bells were ringing. I wanted more detail, but the more I searched the less I found. It seemed that all the press around the Cannes Independent Film Festival was coming from...The Cannes Independent Film Festival.

Finally, I found a single blog. It has since been removed, unfortunately. I do wonder what happened to the poor chap who wrote it.

To paraphrase, this blogger stated that the Cannes Independent Film Festival was misleading filmmakers into thinking they were going to get 'exposure' by being in a film festival in Cannes during the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival. According to this filmmaker, who had first hand knowledge, nothing could be further from the truth. Film industry representatives attending the Cannes International Film Festival were, of course, distracted by a small event called Cannes International Film Festival.

What could someone possibly gain by intentionally or unintentionally misleading filmmakers, you ask?

Simple, the 45 Pound ($AU70 approx) entry fee.

45 Pounds multiplied by the number of desperate filmmakers out there (e.g. one of the big 10 film festivals in the US got short film 5000 entries this year) equals a lot of money. Annually.

Personally, I got my final confirmation when I checked their FAQ's.

Q. So, are you guys Slamdancing the Cannes Film Festival?
A. Some participants have made that analogy.

For the uninitiated, The SUNDANCE Film Festival is the biggest independent film festival in the USA, held in Utah every year. As a response to supposed elitism in the Sundance Film Festival, a group of filmmakers started the SLAMDANCE film festival in 1995, running at the same time as Sundance, also in Utah. Slamdance, however, made very clear restrictions on the films they would accept, to ensure they were "truly" independent films. For example. the budget for feature films in Slamdance have to be under $1M, to show they are REALLY an independent film, not a big budget film pretending to be "Indy". The Slamdance Film Festival has been the launching pad of the careers of Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and many others.

From my perspective, the FAQ question was just another example of the Cannes Independent Film Festival trying to draw a link between themselves and an established, and most importantly trusted, film festival.

And the more I looked, the more I found other festivals that looked suspect. Unsurprisingly, these festivals were all based in cities where there were existing prestigious festivals. Target desperation and look like you are affiliated with established and prestigious festivals; that's the play.

Others, including Interpol, have caught on. The most written about of these alleged Film Festival scams are: The San Francisco Short Film Festival (as opposed to the prestigious San Francisco International Film Festival); the New York Film and Video Festival (as opposed to the famous Tribeca Film Festival, New York) and the Alaska International Film Festival (as opposed to the prestigious Anchorage Film Festival in Alaska), to name just a few.

There are too many film festivals in the world today. Filmmakers need to be really sure about why they are entering a particular festival, and do their homework before they outlay the entry fee.

As for the festivals I named and shamed above, have I been too harsh? Are these simply new festivals trying to edge their way into the crowded festival circuit and make a dent in the established players?

It's not impossible.

But I'm not convinced.


New York Film and Video Festival

Fake festivals warning by interpol

Group of Scam Festivals using names similar to established festivals

Scam Alaskan Festival

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Saturday, November 05, 2011


Good news: The Good Neighbour has been selected for the Sandfly Film Festival in Jervis Bay!

The festival is on next Saturday night, and I will be there if anyone would like to come along. Among some excellent industry judges will be none other than esteemed Australian musician/actor Ben Lee.

I will post some thoughts on our screening on our Facebook Page ( and on this newsletter/blog.

Hopefully we can continue this run with our entries in the US and Europe!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I have officially departed my home town of Penrith, and so my timetable on the newsletters will officially go back to normal. When I was born, there was no internet, now I can't live without it. Humorous, really.

While I was in Penrith, however, I had the opportunity to dispel a well used myth about the younger generation - the so called 'Gen i'.

A friend of mine teaches year 7 English, at a school in Fairfield, west of Sydney. 'English' has changed since my school days, because they actually completed a unit on film: specifically, animation. When I was in year 7, we had to do Shakespeare - 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to be exact:

For aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.

Or something like that.

But before this turns into an 'in my day' diatribe, I should clarify that this is a positive story. Keep that in mind.

So, my friend asked me to speak about introductory film and animation to the year 7 kids at his school. The idea was to present to all of the year 7 English classes in two sessions. Two sessions consisting of eighty restless 13 year-olds each.

