Engineering the Perfect Storm: Producers Marcus Gillezeau and Ellenor Cox on promoting and exhibiting Storm Surfers 3D

Storm Surfers 3D takes the audience into a world where waves the size of buildings are surfed by legendary board-riders, Tom Carroll (two-time world surfing champion) and Ross Clarke-Jones (big wave pioneer). The two men, now in their 40s, are old friends, born out of the 1980s generation of pro-surfing. They team up with surf-forecasting guru and meteorologist Ben Matson to track the biggest waves in Australia, embarking on a potentially lethal adventure that takes them from Sydney to Tasmania, Western Australia and eventually on to Hawaii. Their friendships, their bodies and their courage are tested along the way.

This sounds like the perfect use of 3D technology to create a BIG cinema experience; one which will appeal to surfers as well as thrill-seekers of all kinds. The film is the latest installment in a project that began as a successful television series which has sold to more than 70 countries, been viewed by more than 20 million people and had 1.5 million views online (, thus generating a massive fan base.

In a coup for producers Marcus Gillezeau and Ellenor Cox and directors Chris Nelius and Justin McMillan, Storm Surfers 3D has been selected to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, in the Real to Reel program, which features documentaries on hot topics or which provide intimate access into dramatic lives.

Here in Australia, in association with Madman Entertainment, the film has just commenced its event-style tour in a series of one night screenings, starting on 14 August in Sydney and traveling to all capital cities and selected regional centres. Tickets are being sold through the film’s website here.

On the eve of the film’s release, we asked producers Marcus Gillezeau and Ellenor Cox (Scorched), experts in the field of All Media production, about this unique exhibition strategy and the promotional methods they’re employing to build a tsunami of support.

AFI | AACTA: Congratulations on being selected to screen at Toronto. What do you think this means for the success of the film theatrically?

Gillezeau & Cox: It’s a huge honour for Storm Surfers 3D to be invited to such a prestigious festival as Toronto and is great timing for us given that we are releasing theatrically in Australia from August 14th. It has also enabled us to secure significant interest from US agents and international sales agents, again at a perfect time for us in our release strategy. What it also says to the general public is that Storm Surfers 3D is much more than just a surf film – we’re finding that this is coming through consistently in the film reviews and is a great boost to us on that level.

AFI | AACTA: You’ve chosen to exhibit this film as a series of one-off special events. Can you talk about that decision, and why this kind of film is suited to that form of release pattern? Is it financially viable?

Gillezeau & Cox: It’s certainly not the traditional model but then so much about Storm Surfers 3D is ‘out of the box’! In Australia we were super conscious that exhibitors would be sceptical about the box office success of an Australian documentary ostensibly about surfing. We also know that our core audience are mainly non traditional theatre-goers i.e. blokes aged 30+. We knew that if we went out in normal release and didn’t nail it in the first weekend, that despite great word of mouth, we’d have little presence thereafter and would have blown the opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with the exhibitors. What we’ve chosen to do instead is a series of one-night-only screenings with Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll in attendance. We are promoting it in a similar manner to a rock concert and our core audience are responding the way that we had hoped they would and are already buying tickets. In many locations we have sold out these sessions already, and are now working with the exhibitors to open up more screenings, albeit in a limited release manner, but for an extended period. We believe that over the long term this is the best way to make this box office release financially viable.

AFI | AACTA: How do you go about creating the publicity and promotions strategy for such a release? How important is social media?

Gillezeau & Cox: Social media is crucial to us and the bulk of our P&A [publicity & advertising] budget is being spent on digital marketing. We have dedicated staff who focus on nothing but creating an ongoing dialogue with our online fan base. We also access the databases of clubs (i.e. Surf Life Saving) and sporting associations to spread the word. It’s incredibly rewarding to have this relationship with our audience over such an extended period and we reward our most ardent supporters (we call them our ‘gromments on the ground’) with free tickets, limited edition merchandising and time with Ross and Tom, in exchange for securing us significant ticket sales in their local areas. We also control all the back end on our website which is the main portal to the ticketing sections of all the cinemas and can make instantaneous changes to showcase new sessions and online material as it comes online.

Producer Marcus Gillezeau (in red jacket) securing a deal on his iPad on South Coast Bombie mission. Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones in wetsuits.

