Thursday, December 31, 2015


There's a red moon again tonight.

I know all the hype already happened about the main lunar eclipse, a week ago, but there it is. Hanging low, almost at the city skyline, a red-tinged oblong. When a whiff of cloud sweeps past, it looks like a gothic painting of modernity.

But the world has moved on. In the twenty-four hour news cycle, stories get churned and burned quickly. Nothing lasts, not even something cosmic or beautiful.

It's bizarre then, in this world where simultaneously everything and nothing is important, that there is so much coverage of the same events. So much repetition.

A simple Google 'News' search for 'lunar eclipse news stories October 2014' brings up 141,000 results. If you drop the 'News' requirement of the search, it records 27,300,000 results; and fifteen pages deep the search results are still about the 'blood red moon'.

I am sure there were small moments of nuance in each of these reports, but was there any perspective on the lunar event so radical that it differed markedly from the other 140,999?

Moon. Red. Eclipse. Rare event.

That's about it.

So why so much coverage of the same thing? How, in this world where we can all read the same news story instantly, from the same single source, do so many offshoots exist?

Because they're localised.

Where is the best place in Sydney, Mexico, Azerbaijan, view the lunar eclipse?

What is the cultural perspective of Spain, Qatar, Japan, etc...of a 'blood red moon'?

Each one, while essentially touching on the same thing, speaks to the audience in that region.

Yes, I know it's counter-intuitive, at first, but in a slowly homogenising world the local perspective is suddenly relevant again. It is the unexpected by-product of a world becoming more beige: there are huge, faceless, mass stories and stories that occur in the street outside your window.

Niche and mass. Tent-pole blockbuster films, and small films that are suited to you and people like you.

This was not planned. This was not strategic. The reinvention of local is part of a humanistic wave that few expected. It was a predictable return, we are still just people living in communities after all, and yet it has crept into the consciousness; like social media once did.

And there is some zealotry behind a movement like this. That underlying fear of being made 'expendable' by the globalised machine means any supposed panacea is heralded as a savior.

But it is not the messiah.

If your work is generic and derives no value from what you, personally, bring to it, then you will always be in the shadow of someone willing to replace you for pennies less.

The real question is, why would you subject yourself to doing that work in the first place?

No, your work needs to be LOCAL, LIVE, or GREAT.

That is the work that endures. The work that defines you. The work that is needed in this rapidly changing world.

Local, in that your work meets the needs of someone within a certain niche or locality. That locality can be as big or small as you like, a whole country or one town, but it will ultimately exclude a group much larger than itself; and in doing so will always be relevant to those within.


Live, in that your work can only be really experienced properly in a way you define as the creator. Of critical importance is that you are not using the delivery format to hold your work hostage, creating a false scarcity to raise the price, but that experiencing it the way you prescribe makes it the best it can be.


Great, in that your work is so unique, transcendent, and so absolutely incredible, that it rises above the cacophony of content and publicity in the system (usually via word of mouth) and reaches a huge audience. Of all three, this is the hardest to achieve by far.

There is a fourth option, of course.


Simply be the cheapest provider of your kind of work for as long as you can be.

But in a globalising world, where production and jobs can so quickly be moved to the lowest rung, how long can you stay in that free-fall before you hit bottom?

Who wants to live with the threat of being replaced looming, like a red moon hanging low in the sky, over your shoulder?

Local, live, great, or cheap.

What are you going to aim for?

- - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Last night, along with 4.6 million others, I watched the 2014 NRL Rugby League Grand Final.

While it's far shy of the 111 million viewers of the NFL's Superbowl, the Grand Final is our best effort to emulate the American sporting behemoth.

I always get a funny reaction in film circles when I talk about watching sports. There is either total indifference, or outright disdain.

I can understand the polarising reaction. Sports generally receive a vaunted status that can irritate many artistic types, as well as being direct competition for audience attention.

But I watched the Grand Final anyway. It was thrilling.

There is little by way of comparison for the tribalism that sport can engender. So many narratives. So many emotions.

And this Grand Final had a particularly storied air to it.

