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After thirteen AACTA nominations, is Hacksaw Ridge on a path to the Oscars?
“It’s a nice thought,” says one of the film's executive producers, James M. Vernon. “But we may be getting a little ahead of ourselves here, as the main game is achieving a successful theatrical release in Australia and North America which Icon and Lionsgate are well on the way to realising."
Icon is releasing the film locally on November 3, while Lionsgate is releasing the USD $40 million production the next day, November 4, in the States.
“It's my hope that a number of the Hacksaw crew will be recognised in the craft categories at this year’s AACTA Awards,” says Vernon.
Hacksaw tells the true story of U.S. Army medic and conscientious objector Desmond Doss and was shot in Sydney and Bringelly last year.
According to Vernon, “A lot of the credit should go to the American producer Bill Mechanic who persisted for over a decade to see the project into production and his belief in the excellence of Australian film production community to pull off Mel’s amazing vision.”
Vernon's favourite critique of the film came in a tweet from Mike LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The battle scenes in Hacksaw Ridge make the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan look like a Noel Coward play.”
“And in my opinion he’s right,” says Vernon. “The war sequences in Hacksaw are absolutely riveting."
Vernon is Managing Director at Media Funds Management (MFM) and has over 35 producer and executive producer credits to his name on projects shot in China, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.
MFM is usually across 15 plus projects at any one time. Half of these projects are where MFM acts as finance executive producer, providing financing against film assets such as offsets, tax credits pre-sales and GAP.
“We have been co-funding a number of Canadian projects of late, but the Australian Offset provisions are far more generous and much simpler to operate within,” says Vernon.
One of MFM’s main interests is in assisting emerging Australian producers in structuring their packaged projects across all budget ranges.
“The landscape is ever changing and increasingly more difficult for young Australian producers to get market traction. Because of this, many of these projects fall over near the finish in the area of banking the film assets. This is where MFM’s power- base and experience comes into play [in] working with the producers to restructure the finance plan and advise on such elements as distributor and sales agents deals, pre-sales and the banking of GAP."
“It’s never easy,” says Vernon, “But we love a challenge and we love figuring out the puzzle in the finance plan and helping make things happen."