AFI | AACTA:  Your film is supported by extensive multimedia augmentation –  web series, game, ebook, branded content series. Can you explain a little about how these work to support the documentary and build its audience?

Gillezeau & Cox: Storm Surfers 3D is indeed a multi-faceted beast! Download our game or 140 page eBook now from iTunes; head to our website or Facebook page to enjoy 20 behind the scenes webisodes; stay tuned for the release of our soundtrack album next week! We have worked very carefully to ensure that our main message at present to our audience is: Buy your tickets now! We have dovetailed a very separate and targeted PR campaign around this, which showcases our other assets and hopefully brings a new audience to come and see the film. Our game took 18 months to develop and is a serious ‘gamers’ game! Our PR in this area is focused on first getting [game players] to engage with the game and then get enticed to see the movie.

AFI | AACTA: Through your production company, Firelight Productions, you are known as leaders (and International Digital Emmy® Award winners!)  in the all-media area. What do other producers in Australia stand to gain or lose from more fully utilising multiple-platforms?

Gillezeau & Cox: We are fascinated by the creative freedom that storytelling across multi-platforms allows us. It is a highly creative aspect to producing – not just from a financing point of view, but in its execution and delivery as well. It’s incredibly challenging however to be managing the creation of so many assets at the same time [and] needs appropriate time and budget to do this. In terms of what people stand to gain from this – it’s a no brainer – we need to reach our audiences nowadays where they entertain themselves – and this isn’t just in the movie theatre but instead via the iPhone on their way to work or their intray when they’re supposed to working! It’s the future and it’s a very exciting and creatively rewarding place to be exploring!

AFI | AACTA: Thanks for your time and best wishes with Storm Surfers 3D!

Storm Surfers 3D is now touring Australian locations. Visit the website for tickets and venues.


It’s on! The 2013 AACTA Awards Cycle is launched.

The search is on for Australia’s most outstanding film and television performers, practitioners and productions, with the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) calling for entries for the 2013 AACTA Awards.

Enter the AACTA Awards

Entries are now open across all categories: Feature Film; Short Animation; Short Fiction Film; Television; and Documentary.

The 2013 AACTA Awards include more than 50 Awards — recognising excellence across screen crafts including screenwriting, producing and acting, through to cinematography, composition and costume design. This year we are also introducing a new Award, the AACTA Award for Best Reality Television Series.

For information about 2013 AACTA Awards categories, eligibility criteria, deadlines and fees, and information on how to enter, click here.

Join a Jury

We are also now seeking AACTA Awards jurors – screen professionals from a cross-section of crafts, who come together to determine the nominees and winners for various Awards in the following categories: Feature Film Pre-Selection; Documentary; Television; Visual Effects; Young Actor; and Short Fiction Film and Short Animation.

AACTA Awards jurors determine AACTA Awards nominees and winners across a variety of categories, which many jurors find both rewarding and educational.

As the AACTA Awards are industry-assessed, jury positions are open to AACTA members only. This ensures that jurors are: screen industry professionals who have gone through an accreditation process to verify their experience and expertise; and those best qualified to recognise excellence in their field. It is not too late to become an AACTA member in order to join a jury.

To read more juror testimonials and to apply to become an AACTA Awards juror, see the Join a Jury page on the AACTA website.

Sophie Hyde – Releasing Life in Movement

Documentary filmmakers in Australia have always needed to be energetic and creative in order to find an audience for their work – even more so if they’re trying to get their films off the festival circuit and into a general theatrical release. But South Australian writer/director/producer Sophie Hyde, along with her Closer Production teammates (Bryan Mason, Matthew Bate, Rebecca Summerton), is certainly at the forefront of hands-on promotion and distribution of her work. Life in Movement, released around Australia yesterday (12 April) and also available to view as part of Qantas in-flight movies, is a pleasingly poetic and intimate portrait of dancer and choreographer Tanja Liedtke. A feature-length film, gorgeously shot and skilfully edited, with an ultra-cool urban soundtrack, it’s a portrait of Liedtke’s life, her work, her untimely death, and the ensuing grief among those who knew her. Yet according to Hyde, the film is a tricky one to sell to audiences, requiring a strategy that harnesses the enthusiasm of those who have already seen it.

Writer/director Sophie Hyde, centre. With Bryan Mason, right, and Jonny Elk Walsh, left. AACTA Awards Luncheon, January 2012.