Two teams, the Rabbitohs and the Bulldogs, that had a canon of history. The Bulldogs had fought their way back to the ultimate contest after losing the 2012 Grand Final. The Rabbitohs were the reformed under-performers, now with their hint of Hollywood glamour, owned by Oscar winner Russell Crowe.

The Bulldogs were playing as the heavy underdogs, known for their gritty style. The Rabbitohs were the fairytale, having been excommunicated from the competition in the early 2000s, won their way back via the courts, and were now in a position to end their forty-three year run without premierships.

But there was something else to all of this spectacle, for me.

I grew up in Western Sydney. Some of my fondest memories were Grand Final barbecues; huge social events that brought together different families to break bread, tell stories, and then cheer on the main event. The game was important, of course, but years later I realised what made these events special was community.

We had our tribe.

One of the families in our tribe are passionate Rabbitohs supporters. The sporting team has become a common thread through the lives of everyone in their family unit, from the father and mother, down through their children, and to their grandchildren.

A year ago the patriarch of this family passed away after a long battle with cancer. There were many heartbreaks that came from such a loss, but one in particular was that he would never see the Rabbitohs become champions alongside his children and grandchildren. The 43 year wait would never be ended.

I was with this family last night as the Rabbitohs fought their way to triumph. I saw what it meant to them. I could feel the catharsis of the victory, and the sadness that their father, husband and grandfather was not there to see it.

And today, they could join the larger community of Rabbitohs fans to celebrate their heroes. Their extended tribe, all experiencing this sporting event on a very personal level.

This emotional reaction to sports baffles many people. Fundamentally, sporting competitions are just an annual repetition of similar events, after all.

And yet, sporting teams can build communities of fervent supporters; tribes of interconnected fans and audiences who feel the successes and failures of their team, over generations.


The zeitgeist. Because there were 4.6 million other people who were experiencing it simultaneously. 83,000 were live at the event.

Because fundamentally we are social animals. Even the most introverted of people still exhibit a need for community.

This is the same intrinsic human trait that brings together fans of a particular TV show, or a musician. It created the 'Beliebers'.

So, whether you are a sports fan or not, the challenge for your work is the same.

Can you build a tribe?

Or, more importantly, can you create a community around your work and make them feel something?

- - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


You've been lied to your whole life.

"Free to air", "Freeview", whichever pseudonym you prefer. They're all a fallacy.

We have all been raised with this artificial floor on our concept of the world. A foundation fit for a fool's paradise.

"The world just gives me free entertainment whenever I want!"

When put like that, does it seem too good to be true? If not, I have a bridge to sell you.

This blatant mislabeling wouldn't be an issue, if not for the fact that the customary idea of "free" has totally skewed any discussion around creative content. The concept of "free" content, free shows and films on broadcast television or free songs on traditional radio, creates a distortion in your perception of value.

The impact of this misconception is not hard to imagine.

How can any subscription service or ticket price seem of value against "free"?

How much more easily can traditional broadcasters maintain a faux moral high ground, particularly when trying to avoid their local content quota obligations, while they claim to offer a "free" service to the public?

And the most damaging of all, what intrinsic value do audiences place on screen content when it seems to be given away for "free"?

Is it any wonder people download content they find for "free" online without guilt? Paying for content is actually the anomaly. "Free" is the status quo.

But the wind has changed.

With the advent of Google and Facebook's "free" services, inadvertently, people have started to understand value propositions that don't involve traditional payment.

In a world where you can "pay" for your email, internet search, and social networking services with your personal details, what else can you pay for without cash?

The standard length of a traditional half-hour television show is twenty-two minutes, without advertising breaks.

Assuming you watch the entire show, you gave eight minutes of your life to advertisers.

Eight precious minutes of your existence. Never to be returned.

In the USA, the average person watches five hours of television a day. That equates to 1825 hours a year of television viewing.

In Australia, the average person watches thirteen hours a week of television. That equates to 676 hours a year of quality time spent with the tube.

Using those figures, and the accepted conventions for advertising to content ratio, the American gives away nineteen full days of their life to advertising. The Australian gives away seven full days.

But you wouldn't sit for seven, 24 hour, days watching advertising, right? That would be insane!

So let's say you approached the task like a standard work day. Eight hours a day of watching nothing but advertising.

