ACT News


Future Fellinis prepare to flaunt films at Cannes

Look out Cannes - Canberra is coming!

Nine Canberra filmmakers will be heading to France next month to mingle with the heavy hitters and pitch locally made feature films at the Marche du Film, the film market at the Cannes Film Festival.

Director of ScreenACT Monica Penders will be leading the charge with eight other producers and a simple message: Canberra is ready to meet the world.

''We've just been doing so much development over the last two years, it's timely for us to do this,'' she said.

The group will be taking with them a slate of completed productions, as well as the three finalists of ScreenACT's low-budget feature section - The Mission produced by Andrew Marriott, Me & My Mates vs the Zombie Apocalypse, produced by Daniel Sanguineti, and Waiting for Robbo, produced by Ivan Slavich and written and directed by Canberra Times film writer Simon Weaving.

All three already have offers from the ACT government's Screen Investment Fund, which was set up to support the growth and sustainability of Canberra's screen industry.


Ms Penders said mingling at the marche was a rite of passage for filmmakers the world over, although the experience could be overwhelming.

''I've been to Cannes six times, this will be my seventh time, and I remember the first time, I was standing there going, 'oh my goodness, everyone will realise I don't know what I'm doing','' she said.

''And then you realise that probably about 50 per cent of the people there are in the same boat.''

She said she and her group had been doing a lot of preparation in the lead-up, and would be doing a three-day workshop on arrival about how to ''work'' the market.

This would include a section on how to ''pitch'' an idea to the heavy-hitters in Cannes.

''Sometimes you've got one minute to pitch … You're not going to do your whole diatribe and bring out the PowerPoint,'' she said.

''How do you make a meaningful impression about your project if you've got two minutes with Harvey Weinstein? Or if you've got an actual meeting, how do you sit down and pitch? [We'll be looking at] all the different forms of pitching and talking about your projects, and how to follow up and all that sort of stuff.''

She had also organised meetings with an international sales agent and the vice-president of acquisitions for Warner Brothers UK, who would be telling the group how to present ideas, and what kinds of things agents hated hearing.

''We've got some really good meetings already set up, and it will be very much about them also going off on their own,'' she said.

''It's the people that you meet when you're walking around and you sit down to have a cup of coffee, and you start talking to someone. I made a lot of money for my last feature by doing that, by chatting to people. You have to kind of come out of your shell and be on the whole time, so it's exhausting.''

Ms Penders was a producer on the 2008 film The Secret of Moonacre, and knows from experience the hard yards needed to get an idea off the ground.

''This will be one market out of many that they'll have to do for each project. I did Cannes five times, Toronto, Berlin and the American film market for Moonacre before we even got it off the ground - five years running,'' she said.

''Most of the films [in competition at Cannes] will have probably been at least five if not 10 years in development. From the idea to get them on the screen, the average seems to be around eight years.''

Although the group would not be staying in Cannes for the 10-day market, but rather at the much more affordable Juan les Pins further down the coast, they would be parking under the Palais des Festivals where all the action is. ''We've just got such a story to tell now compared to where we were a few years ago , and a lot of that's to do with the ACT Screen Investment Fund,'' Ms Pender said