Sunday, September 23, 2012


Sometimes life sends you a sign.

I was going to write about something else completely different this week. I had it all prepped and ready to go, warm and toasty into your inbox.

But then, a nagging doubt.

Not because I didn't think you would be interested in what I had written. Quite the contrary.

But I saw a story that evoked a reaction. I had a 'hmmm, that's interesting' moment. These moments, I feel, should always be shared.

So, it was sunny. I was drinking coffee. I was lamenting missing out on tickets to legendary Indie Film Producer Ted Hope's producing workshop in Sydney. Oh, the missed opportunity.

A friend forwarded an innocent story about Australian TV stations starting to 'Fast-track' more of their foreign TV shows. I try not to follow too much news these days, too depressing, but sometimes you'll do anything to get the synapses firing.

For the uninitiated, TV stations 'Fast-track' foreign TV shows, usually American shows, to get them onto Australian screens just after the newest episodes have screened in their home countries.

Suddenly, something clicked.

I tracked down an article that I had read previously. Netflix, the film and TV internet streaming service, is going global, beyond American borders.


And another, this time from Australia. Quickflix, the Australian direct mail DVD supplier who is looking at building an online streaming business, are working constantly to secure more licenses and expand their catalogue of television shows and films.

Just in the last month, Hoyts, the Australian cinema chain, announced they are launching an online film streaming service.

HBO, the maker of hit TV show 'Game of Thrones' announced they are now looking to stream their own content directly online, rather than through a third party like Netflix.

The online retailing giant, Amazon, announced they are trying to become a streaming service in direct competition with Netflix.

And all the while, Apple, despite their enormous success, still can't get into the film and television world (the way they did with music) because the content makers don't like Apple's negotiating attitude, characterised as "our way or the highway". But they are still trying, represented in their Apple TV device, iTunes and iCloud.

And it is all capped off, of course, by the original article that traditional free-to-air and pay TV providers are looking to 'Fast-track' shows in Australia. It's their attempt to stay relevant.

Everyone is playing catch-up. This race has escalated extremely quickly.

I first wrote about it a year ago:

And then again, earlier this year, when I heard that Netflix have started making their own exclusive original content :

And now, finally, the sleeping giants have awoken. Powerful media companies who have realised we are in the on-demand world now. Audiences demand the content that THEY want, and they want it NOW. The media companies want to cash in on this revolution.

And this is good news for filmmakers.

The public's appetite for film and TV shows is voracious. If it is great, or really, really good at the least, they will watch your program, for hours, in their millions.

So, what will these media companies need in this revolution?

Exclusive content!

Films and TV shows to put on their TV channels and online distribution platforms to satisfy their viewers.

The more exclusive the content is for them the better.

And that is, of course, your cue.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

OA FILMS NEWS - 'The Good Neighbour' screens in New Zealand!

As many of you know, our talented director, James Crisp, is from New Zealand. 'The Good Neighbour' was also inspired by true events that occurred in New Zealand.

With that in mind, we were especially pleased to learn that 'The Good Neighbour' had been recently selected for a special screening for the Queenstown Film Society, in New Zealand.

In their own words, the Queenstown Film Society 'is a non-profit incorporated society and a registered charitable organisation. (They're) supported by the NZ Film Commission and a part of the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies, providing access to an amazing collection of movies, documentaries and short films from New Zealand and around the world.'

James attended the screening on 18th September 2012, and spoke about the film afterwards. From all accounts, the film was exceptionally well received, and we thank the Queenstown Film Society for the opportunity to present the film to their dedicated audience of film lovers.

For more information on the Queenstown Film Society, go to

Saturday, September 15, 2012


You audiences are tough.

We filmmakers have to sit in the room with you, with our baby on the big screen.

You don't know it, but we listen attentively to every reaction you have to our film.

Why did they laugh there?

Why didn't they laugh at that?

Why aren't they crying at the dramatic finale?

If we are really unlucky, we get to hear your sarcastic comment you think no-one can hear.

Or we can have that amazing moment when you erupt into applause the instant the credits roll.

It's life on a knife edge, especially as audiences grow more and more savvy and refuse to accept anything but great.

