Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt.

Financing feature films is going to be even harder after the pandemic, prompting Truant Pictures’ Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt to offer some practical advice to genre filmmakers.

In a nutshell: Come up with compelling ideas for contained films on low budgets without sacrificing quality. Try to stick to a budget of $3 million, which could be scaled up to $8 million if Netflix or other international players come on board.

The founders of Animal Logic’s genre film and TV production arm surveyed the state of the industry yesterday in an Australians in Film webinar moderated by Krista Carpenter.

The LA-based firm is developing 10 features and two TV series and is in the process of financing four of those projects, Nalbandian tells IF.

Schmidt, who learned his craft from horror-master Wes Craven and filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan, offered this advice: “Make the most contained, low budget, compelling film you can, because it’s harder to put the money together for those movies. Try to figure out what’s the least you can make it for and still be quality.”

Nalbandian said: “If you are a creative, now is the time to be doing development, even making a short film while you’re in lockdown. This crisis won’t last forever and I think a lot of people will have strong material. Studios, streaming services and other platforms are going to be hungry for content.”

While its remit embraces supernatural and psychological horror films and sci-fi thrillers, it’s also in the market for grounded, character-driven, real-world thrillers and dramas. Schmidt is especially keen on wish-fulfillment story arcs.

The budgets of the projects on its slate run from $3 million to $10 million. Among its collaborators are Zak Hilditch, John Curran, Joan Sauers, Nicholas Verso, Stephen McCallum, Anya Beyersdorf, Andy Friedhof, Jub Clerc, Michael Kratochvil and writing teams Alexei Mizin and Ryan van Dijk and Shayne Armstrong and Shane Krause.

Wherever possible the intention is to shoot in Australia, taking advantage of the Producer Offset. However one project is set in Montana and will likely be filmed in British Columbia as a Canadian co-production.

Nalbandian hopes Truant’s first two productions will be underway by the end of this year.

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