Do you live in a film funding desert? Here’s how we can help.
What: We Are Moving Stories Incubator #1 Event
Where: ACMIX, Melbourne
When: Thursday 9th August, 1-2.30pm
Who: by Dr Carmela Baranowska, Founder and Product Architect at We Are Moving Stories
We Are Moving Stories is the world’s biggest platform for new voices in film, with over 50% women’s participation. While half of our audience is based in the US, the other half is found scattered across the globe in the so-called ‘national cinemas’ - Australia, Canada, NZ, South Africa and Europe are the main centers where our contributing filmmakers are found. In all these centers filmmakers have different ways of accessing film funding. But there are areas in the world were funding availability is severely restricted. Do you live in a film funding desert? If so, what are the solutions? Will you ever be able to reach the oasis?
There are many film funding deserts. Like news deserts and food deserts, real options and even alternatives are extremely limited. In news deserts the lack of resources means that local events are rarely reported or discussed. In food deserts the population can not buy and cook nutritious meals.
Film funding deserts function in different ways: they can be geographic or subject matter based; or they can be both. After hosting and facilitating our first incubator event at We Are Moving Stories I would argue that, as a film funding desert, Melbourne is our very own Ground Zero.
We heard from our speakers and the conversation was small and intimate enough for all participants to make a contribution (see below for speakers’ bios). Both feature film Director Jemma Van Loenen (BAM BAM) and Co-Director/Host David Elliot-Jones (BIG IN JAPAN) self-funded their documentaries over many years. Bianca 'Bam Bam' Elmir aims to be the first Australian to win a World Amateur Boxing Championship. A Lebanese Muslim girl from suburban Australia, she smashes the stereotypes of her family, society and her sport, to prove she is the best in the world. In BIG IN JAPAN, 'ordinary guy' Dave sets out on an outrageous mission to do whatever it takes to achieve modern celebrity in Japan. BIG IN JAPAN, Elliot-Jones told us, was able to access Film Victoria’s Marketing Low Budget Features Grant (since discontinued) which was extremely helpful in launching the film in Australia.
These films recently screened at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and they are highly personalized, unique and dare we say it: Australian which does not mean that they can't appeal to an international audience as well. In this era of fake news and individual silos, however, it’s often difficult for the quirky or even thought-provoking documentary about local issues or told from a national point-of-view to stand out. There is both a glut of film content internationally and increasingly, a lack of diverse national voices in our broadcasting and streaming landscape.
Free-to-air TV in Australia and the national and state documentary funding bodies have been financially gutted in the last decade. Netflix and even the educational distributor Kanopy are extremely selective when buying non-American content: audience numbers and niche marketing are key in their acquisition strategy.
However, Eu-Hua Chua, a development executive with Cargo Film and Releasing, a global sales agency and distributor specializing in representing documentary features, who also attended the Incubator, would disagree with the above assessment. Cargo works with a carefully selected slate of films at all stages of production, and has been involved in locating financing from around the world and arranging international co-productions.
Chua encouraged filmmakers to think of audiences beyond Australia, and to consider entering their films into international festivals and markets where sales agents and distributors would be actively searching for projects. Aside from placing a film on buyers' radars, a sales agent would be helpful in formulating a festival release timeline and an overall distribution strategy that would maximize a film’s reach, she said.
Drama feature film Director Saara Lamberg (INNUENDO) also emphasized the importance of obtaining a sales agent and argues that it was only after she traveled to the American Film Market and Cannes and secured a sales agent that she was able to sell her film to Australia’s Channel 9.
We are Moving Stories contributors and short film directors Lauren Bailey (IN LIFE TODAY), Erin Mccuskey (LUXVILLE) and Alexandra Gaulupeau (LIFE AT A SNAIL’S PACE) described the different paths of their films. For Bailey her award-winning film serves as a calling card for a possible TV series; for Mccuskey the next instalment of Luxville will be at BOAA (Biennale of Australian Art) next month in Ballarat, Australia. She urged audiences to register as a citizen to become part of the story here: www.luxville.me. Gaulupeau described how her student film was accepted by Hot Docs and she was then invited to screen at many subsequent film festivals.
At We Are Moving Stories we acknowledge that many films, because of their local or regional emphasis, subject matter, length or point of view will rarely obtain a sales agent. However, they are still valuable and deserve an audience. I invited Cate Lewis from the Australia Western Sahara Association to speak and while we unfortunately ran out of time she later added that film is an important medium to discuss often remote and localized human rights issues like those of Western Sahara. We also screened the first few minutes from Canadian filmmaker's recent film on Western Sahara: Sirocco: Winds of Resistance.
At We Are Moving Stories we believe that traditional broadcasters and distribution partners, including sales agents, can no longer cater exclusively to the great variety of content being produced. While we look forward to working with sales agents who are, themselves, extremely helpful to filmmakers we aim to be another option for filmmakers in a fast moving distribution landscape. At We Are Moving Stories we want to democratize and monetize our content for the benefit of all our filmmakers. We want to end the film funding desert, once and for all!
