Deluxe Australia launches industry support fund
Deluxe Australia today launched the Deluxe Heartbeat Fund, which encompasses and extends the company’s industry support programs.
One of the key aims of the Heartbeat Fund is help filmmakers articulate a clear vision of their target audience at the outset, and execute accordingly.
“Australian films are facing specific challenges in cutting through to audiences,” Deluxe MD Alaric McAusland told IF. “We want to work with filmmakers on features where they have a clear vision of audience engagement and that’s built in as an integral part of the budget at the start, not as an after-thought.
“The Australian film label is a disincentive for some audiences; our films used to be cool. We are at a tipping point.”
McAusland said Deluxe intends to collaborate with industry guilds and other stakeholders to develop programs to engage Australian audiences.
He sees an obvious need for an aggregated site which will enable consumers to easily find Australian films, similar to the way that Triple J acts as a hub for indie Oz music.
In the past two years Deluxe has contributed more than $4 million in cash and services to assist 20 films and in sponsorship for the major guilds, film festivals and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards.
Among the films it’s supported are Tracks, The Railway Man and the upcoming Son of a Gun and Backtrack, which stars Adrien Brody and Sam Neill, written and directed by Michael Petroni (The Book Thief, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
“Too often our stories are received much better overseas than they are at home,” he said. “All too often, great Australian stories do not succeed in reaching Australian audiences. This has to change. I am committing, through our Heartbeat Fund, to playing our part in affecting this change.”
One of the first recipients of the new fund was Josh Lawson’s feature writing and directing debut The Little Death, which secured deals in the US, UK, France, Germany and other major territories.
“The Little Death would not have been made without Deluxe,” said producer Jamie Hilton. “Unlike a normal post deal, the Heartbeat Fund made a major financial contribution to the film. It’s amazing to see this kind of support out of the private sector, particularly for emerging talent.”
“It was strange and extraordinary, having access to the world's best facilities and post talent—the Gatsby and Mad Max teams—on a film that was made for a fraction of the budget."
Jannine Barnes, who is producing writer-director Grant Scicluna's debut feature Downriver, said, "We wouldn't be making Downriver without the support of Deluxe. They have directly invested into the film and more than that have supported our short films for years."