Nominated for two AACTA Awards earlier this year, Life in Movement was a very personal project for Sophie Hyde and her partner in life and work, Bryan Mason. Together the pair wrote, directed and produced the film, with Mason also performing cinematography and editing roles. (Incidentally, Mason also won an AACTA Award for his editing on another Closer Productions project, Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure). Life in Movement premiered in March 2011 at the Adelaide Film Festival, and was a hit at other festivals it toured. But festival audiences are known to be uniquely supportive of Australian films – a stance not always mirrored outside of festivals.

With a view to releasing the film, Hyde and Mason were keen to pick up tips at the inaugural AACTA Awards Luncheon in January, from fellow guests Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond, the pair who had successfully self-distributed Mrs Carey’s Concert. A veteran documentary maker and self distributor, Connolly, together with Raymond, tapped into word of mouth popularity for their hard-sell film about a high school music department. The result was stunning, with the film grossing almost $1.2m and becoming the fourth highest grossing Australian documentary ever.

“Bob and Sophie did such an amazing release with Mrs. Carey’s Concert,” says Hyde. “They put so much energy into that release and it paid off. They’ve been really supportive of us, and of all the documentaries in competition last year and they talked to us about their experience working with music schools [to fuel word of mouth]. I think our idea of [harnessing] ‘champions’ probably came from the conversation with them.”

The ‘champions’ Hyde speaks of are those fans of the film who’ve signed up to help spread the word. In return these champions receive regular email updates, exclusive footage and fizzy ideas to assist in group bookings, promotions and discounts.

“The thing about Life in Movement is it’s really hard for people to get a hook on what it’s about,” says Hyde. “People look at it and go: ‘Oh, yeah, it’s about dance and it’s about someone who died’, and there’s not that straight, immediate interest in the concept. That first spark of interest is hard to ignite. But what we find is that people who have seen it really want to talk about it with others and they want other people to see it. So the champion idea felt like the right thing to do – formalising that impulse. We have almost no money to release the film, so if people like it and want to talk about it, then that’s really great for us. I only wish we had thought of the champions idea when we first released in festivals last year, because we’ve only been building the champions list up over the last few weeks, and it would have been better to do it earlier.”

In hindsight, Hyde also sees other drawbacks in trying to drum up new interest in the film so far after its initial festival buzz. “The film had quite a lot of press over the year that it was in festivals in Australia, and so a lot of media are saying ‘okay’ to reviewing it but they won’t do another feature on it now. But you know, when you’re first releasing at a festival you just have to go for it and get as much interest as possible while you can, and you can’t hold off. We may never have gotten a cinema release without that initial engagement.”

Tanja Liedtke. Photograph by Julian Crottism.

Life in Movement is being jointly distributed by Closer Screens (a subsidiary of Closer Productions) and the Brisbane-based Antidote Films (formerly Gil Scrine Films). “We’re trying to be a bit more in control of the rights of our films,” explains Hyde, “so we are co-distributing the film.  Antidote do a lot of the dealings with cinemas and we do a lot of the grassroots campaign.”

Made for an astonishingly tight budget of $308,000, Life in Movement was funded by the Adelaide Film Festival Fun, the South Australian Film Corporation’s Educational Content Fund, and Screen Australia’s Special Documentary Fund (now Signature Docs). There were also small donations from private investors and the Tanja Liedtke Foundation. Hyde laughs as she remembers trying to make the budget stretch. “It was crazy. That’s the total budget including development funding. We shot a lot of the film on development money, because we had to, and it took us four and a bit years to do it.”

Partners in life and work, filmmakers Bryan Mason and Sophie Hyde.

Those four years began the day after the sudden death of Tanja Liedtke, a 29-year-old dancer and choreographer who had just made big news in the Australian arts community for her unexpected appointment as artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company. For Hyde and Mason however, the obsessive, driven and sometimes tortured Liedtke had already proved herself as a fascinating and accomplished artist, with two highly regarded productions under her belt – 12th Floor and Construct.

“We had already been working with Tanja,” says Hyde, whose career has ecompassed extensive experience in filming performance and dance (including the Necessary Games trilogy of short films with Restless Dance Theatre). “We had an idea years before to do a documentary about Tanja. So we had some footage that we’d already shot for that and for some other work we’d done with her. And then on the day Tanja died, Bryan [Mason] was just adamant that we were going to make a film. And we worked on it straight away.”