Truth be told though, the hardest thing we have to do as filmmakers is take an honest look at our own film. This is an absolutely essential step, to take stock of its strengths and weaknesses.

Assessing your own film honestly is the only way you can start to think about distributing and marketing it, realistically.

If you are not willing to accept that your low budget zombie-apocalypse-coming-of-age-period-drama is anything but an instant Oscar contender, you may have a long and difficult road ahead of you.

We had to do it for the short film I produced, 'The Good Neighbour'. It got us thinking about what Film Festivals we should target and also helped us to understand when we were rejected.

It is a difficult task, that applies to all filmmakers - the big names and the newcomers alike.

Even George Lucas, the legendary Oscar nominated creator of the Star Wars franchise.

Mr Lucas' latest project 'Red Tails' is a high flying blockbuster based on the stories of the American Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American aviators in the U.S. armed forces.

But Mr Lucas struggled to get the attention of Hollywood distributors for the film. One of the studios didn't even bother to show up to the official preview screening, eliciting this response from Mr Lucas:

“Isn’t this their job?” Lucas says, astonished. “Isn’t their job at least to see movies? It’s not like some Sundance kid coming in there and saying, ‘I’ve got this little movie — would you see it?’ If Steven (Spielberg) or I or Jim Cameron or Bob Zemeckis comes in there, and they say, ‘We don’t even want to bother to see it. . . .’ ”

Lucas goes on to say that he doesn't believe it has anything to do with racism, but simply a lack of understanding from the big players on what makes a successful 'popcorn' film.

But is it that simple?

With all due respect to Mr Lucas, he is one of the greats after all, but could it be that the film is just...ahem...not very good?

It is currently sitting at 39% on film critic site Rotten Tomatoes, and top critic Roger Ebert, among many others, gave it a less than favourable review.

Looking at your film honestly is tough.

Even for the greats.

But films are not inexpensive to make.

And audiences have a lot of other options to entertain them (e.g. high end TV, Youtube, Apps, Games, real life, etc etc) if you are delivering anything but great.

You have to know your film better than anyone and know who your audience is.

It may be tough to judge your baby.

But it's necessary.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012


You are a good person.

Really. I honestly believe that simple statement.

In the pursuit of selling something to you, there are many people who will say the opposite.

Of course, their product is the answer. It will fix you.

Or, you should watch their TV show, so you can see people who are equally as flawed as you. It's a race to the bottom.

I have had a lot of arguments over the years about whether humans are intrinsically good.

I get into this debate especially around piracy.

Many filmmakers argue that people are cheap and just want to steal content, i.e. films and TV shows.

But I'm not convinced.

Yes, there are exceptions. Bad eggs, if you will, but exceptions always exist.

I believe there is an element of people who steal content simply because they can. I also believe they are in the minority.

The other element, the majority, is the group who want to get their content - safely, legally and in the highest quality form - but are blocked by poor delivery mechanisms and ridiculous restrictions.

For example, an Australian wanting to access American TV shows or films legally, paying the requisite fee for the content, is blocked by outdated release windows and geographic restrictions.

I am referring to the American TV and film streaming website, Netflix. Netflix offers a safe and affordable ($10/month for access to their massive content library) way for an audience to get their content legally. It is available on this new invention called 'the internet', which you may have heard of.

But an Australian (or many other audiences from other countries) is blocked from using the site due to geographic restrictions forced on Netflix by the content makers. This mirrors the region restrictions that still exist on your DVDs if you buy them from another country.

So, a person wanting to legally access the content, and pay for it, is turned away.

Meanwhile, that same person can instantly just use that same 'internet' to steal the content and watch it anyway.

This situation is the pinnacle of stupidity.

Even more hilarious is that these shunned audiences have not been deterred. Rather than simply illegally download the content they want, people are finding technological work arounds to get to the US site.

So, faced with having to possibly steal the content simply to watch it, people get creative and find ways to get to the paying site instead.

Do you see now why I believe people are good?

Interestingly, despite restricting foreign users, the Netflix site accepts foreign credit cards for the payment side of the transaction. It's almost like they want to make the content as available to paying customers as possible.

What a crazy idea!

Or is it crazy to make your audience engage in online espionage just so they can have the opportunity to pay for it?

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