Piece of cake.

As I sipped a tea and thought about it, it seemed easy enough. After all, they had only really heard of Pixar and didn't need to know about anything complicated like Flash or Maya animation.

I got to work putting together a presentation with loads of video, from some personal favourites like Tim Burton's 'Vincent', to crowd pleasers like the 'Happy Feet' trailer. Macbook in tow, I turned up in the morning, ready to present.

I was prepared, even excited. And then, on the way in to the classroom, a teacher warned me that I had a particular class within the group that were made up of 'difficult' kids.

Naively, I asked: "What do you mean by 'difficult'?"

She frowned at my ignorance: "They have learning difficulties. So just be sure you keep them under control."

Eh...piece of cake.

So there I was, standing in front of eighty expectant faces. I got the ball rolling by asking them about what their favourite animation films were. Seemed like a good ice breaker.

Then I started to play 'Vincent', Tim Burton's 1982 short stop motion animation (using clay) about a boy who wants to be Vincent Price. It goes for roughly 6 minutes.

According to conventional wisdom, If I was going to lose the attention of a bunch of 13 year olds, this would be the moment.


They watched the whole thing from start to finish. Not a peep.

And, over the course of an hour, they listened, answered my questions, laughed occasionally and watched whatever media I put up on the screen.

Now I know that I was not presenting a boring subject, like maths, but I really believe the reports of the next generation being listless and easily distracted are grossly overstated.

We live in an information and media rich world today. The new generations are simply trying to navigate this new world.

For example, in his book 'Information Anxiety (1989)', Richard Wurman claims "that the weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person in 17th-century England was likely to come across in a lifetime."

That was in 1989.

And I don't know how Mr Wurman asked people from 17th-century England about how much information they received in a lifetime, but it is an interesting idea.

So much has changed. How different will the world look for the next generation?

I don't know.

But I saw a roomful of kids get excited about dancing penguins, giant blue 'Avatars', and a little boy who wanted to be Vincent Price.

Many things have changed, but they're still just kids.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011


For people born in distant towns or the suburbs, homecomings are a trip. Novel for a while, but slowly more irritating as the reasons you left become abundantly clear.

I grew up in Penrith, a suburban bogan Eutopia in Sydney's west. There is nothing extraordinarily wrong with the place, it is just miles away from everything and anything. The silence is deafening, punctuated by the occasional screeching tyre or siren.

Hence why you either leave for good, or anchor yourself here for life.

I got out, but every so often family business calls me back. And so here I am, no internet (until I finally managed to borrow a USB modem today), terrible public transport and random sightings of people heavy drinking at 9 in the morning. On a weekday. Yikes.

With that in mind, I have gathered some tidbits this week. Scattered pieces to match my scattered mind. The outcome of living in someone else's space for a prolonged period of time.....



I have mentioned the growing war on piracy as shifting to a 'war of convenience' - offer easy to use online alternatives for film/TV consumption and make it inconvenient to illegally download - in a couple of previous newsletters:

And then I saw this story the other day. The move for Hollywood studios to push Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to hold illegal downloaders accountable is expanding at pace in Europe:

The highlights are:

Dodd singled out France's controversial three-strikes rule, which cuts off Internet access for users who repeatedly download material illegally, for particular praise.

But the senator cited similar tactics across Europe, including new anti-piracy legislation in Spain pending laws in Italy and the recent German-led raid earlier this month that shut down notorious piracy site

the Motion Picture Assn. took British Telecom to court to force it to block access to an alleged film piracy site

It's growing. FAST.


After pontificating about being relieved that we finally got a film festival selection for our film 'The Good Neighbour', it ended up winning Best Drama at the festival ( I do feel slightly bad now for even slightly coming off as whingeing when I was talking about relief vs success, but a very good friend of mine had a first festival selection for his short film and the first thing he felt was......? That's right, relief. Anyone who has had a different experience is welcome to write in and prove me wrong.


The future (i.e. online distribution with massive increases in consumer power) is barreling down on traditional television content distribution models, and Shrek is behind the wheel.

