Heath Davis.

A newly formed indie filmmakers co-operative will meet monthly in Sydney and plans to expand to a Melbourne chapter.

Around 15 directors attended the inaugural meeting of the group which was convened by Heath Davis and is named Cinegar Bar in Sydney last Thursday.

Among the ideas canvassed were making films as a collective and staging festivals or other screenings of Australian films.

“Our main aim is to create and control our own content and to support each other’s films,” Davis tells IF. “We all acknowledge there is a crisis point in Oz cinema and we all have the same war stories.

“We have to find ways to ensure directors are treated better financially. I know some who spent a year on a film and had to reinvest their fees so they were paid zero.”

Among the attendees at the The ArtHouse Hotel in Sydney’s CBD were Dean Francis, Luke Shanahan, Anupam Sharma, Megan Riakos, Benjamin Gilmour, Tim Boyle, Catherine Scott, Craig Boreham, Tony D’Aqunio, Ben C Lucas, Roger Scott, Haydn Keenan and Mathew Jenkin.

“It was the first time some of them had met,” said Davis, who made his debut with Broke followed by Book Week and, due to open later this year, Locusts. “We are looking at opening the group to writers.”

The principal of Smart Street Films, Keenan tells IF: “I turned up because I thought it was important that there be diversity at the table.

“As an independent since the late Sixties I hope this little collective will be a valuable addition to a landscape in which the corporatization of production has become a major influence. I hope they will be able to support each other in an environment where the loneliness of independence can be very debilitating.”

The Sydney group will meet on the last Thursday of each month and Davis intends to help form a Melbourne branch when he visits that city in a couple of weeks. The title is play on a cigar bar that he used to frequent in Vancouver.

Some members have suggested making anthologies as a way to connect audiences with original Australian stories.

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