‘The Coming Back Out Ball Movie’, ‘The School’ resonate beyond Oz cinemas

‘The Coming Back Out Ball Movie.’

The final two Australian films released theatrically this year, Storm Ashwood’s The School and Sue Thomson’s The Coming Back Out Ball Movie have two things in common with numerous other Oz titles.

The Backlot Films launched both films on a handful of screens with minimal marketing – but the producers see the modest grosses as only a small part of the overall picture, alongside qualifying for the Producer Offset, overseas sales and festival exposure. Moreover, The Coming Back Out Ball Movie is expected to have a reasonably long life outside commercial cinemas.

Ashwood’s debut feature, a supernatural thriller which stars Megan Drury, Nicholas Hope, Will MacDonald, Texas Watterston and Milly Alcock, had a multi-platform release in the US in October via Vertical Entertainment. Cinema Management Group has sold the title to more than 20 markets including Germany, Korea and Japan.

“Internationally we’ve done great in pre-sales and as the countries begin to release the film we expect to have our private investors repaid by March, 2019,” says Bronte Pictures’ Blake Northfield, who produced with Lunar Pictures’ Jim Robison.

While the producers were hoping for higher ticket sales, Northfield tells IF: “We didn’t contribute ANZ sales to any positive forecasts and considered it to be a bonus. The film was shown on a select amount of screens and for those exhibitors we are thankful.

“Our target market is a younger audience and the film, while having horror elements, definitely isn’t straight horror. It’s more of a dark, psychological/supernatural, fantasy thriller.

“Unfortunately independent films really need good marketing and distributors seem to be holding back on how much is spent on marketing. We can’t expect people to attend a movie if they don’t know about it.”

Thomson’s feature documentary, which had its world premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival, follows a group of older LGBTI+ people who were invited to attend a ball in Melbourne staged by All The Queens Men, which celebrated their gender and sexual identity.

“We always felt the film would be a slow burn,” says Adam Farrington-Williams, who produced with Thomson and Roger Monk.

The top location is Cinema Nova, whose general manager Kristian Connelly says: “The Coming Back Out Ball Movie performed similarly to many other locally made documentaries released in 2018. However the film’s short running time and proximity to the holiday season should see it leg-out in the coming weeks as people settle in for a long summer on catching up on recent theatrical releases.”

The producers are closing a deal with international sales agent Film Republic and will arrange festival screenings in key territories to boost awareness. The London-based distributor specialises in handling art house fiction and cinematic docs.

The film was funded by grants from Screen Australia, Film Victoria and the MIFF Premiere Fund plus philanthropic donations via the Fade to Black Foundation and Documentary Australia Foundation, which lowers the bar for recoupment. The Post Lounge is an investor.

The producers are working with an impact producer to arrange an outreach program, which will take the film to schools, aged care facilities and other institutions, and on-demand screenings.

“We are getting a lot of feedback on the film’s website from people who say the film is poignant and has had a profound affect,” Farrington-Williams added.