Theatrical distribution has been given a vote of confidence by Western Australia’s Halo Films, which continues to provide a path towards cinematic screenings for productions within the state.
Launched last September, the boutique distributor is designed to support WA filmmakers by releasing films and documentaries that don’t have an existing distribution deal or theatrical release in place.
Managing director Ian Hale also operates the Back Lot Perth – a purpose-built private screening room that became home to Halo’s inaugural release, Steven J. Mihaljevich’s The Xrossing, last year and will screen Julius Telmer’s Greenfield next month.
The venue has also doubled as a post-production studio that has helped put the finishing touches on both films via relationships with WA’s Soundbyte studio and Sandbox Productions.
Having spent nearly three decades in the industry, during which he has worked at Paramount Pictures, Transmission Films, Universal, and Dreamworks, Hale said Halo and Backlot Perth reflected his commitment to finding an audience for films.
“Most of the time, filmmakers spend years of their life and a lot of their own money to get these films made,” he told IF.
“Every now and then, you come across one and think, ‘Wow this really should be seen in a cinema by an audience’.
“My association with Backlot means I am able to give these films a backing and allow them to go down that path.”
In Greenfield, Ethan Thomas plays James, a young man returning to the titular town to win back his former girlfriend, Kelly.
Tensions soon explode when Kelly’s brother Michael tells James a volatile secret, which then goes on to cast a dark shadow over the small town when it is eventually revealed.
The film is produced by Daniel Tenni, Mikkel Skov, and Robert Livings and stars Liam Graham, and Marthe Snorresdotter Rovik.
Tenni was introduced to Hale through WA Made festival coordinator Jasmine Leivers and director Matthew Eeles after the pair expressed interest in screening Greenfield at the event.
He told IF Halo’s support, along with that of Soundbyte, had taken the film to a “whole new level”.
“I’ve been pushing this film for quite a few years and getting things done to the level that we can,” he said.
“As soon as Ian came on, he just fell in love with it and saw the power of the film and what it could do.
“The 5.1 sound mix they were able to get out of it really punches hard.
“It feels so good having someone backing me and to share the load amongst a team.”
Hale said Greenfield’s themes of toxic masculinity made it highly relevant to audiences.
“It’s a really powerful and confronting film,” he said.
“Toxic masculinity can have crippling effects on society, so it’s time it was exposed and examined.”
Hale hasn’t been alone in putting his faith in WA’s screen industry, with the state government committing to a the development of a $100 million studio and sound stage in Fremantle ahead of this month’s state election.
It comes after Screenwest released its strategic plan for 2021-2024, in which it identified a set target of increasing production investment to $150 million in WA annually by 2024.
Going forward, Hale said it was an exciting time for state’s screen industry.
“I’m sure the studio will attract not only overseas productions, but also service Australia and West Australian films,” he said.
“We’ll have world-class infrastructure here and that can only be beneficial across the whole spectrum.”
Greenfield premieres at the WA Made Film Festival on Friday March 12 before screening at The Backlot Perth from April 22 with further locations to follow.