In what was considered a major shock in the cable TV Market in the USA, Dreamworks pictures, the makers of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, passed on a traditional distribution deal with major cable broadcaster HBO and instead signed a deal with online streaming provider Netflix. This appears to be the first time first time a major Hollywood content supplier has chosen Web streaming over pay television. The longer it takes for television providers to start adapting to new technology, the more they guarantee they will be left behind.

They say change is the only constant, but the rate of change evidenced in the industry above is quite dramatic. We are in an exciting, terrifying, transformative time. The storytellers will rise and the fame hungry will fall. Mark my words.

Change is the only constant. Except when you come home. Years pass in your home town, but nothing seems to change.

Except you.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

OAFILMS NEWS - The GOOD NEIGHBOUR wins at The Blue Mountains Film Festival!

Great news!

After being selected as a finalist for the Blue Mountains Film Festival, patroned by film critic god David Stratton, The Good Neighbour won Best Drama!

This was a wonderful surprise, given this was the film's first festival selection.

At the awards ceremony on 15 October, The Good Neighbour was nominated along side The Telegram Man (a short film with Gary Sweet, Jack Thompson and Sigrid Thornton) in the Best Drama and the Festival Grand Prize categories. The Good Neighbour was awarded the trophy for Best Drama, and I proudly accepted the award from actor Josef Ber (from TV's "Rush") and MC Kitty Flanagan.

The best part of the festival was actually the audience response to the film's screening on the 14th October. Really special. Overall the festival was a wonderful experience for the film.

The award was nice too.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I am getting an early start on this Newsletter because, as well as being an AWFUL Sydney day outside, I read something I had to share straight away.

Our species are, inherently, storytellers.

Anyone who has ever told a story, at a dinner table, at a pub, on stage or on the screen, knows there is something amazing that happens when people connect with the story and you nail the ending. They laugh, they cry, they smile. Drinks are bought for you and, in the weeks that come, a thousand feeble attempts at retelling the story are made, that usually end with the statement: "Well, I guess you had to be there."

I have told many stories in many pubs. Some go really well, but others end in tumbleweeds. When the awkward silence ensues, I am often left wondering, what was missing from this one?

In a professional arena like film or TV, the risks of not getting this right are huge, given a film falling flat can literally bankrupt a studio ( for proof).

The end result is an entire industry of story experts (known as "script doctors") has grown, who specialise in selling their brand of story structure advice to the world. For example, on Amazon there are 1,545 individual paperback tomes on 'screenwriting' alone. Some are great, many are not.

With that in mind, I was reading an interview from one of these script doctors, sipping my tea and looking at the black clouds outside, and he actually produced the best one line summary of a 'good story' that I have ever seen:

Story is the perfect union of character and plot.
- John Truby

He qualified this with slightly more detail: "Most writers think plot and story are identical. They aren’t...fundamentally a good story is, once again, plot coming from character and character coming from plot."

This may seem overly simplistic, but to me it sums it up perfectly. A detailed character, in an interesting story, where the two are inextricably inked.

I can think back to all the stories I have told and heard in pubs and say that, without a doubt, Truby's summation is the reason why I have been either left laughing or being laughed at.

Worth sharing, methinks.

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The blessing and simultaneous curse of the digital era is that we have all turned into digital "packrats".

My Grandmother understands. She can't (or won't) use a computer, but she is a hoarder. Part of being an Irish-Catholic depression era baby, I guess. I have numerous memories of watching her sort through piles of "stuff". My favourite is the enormous bottom drawer full of random newspaper pages - articles she felt were worth keeping.

Occasionally, she finds a gem. The functional Super8 camera with three rolls of film, for example. Brilliant.

For every terrific retro camera, however, there are 40,000 'commemorative' teatowels.

With my genetics in mind, I thought I would share something I found buried in some old papers of mine. I was spring cleaning, and found an old production report from a short I produced in film school:

On 'Tarzan the Deaf', I learnt three things very quickly.

