By Brendan Swift

A high profile cast of Hollywood stars and a solid script is no longer enough to get an independent film financed, according to director Rowan Woods.

After weighing up a range of US scripts over the past decade, he spent more than a year attempting to raise the finance for his third feature, Winged Creatures.

“It was extremely difficult to finance because any script in Hollywood in the last couple of years that is a drama and somewhat dark is a very, very tough sell,” Woods said. “It took us a long time to clinch finance and by the time we did finally clinch finance we had a huge array of wonderful stars in the ensemble.”

Winged Creatures outlines the emotional responses of five witnesses to a senseless massacre in a coffee shop and stars Kate Beckinsale, Forest Whitaker, Guy Pearce and Dakota Fanning. The film, which is released in Australia on July 9, had a reported budget of $US4.5 million.

It follows Woods’ violent thriller The Boys (1998) and junkie tale Little Fish (2005), which starred Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving. Little Fish was well received in Australia and the US among the independent filmmaking community, prompting Woods and his family to travel the world after its release before settling in the US for just over two years.

“I had resisted the temptation because I really wanted to go over there and live there with my family before taking something on, particularly if it was to be an independent film with some integrity,” he said. “I needed to research the context of the script and where it was set.”

Winged Creatures was written by Roy Freirich and later released as a novel. “The script was a response from the writer to an issue which was very close to my heart …hand gun ownership in the US,” Woods said.

“If you’re going to be dealing with a violent crime in a film, Winged Creatures, felt like it was the antithesis of The Boys. The Boys posed the question where does violence come from in a domestic space whereas this film deals with the consequences of a violent crime.”

Check out the July issue of INSIDEFILM for Rowan Woods’ views on local scripts and the Australian industry.