James Di Martino opts for do-it-yourself distribution for ‘The Faceless Man’

15 July, 2019 by Don Groves

Sophie Thurling in ‘The Faceless Man.’

Writer-director James Di Martino did not like any of the distribution deals he was offered for his debut feature The Faceless Man, so he is releasing the film in Australia and New Zealand with the help of a marketing team he has assembled.


The privately-funded horror movie inspired by personal experience will open in cinemas on October 31 – Halloween – after the world premiere on October 12 at Cinema Nova as part of Monster Fest.

Sophie Thurling plays the protagonist Emily, a cancer survivor who embarks on a drug-fueled holiday with several friends. Her fears of a recurrence of the illness are triggered when she encounters a faceless monster plus enraged locals who have a strict no-drugs policy and a group of Russian mobsters who are searching for a missing suitcase.

The cast includes Roger Ward as the leader of the town’s bikie gang, Andy McPhee as the intimidating owner of the holiday house, Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Facciolo, Sunny S Walia, Martin Astifo, Albert Goikhman and David Beamish. Emma Rose created the faceless man based on a concept by horror artist Austin Mengler.

Released by the filmmaker’s Chapter 5 Studios, the film will go out on about 20 screens initially in Melbourne, followed by other states, in a combination of four-wall deals and traditional film hire.

“I did six months research, looked into budgets/profits, did background checks and realised I can make more money doing the distribution and marketing myself,” he tells IF.

“We have a strong marketing team that are driven to promote this film in creative ways. We are planning a series of networking nights parties and merchandise via prints and signed posters as well as T-shirts and mugs. We even intend to bring back midnight screenings and drive-in event sessions.”

The director, who cut his teeth on short films Five O’Clock, Congratulations, The Painted World of Alasius Pinkarmy and The Lazy Barber, drew inspiration from his experiences as a cancer survivor: he was diagnosed with Lymphoma when he was 18 but has been free of the disease for eight years.

(L-R) Composer Bart Walus, James Di Martino and sound designer Benni Knop.

The production was a long and arduous process, juggled with his job teaching marketing, market research, advertising and branding at La Trobe University.

“This film was hard to write, hard to get off the ground, hard to shoot and brutally hard in post- production,” he says. “It was like a living hell at times but when it worked it was like magic coming alive on screen.

“I wanted to make a different film, something that blended Ozploitation films with a modern approach. I didn’t want to make a politically correct film because I knew that would limit me in screen agency funding. “

He took an early version of the film to the American Film Market last year, had 23 meetings, received several offers but rejected them.

When he came back he spent another eight months finishing the production. “I worked a lot to to ensure the film will get made and be shown the way it was intended,” he says. “I would finish teaching and then go straight to the sound studio or work on the score or the edit. It was madness. “

Recently he has had offers or inquiries from sales agents and distributors in such territories as the UK and Germany, but he won’t settle until he gets the right deals.