Potential projects flock to finance mart

Carroll to pitch 'Ice'

SYDNE — Matt Carroll has produced 15 films, as well as more than 450 hours of television, in a career spanning nearly 30 years. He knows that getting to make his 16th pic won’t be easy at a time when extracting coin from Australian and overseas sources has never been tougher.

Carroll is hoping the chance to pitch the script “Ice” one-on-one to a captive audience of 15 international and local distribs, sales agents and financiers next month will trigger deals.

“Ice” is one of 18 projects chosen for the inaugural feature finance market SpaaMART being staged in Melbourne Nov. 18-21 as part of the Screen Producers Assn. of Australia’s annual conference.

Carroll has been developing “Ice,” the saga of an ice sculptor whose visit to a country town brings cataclysmic results, for three years with writer-director Sofya Gollan, an Australian Film, Television & Radio school grad who cut her teeth on short films.

“I like the idea of finding a sales agent who loves the film and who may not offer much money but can line up a sale to (Britain’s) Channel Four, for example, which in turn will trigger funding from the Film Finance Corp.,” said Carroll, whose credits include seminal films “Breaker Morant,” “Storm Boy” and “Sunday Too Far Away.”

SpaaMART has attracted projects from a hefty number of established filmmakers as well as tyros, reflecting the general optimism that this reps a unique opportunity to entice the support of U.S. and international distribs and sales agents.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” says producer Jane Ballantyne, who will pitch “Martian Knights,” a thriller about a Brit who goes Down Under in search of his lost teenage daughter, from first-time writer/director Alex Frayne, co-written by vet Everett De Roche.

Ballantyne, who has worked with director Paul Cox on films such as “Lust and Revenge” and “My First Wife,” describes the film financing climate as the worst she’s experienced since 1987.

“Moulin Rouge” producer Martin Brown will be selling “Brothers in Arms,” the true story about a war between biker gangs which led to a massacre, penned by Jason Kent and Hud Saunders, with Michael Jenkins aboard to direct.

Apart from extolling the virtues of what he refers to as “a big, violent Shakespearean action film,” he wants distribs and sales agents to advise what kind of budget would be sustainable.

Brown isn’t fazed by the prospect of intensive meetings with a bunch of people who might determine the pic’s fate, noting the art of pitching is “a bit like an acting assignment.”

The FFC has already committed most of its film funds for the fiscal year ending next June, in an effort to revive the moribund production industry. Chief exec Brian Rosen says the agency can co-finance one or two more films this year, and he expects the producers of projects aired at SpaaMART won’t be ready to apply for FFC coin until next July.

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