Circle of Lies reveals a few home truths
Producer Steve Jaggi has no regrets about launching Circle of Lies in 11 independent cinemas a few weeks before the teen drama was released on DVD and Video-on-Demand, breaking the standard 120-day gap.
The revenues from box-office takings and selling copies of the DVD, posters and autographed 1-sheets at some locations were modest- just $55,000. But Jaggi believes that strategy, which included Q&As with director Matt Cerwen and cast members, will pay off in DVD and VoD sales.
"Despite the huge amount of work I'm very happy we did this," he tells IF. He was surprised to find that although the film is aimed primarily at teens, most ticket buyers were aged 40-plus.
He was heartened that most stayed for the Q&As and many said they enjoyed the film. He tried to keep ticket prices as low as possible and offered discounts to school groups.
Scripted by Adrian Moses and Scott Herford, it follows high school student Denise (Hilary Caitens) who is bullied by classmate Kirsty (Anna Lawrence), the leader of a bunch of ultra-cool kids. The cast includes Ryan Harrison, Nikki Webster, Karina Banno, Stephen Multari and Luke Webb.
The film began a staggered theatrical roll-out at Brisbane's Balmoral Cineplex on August 22, followed by bookings at the Randwick Ritz in Sydney and Govinda's in Darlinghurst, the Mercury in Adelaide and in cinemas on the Sunshine Coast, Grafton and Bendigo.
Jaggi said all those exhibitors were happy to play the film despite the DVD/VoD release on September 18; a few made it clear they did not want merchandise sold in their cinemas.
The producer said he will gladly follow that strategy again, although if he makes another teen film he would want to launch it on VoD before theatrical.
He'd like to more closely align the Australian release with the rest of the world, convinced that Circle of Lies has been widely pirated because it opened in a limited number of cinemas and on VoD in North America last December via Warner Bros.
He has counted more than 50 streaming sites that offer the title and estimates there have been more than 190,000 downloads.
The Canadian-born Jaggi, who studied film at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, made films, documentaries and TV series in the UK before moving back to Oz in 2010.
With writer-director Stephen Sewell he is developing Embedded, a thriller about an Australian foreign correspondent who covers a war in a Third World country. On his way home he stops off in Asia and has an affair with a mysterious woman. The narrative spans just 12 hours. Jaggi is raising the finance and hopes to start shooting in January.