That means the American gave the advertisers 57, eight-hour, work days. The Australian gave a less generous 21 days.

But wait, you wouldn't sit for seven straight days a week watching advertising, right? That would be insane!

So, amending the average viewing habits to match a five day, eight hours-a-day, working week, how does your schedule now look?

The American gives eleven working weeks, almost three months, to watching advertising. The Australian gives four working weeks, a full month, to the advertisers.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

To get your "free" content on traditional sources, whether American or Australian, you paid with at least a working month of your precious time.

Imagine if you instead took a second job with those hours.

"Free" has never been free. Ever.

Now that we can move beyond that absurd distraction, can we start the vastly more important discussion of what price is "fair" for content?

- - - - - - - - -

Monday, December 28, 2015


How long until all screen content is delivered by an internet connection, even to televisions?

How long until a teenager is China is more important to Hollywood than you?

How long until cinemas can no longer raise their prices to maintain their profit margins?

How long until DVDs and Blu Rays stop being manufactured?

How long until teachers get paid more than sports stars?

How long until sports stadiums start shrinking to accommodate just enough people for atmosphere in the broadcast coverage?

How long until someone actually completes research on whether young people have dwindling attention spans?

How long until Google does something 'evil' with it's huge cache of user data?

How long until there is no longer a need for 'middle men', like Rupert Murdoch, in the screen entertainment industry?

How long until multiplex cinemas stop being built?

How long until you have to ask my permission to try and sell something to me?

How long until the arts is respected as a genuine career and genuine economic benefit?

How long until the arts is considered too expensive and all economic support infrastructure is

How long until major decisions for a country, like joining a war, are put to an electronic vote?

How long until the current 'Western' economies are forced to adapt to compete with the rising
economic powers?

How long until music albums are all free, except for the hit singles you have to pay for?

How long until your job fundamentally changes?

How long until our society is equal enough that race, gender, sexuality, nor any other unchosen characteristic, matters? 

How long until all media is engaged with via some form of subscription service?

How long until a new form of visual storytelling, replacing film and television altogether, is created?

How long until the death of long-form screen content?

How long until we no longer use fossil fuels?

How long until television content production reaches a peak where audiences are overwhelmed and the bubble bursts?

How long until cinema ticket prices start falling to resuscitate audience demand?

How long until we colonise nearby planets? 

How long until technology enables a lifestyle where you only have to work if you choose to? 

How long until a person can make an entire film, good enough for mass audiences, on an tablet?

How long until scripts aren't even written anymore, and producers expect a rough mock up of the film instead?

How long until visual effects and animation tools are cheap, accessible, and intuitive? 

How long until audiences expect to pay one price to go to the cinema, get the home version, and receive memorabilia from the film?

How long until crowdfunding isn't just a less embarrassing way to ask your friends and family for money?

How long until holograms become another tool for visual storytelling?

How long until Facebook is replaced with something else?

So many unknowns. Only one is more important.

If any of these could seriously disrupt your future, and the answer wasn't "never", how long until you begin to adjust?

- - - - - - - - -

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - Our founder, Pete Ireland, in the press.

It's been a busy year, but there have been moments to stop and consider the landscape, perhaps even navel gaze.

Here are a couple of those musings which have ended up in the trades, from our very own Pete Ireland.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - 'Dedo' is ready for the world...

I'm like a kid at Xmas about our new film DEDO. We're excited about showing it to audiences.

More news at

Sunday, October 11, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - 'Dedo' our new film, has wrapped!

It's been a huge few months, getting this film in the can. But we did it.

25 crew. 8 cast. 70 extras.


We are now well into post production, and more news is to come. Keep up to date at

More soon!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - Launching our new film 'Dedo'

It begins.

Thanks to Metro Screen and Screen Australia, we have been funded for our new short film 'Dedo'.

To get the ball rolling, we have launched a new Facebook page at

...and a new website at

Check them out for updates!

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Why do we even tell stories?

What could be a more pointless exercise than stringing together loose data points into a narrative thread?

For what? To make a simpleton smile? A teenager unplug?

A senseless exercise in vanity.

