Who needs Screen Australia? Not the Queensland-based producers Grant and Dale Bradley, who financed their last two films without the agency’s assistance.
The Bradleys’ Limelight International Media Entertainment is currently shooting Deception, an action thriller directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith and starring Cuba Gooding Jr. (pictured, in 2008's The Way of War)and Emmanuelle Vaugier, the Canadian actress who was a regular in Two and a Half Men and has appeared in the Saw franchise of films.
Recently Limelight wrapped Bad Karma, which stars Ray Liotta as an ex-convict who is trying to go straight when he is framed for a brutal robbery/murder by his psychotic former partner (Dominic Purcell). That was directed by Englishman Suri Krishnamma and scripted by Americans Steve Allrich and Aleve Mei Loh.
IFM/Filmways, Tony Ginnane’s joint venture with Robert Ward, will release Bad Karma in Australia in August and it also has the Oz rights to Deception. Both films were funded by James L. Vernon’s Media Funds Management and by private investors. MFM provides debt finance secured against the 40 per cent producer tax offset, pre-sales to distributors and minimum guarantees.
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions nabbed US rights to Deception, which Voltage Pictures is selling in the rest of the world. It’s a co-production with Canada’s Odyssey Entertainment, which brought the project to Limelight with Trenchard-Smith already attached.
Boutique distributor Anchor Bay Entertainment pre-bought the US rights to Bad Karma and New York-based Screen Media, which is handling international sales, landed a deal with Germany’s powerful Tele München.
That’s an imaginative financing and sales structure which could well be a paradigm that other Australian filmmakers could follow, especially those who get knocked back from Screen Australia or whose projects don’t qualify as Australian films.
Written by Canadian Kraig Wenman, Deception features Vaugier as an American reporter who’s on the trail of the men who killed her husband at a marina, with Gooding as a laconic FBI agent. It’s shooting on the Gold Coast, set partly at a resort that doubles as the mansion of a Bernie Madoff-type embezzler who is under house arrest.
It’s the 42nd film directed by the Los Angeles-based Trenchard-Smith, who started his career in Australia with The Man From Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, BMX Bandits and Turkey Shoot. He describes the film as “another of my genre cocktails blending an action suspense thriller with a whodunit.”
Meanwhile Vernon’s production arm Screen Corp., which has a first look distribution deal with Universal Pictures International for Australia and New Zealand, has just wrapped John Doe, the saga of a vigilante serial killer starring Jamie Bamber, directed by Kelly Donen. Screen Corp. is handling worldwide sales on that project. The firm also is developing sequels to 2007 horror movie Gabriel with director Shane Abbess and to Sandy Harbutt’s 1974 cult road movie Stone. On the latter Screen Corp. is working with Platinum Entertainment; the director isn’t set yet.