One. There is more than one way to skin a cat. In this sense, there is more than one way to be a producer. There are those that focus purely on logistics. There are those that focus purely on story, and become a pseudo script editor. There are those that want the power. There are others who wish they had never signed up in the first place. There are no end of people telling you how to be a producer and how they would have done it better. But, as I learned, no-one is actually “wrong” in having a different approach. Producers need to work on outcomes, not methodologies. As long as the film gets delivered in the best, safest, and most cost effective way possible, you can produce any way you like.

Two. If your first impression is that someone is lazy and likes to make excuses for why they are lazy, it will probably turn out to be true. This is a killer, especially when these people are in key roles. A lazy person who is simply absent is actually far easier to deal with than someone who tries to cover their laziness by claiming it is everyone else’s fault. The second option makes for a toxic situation, as the crew gets increasingly frustrated with the lack of results and lack of taking responsibility. On a professional set, I would give them a window of improvement and then extricate them quickly if they don’t change.

Three. Put your crew in a situation where they feel trusted, empowered and responsible, and 99% of the time they will deliver amazing results. I can say this having seen some colleagues ruling their production with an iron fist, and then wondering why the crew are on edge. Pressure is necessary, as is pushing people to produce their best work, but micromanage and patronize people at your peril. They will give you the bare minimum of effort, at best. Empowering your crew will inevitably mean that things happen, while they are in charge, that you wouldn’t have wanted to happen (e.g. too many takes and burning through footage a little too quickly), but the benefits of giving them creative freedom far outweigh the negatives and most certainly show on screen.

Like I said, sometimes you find things worth keeping.

In that sense, being a packrat isn't all bad, I guess.

Assuming you like teatowels, of course.

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I got some great news this week!

The last film I produced, The Good Neighbour, finally got selected for a film festival. The Blue Mountains Film Festival to be exact.

It has been a long journey.

We shot the film almost a year ago now.

We completed all of the post production by January this year, and finally we had a finished film.

Then we started distribution; sending our pride and joy out to film festivals around the world, in order to get our work seen by as many people as possible.

Since then, it has been many long months with many rejections.

While the feedback for the film has been positive, our two sticking points kept undermining our film festival selection chances.

'Length' and 'Subject Matter'.

The Good Neighbour is 15 minutes long, well over the optimum 7 to 10 minutes festivals want. The Good Neighbour also thematically covers the physical abuse of a child. Hard to program in a festival, apparently.

And so the months passed.

Every so often, I would hear something oddly inspirational that kept my motivation up. Like a random Facebook post from a friend:

"Met crazy man out the front of a court building this morning. He babbled something vaguely psychotic. I backed away. As I walked off I wished him luck. He called out: "remember, there's no winners and losers. Just winners and learners." quite profound. Even for man who smelt of wee..."

Nine months passed. I got so sick of the inside of the post office, mailing DVDs to the corners of the globe to be judged.

The rejections kept coming. They were polite. The one from Korea was the funniest.

And finally, this small breakthrough.

I thought I would jump 5 feet in the air if we finally got a breakthrough.

Instead, faced with a small piece of long awaited good tidings, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of...............relief.

Yes, relief. Such a strange reaction, but true.

Success, small or big is highly mythologised.

In truth, from personal experience and also from talking to people who have enjoyed far greater successes than I, the cliche actually happens to be true.

The journey really is the most rewarding thing. By the time any sort of reward or recognition comes around, you are more likely to be overwhelmed by relief that the hard work paid off, than obscene levels of joy.

That's why the first thing an athlete, public figure or oscar winner does when they win is stop and take a deep breath.


Then, after some form of alcoholic drink, happiness.

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Though my formal training is in interpretive dance, not prognostication, I am going to make a prediction.

There have been many secret meetings, in secret back rooms, between secretive people, recently.

First, the U.S.A. makes a deal, after heavy lobbying by the movie studios and music labels, where 'pirates' (i.e. regular illegal downloaders of copyrighted movies and songs) will be penalised. The deal, struck between the studios, labels and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), will see the offenders warned and have their internet speed slowed down to an irritating crawl if they continue to offend.

Then, New Zealand actually passes a law that enacts a similar system to the USA, but it will not be voluntary for the ISPs to participate.

