Dina Panozzo and Richard James Allen.

The sudden nature of last year’s pandemic meant many filmmakers who had begun work on projects were immediately forced to navigate a new climate of production and distribution.

Parish Malfitano’s directorial debut Bloodshot Heart had completed principal photography and was in the process of being edited when COVID-19 hit last year, meaning the latter stages of post-production were conducted amidst the initial lockdown.

Filmed on location in Sydney, the psychological thriller stars Richard James Allen as Hans, a middle-aged man who lives with his mother Catherine (Dina Panozzo) and soon becomes infatuated with young tenant Matilda (Emily David), hatching a dangerous plan to win her affection.

Allen, who also produces with Martin Thorne and writer/director Malfitano, told IF the pandemic meant they worked out of a “ghost-town-like Fox Studios”, and were forced to limit numbers in and out of the sound suites at Trackdown Studios, and also Vandal Studios in Redfern.

“Since the situation was a very fluid one, with health knowledge, rules and restrictions evolving all the time, we had to stay very flexible, while also being extremely clear on what we wanted to achieve,” he said.

“Luckily, this is the job of the filmmaker even without a pandemic, so it was really an extension of an already practised mindset.

“And, of course, none of this would have been possible without our extraordinarily agile, committed, and talented Australian cast and crew, and the organisations that supported us.”

The film was finished in time to premiere at Revelation Perth International Film Festival’s ‘Couched’ online edition last year, before being screened to live audiences at Sydney’s Ritz Cinema and Melbourne’s Lido Cinemas as part of Fantastic Film Festival Australia.

Emily David.

There was also a limited theatrical release through FanForce, as well as international screenings at the Shanghai International Film Festival, Brazil’s Fantaspoa and Cinefantasy festivals, Mexico City’s Macabro Horror Film Festival, and the Chattanooga Film Festival in Tennessee.

Allen said the lockdown seemed to have affected how some audiences had received the film.

“At festivals in Brazil, which were online during the worst of their outbreak, some apparently saw the lead character Hans’ journey as one of liberation, which is not something we might have originally imagined,” he said.

“The rich colours and immersive sound mix lend the film to theatrical release, which is why we were so excited for it to screen live at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and we have received extraordinarily positive responses to the film streaming at festivals like the Chattanooga Film Festival.”

Bloodshot Heart had its first US in-person screening on Thursday at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood as part of the Dances With Films Festival, which is being held entirely with a physical presence.

Australian screenwriter Felicity Pickering and US actor Adam Cardon are representing the film’s producers at the event, answering questions on behalf of the filmmakers and arranging follow-up Zoom meetings.

Allen said they were looking forward to broadening the film’s reach further going forward.

“With more festival screenings to come in Spain, Italy, and the US, and considerable interest from sales agents and distributors, we hope people will have a chance to experience the film, in one form or another, at a cinema or on a streaming service near them, soon,” he said.

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