Continuance Pictures maintains momentum with trio of Monster Fest selections

From left are director Tristan Barr, 1st AD Jonathan Finney, and producer David Gim on the set of 'Subject'.

After four years of travelling to different film festivals and taking meetings, the industry is making more sense to Continuance Pictures co-founder David Gim.

The producer, who began the company with director Tristan Barr in 2018, is preparing to debut a trio of titles at this month’s Monster Fest, showcasing work from the end of 2019 up until earlier this year.

Barr’s horror feature Subject, which was selected for last year’s Frontières Buyers Showcase at Cannes’ Marché du Film, joins shorts The Secret of Mount Trolla, also from Barr, and Phillip James Rouse’s The Last Lesson in the program, set to begin at Melbourne’s Cinema Nova on November 24 before screening nationally.

The inclusions come amid progress in overseas markets, with Continuance having wrapped filming on its first US feature, Head Count, a neo-Western thriller starring Aaron Jakubenko, Melanie Zanetti, and Ryan Kwanten that is being co-produced with Method Media. It is hoped the Ben Burghart-directed film will have its premiere at next year’s SXSW and launch at the European Film Market.

Tristan Barr and Stephen Phillips on the set of ‘Subject’.

Gim, who is also preparing to work with US producer Jason Scott Goldberg on a yet-to-be-revealed title, told IF having various projects come to fruition at the same time had given him a firmer sense of where his business stood in relation to the sector.

“When you enter the industry, you’re not sure what information is going to be helpful for you,” he said.

“But after all these years of travelling and meetings, everything is starting to really click and I think we are in a really interesting space. We still want to keep our ethos of ‘you aim small and you miss small’ in which we are still concentrating on films that are buzzing between $4-5 million, because I think that is the sweet spot.

“That way, we can still protect the visions and ethos of the directors without having so much pressure from the financial side.”

Central to the Continuance business model has been investing in short films as proof-of-concepts that will eventually be made into features.

In 2019, Gim and Barr launched the Continue Short Film initiative, offering $10,000 to assist emerging filmmakers with the production of their concepts and in submitting the projects to festivals internationally.

The inaugural scheme led to the production of Subject, which was submitted by LA-based Vincent Befi and named as a finalist.

Filmed across three weeks in the inner Melbourne suburb of Northcote at the end of 2019, the feature version stars Stephen Phillips as Willem Poirer, a drug-addicted criminal who accepts an offer to carry out his sentence by observing a mysterious creature in a secretive government facility. When the creature starts to grow and make Willem recount his heinous acts of the past, the struggle to rehabilitate becomes a struggle for survival.

There is hope that fellow Monster Fest selections, The Secret of Mount Trolla and The Last Lesson, will be able to follow the same path, with Continuance developing feature versions of both projects.

Filmed in Brisbane last year, the former is based on Barr’s novel of the same name, and stars the author/director as Espen, an emotionally damaged man who is haunted by mysterious woman (Courtney Friedrichs) after a plane crash in a remote mountain area.

It was followed by the production of The Last Lesson in Melbourne earlier this year, with Rouse serving as writer and director, while also producing alongside Gim. The story follows a world-class pianist (Kim Denman) whose seemingly quiet life takes a turn when she receives a teaching request from an easily roused parent.

Gim said while both projects had been in development as features for more than a year each, there had been a quick turnaround with the shorts, allowing Continuance to showcase its slate and remain true to its business goals.

“We still believe and think that it is really best to be able to showcase your work by producing a short film and then carrying that as a stepping stone to making it into the feature space.”

Gim added there was “no better place” than Monster Fest to screen Subject, for which they are in negotiations with a North American distributor.

“We shot it in Melbourne just before the pandemic hit and it’s finally coming out,” he said.

“Everybody’s been waiting for it.”