‘Strange Colours’

Alena Lodkina’s Strange Colours and Jessica Leski’s documentary I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story opened on limited screens last weekend.

Not much store should be placed on ticket sales because both titles have already had a significant impact at Australian and international festivals and both have the upside of ancillary revenues and and foreign sales.

Indeed both have been very effective launching pads for their directors, fulfilling one of Screen Australia’s remits of funding films as a talent escalator, particularly for first-time filmmakers.

“It’s been a life-changing period for me,” Lodkina tells IF. “Strange Colours has given me a lot of hope and energy and enabled me to form a lot of relationships during the production and distribution.

Co-written by Lodkina and producer Isaac Wall, who produced with Kate Laurie, the evocative drama follows Kate Cheel as Milena, who travels to a remote opal mining community to see her estranged, ill father (Daniel P. Jones).

Jonathan Page’s Bonsai Films in tandem with For Film’s Sake launched the film on limited sessions at seven screens, generating a modest $3,800. But the film has raked in $15,000 from screenings at the Sydney, Melbourne and Revelation Film Festivals plus one at ACMI, where the score was performed live by Total Control’s Mikey Young and six muso mates.

Fully funded by a €150,000 ($A200,000) grant from the Venice Biennale College, it’s generated a lot of buzz since the world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and has been nominated for the new category of Best Indie Film at the AACTA Awards.

Loveology’s Danielle Redford recently came on board as the international sales agent and Page is closing deals with ancillary markets here, including a DVD/transactional VOD release in March.

“We’re quite stoked with how the film is going,” says Laurie, who is spending a year on a Film Victoria funded producer placement with Rob Connolly’s Arenamedia.

Lodkina, who doesn’t yet have an agent in Oz or the US, is developing a mystery thriller (working title Petrol) about the friendship between two young women in Melbourne’s artistic circles, with Laurie and Sophie Mathisen.

‘I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story.’

Madman Entertainment launched I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story on limited sessions at four cinemas, taking $2,725. But the cumulative total is $40,000 including previews and the proceeds from screenings at the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Film Festivals.

The saga of four women whose lives have been changed by their boyband obsessions, it had valuable international exposure at Hot Docs – Canadian International Documentary Festival and the BFI London Film Festival.

“It’s having an extraordinary life at festivals,” says Rita Walsh, who produced with Leski. “A lot of fans have asked us to make sequels or spin-offs.”

The international sales agent Seville International has signed several deals with more pending, details under wraps. Madman is yet to reveal pay-TV, VOD and SVO sales.

Walsh raised most of the budget as grants from Screen Australia, Film Victoria, the Documentary Australia Foundation, private donors and Madman: a financial model she hopes to use again. A study guide is being prepared for use at school screenings.

Walsh, who produced Rodd Rathjen’s debut feature Buoyancy with Causeway Films’ Kristina Ceyton and Sam Jennings, is developing several projects with Leski, who is yet to sign with an Australian or US agent.

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