How does it work? We stream each film over a three-week period and divide the income equally between an organization, filmmaker and platform. At this stage the filmmaker needs to choose an organization to support to be part of the streaming platform. We are different from other platforms as we are developing both a pay-it-forward option for groups of individuals who wouldn’t be able to normally afford to view the film and we will also hold an online Q and A for the filmmaker and/or organization during the three week streaming period.
However, we are not necessarily exclusive: Director Sarah-Jayne’s DAUGHTER, which we streamed this year, is and was available on other VOD platforms. At the same time, if you are interested in a limited, three week exclusive window with We Are Moving Stories we are happy to explore this option with you as a means of amplifying your film’s concerns before it is delivered to other VOD platforms. We have a lively social media presence and international reach. Watch this space for updates!
Please watch this space for future Incubator events!
More info: Carmela (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Welcome: Incubator @WeAreMovingStories
Dear friends, colleagues and contributors,
Some exciting news! We are beginning our Incubator @We Are Moving Stories. Thanks to the University of Melbourne and ACMIX We Are Moving Stories was awarded a 2018 Residency @ACMIX. This month we successfully celebrated our 2000th profile at We Are Moving Stories with a joint celebration alongside the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, recently voted the world's best documentary film festival. We are now the world's largest online community for new voices in film, promoting more than 50% women's participation in film, TV and online.
You are invited to our first event at 1-2pm, Thursday 9 August 2018. It will be held in the Events Space at ACMIX. Please note: ACMIX is in the Australian Ballet Building in Southbank, behind the NGV and Arts Centre on St Kilda Rd., Melbourne, Australia. It's definitely not at Federation Square! DIRECTIONS HERE
Come and hear from our We Are Moving Stories community, filmmakers and supporters. Learn about what we do and how we both democratize and monetize all types of content including drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTGIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror and world cinema.
Explore how you can be involved in We Are Moving Stories as both a filmmaker and organization. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there! More info: Carmela: email@example.com
Event speakers and We Are Moving Stories contributors and supporter organizations:
Jemma van Loenen is the director of BAM BAM, a documentary about two time Australian Flyweight champion, Bianca 'Bam Bam' Elmir who aims to be the first Australian to win a World Amateur Boxing Championship. A Lebanese Muslim girl from suburban Australia, she smashes the stereotypes of her family, society and her sport, to prove she is the best in the world. Jemma completed an Advanced Diploma in Screenwriting at RMIT, and a Certificate 3 in Screen (Documentary) through Open Channel. She is the Writer and Director of the shorts Little Bird (2010), winning Best Drama and People's Choice at RMIT Film Awards; Lily & Lani (2011), invited to Court Metrage at Cannes Film Festival; Evie Wants A Baby (2012), winning Best Actress (short category) at Melbourne Underground Film Festival, and Best Screenplay at LDUB Film Festival (USA); and Raymond Taylor’s Earnest Adventure in Love (2013). Her 5th short film Falling (2016), screened at Balinale, Made in Melbourne Film Festival and Melbourne Fringe’s Electric Shorts. She has just completed her debut feature documentary Bam Bam (2018), which premiered to a sell out crowd at Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and is set to screen at the Lebanese Film Festival in September.
Lauren Bailey has over 20 years experience as a performer across theatre, film and television in Australia, the UK and the USA. She also writes for theatre and film, co-created The Act of Storytelling and co-hosts a podcast of the same name. Working increasingly as a producer and director, her debut short film, In Life Today, premiered at the 26th International FlickerFest Short Film Festival and picked up awards for Best Actress and Best Screenplay at the Gold Coast Film Festival’s “Short in Paradise” 2017. She is currently developing In Life Today into a television series and is in pre-production for short film, Before I Go, shooting in October this year. :
Cate Lewis is Vice-President of the Australia Western Sahara Association, which works for justice for the Saharawi people. The aim is to ensure a vote of self-determnation for this former Spanish colony on the Atlantic coast of Africa, now largely occupied by its northern neighbour, Morocco. Although born and bred in Melbourne, Cate spent many years abroad, mostly in Paris and Leeds. It was in the UK that she first encountered children from Western Sahara at a Woodcraft Folk international camp in 1988. Some friends from Leeds decided to invite another group of delightful Saharawi children in 1990 and continued to do so every year for over a decade. Bit by bit Cate became more involved and eventually was persuaded to start a support group here when she and her husband retired back to Melbourne.
Facilitator: Dr Carmela Baranowska is the founder and product architect at We Are Moving Stories. Over a 25 year career as a journalist, filmmaker and university lecturer Dr Carmela Baranowska has gained unique insights which she brings to her work. She's the first Australian to win a Rory Peck award and the only person to have won both a Rory Peck and Walkley award. Carmela is passionate about human rights, access, representation and amplifying other people's voices through media, especially film. Carmela has written about, filmed, lived and worked in East Timor, Burma, Afghanistan, West Papua, Indonesia, Australia, Europe and the U.S. Her 2015 conferred PhD was titled The Responsibility of the Media: Occupation in East Timor and Western Sahara.
Thanks so much for your interest!
all the best,
Dr Carmela Baranowska
Founder and Product Architect
We Are Moving Stories