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!