Two Sydney-based filmmakers are about to meet with dozens of people in London, Dublin and Berlin in an effort to find producing partners and finance for their planned feature Rockpool.
Producer Karen Radzyner and writer/director Sonia Whiteman have signed on Ronan Keating, the Irish singer who was a judge on the Australian version of The X Factor in 2010, to play a charmingly volatile rockstar on the verge of losing his musical collaborator and wife, Kat. Because he has had songwriters' block since their son died a year earlier, the character is ordered to go to the backblocks of Australia, out of the public eye, to write and record a new single. But for him, it's all about winning back Kat. Once in Australia, a talented no-nonsense 12-year-old rocks his world.
“We are setting out to make a film that will make people laugh and cry, which are the films that we like,” said Radzyner.
The challenge of having a creative and a domestic life is Rockpool's core theme. Both Radzyner and Whiteman are mothers as well as filmmakers. They are also the only Australians among the 39 teams accepted into the ninth Berlinale Co-production Market.
“Being selected was an affirmation that we have a film that other people get excited about too,” said Radzyner. “It is an international project and this is the time for it to start getting some traction.”
The market runs February 12-14, alongside the Berlin International Film Festival, and is expected to attract about 500 producers, financiers, distributors, sales agents and others. In 8 years, 120 of the films presented, or about 40%, have been made.
Many countries provide assistance for local film production: in Australia, for example, Screen Australia and state government agencies invest directly and indirect funding is available through the tax system. Financing a project using the official co-production arrangements that exist between Australia and the governments of 11 other countries means the film is regarded as local in both jurisdictions, providing more options.
Radzyner originally envisaged Rockpool as an Australian/UK film, but Keating's involvement may make an Australian/Irish co-production more viable, or perhaps a three-way co-production. Keating has already worked on a not-yet-released Australian film, Goddess, around which there is considerable buzz.
Whiteman and Radzyner have collaborated on two short films: the 20-minute film Still Time and the 15-minute film Lens Love Story, one of Mia Wasikowska's earliest films. Rockpool will be Whiteman's first and Radzyner's second. Radzyner is locking off Miro Bilbrough's debut Venice – it stars Alice McConnell, Garry McDonald and Simon Stone, resident director at Sydney's Belvoir St Theatre – and produced, with John Edwards, the mini-series Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.
Knowing Australia's international attractiveness as a co-production partner, government agency Film Victoria, is calling on its local filmmakers to register themselves on an online database called eMate, aimed at showcasing local talent to overseas filmmakers. The site goes live on February 14.