The filmmakers were also incredibly fortunate that their subject had been an avid recorder of her own development and work, filming herself from her early awkward years at school, through to her elegant and quirky dance pieces.  “Using a video is something that a lot of dancemakers do,” explains Hyde. “Some of them probably just film their shows or rehearsals and then have a look back at it. Some of them film phrases, like, a movement, so that they can remember it. I think Tanja was kind of at the extreme of using video because she had a camera from when she was a child, and she would use it whenever she had an idea or a response, and there was so much footage. She used the camera through every stage of her process, whereas most dancers probably use it at very particular moments.”

Self portrait by Tanja Liedtke.

Of course having so much footage can be both a blessing and a curse for the poor editor who has to shape it into 90 odd minutes of coherent beauty. “It was really hard to edit this film,” agrees Hyde. “Bryan is the editor and also the co-director and he spent a long time in the suite without me, kind of trawling through footage and piecing things together and trying to put it in a linear structure of Tanja’s life.  And that took a long long time, finding the structure, finding the right kind of way in and out of it. There were  really long nights in the edit suite for both of us. It was hard, really, really hard. But it was amazing to do. It was a creative experience like the one Tanja’s going through in the film. I think we kind of replicated that experience ourselves, digging down into this work and trying to make it work and becoming a bit blind to everything else at periods of time. Yeah… 3am in the morning, you know, delirium. Our daughter was asleep in our house with us editing in the studio out the back!”

Out of the shed and into the world, Hyde is now keen to reach out and connect the film with an audience, one she conceives as including “both people who understand what it is to be a creator, as well as those who haven’t had that experience.” She’s keen to point out that it’s not just  a film for dance fans and dancers, and that “a lot of people who really love it are very young, and one of the things they connect to is the great music and soundtrack by DJ TR!P that really ads to the whole experience.”

For Hyde, who identifies as an ‘artist’ herself, albeit a very collaborative one, part of the process of connecting with viewers and mobilising champions, includes an active presence in social media – from Twitter to Facebook and now, Pinterest.

“At first I didn’t really enjoy it and wasn’t sure what it would mean,” she says. “But recently I’ve realised I really, really want people to see my films. I know that sounds like a funny thing to say, but for a long time you’re just focused on making work, making the film. And then I suddenly thought, ‘I want people to actually see it!’ And I don’t want to just rely on somebody else. There’s that old idea that you hand over your film and someone else will release it, and maybe they’ll do an okay job of it, but maybe they won’t. Something shifted in me when I realised that social media isn’t about hassling people and saying, ‘Here I am, promoting my film’, but instead it’s about trying to engage a bit more outwardly; be a bit more open rather than head down, which I can be a lot. Now you can share your own work, and you can talk about someone else’s work too, and people are much more conversational now on social media. I enjoy Twitter and I’ve just started on Pinterest. I love that idea of just looking at images and sharing them with people. There is something beautiful about that.

Life in Movement released in Australia on 12 April.

Links  & Further Reading

Life in Movement website | Facebook | Pinterest|

Sophie Hyde is on Twitter @sophhyde.

Watch a clip of Twelfth Floor choreographed by Tanja Liedke:

A new kind of intimacy: Tony Krawitz, director of The Tall Man

Tony Krawitz

Tony Krawitz, writer and director of 'The Tall Man'.

Tony Krawitz is best known within the Australian film and television industry as the young South African-born writer and director of the acclaimed short feature Jewboy, a stunningly accomplished piece about a Chassidic taxi driver working in Bondi and experiencing a crisis of faith. The film premiered at Cannes and won three AFI Awards, including two for Krawitz himself – for Best Screenplay in a Short Film and Best Short Fiction Film (shared with Liz Watts). An AFTRS graduate, Krawitz has since been working predominantly in local television drama (including City Homicide, All Saints, The Silence and The Surgeon), but what’s putting him in the spotlight right now is his first foray into documentary, The Tall Man. Already, the film has premiered as an official selection at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and has been announced as one of the four Nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary – and that’s all ahead of an Australian theatrical release on 17 November.

