Film-maker Alkinos Tsilimidos is soon tolock on his fourth feature, the crime thriller Em 4 Jay. In keeping with his focus on social realist cinema - andhis disinterest in "safe, middle-class" stories - it follows two people whoturn to armed robbery to sustain their smack habit.

Keeping budgets low allowshim to make this sort of material: funding came from the state agency FilmVictoria as well as private investors.

"My interest is inmarginalised people," explains Melbourne-based Tsilimidos,"in people who are in danger because something has gone wrong for them."

But Em 4 Jay is part of a wider movement, one of a dozen or so Australianfeatures now in production which do not have any link to the country's biggestsource of feature investment, the Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC).

The reasons vary. Somefilm-makers want to work independently, while others perceive that the FFC isnot that interested in very low-budget films or genre films and don't bother.For others it has proved tricky to finding the necessary funding attachmentssuch as distributors and sales agents.

Local Australian media havemade much of the FFC not having any funds available until the FederalGovernment tops up the bank accounts after June 3 - but then this is notunusual at this time of year. Most of the films in question are inpost-production, and funds were available when they began shooting.

While such low-budgetfeatures are sure to vary greatly in quality - and therefore in the necessarycommercial potential - there is always the chance that one will be a gem andbreak out.

BVI recently snapped upAustralian rights to 48 Shades, acoming-of-age comedy shot by US-based Rob Marsala andUK-based first-time film-maker Daniel Lapaine, whoappeared in Muriel's Wedding.

Adapted from the children'sbook 48 Shades OfBrown, it was financed by private investors, state agency the Pacific Film& Television Commission and the Australian Film Commission, whichprincipally develops projects but also has some funding set aside for production.

One Melbourne-based privateinvestor is bankrolling The Jammed, asocial thriller about human trafficking that started principal photography inthat city last month. Local acting favourites such as Andrew S Gilbert (Look Both Ways) and Alison Whyte (from TV's Frontline)are among the large cast, as are up-and-comers Emma Lung and Saskia Burmeister.

Director Dee McLachlan has made several films outside Australiaincluding The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli& Baloo and Running Wild; producer Sally Ayre-Smithis best known for local TV favourite SeaChange.

While none of the above haveyet to secure sales agents, other films have managed to find somerepresentation. Lawyer Gary Rogers will handle Shadow Of Sins internationally, apsychological thriller about four terrorists pushed to the limit. Thedirectorial debut from Selmon Behais produced by Ranko Markovicand Jeff Purser, one of the producers on FatPizza, a TV spin-off that did respectable business in 2003.

Theatre director andmusician Chris Burnham makes his feature debut with the mockumentaryAlmost abouta chaotic attempt to make the ultimate rock opera.

Its cast include Ada Nicodemou, known in severalterritories for her role in soap Home And Away; producer Adriana Nunez says she will soon havea finished print.

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