Robert Slaviero.

Robert Slaviero ran Hoyts Distribution for eleven years before guiding the company through its acquisiton by StudioCanal three years ago. 

Last month at the Australian International Movie Convention he received the Independent Spirit Award from the Australian Independent Distributors Association.

Since finishing up at StudioCanal in March this year, Slaviero has founded his own company, Graffiti Productions. 

The company is consulting to three different production companies (so far): Ambience Entertainment, Prodigy Films and Flying Bark Productions, with Slaviero acting as EP on several projects. "It’s been really good," he told IF.

The project closest to the start line is a remake of Storm Boy for Ambience. 

"If you look at what’s been working, it’s Oddball, Paper Planes, Red Dog – broad appeal family films," said Slaviero. 

"We released Blinky Bill last year through StudioCanal which did some business as well. It’s who the target audience is. Australian movies for teenagers are really difficult. Family audiences and older audiences – that’s probably where you’re going to find some success." 

Ambience began developing the project after producer Matthew Street tried and failed to get a ticket to the Sydney Theatre Company's stage adaptation in 2013.

"[Matthew] been talking to Michael Boughen, who’s the key producer here at Ambience, about not being able to get tickets. And Michael thought that was interesting, did some research on the property, and picked up the rights about three years ago."

Slaviero calls the latest draft of the script, by Justin Monjo (Spear, Jungle), "just spectacular. One of the better scripts I’ve read in a long time, whether Australian or otherwise. Absolute cracker."

The director is Shawn Seet (Two Fists, One Heart). "He's done The Code, Peter Allen. He’s done a lot of great stuff and has a great vision for the film."

"We’ve been out to the marketplace, we have a distributor on board. It was selling at AFM so it was pitched to the rest of the world, which was terrific," said Slaviero. 

"We just need to finalise some of the financing but we’re very close, and also obviously we need to finalise the cast. We should have that sorted by about mid-December." 

The shoot locaton is still up for grabs, with Ambience continuing discussions with a couple of the state bodies, although SA is firming as the favourite.

"We’re just waiting to see what our best option is: firstly how much funding we’re going to get out of the states we’re talking to, and then budget-wise what makes more sense for the shoot. That will be sorted hopefully in the next couple of weeks."

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