The Tall Man is produced by Darren Dale (company director of Blackfella Films, Australia’s premier Indigenous production company and long time producer for SBS) and based on the non fiction book by Chloe Hooper. It’s a sobering but gripping examination of the case of Cameron Doomadgee, an Indigenous man living on Palm Island in Far North Queensland, who on 19 November 2004 reportedly swore at a police officer, Senior Sargeant Chris Hurley, and 45 minutes later, lay dead in a police cell, with massive internal injuries likened to those of a fatal car crash victim. The outraged Palm Islanders rioted and burnt down the police station, but subsequent investigations never resulted in a conviction of the policeman. What they did result in, was a galvanising of the entire Queensland Police Force, who came out in support of their fellow officer, amidst accusations of collusion and mishandling of the case.

The Tall Man investigates these events and the legal case around them, but the focus is firmly on the people whose lives have been most affected by the tragedy – Doomadgee’s family, friends and the island’s community. In the interview below, Tony Krawitz talks about the process of gaining trust, exploring grief, and attempting to grapple with the paradox that Palm Island is both paradise and prison to those Indigenous people who live there.

AFI: Congratulations on your film’s nomination for Best Feature Length Documentary. One of the striking things about the film is its visual beauty despite the harshness of the story (and we should mention Director of Photography, Germain McMicking here). Can you talk about the look you were aiming for?

Tony Krawitz: The look came about organically through doing the research. Palm Island is just such a beautiful place. And yes, the story is such a sad tragic story that we thought it would be an interesting counterpoint to show the beauty. It’s kind of ironic that it looks like a picture postcard and yet something so bad happened that day. Also the film is so upsetting at times that we wanted to show the positive aspects of life on the island as well – those amazing kids and their grandparents, having karaoke nights and good times.

AFI: What was the significance of the scenes of a man on horseback that recur throughout the film? Are there a lot of horses on Palm Island?

Tony Krawitz: Yes, there are a lot of wild horses – maybe thousands on the island. We drove to the top of the mountain one day and there were about 50 horses up there, a whole big family of them. And some people keep them. Otherwise, they let the horses roam free and they know certain ones, and some afternoons after school kids just go and lasso a horse and go riding. So it’s got this great freedom to it. But in terms of structure, that guy riding on the horse symbolises the great sense of freedom about Cameron Doomadgee. The people who knew him describe him as quite a free spirited person.  He loved horse riding, and loved going to the neighbouring island and hunting and fishing for days at a time, and diving, and all those kinds of things. Seeing a man looking free on horseback just reminded me of Cameron and what I’d heard of him. It’s just that mix that people talk about on Palm Island – of being really free because it’s like country life, away from the city – and then feeling completely trapped because they are on an island, and feeling like they’re under the control of the police.

The Tall Man publicity still

Wild horses roam free on Palm Island - a place that is both paradise and prison. Image from 'The Tall Man'.

AFI: How closely did you follow the Chloe Hooper book upon which the film is based?

Tony Krawitz: I’m not sure how close it is anymore, because I know that book backwards. I’m a big fan of the book and the film is quite similar in a lot of ways – obviously the events are the same. The big difference is that Chloe was at a lot of the events, so in the book she’s describing being in the courtroom day by day, what each day is like, how people are feeling, and it’s happening in the present. Whereas in the film, all the people we’re interviewing are looking back at the events and commenting on those events. It’s in the past.  That’s one of the biggest differences. In my mind they complement each other.

AFI: What was the shooting schedule like for this film? How much time did you spend on Palm Island?

Tony Krawitz: I don’t remember exactly because we finished shooting at the end of last year. We went there about five times. We went there quite a lot. Sometimes we just went there so people could get to know us more and find out what we were doing. We filmed over at least a year.

AFI: Were people happy to talk to you? Were they glad this film was being made or were they difficult to win over?

Tony Krawitz: Everyone was happy, especially the family. I’m a whitey, so the company that hired me was an Indigenous film company, and they work obviously in Indigenous communities a lot. So everyone knew this was going to be a film made by Indigenous people, but with a white director on board. Most people just felt that nobody in the media had really spoken about Cameron as a person, with a life and a family, but that they’d just spoken about his death and the day that led up to that. They were really happy that the film would talk about those important events leading up to the tragedy and that day of his death, but that it would also be a celebration of his life.

Darren Dale producer of The Tall Man

'A man who needs four mobile phone batteries' - producer Darren Dale.

AFI:  Can you talk a little bit about your producer Darren Dale and how you came to be working with him?