Take TEDxSydney, which ran last week. An entire day organised around giving speeches, on subjects very few people know of, or have the temerity to pretend they care about. Who really benefits? The audience, sat for hours in stupor, or the egos of the talking heads?

It started at 8:30am. Who in god's name thought that was a good idea?

And the last speech finished at 6ish. A whopping ten hours of rabble. Uncivilised.

Global warming. Poetry. Toilets for the third world. Disability. Blah, blah blah.

Mercifully close to the conclusion, the last speaker of the day walked briskly to the stage. A young female kickboxer and UFC trainer. What could we possibly desire to absorb from this person? Who the hell is Nadine Champion anyway?

Then Ms Champion began to speak.

She articulated the desire of a fighter. Not for violence but to truly learn who they are. Unequivocally.

The years of struggle and training, under a neurotic and sometimes cruel sensei, were narrated eloquently.

Wisdom was imparted, but with a subtle hand, through the insight of her years of mastering the physical, the mental and the emotional. Of balancing mind and body.

We were captivated.

And at this point, when it seemed she might conclude gracefully, like a figure skater who sweeps to a final pose, Ms Champion looked out to the Opera House crowd, and instead evocatively described her greatest battle. With cancer.

We journeyed through the emotional and physical turmoil of chemotherapy. All of us, collectively, were with Nadine in her moment of greatest vulnerability, recounted so vividly; breaking in to tears when weakened and alone in the hospital.

We saw courage, or at least thought we had. We were wrong. That was to come.

Suddenly, Ms Champion peered into the faces of her audience and issued a challenge. To herself. A man appeared. Dressed in martial artist's apparel.

Carrying a thick wooden board.

Breaking boards, we were told, is the way that martial artists demonstrate their skill, strength, and self-belief. For Ms Champion however, 18 months of dealing with cancer meant that she had not performed this action in some time. Not since before her treatment began, in fact.

But she was going to do it live, now. Unrehearsed. Through her fear of failing in real time, on stage. Past any doubt that she may no longer be able to complete this feat.

Nadine took up her stance before the wooden board. The man holding it out braced himself.


She turned back to the crowd. "If you're in this with me" Nadine said, "if you're willing this to work for me...can you hold your hand straight up..."

2000 hands, the entire audience in attendance at the Opera House, raised in unison. Nadine began to cry.

..."and hold it there as I try." she forced out through tears.

The board was raised again. Nadine took up her stance. Her breathing became regulated.

Absolute silence reigned. In this cavernous, crowded room, we were all in the moment together.

Nadine gave a sweeping arm movement. And another. Each becoming more controlled. More fierce.

The pace increased. The will for her to succeed was palpable. The crowd's arms raised and held with purpose.

She struck out. A yell. The crack of wood.

The board splintered in two.

And the audience...erupted. Cheers. Applause. A standing ovation.

Nadine cried. Overwhelmed. We cried with her.

This was a glimpse of true humanity. A sliver of time that we, the people in that room, shared with Nadine and each other. Magic.

That's the power of a story.

It's true, like so many of life's conceits, storytelling may at times seem utterly pointless. Impractical.


Lighting strikes.

Alchemy. Miracle. Or, Magic.

The name is irrelevant.

Something is awakened in you. A stirring in a place that is outside of reason. Beyond the verifiable. Metaphysical.

You suddenly understand beauty. And suffering. And joy. It makes you want to call someone close to you, just to be connected. To feel.

It is the moment in time that you first feel elation from a poignant song, or are crushed by the ending of a film. That you cry over characters in a beloved book, or are moved to leap from your seat at the end of a performance.

One such moment happened last Thursday.

And it will be with me, for the rest of my life.

- - - - - - - -

For those of you interested in seeing Nadine's talk, you can see a sample of it here, or the full talk here (scroll right to the end of the faces and click on Nadine Champion).

- - - - - - - - -

Friday, February 27, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - 'Chip' has been officially selected for the 2015 Byron Bay International Film Festival

More good news!

'Chip' has been officially selected to screen at the 2015 Byron Bay International Film Festival.

Byron is an excellent festival, with strong industry ties, engaged audiences, and a supportive atmosphere for filmmakers; so we are delighted to be accepted.