In Australia, meanwhile, we have truly awful anti-piracy adds inflicted upon us. It's ironic really, given they are produced by a consortium of movie studios, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

Recently, however, AFACT has ramped up their campaign against piracy in Australia. They took iiNET, the Australian ISP, to court, claiming iiNET was responsible for allowing their users to download pirated content. iiNET won with the ruling clearly stating that "an Australian Internet provider is not responsible for illegal movie downloads by its customers.".

AFACT, however, have appealed.

And finally, last week, new data comes out of the The Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPAF) that states, (*sarcasm alert* - shock and horror) that in Australia, "almost three-quarters of consumers would stop illegally downloading files if they received a notice from their internet service provider (ISP)."

How very convenient!

Looking into my crystal ball, although it could be a cataract, I predict that a very similar law will be coming to Australia in the nearish future.

The case is being built, and lobbying will almost certainly be happening behind the scenes.

Mark my words.

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Secrets are well hidden and the truth is subjective.

In short, never believe what you read.......unless you wrote it.

I was planning on giving you an update on a prediction I gave you some time ago, but something odd happened along the way.

I was in the Opening Act Cave, slaving over a hot keyboard for your amusement and information. An article came across my desk about the Film Piracy attitudes of regular Australians, citing "new research".

I read the press release from the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPAF) and jumped onto their bandwagon, with my flaming torch and pitchfork ready.

As I typed my fingers down to the bone, I thought, "Wonderful! What masterful prose! Just the topic they would be interested in!"

And then, as my third fingernail popped off, due to my ferocious typing, a tiny light bulb flickered in the back of my head.

I hadn't read the actual report, just the press release.

So I started looking for the actual "new research" they were trumpeting.

I clicked on the link provided by the press release. It simply took me back to the IPAF home page.


So I looked into the research company. It was conducted by the mysterious Sycamore Research and Marketing (Sycamore R&M).

I Googled them.

Strangely, the only mentions of Sycamore R&M are by news articles quoting the press release or from blogs associated with IPAF.

Manufacturing their own press? Even more curious.

Two names do appear, the mysterious "Mrs and Mrs X" - Linked in Profiles for the Owner, Sycamore R&M and Director, Sycamore R&M.

Dead end there.

And what about the company?

Well, they have a website listed in an obscure motivational e-book, where the Director, Sycamore R&M, is quoted giving her insight into starting out in business. The website for Sycamore R&M is listed as

I typed in the website address and hit enter. When you go there, however, it simply says " is a parked domain". No website.

I was starting to feel like Julia Roberts in 'The Pelican Brief'.

"So what!? You say, they are probably a new company and haven't had time to set up a website!"

EXCEPT, I found a Screen Australia submission that states that Sycamore R&M was commissioned by IPAF in August 2008 to conduct research on Australian Consumer Attitudes to piracy.

It seems EXTRAORDINARILY strange to me, that a Research and Marketing firm, in existence for at least 3 years, does not even have the basics of marketing, i.e. a website.

It is also interesting, given that their research is commissioned by an anti-piracy agency, that Sycamore's research is VERY strongly in favour of similar anti-piracy laws that were enacted in the U.S.A. I even talked about these new laws, involving Internet Service Provider (ISP's) "warning" downloaders, in a previous newsletter:

Is there a perfectly normal explanation to all of this?

Probably. I did eventually find the research.

But it was strange.

And I wonder, how many people writing stories and commenting, read more than the press release.

Everyone has an agenda.

Leave the flaming torch and pitchforks. Do the homework instead.

For those who are interested, the piracy attitudes research:

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Why do you wear old pyjama pants even though new, shinier and less tattered varieties are available?

One word: reliability.

Reliability is an underrated commodity.

Reliability makes millionaires, creates household names and builds empires. Lack of reliability destroys brands, companies and careers.

Woody Allen coined it best: "90% of success is just showing up."

In speaking to producers, I have often heard them say variations of the same theme: they would hire someone who is competent and reliable over someone who is freakishly talented yet completely flaky. 9 out of 10 times.

