Richard Todd’s feature documentary Frackman, which investigates the impact of the coal seam gas industry on residents' health and food and water resources, will have its world premiere on March 7.
The location- the Byron Bay Film Festival Community Centre- is just one unconventional aspect of the innovative release being mapped out by producers Simon Nasht and Trish Lake.
The producers are four-walling the film in 20 locations in NSW in March, followed by a capital city theatrical release after Easter.
In tandem with that, Frackman is being marketed by Tugg, the cinema-on-demand platform which is a co-venture between David Doepel’s Leap Frog Films and Tugg US.
Indicating widespread community interest in the subject, the trailer has had 925,000 views on Facebook in just nine days. There was a sell-out preview on Tuesday night at the NET-WORK-PLAY conference in Adelaide.
"Reps from Santos and the mining industry and even burly frackers came as well as Lock-the-Gate anti-fracking people," Lake says. "There was a robust debate as part of the Q&A with Richard Todd and myself following the screening. The majority of people stayed and moved to the foyer of the cinema to continue the debate. It's very worthwhile to see the response."
Frackman will be released on iTunes and other digital platforms in April. The film follows Queensland landowner and pig shooter Dayne ‘The Frackman’ Pratzky, who joins a broad coalition of conservative landowners, radical activists and city folk who oppose coal seam gas mining.
The project was funded by Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Screen West and the producer offset, and was one of the recipients of the philanthropic Good Pitch Australia event in Sydney last year, which raised more than $2 million in donations for seven docs.
Lake tells IF the producers opted for the Tugg initiative due to the “the huge interest and inquiries from groups wanting to organise their own screenings at local cinemas all over Australia.”
Lake adds, “”Tugg’s core audience is in regional Australia, which is often overlooked by the major distributors. Screen Australia has encouraged us to be innovative following the film’s success at Good Pitch and its solid impact campaign.”
Doepel says, “We are very excited that the producers of Frackman have chosen www.tugg.com.au as the vehicle for wide release of this highly anticipated film.”
Discussions are underway with eOne to handle the home entertainment distribution. Lake says, “We always envisaged an innovative cinema release which will also see some metro screenings with an emphasis on VOD with premium VOD rolling out as streaming first, ahead of the digital release.”
Frackman is expected to screen at some major festivals this year and has had considerable interest from international buyers.
Nasht says, “Our plan is to go global on the back of proven local success and not be in the unfortunate position of many Australian films that have been largely ignored in their home market.”
In the first such collaboration between Tugg US and its Australian licensor, Jeremy Beasley's documentary Small is Beautiful is getting a simultaneous exclusive release in both markets.
Produced by Chris Kamen, the doc follows four people at different stages of building and living in their tiny houses and examines this burgeoning grass roots movement to explore whether tiny houses are merely a naïve and trending fad or if living tiny is a viable solution to the issues of housing affordability and sustainability.