Screen Australia is taking a delegation of ten producers to Los Angeles in 10 days to tout films that might attract US investors and claim the 40% producer offset for Australian production.
The producers include former Film Finance Corporation chief executive Brian Rosen, Chris Brown (Daybreakers), Sue Maslin (Celebrity: Dominic Dunne), Matt Hearn (WolfCreek) and Miranda Culley, who worked closely with director Phillip Noyce on The Quiet American and Rabbit-Proof Fence.
“The goal of the initiative is to present some of our most commercially viable projects to potential partners,” said Kathleen Drumm, who took up her role as head of marketing at Screen Australia a couple of weeks ago.
Especially given the current climate, it is unknown whether the producer offset will spark more US investment in Australian films. The challenge is finding the talent and stories that US studios, production companies and distributors believe have international potential.
“My mission is to find US partners we can co-develop then produce projects with that can access our offset,” said Rosen. While the nationality of investment and the copyright ownership are not impediment to passing the Australian cultural test, the source of the project itself is significant. Having official co-production status means a film automatically qualifies but there is no treaty with the US.
The Sapphires, about four Aboriginal sisters who go to Vietnam in 1968 to entertain the American troops, is being pitched by delegation member Rosemary Blight (Clubland) from Goalpost Australia.
“A lot of people in the US were interested in making this story and it is joyful and triumphant,” she said. Her version is to be directed by Wayne Blair from a very successful stage play. Hopscotch will release it locally and her UK sister company will handle sales.
The others in the delegation are Andrena Finlay, Sue Murray, David Parker and Max Mannix, who is relatively unknown in Australia but wrote Tokyo Sonata, the Japanese film that won of the 2008 Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes.
In addition, representatives of 21 Australian companies, all Ausfilm members, are going to LA for a week of activities lead by Jackie O’Sullivan on her first overseas trip as the marketing body’s head.