If you are reliable, people want to help you in return. Similarly, if you let people down badly, they tend to have elephant-like memories.

For example, a small crew and I were shooting a key interview for a short documentary last Sunday. Our cinematographer had booked and confirmed a set of lights we needed for the interview.

Nothing too exciting so far.

Sunday rolls along. It's a beautiful day, our interview subject is recovered from an unpleasant looking facial infection (true story), the location in Bondi is ready to go and we are enjoying a wake-up coffee.

Seems harmless.

Then the cinematographer arrives. Apparently, the guy with the lights had lent them to someone else at the last minute. No problem, we just had to pick them up from the person who had them.

This person, however, was either either hung-over, still drunk, in a coma or dead. Perhaps a combination of a few of these.

"So what?", you say. "It's just lights! Don't be so over dramatic!"


No lights means we can't shoot our footage, unless we want the interview subject to look like he is in witness protection and having his identity protected (i.e. a completely black silouhette).

Reliability issues, no matter how trivial, are not victimless crimes.

In order to fix the problem and track down new lights, we lost 3 hours. That 3 hours cost us proper breaks for the crew; made the interview much tougher on the interview subject; and eventually meant that we could not cover all the information we needed in the interview. This now means we will now need another shoot day to complete the interview.

One small poor decision had a drastic flow on effect. That's why reliability is a commodity. That's why unreliability is a major risk to any Producer trying to build a business.

I don't pretend to know why some people are unreliable. It could be something locked deep within their genetic code, or it could be a choice.

I do know, however, that I will not give those people an opportunity again, if I have a choice.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


In a previous newsletter, I told the story of Ray Park, the guy who would be famous if he didn't keep getting cast as a character with no head.

Ray's story is relevant, because, in the world with so many artists and so much content, he shows you can be successful without being famous.

Ironically the idea of being successful without becoming a household name seems offensive to some people I meet but, as Ricky Gervais said, if you want to become famous...murder a prostitute.

In any case, as it turns out, the opposite is also true, you can be famous without being a success. Just ask Rebecca Black.

Ms Black became an internet sensation for the utterly horrible song "Friday" with poetic lyrics such as:

Yesterday was Thursday Thursday
Today it is Friday Friday
We we we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwards
I don't want this weekend to end

Shakespeare is turning in his grave.

But the world has changed. Cynicism (or good judgement?) is making a comeback. In today's film/TV/music world, you have to be good. The public are savvy enough to spot a manufactured music/film/TV star a mile away.

Unfortunately for Rebecca Black, the old rules don't apply any more. Sales numbers aren't the only way for the public to tell you they dislike your work.

They get to speak to you.


Worse still, they get to tell you, everyone they know, and anyone else that will listen. That's the socially connected world we live in.

It's part of the reason why films are releasing worldwide, at the same time, more frequently. Online word of mouth in America can make or break a film's chances in the rest of the world, literally overnight. Google "The Green Lantern Movie" for proof.

As for Ms Black, her music has been universally panned, she has become the subject of ridicule online, and now she has had to withdraw from school because of constant taunts and bullying.

Let me be clear: I am not saying Rebecca Black deserves to be bullied.

I am saying that more time spent rehearsing and songwriting, perfecting the craft, would have given her a better chance of success.

With success, fame, the kind based on respect and admiration, can follow. This fame lasts.

But Rebecca wanted fame before success.

Be careful what you wish for. = if you really MUST watch the song.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011


Dear friends, we are gathered here today to farewell a friend we have all known and loved for some time. Some of you knew this friend from birth, others have only been lucky enough to be friends in recent years. This friend has been there, through relationships, break ups, births, deaths, good times and bad.

Some us haven't always agreed with the choices this friend has made, but in the end our relationship has always endured.

And so my friends, it is with great sadness that we commemorate the passing of our cherished companion, broadcast television.

You will be missed.

(cue Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and the laying of roses)

Morbid imagery I know.

But this is a glimpse into the future.

One of the reasons this newsletter is late this week, is that I was struggling with how to explain the lessons I learned at an Industry seminar on Tuesday. The seminar was "SPAA Masterclass 3: Digital - Where's the money?". It was supposed to be about how to make money (known as "monetising") from digital/online media.