Tony Krawitz: Darren and I met through mutual friends over the years and I’ve  known him through workshops with young Aboriginal filmmakers. So we’ve known each other for some time but we hadn’t worked together before. He just called me up one day and asked me if I was interested and gave me the book to read. He is quite extraordinary. He’s one of the busiest people I know.

AFI: His credits are quite extensive – including short films for Warwick Thornton and Beck Cole, and First Australians for SBS and producing the Message Sticks festival…

Tony Krawitz: He’s great. He needs four extra batteries for his mobile phone – especially when we were up in Palm Island! He was dealing with a lot. It was a really small crew and very hard work. But as much as it was a very tragic time, we also had an incredible time of being with the family who were just so gracious with us – inviting us to their house, taking us fishing, daily life stuff that wasn’t just about the filmmaking.

AFI: Had you been involved in documentary filmmaking before?

Tony Krawitz:  I made a short seven minute documentary at university, and then I researched a documentary that never got made. So I’ve always been interested in making documentaries, but this is the first long one I’ve made.

AFI: You’ve made a short feature and lots of television, but how was this particular film different from your other experiences as a director?

Tony Krawitz: It was really great actually. It’s quite a profound experience to have strangers tell you their stories and invite you into their homes. There’s a level of intimacy that’s quite different to working in fiction. With this particular story it was tough because you’re dealing with people’s grief. It’s not like the subject matter is really easy – you have to ask people really tough questions. But it was a privilege.

AFI: In past interviews you have spoken about how you grew up in South Africa and the situation of the Indigenous people in Queensland reminded you of apartheid South Africa. That’s a pretty strong criticism.

Cameron Doomadgee from The Tall Man documentary

Cameron Doomadgee as a young man (right, in Australian flag t-shirt), from Tony Krawitz's documentary 'The Tall Man'.

Tony Krawitz: Yes. That’s what Aboriginal people were saying to me too, so that’s not just me making it up. Also from reading Chloe’s book and talking to Aboriginal activists or people who have to deal with life in remote communities, it’s clear that Australia is a tough place for Indigenous people. For me as an outsider to it, it reminded me of apartheid. I grew up in a privileged position under apartheid, but I was back in South Africa recently for two years, which was really interesting. South Africa and Australia share a similar colonial history, and when you look at the history of a place like Palm Island, you discover that it was a bit like a penal colony. It was set up for recalcitrant natives in the 1920s, and people were in dormitories. When I was interviewing older people in the documentary, who grew up in the dormitories, you see that people are still living with the after-effects of colonialism and they’re on this island where they feel like they’re living under a police state. You can argue the actual specifics of apartheid and apartheid law and how it’s different to the situation of Indigenous people  – you can argue the nitty gritty of it – but the overall feeling that people have has striking similarities.

AFI: One of the points the film makes is the huge power of the police. And when the police collude, it’s very difficult to fight that, and whether you’re Aboriginal or white, you could be in that position of powerlessness.

Tony Krawitz: Yes, and that happens. In Far North Queensland it’s so common for Aboriginal people to talk about things like being pulled over by the police just because of the colour of their skin. The only people who wouldn’t talk to us for the documentary (apart from the police!) were Aboriginal people who were too scared to talk to us because they thought the cops might see them and beat them up one dark night! So that’s a real kind of fear up north.

AFI: Are you concerned about how the police will view the film?

Tony Krawitz: It will be interesting to see how the police react to it. We’re not uncovering new evidence. Everything in the film has already been spoken about. It’s not an investigative documentary in that sense, it’s more about going through the emotional side of the case. So we’re not trying to make [policeman] Chris Hurley out to be some kind of demon, just to show him as a flawed human being, as we’re all flawed human beings.

AFI: The sound design and the score for the film are really atmospheric, creating both a sense of beauty, sadness and menace. Sam Petty was the Sound Designer, and Antony Partos and David McCormack did the music. You’d worked with them before?

Tony Krawitz: I’ve worked with Sam a lot. But not Antony and David before. It was quite hard in a way – we just wanted to make the people who are the subjects of the film the focus and not go too heavy on sound design or music. We didn’t want to make it too overly emotional. I was just lucky to be able to collaborate with them. I think they did a great job. We wanted to find a balance to not let the score be the main thing – finding a way to add to the experience, but still giving the interviewees the space to say things in their own words.