The director, Pete Ireland, will be attending the screening at 7:30pm on Monday 9th March. Please feel free to come and say hello if you are there.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


It has begun.

Subscription-based, streaming video services have finally arrived in Australia in 2015.

We were the last great frontier. The developing world doesn't yet have the required technological infrastructure, so we were the gold nugget. The prospector's fantasy.

No more DVD's. No more paying high prices for digital ownership. Whatever movies and TV shows you want, when you want them. On whatever device you like: phone, TV, ipad, whatever.

To top it off, as an audience member, you now have multiple subscription video providers available: Foxtel's 'Presto', Fairfax's 'Stan', the Australian stalwart 'Quicklix', and the US juggernaut 'Netflix' (arriving in March 2015).

Fantastic for audiences. Convenience, choice, and value.

Fantastic for film and TV makers. Dependable revenue streams, happy audiences, and a legal alternative to piracy.

Everyone wins, right?

If only it all worked as advertised.

And, once again, when it comes to gaining access to the conveniences of the future, Australia has pulled the short straw.

There are notable flaws in each service (aside from Netflix, which hasn't arrived yet) that bear delineating, but the overwhelming theme you need to know is this:

There is barely any content in these services worth the asking price.


Let's start with Foxtel's 'Presto'. I had a delightful conversation recently, regarding the launch of Presto, with a Senior Executive from Foxtel. A really delightful person, who genuinely cares about audience curation and supporting filmmakers. I suggested that, from my research, the exposed skeleton of 'Presto' had barely enough content to keep a person subscribed longer than three months.

The answer was refreshingly candid. The executive said, "I wouldn't pay for the service myself."

On to 'Quickflix'. Aside from the rather glaring red flag that 'Quickflix' still puts significant efforts into its DVD mailing service, a simple check also reveals that the content on their streaming service can best be described as...minimalist.

Couple this dearth of content with the galling fact that 'Quickflix' offers newer 'Premium' content, for example the latest 'Walking Dead' TV series, however you have to pay an additional $45 (!) to get access to it. How could a paid-up, long-term subscriber take this two-tiered content delineation as anything but a slap in the face?

Which leads us to the shadowy figure of Australian streaming, known only as 'Stan'.

'Stan' launched with great acclaim. Exclusive premium content like 'Better Call Saul'. A service usable across multiple devices and operating systems, including Android and iOS apps. Let's not forget, a name imbued with hipster-cool.


But alas.

'Stan' likes to play hard to get. Peruse the 'Stan' website, and you soon realise that the company would like your credit card details, for your 'free trial', without providing any detail of what is in the film and TV catalogue.

Don't believe me? Check it out yourself:

I have pored over the site. There is no way to find detail on what content the service offers without signing up, in some way.

And then, to add insult to injury, I recently received word of a breakfast event for Screen Producers, that is designed to 'Get to know Stan'. The exact description is:

'Get to know Stan, what their plans are, and how local producers may benefit as Stan Director of Content and Product, Nick Forward, joins...for an intimate and insightful Q&A.'

But here's the kicker. It costs between $25 and $40 to attend this event.


'Stan' should be clamoring to get local Producers on side for exclusive content deals. Paying to be pitched a streaming service, by a content delivery middle-man, is COMPLETELY backwards.

Which brings us to the real conclusion here.

These middle-men still don't seem to understand. They don't realise they actually have no right to exist.

Delivery platforms exist at the whim of the audience and the makers. As soon as a middle-man starts to believe they have a reason to exist outside of this feedback loop, they are doomed by their avarice.

Broadcast TV didn't learn this lesson, and now it is dying off slowly. Recorded music didn't learn this lesson, and Apple stole their lunch money while the economics of their entire industry flipped upside-down.

Are video streaming middle-men seriously going to make this same mistake again? It's as ludicrous as when the 'Quickflix' CEO wrote an open letter to Netflix, effectively saying 'stop allowing Australians to access your cheaper service, with more content available, because it isn't fair'.

Fair to whom, exactly?

If you mistreat your audience/customers/clients/fans/etc, they will cease to support you.

Everyone understands this fact as a matter of pure common sense.