It ended up being about how traditional media companies, especially broadcasters, were attempting to catchup to the revolution (and I use this word deliberately - it is a revolution!) that is happening in the Film, TV and Media Industry. I won't bore you with details, although feel free to email me if you would like to know more, but there were a few key sentiments that came out of it. They are:

1) The explosion of the internet has changed the world, forever.
2) The next era we are entering is the era of consumer power (i.e. the revolution). This is already true in key consumer areas like shopping (ebay), news (Google), and music (Napster/File sharing).
3) The existing major companies in these areas suffer the most from the revolution, see the major papers closing and major music labels crumbling for evidence.
4) Film, TV and media is next, as broadband speeds get faster.
5) We either evolve or starve.

Being in the room with representatives of the big media companies was a strange experience for me. It was like I had mistakenly stepped into a meeting of the rich and powerful. Like Michael Moore at a gathering of BP, Shell and ExonMobil. The film, TV and Media Establishment live in person.

And me, wondering how they kept missing the point so badly.

Do you want to know what the film, TV and Media establishment talk about?

How to stop evolution.

The film, TV and media establishment talk about how to keep up with the revolution and, as much as possible, keep things the same. For their own survival.

Survival! Not growth, SURVIVAL!

They are "experimenting" with online video under duress. They believe that whatever happens online should direct people back to the "primary platform", which is Television.

The idea of online media consumption becoming the new normal, and telling great stories that engage an audience, was only mentioned by one of the speakers. His name is Ricky, the Head of Video Media at Fairfax Digital. How ironic that a guy from a newspaper/magazine company is leading the way in online video?

I chatted to him after his presentation, and found out that he worked in music, when they were hit by the revolution. Then he worked in Newspapers, when they were hit by the revolution. Now he is in video media, when the revolution is coming. Poor guy.

But Ricky gets it. He is monetising videos on-line already, with a profit sharing arrangement with Producers. He is trying to get a head start on what's coming. He's seen it too. Currently it takes 8-24 hours to download the average pirated movie online. With the broadband speeds proposed in the next 3-5 years, the average time to download a pirated movie will reduce to just 11 minutes. At that point, the film, TV and media industry becomes the music and newspaper industry. Unless we evolve.

In the very-near future, consumers will NOT ACCEPT television channels telling them what to watch. They will watch the shows they want, when they want, online. Hell, they are already doing it with entire TV show seasons on DVD and single episodes online.

And when the audience's TV is web-enabled, so they don't have to use their computer, with high speed broadband plugged into it, the TV broadcasters better have ALL their shows online, on demand.

The consumer is KING again. Don't give us what we want, and we go online and get it somewhere else, possibly for free.

No more channel surfing to find something worth investing my precious time in watching. The broadcast TV Channels will be responsible for 3 things: Commissioning new content (i.e. pay creatives to make shows); curating their catalogue of programs (e.g. channel 7 will become the home of reality television, channel 10 the home of cooking and dancing shows); and uploading their shows online. In a world of infinite choice, they had also better make sure the shows are good, or the audience will go somewhere else.

From what I saw, sipping my free coffee and listening to them speak, the traditional media establishment don't get this. Not completely, anyway.

It's actually the start of a FANTASTIC time for creatives who want to tell good stories (you will be in demand!), and terrible for big established media companies.

Broadcast TV is already dead, it just doesn't know it yet.

The revolution is coming.

You have all been warned. Start creating.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Heard of Ray Park?

Some people have. Most haven't.

He's a martial artist from Glasgow, Scotland. This makes him unintelligible in conversation, but handy in a bar fight.

Still not ringing bells?

What if I told you he was a featured supporting actor in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.


What if I added that he was in the first X-Men movie in 2000?

Your trivia is terrible.

Last clue, he was one of the main characters in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, starring opposite Johnny Depp.

A mental blank. Terrible.

Funnily enough, Ray Park has been a major player in 4 films which have grossed a total of $1,730,165,371 worldwide.

