Close To Target

FILMINK speaks to the makers behind an edgy but sweet new short film, which is asking you for support to reach its final target...

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In yet another case of crowd funding, the creative team behind the recently wrapped short film, Arc, are proof that failure to receive funding via traditional methods doesn't mean the story has to end there. "Originally we had hoped to get funding through the Emerging Filmmakers Fund [Screen NSW initiative] but were unsuccessful," Arc's producer Claire Evans explains. "This forced us to rethink our funding strategy. Crowd sourcing part of our budget seemed like a great idea. It's a way of letting the public decide whether they think your project has legs. If people want to see it, it will reach its funding goal."

With Arc's director Max Doyle about to hit the editing suite, the film's makers are now trying to raise the final round of funding to complete the film. With just 48 hours left until bidding closes, the makers have made $4,945 of their $6,800 goal - and like most crowd-funding projects, pledges will only be processed if the project is successful.

A modern and quirky tale, Arc evolved from the desire of Doyle and writer Amanda Maxwell (who has penned Nobody Told Me There'd Be Days Like These - a collection of bruised but hopeful coming-of-age stories) to work together. "It was Max's idea to make a short film," Maxwell explains. "We started talking about it roughly two years ago and he gave me a brief for the script that was pretty much: low budget, easy to shoot, a few people, interior scenes. I came up with an idea for the narrative and then we talked about how we could stylise it. We knew it had to be set within a sub-culture but thought it might be fun to remove it from reality a bit and invent a whole new scene."

The inspiration behind this "new scene" came when Maxwell saw something outside her kitchen window. "My kitchen faces out onto a cliff face and for days I'd been trying to figure out what this weird yellow stick wedged amongst the plants outside my window was," she laughs. "One night there was a storm and the stick got washed further down the cliff so I could see it was an arrow. That gave me the idea about the archery sub-culture."

Based around this slightly strange but utterly intriguing world, Arc stars newcomer Isabelle Cornish (sister of Abbie) as small-town girl Sophie, who finds herself falling for avant-garde archery prodigy Tom, played by star on the rise, Lucas Pittaway (who recently delivered a stunning turn in Snowtown). At first, it seems love may be on the cards but their sweet romance is soon crushed by two older girls, and Sophie is rendered a spectator of what should have been her own coming-of-age moment...

Of the film's unique premise, Maxwell adds: "It was kind of an abstract concept - the plot of Arc was pretty subtle, but we were really lucky to get some amazing people on board who ‘got' what we were trying to do. They helped us create a world that's timeless and fictional, but familiar enough that hopefully viewers feel a connection with it and can empathise with the characters."

Shot on location in Sydney's Surry Hills and Malabar, the shoot was "a blast" but undoubtedly proved a big learning curve for first time director Max Doyle, who has previously worked as a Vogue photographer - shooting many of the covers for the Aussie magazine. "I think my experience as a photographer helped me in a lot of ways," he reflects. "I'm used to collaborating with talented people, and making quick decisions about light and framing. I deliberately wanted this film to have a cast of teen to mid-twenties characters, because through my fashion work, I'm most used to working with talent in this age group so I thought that might make it easier the first time up."

Doyle was also directing several first-time actors but he believes that they really scored with the two leads, both of whom sparked immediately with the director. "We knew both actors were perfect right from the start," he recalls. "I knew Isabelle had the right attitude just from a photo I saw of her. With Lucas, I was sent some clips of him reading for the part and I loved how kind of flat and deadpan he was. He has a real soulfulness about him. He was great on set."

Evans acknowledges that the publicity surrounding the release of the local feature Snowtown, in which Pittaway stars, has been a help in promoting the project and trying to attract funding. "It's fortunate that Snowtown - which is an amazing film by the way - is getting so much attention as it's allowed us to leverage Lucas' involvement to generate interest in our film," Evans says.

Praising The Tunnel and The Cosmonaut as "great examples of crowd-funded films" leading the way, Evans says that the plan is to eventually release Arc online. "We're planning to enter the film in the festival circuit before eventually releasing it online. We have offered rewards for those who have donated through our crowd funding efforts; we do feel if you're going to invest in the film, you should get something in return. Our rewards range from a limited edition photographic print, to signed copies of the script, tickets to the cast and crew screening and even a photography session with Max and your name in the credits."

While Evans believes that these crowd-funding methods won't replace traditional funding methods, she adds that "with online distribution becoming the choice by more and more filmmakers, collective funding and a syndicated online release just make sense in some cases. Without crowd funding, we still would've made Arc but it would be very different. It definitely wouldn't be the film we've shot."

To help Arc reach its funding target or find out more, go here.

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