AFI: Right now you’re working on shooting a feature film adaptation of Dead Europe, Christos Tsiolkas’s novel. That’s quite a full-on book! 

Tony Krawitz: Yes it is pretty full on! And really hard to adapt. Right now I’m in the office and there are people running around madly getting ready for it. We start the shoot in Sydney for the Australian parts of the story and then we go to Europe, but it’s all very exciting and it’s a great challenge.

AFI: We look forward to seeing it. Best wishes for The Tall Man too, and thanks for your time.

The Tall Man releases nationally 17 November through Hopscotch.

The Tall Man is one of the four films nominated for the AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards, with winners announced January 2012. Click through for A Closer Look at the Nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary.

A Closer Look at the Nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary

2011 Nominees-for-Best-Feature-Length-Documentary

Last week the nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Fiction Film and Best Short Animation were announced. You can see them all listed again in this previous post. AACTA and AFI members, as well as the film loving general public will be able to see these films on the big screen (along with the 22 Feature Films in Competition) at the Samsung AFI | AACTA Festival of Film, to be held in Sydney and Melbourne from 6 October to 14 November. The winners will be announced at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards to be held in Sydney in January 2012.

In today’s post, let’s focus on the Feature Length Documentaries: Life In Movement, Mrs Carey’s Concert, Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure and The Tall Man.  Interestingly, all four of these documentaries were made with assistance from the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund (AFIF) and each of them premiered at the 2011 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival (24 Feb – 6 Mar), with the exception of Shut Up Little Man! which premiered at Sundance in January this year. The nomination of these fine films is yet another reminder of how fruitful this judiciously managed fund (AFIF) has been, and also the talent that’s currently shining forth from the South Australian screen community.

Note: For offical synopses and key cast and crew details, visit the AACTA website here. This blog post is intended as an informal look at the nominees, with extra information, social media details and editorial commentary provided for keen readers. The information is by no means comprehensive.

Life In Movement

Producer: Sophie Hyde, Bryan Mason
Director: Bryan Mason, Sophie Hyde
Writer: Bryan Mason, Sophie Hyde
Cinematographer: Bryan Mason
Editor: Bryan Mason
Sound: DJ Tr!p, Adrian Medhurst, Tom Heuzenroeder, Pete Smith

Festivals, links and screenings:

  • World Premiere: 2011 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival (BAFF).Also played 2011 Sydney Film Festival (SFF) where it won the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize.
  • Screened at2011 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and official selection of Edinburgh International Film Festival (June 2011).
  • Was screened as part of the Sydney Spring Dance Festival on 3 September. Stay tuned for more info on the film’s release.
  • Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) are currently putting together a study guide to accompany the film.
  • Connect:  Website, Facebook and Twitter @closer_prods (Closer Productions).

What’s it about? Life In Movement tells the story of dancer and choreographer Tanja Liedtke who on the brink or artistic stardom and just after being announced as the new Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Company was tragically killed in 2007.  The film looks at her work, her creativity and the legacy and inspiration she has left behind for those she most closely worked with.

Mrs Carey’s Concert

Producer: Bob Connolly, Helen Panckhurst, Sophie Raymond
Director: Bob Connolly, Sophie Raymond
Cinematographer: Bob Connolly
Editor: Sophie Raymond, Ray Thomas, Nick Meyers
Sound: Sophie Raymond, Bob Scott, Doron Kipen

Festivals, links and screenings:

  • Premiered as opening night film at the Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival on 24 February, 2011.
  • Mrs Carey’s Concert was also part of a program of films curated by Laurence Kardish at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, honouring the contribution by the Adelaide Film Festival to Australian film (MOMA program ran 7 – 14 April 2011).
  • The film then had an extremely successful platform release in Australian cinemas from 28 April, 2011. Opened in New Zealand on 21 July.
  • Mrs Carey’s Concert is available on DVD from 21 September, 2011. Special features include director’s commentary, deleted scenes, deleted characters, ‘Emily’s advice on performing’ featurette and more.
  • Connect: Website, Facebook. Twitter: @MrsCsConcert (Sophie Raymond).

What’s it about? The film follows Karen Carey, music director at a Sydney girls’ school, as she prepares her students for a classical concert at the Sydney Opera House. Mrs Carey requires participation from every student, while setting a dauntingly high performance standard. Mrs Carey’s Concert is a documentary about making music, coming of age and pushing against one’s own inner limitations.

