Toby Wallace in ‘Acute Misfortune.’
Robert Connolly’s strategy of staging event screenings around the country is paying off for Acute Misfortune, first-time director Thomas M. Wright’s biopic of troubled Sydney painter Adam Cullen.
Meanwhile producer-director-writer Alex Lykos launched his comedy Me & My Left Brain on five screens last weekend, self-distributed by his company Panoramic Pictures.
Wright hosted sell-out Q&A screenings in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Hobart.
Daniel Henshall, who plays the gun-toting, abusive and alcohol and drug-addled Cullen, returned from the US to participate in four of those Q&As.
Erik Jensen, who penned the source novel Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen and co-wrote the screenplay with Wright, also attended four.
Toby Wallace plays Jensen, who was an ambitious 19-year-old journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald when he was commissioned to write a profile of Cullen. He spent four years on and off with Cullen in an increasingly claustrophobic relationship until the painter’s death.
Joel Edgerton enjoyed the drama so he much he offered to host a Q&A at the Randwick Ritz.
Connolly’s CinemaPlus launched the film on nine screens last Thursday, grossing about $14,000, which brings the total including previews and Melbourne International Film Festival screenings to $50,000.
“This is the ideal way for small, ambitious films to find an audience,” says Connolly, who executive produced the film produced by Plot Media’s Virginia Kay and Jamie Houge with Wright’s Black Heath Films and Arenamedia’s Liz Kearney.
“There is a terrific demand for these events and we are currently looking at future events to support the release, including a special day of screenings at Mount Vic Flicks in the Blue Mountains where the film was made.”
Wright tells IF: “The film calls out for deeper engagement and the Q&A screenings are a terrific opportunity to grow those conversations.”
XYZ Films, which acquired the international rights at MIFF, will launch sales efforts after the premiere at a major international festival.
Lykos adapted Me & My Left Brain from his play The Long Night and made his directing debut. He plays Arthur, who has a job interview in the morning but can’t sleep because he’s obsessing about whether Helen (Chantelle Barry) is interested in him.
Arthur is then visited by the personification of his critical left brain (Mal Kennard) and they bicker. Rachael Beck and Laura Dundovic co-star.
The filmmaker decided to self-distribute after it took more than six years to get his previous film Alex & Eve on screen.
The comedy grossed $15,000 on five screens. “I was hoping we would do a little better in the first week,” he tells IF.
“We did have some challenges getting editorial with main newspapers due to the federal election and it was a softer Saturday with people out voting. The reviews have been very positive and the word-of-mouth has been strong, so hopefully we can have solid second and third weeks and build some momentum.
“I don’t regret self-distributing. We have learned a lot and will be in a better position for our next film.”
When the cinema run is over he will look for an international sales agent.