And yet we still continue to expect audiences to accept a second-rate video streaming service, with dated or non-existent content, and say "thank you"?
Oh sure, but keep blaming piracy for dwindling audiences.


- - - - - - - - -

Sunday, February 01, 2015

OA FILMS NEWS - 'Chip' wins at the Australian Academy Awards!

Good news!

Our film, 'Chip' has won the Independent Category of 'Social Shorts' at the Australian Academy Awards (AACTAs).

The AACTAs are Australia's equivalent of America's Oscars and Britain's BAFTAs, so we are genuinely thrilled and humbled by this award.

We are extremely proud of the film, and very, very thankful for the tremendous support it has received from industry peers and audiences alike.

'Chip' is still in its film festival run, so we hope you all have a chance to see it in 2015.

Love and good vibes,

Pete and the 'Chip' team.

Thursday, January 01, 2015


Merry Xmas and a happy 2015!

I hope Xmas brought respite and rejuvenation to your tired souls. Whether you spent it with family or not, in full blown celebration or in quiet reverie, I hope it was exactly what you needed.

As I do every every year, there is a free gift in the last 'Tales From the Opening Act' of the year. Like all great narratives of the cultural landscape, however, the payoff will be in the conclusion.

I sincerely hope that your 2015 launches with an exclamation rather than a whimper. Momentum is a powerful bedfellow after all.

We all need some forward inertia.

2014 has been, for far too many, a year of retraction. Yes, the data is in, and it's not looking good for working people around the world.

Real wages are falling.

Do you know what that means?

If not, why not?

This is not some political issue that is detached from your experience of the world. Real wages are the payment that you receive every day for your toil.

But you're going backwards, perhaps without even knowing it. The economic quicksand is swallowing you. You receive small token increases in your salary, to make you feel like you are progressing. Congratulations. Meanwhile, the cost of living is rising faster than your meager remuneration can keep up with.

You're on a Toyota salary in a world full of BMW's.

This is not the way it is supposed to be.

Labour productivity has continued to rise steadily for 20 years, and yet still the illusion of the lazy worker, holding back the growth of the company, is bandied around like a spook story capitalists tell their children.

How have we allowed ourselves to be so railroaded? Is there a way to reverse the tide?


And it's my last thought for you in 2014.

Don't stagnate.

You have to wake up.

You have to snap out of your comfortable daydream.

I know that safe feels like a warm blanket on a cold morning, but it's a trap.

It seems like you are treading water, but there is a current you are not even aware of. Staying put is actually going in reverse.

You have to push forward. You have to evolve. You have to develop new skills. You have to shake up your routines. Throw out your thinking patterns and build new ones.

You have to take risks, creating great work.

Because great work, the kind worthy of you, is always a little scary. You're out on that limb.

But it's the vocation that is worth doing.

Comfortable is no longer an option. Be passionate and succeed, or be washed away with the tide into mediocrity.

It's your choice. I, for one, want to see you flourish.

To give you a headstart, here, as promised, is your Xmas gift. Professionals and Hollywood productions all use Davinci Resolve to colour grade and master their films. What many people don't know, is that Davinci has also added an editing function to the software, that is good enough to cut your films with. The best part, is that the Lite version is FREE!

But how will you know how to use it? A very good question.

Well, the resident Santa here at Opening Act Films has also found a free online film software training website, 'Ripple Training' for you. It has everything you need to learn to use Davinci, plus a load of other film related software.

With the free Davinci educational tutorials on the site, and the accompanying free download of Davinci, you will have everything you need to start the year with a surge.

As a bonus, if you would like to also start the year by doing a good deed, you can be a major part of helping my film, 'Chip' win at The Australian Academy Awards (The AACTAs).

'Chip' is in contention for the AACTAs Social Shorts prize, and we need your support! If you want to help us win at the AACTAs, Australia's version of The Oscars, please vote for 'Chip' at

You can also share the 'Vote for Chip' message with as many friends, family and colleagues as possible. If everyone who receives this newsletter votes over the next week, shares the voting link, and can rally their people behind our little animated documentary, we will have a huge chance of winning.

Thank you for continuing to be a part of the tales from Opening Act Films and may you have a wonderful 2015.



- - - - - - - - -