You don't know who he is because he plays characters that have heavy make-up, obscured faces or, in one case, no head. (In order they are: Darth Maul from Star Wars EP1; Toad in XMen; Snake Eyes in GI Joe and The Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow).

To add a pinch salt to the wound, when his character did finally have a head in 'Sleepy Hollow', they substituted him.....for Christopher Walken.

Ask him, and I doubt he'll complain though. He is living the Hollywood dream.

But it's worth noting: success doesn't always equal fame.


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Tuesday, August 09, 2011


One main reason that Film so appeals to me, more than the other storytelling mediums, is that you can walk out of a cinema and talk about it. It's communal. Its something we have over Music, which is far more niche and internalised.

Call me nostaligic, but some of my best memories are walking out of the "movies" with my family or friends still talking about what we just saw. It's my post-modern version of the "good old days".

When I was a kid, my Dad took my older brother Matt and I to one of the Sydney premiere screenings of Independence Day at midnight in Penrith. The old cinema was packed with people and the whole place cheered when the Opera House appeared with the crashed alien spaceship in the background. There was almost a live theatre atmosphere. True story.

I hope you are lucky enough to have a similar memory.

Great filmmakers make you feel something. Their film sticks with you for days, months, even years. That's why there are some movies we love, even though there is some part of them that are equal parts confusing and frustrating. We love them, but we hate them, like fast food.

One of these films, which I love, is 'No Country for Old Men' (

You don't have to take my word about it being good, a little golden man named Oscar agrees with me (

The frustrating thing about No Country for Old Men film is the ending. It has spurred no end of debate. One online forum alone, mentioned in the NY Times, has over 400 individual opinion comments about the ending (

I won't spoil the ending for you, save to share one monologue from Tommy Lee Jones's character, about this father:

I had two dreams about him after he died. I don’t remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin’ him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it.

But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin’. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead and that he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.

I have mulled this over for so long.

He is contemplating mortality, I know that much. That his father is waiting for him.

After months, I thought I had it: life is precious. That's why there are so many people in the world today, because we nurture life so much more. But the more people there are, the more expendable life is and the less it means to kill because we become almost like cattle. In a sense then, the modern world, with more people and with life more expendable than ever, is no country for old men, who remember the way life was when people knew each other and killing someone meant killing someone you knew.

Now, I could be wrong.

But that's not the point.

I felt something.

That's what we filmmakers should aspire to. Producing something so good that people want to share the experience with friends and family. Releasing a film that makes people want to tell you about the time they saw it with their Dad and Brother 15 years ago. Giving people a film that makes them think about it months and years later.

Forget marketing and money. For Christ's sake, make me feel something.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011


You can lead the horse to water, but you can't keep your foot on it's submerged head for more than 30 seconds. It's dangerous.

Put more simply, I am all about family and friends. Fortunately, or unfortunately for some people, I am like herpes - once you have me, I'm a friend for life.

Friends and family have the ability to encourage and also frustrate you more than anyone else. If they would just listen to me, everything would be ok!

The hardest thing about life is realising that we have control over very little. That fact can be empowering if you embrace it by learning to adapt. Adaptation is actually a great skill to have and essential for filmmakers in the changing landscape.

Its troubling, though, in the context of loved ones.

My younger brother Jack is a Type 1 diabetic. Though he is frustratingly stubborn for a 19 year old, he is his own character, and I love him dearly.

He was diagnosed over a year ago with diabetes and, given he is 19 and thinks he is invincible, he has not been managing his condition properly. But mismanaging a permanent chronic illness is like playing Russian roulette. You can get away with it for a while, but eventually....

On Saturday, he had his first major diabetic crash since he was diagnosed.

We had pleaded with him to check his blood sugars. We demanded he monitor his insulin levels.

He didn't.

On Monday, the doctor told us Jack was 24 hours of non-treatment from death. He said that once a person goes into a diabetic coma, they are only a 50-50 chance of coming back.

Jack was lucky.

Loving someone makes you vulnerable, be they a friend, a partner, or even a brother. It would be worse, however, to feel nothing at all.

I'm just glad he's alive.

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