In this edition:
- Festive Glamour: When the festive season throws you an occasion, you need to glam it up.
- Andrew McUtchen looks for fun in cricket with former Australian cricketer Damien Fleming.
- Take a look at our Christmas Gift Guide.
Director Jon Hewitt is a man who likes to do things backwards. His Sydney-based erotic thriller X is about to have its Australian premiere at MIFF, but has already been screened internationally after being snapped up by distributors in the US and the UK. Its no small achievement for a film to woo overseas interest before anyone at home has clapped eyes on it, but the former Wodonga boy says other Australian filmmakers might benefit by forgetting the home crowd and targeting foreign shores.
Everyone makes judgements about Australian films based on how they do at the Aussie box office, whereas for the business life of the film thats pretty insignificant really, Hewitt says.
For me, the international market is the most important for the films I make.
Unlike most local filmmakers, who can spend years kicking a script around and trying to find an audience, Hewitt says a background in distribution led him to focus on getting bums on seats before worrying about words on pages.
I have the poster for a film before I have a script, most times, he says.
I come from the back end of filmmaking, from 20 years of selling tickets and making choc tops, so everything I do is informed by the idea that making the film is only 50 per cent of the task. A film sitting in a can is useless if no-one comes to see it.
The reason Australian films dont do as well as wed like here is that in Australia, we speak American, Hewitt says. Our competition is Hollywood and Hollywood won the war 50 years ago. Its insane to think that an Aussie movie can do the same amount of business in an Australian cinema as a Hollywood blockbuster.
Overseas, however, our films might have a unique advantage. Its a common complaint that American audiences dont understand films set beyond their shores, but Hewitt says the Australianness" of his films is seen by international distributors as exotic, rather than unfortunate.
For X, he has an even simpler marketing hook: sex, and lots of it.
Oh yeah, absolutely! Sex always sells, even in times when it doesnt. When people say oh sex is so last year, its all about mechanical robots now, sex still sells. It might be prurient and voyeuristic but Ive never seen those terms as pejorative. Cinema is about seeing, just going to the cinema is an act of voyeurism on some level.
He admits, however, that not every actor will feel comfortable with that level of exposure.
Me there, with my dick swinging in the wind, Id find it incredibly f--king uncomfortable, he laughs.
"It was important to me to say You know what, were going to see your breasts and your bare arse, but were not going to linger... probably. Its important that they could trust me, because you know in this day and age that, if youre naked on camera, its going to be on every bloody format in every country in the world, forever.
Given its alluring naughtiness and success overseas, Hewitt is optimistic the film will do well at MIFF and beyond. Ultimately though, theres only one person he needs to keep happy.
Ive made films where I havent been happy with the end results and had to live with that. The first film I made was a dumb-arse exploitation film from the late 80s. It didnt pretend to be anything else than a crock of shit but still you go, Oh I could have directed those scenes a bit better. As long as I can like the film myself, than everything else is cool.
X, 9pm August 4, Forum Theatre
MIFF runs July 21 - August 7