Typifying a growing buoyancy and sense of optimism about filmmaking in South Australia, producers Julie Byrne, Kristian Moliere and Jennifer Jones have formed Triptych Pictures.
The troika has just delivered its first factual entertainment series for the ABC, Jillaroo School, and shooting wraps today on its first feature, Touch.
Jillaroo School (6 x 30’) follows the journeys of the women who undergo a course to train as jillaroos under the tutelage of experienced horse master Bill Willoughby.
Writer-director Christopher Houghton’s Touch is a thriller about a mother and daughter who are on the run, hiding in a remote hills town, starring Leeanna Walsman, Matt Day, Greg Hatton and 12-year-old tyro Onor Nottle.
“It’s very hard to be a solo producer or even a duo,” Byrne tells IF. “With three you have a critical mass and each brings different ideas. We are all drama-oriented and we want to get into TV series drama.”
South Australian Film Corp. CEO Richard Harris estimates the number of active producers in the State has grown from 5-10 five years ago to around 20. A major catalyst has been the SAFC’s FilmLab, which launched in 2009 to help emerging filmmakers to step up to features.
FilmLab is investing $4.2 million in such projects as Touch, Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays, Nick Matthews’ One Eyed Girl, Jason Sweeney’s surreal thriller The Dead Speak Back, Ursula Dabrowsky’s thriller/horror Inner Demons and Ashlee Page’s Archive.
Harris says FilmLab has helped to change the mentality of SA filmmakers, observing, “People now know they don’t have to leave the State to make films. The challenge now is to manage an industry where there are far more established filmmakers than there were five years ago.”
Byrne was line producer on Rolf de Heer’s Charlie’s Country and on Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, which Moliere produced. She first worked with Moliere on Kriv Stenders' Lucky Country in 2008.
She co-produced Inner Demon with Sue Brown and produced The Dead Speak Back, which stars Caroline Daish as a woman who searches for her missing son through the spirit world and is visited by a deceased young man wanting to be found.
Touch is budgeted at $650,000, funded by FilmLab’s $350,000 investment, private investors and the 20% producer offset (she will apply for the 40% offset when she secures an Australian distributor/sales agent). She plans to enter the film into A-list festivals and is in discussions with international sales agents.
Among the other active SA-based production companies are Julie Ryan’s Cyan Films, Hedone Productions (Kate Croser, Sandy Cameron), Closer Productions (Rebecca Summerton, Sophie Hyde, Matt Cormack, Bryan Mason) and Projector Films (David Ngo, Daniel Joyce, Nick Matthews, Craig Behenna).
Croser says the SAFC's investments in the past five years in her projects, which include three features and two seasons of the SBS comedy Danger 5, created a South Australian production spend of nearly $7 million, employed hundreds of SA cast and crew and advanced a significant number of local crew to heads of department.