Box Office info:  Of the four films in competition for the AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary,  only Mrs Carey’s Concert has had a general release in cinemas at the time of writing, and the film had an enormously successful run in Australia, exceeding $1 million at the Australian box office (Source: MPDAA).

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

Producer: Sophie Hyde, Matthew Bate
Director: Matthew Bate
Writer: Matthew Bate
Cinematographer: Bryan Mason
Editor: Bryan Mason
Editor: Bryan Mason
Sound: Johnny Elk Walsh, Pete Best, Tom Heuzenroeder, Emma Bortignon, Scott Illingworth

Festivals, links and screenings:

  • Premiered at Sundance 2011.
  • Australian premiere Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival 2011.
  • Sydney Film Festival 2011 – Finalist Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize.
  • Official selection Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011 and Sheffield Doc/Fest 2011.
  • Screened Melbourne International Film Festival 2011.
  • Due for Australian DVD release October (TBC).
  • Currently in US release at these cinemas.
  • Connect: Website, Facebook and Twitter @closer_prods (Closer Productions).

What’s it about? The film captures an archive of two friends’ audio tape recording of their noisy, drunken neighbours fighting and cursing. The recordings created one of the world’s first ‘viral’ pop culture sensations, sprouting zines, comics, a stage play and film adaptations.

The Tall Man

Producer: Darren Dale
Director: Tony Krawitz
Cinematographer: Germain McMicking
Editor: Rochelle Oshlack
Sound: Sam Petty, Guntis Sics, Ian Grant, Robert Mackenzie, Antony Partos, David McCormack

Festivals, links and screenings:

  • The Tall Man had its world premiere at the 2011 Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival.
  • The film has been selected to screen in the ‘Real to Reel’ program of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival (8 – 18 Sept) where it has its international premiere.
  • The Tall Man will be released in Australia through Hopscotch on 17 November.
  • Connect: Hopscotch Website

What’s it about? Based on Chloe Hooper’s acclaimed book of the same name, the documentary looks at the tragic tale surrounding the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004. The film traces the Palm Islanders’ reaction, the trial, the police officer at the centre of the case and the Doomadgee family as they struggle to understand what happened to their brother.

So there they are, our four impressive nominees for the inaugural AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. Be sure to see them, and if you’re an AACTA member, make your vote count.

Stay tuned for subsequent posts, where we’ll take a closer look at the nominees for the AACTA Award for Best Short Animation and Best Short Fiction Film.

Congratulations to the Non Feature Nominees for the Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards

Last week (on Wednesday, 30 August) the first Nominees for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards were revealed  –  the nominees for Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Short Animation, Best Short Fiction Film. You can read about these films, and find production notes for them, over here on the AACTA website, but just as a reminder, here they are listed again. Congratulations to all those involved in these productions.

The Nominees are:


  • Life In Movement. Sophie Hyde, Bryan Mason
  • Mrs Carey’s Concert. Bob Connolly, Helen Panckhurst, Sophie Raymond
  • Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure. Sophie Hyde, Matthew Bate
  • The Tall Man. Darren Dale


  • Forget Me Not. Emily Dean
  • The Missing Key. Garth Nix, Anna McFarlane, Jonathan Nix
  • The Moment. Justin Wight, Kristian Moliere, Troy Bellchambers, Shane McNeil
  • Nullarbor. Alister Lockhart, Patrick Sarell, Katrina Mathers, Merrin Jensen, Daryl Munton


  • Adam’s Tallit. Justin Olstein, Marie Maroun
  • Cropped. Bettina Hamilton, Dave Wade
  • The Palace. Kate Croser, Anthony Maras, Andros Achilleos
  • The Telegram Man. James F. Khehite, Victoria Wharfe McIntyre
AACTA and AFI members, as well as the film loving general public will be able to see these films on the big screen (along with the 23 Feature Films in Competition) at the Samsung AFI | AACTA Festival of Film, to be held in Sydney and Melbourne from 6 October to 14 November. The winners will be announced at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards to be held in Sydney in January 2012.

In subsequent blog posts we’ll look at each of the three categories, and showcase clips, posters, film stills and extra information on each of the nominated titles.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at the nominated Feature Length Documentaries. Stay tuned.