‘It’s so validating’: The art of prospective promotion comes to MIFF

The four unmade film concepts selected for Campari's Posters to Production initiative.

Before Murray Enders thought of the words for his first screenplay, he saw its defining image – a tiny figure silhouetted on top of a cliff against a twilight sky.

The year was 2017 and the Snowy Mountains native had only just moved to Melbourne to pursue directing, with inspiration taking an unexpected form.

“When it comes to films, I’ll start with an idea, develop it into a treatment and start working with a writer,” he said.

“This one started with that image and all I wanted to know was who that was and why they were going off that cliff and whether it was intentional or not.”

Six years later, that image is adorning the ACMI’s Campari Cinema Lounge at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) as part of the Italian brand’s Poster to Production initiative.

Enders’ Dive was one of four as yet unmade film concepts selected to have their posters displayed, joining Julian Curtis’ The Long Passeggiata, about surrogate Italian brides-to-be who venture to Australia in 1968 to marry men they’ve never known; Liubov Korpusova’s Marj’s Garden, in which a woman in her late 70s goes to great lengths to save her luscious garden from the effects of drought; and Lauren Burgueno’s Aysha, a documentary that follows the transformative journey of self-taught drag artist and queer trans woman Rian Difuntorum/Aysha Buffet.

Each of the graphics comes with a QR code where attendees can contribute to the crowdfunding campaigns of each project, while a portion of each Campari cocktail sold will also go towards the concepts.

Enders is hoping the funds will allow him to shoot a proof-of-concept next winter for his coming-of-age drama, which follows an introverted 18-year-old who learns to cliff dive in defiance of her mother’s wishes in order to reclaim her independence after accidentally falling from a cliff in a small coastal town along the Great Ocean Road.

Having “chipped away” at the screenplay for the past year with collaborator Sireesha Mani Krishna, whom he met at an AFTRS course, the filmmaker said having a “very clear visual idea” of the project led him to enter the competition, describing Dive‘s subsequent selection as “enormous”.

“It’s so validating to have this story that’s been stewing in my mind get people excited,” he said.

“When I went to the opening night, I met people who were like, ‘Oh, I saw the post and really liked the story’. [To have] that interest in the idea from the point where we are still working on the screenplay just lets us know that there is a market for it.

“That’s something that just feels so good after six years of being like, ‘I believe in this’.”

MIFF takes place until August 20. Find out more information on Posters to Production concepts here.