Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Festival time! and a big 2011

Pic 1#  Ricky at Mad Max pub in Silverton (I became a member, don't ask how)
Pic #2 Ricky with mini inceptor. (Silverton's like 30mins out of Broken Hill)
Pic #3 Ricky in Bhutan! That's the Tigers Nest in the BG.

Hello friends,

Happy New Year!   Well, almost. Love this time of year.

Had a fabulous last couple of months with trips to Bendigo, Broken Hill (see fun pics above), Perth and Sydney again.  Not to mention BHUTAN! I filmed an episode of ABC series Cheese Slices there. Absolutely spectacular... and I can recommend the Yak's cheese. ...Kinda.

Screening at the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) was the bomb! Outdoor auditorium that holds 1,100 people.  Something about watching Summer Coda in deck chairs with a brewski or bottle of vino really works! Funny that, probably because that's how the film was written!

Ricky also attended the Access Film Festival in Sydney, a beautiful event promoting access to cinema for all. Totally lovely to sit in a cinema with blind people experiencing the film.  The festival had organised an audio track that describes the actions of the characters around the dialogue, so everyone gets the full experience.  I was asked why a blind person would want to come to the cinema? Silly question when you've experienced it! Nothing really compares to the atmosphere of a cinema, whether you can see the screen or not. Ah, and lets not forget the popcorn and choc-tops (plus cider where available).

Don't get me started on Broken Hill!  Film lovers paradise. Drink at the hotel were they filmed Priscilla AND THEN drink at the pub where Mad Max II, Razorback, A Town Like Alice and Dirty Deeds were filmed! Or maybe take a tour of the brand new Mad Max 4: Fury Road studios! Amazing. I can especially recommend "becoming a member" at the Silverton Pub. It involves sticking a large red funnel down your pants. Nuff said. Thanks very much to Lyndall Roberts for setting up such a fabulous tour!

Next stop PALM SPRINGS!  Summer Coda has just been selected for the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF). Very excited. We're heading over on Jan 5th. ...And so begins our international sales campaign. We've signed on with Entertainment One (E1) as our sales agent, whose recent Aussie films include Animal Kingdom, so we're in super duper hands. The next 6 months is all about getting seen in as many new territories as we can and hopefully Ricky can score a few freebie plane tix too! Nothing better than watching your film OS at a film festival. nothing better in the world!

What else is news? I've started a new production company with a bunch of other film crazed champions and we're basing ourselves in LA (just leased an office!) as well as Oz. We have a simple mantra, passed down by the king himself:  The best thing young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all. ~ Stanley Kubrick 

Sounds good doesn't it? We have a fabulous slate of brilliant screenplays and we're gonna do exactly what the great man suggests. Make films.  Pronto.  We're gonna do more for less. 

I was very interested to read about and watch Ed Burn's new film Nice Guy Johnny.  Made for $25k. 3 man crew, unknown actors (but for Ed himself). Everyone on profit share.  Released straight to iTunes -- no cinema release. It's doing incredibly well and it's a distribution strategy that's looking more and more appetising for Indie filmmakers.  Now Ricky is always gonna want to play at the cinema, and our next films are quite a bit bigger, but a great little flick like Nice Guy Johnny provides fantastic perspective. Write a great script, get out and make your movie! 

Massive shout out to all you wonderful supporters. What a fabulous year.  Onwards and upwards my friends!

If you're in or around LA we're screening at Palm Springs on the 13th and 15th of Jan. You can pick up tix through their website:

We'll also be having an "Australians In Film"  Summer Coda screening in LA on Feb 24th -- more info on that bad boy soon. Come along and say...     Cider!

Lots of love,


PS. For Summer Coda's Facebook site with all the info click here  ...LIKE US! and you can follow Ricky on twitter here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Release!

Hello Friends,

What a whirlwind!  As I write this, Summer Coda is now playing in all Australian states and territories!  Ah.... with the major exception of W.A. -- but don't you Westerners take any offence -- we have something extra special planned for you: We're OPENING the big ol' Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) on Nov 30!  Followed by ample opportunities to come out and see us in season.

What an eye opening experience this whole Aussie release thing has been. Talk about ups and downs! I'm pleased to say there's been many more of the former. Thank god. We've had absolutely beautiful audience responses, but completely mixed reviews. Some amazing, others so-so and a couple poisonous. But the varied opinions on Summer Coda have been quite satisfying in an odd way. It provides something to talk about!

Of course I'd prefer EVERYONE just love it! (and "get it" mainly) But the weird thing is, differing opinions create a talking point, and film discussion is one of my fave nerdy past times.  I also love sitting in the back of theatres and hearing the different reactions: The laughs at different moments and individuals having different fave characters and / or performances. As I've said before: It's all so subjective and completely fascinating.

What's fabulous is the online love we've received.  Thanks champions! Right around the world. Not only online though, but at the dozens of local Q&A's and events in every state.  I love getting the opportunity to introduce our film; providing a glimpse inside of what we set out to achieve and what we went through to get here today. It's a rare opportunity for us and I've really adored it.  The only downer is the lack of popcorn I receive. Yes, the lack of popcorn. I think because I get looked after by the cinema manager or local town mayor I kinda get ushered into the cinema at the last minute -- We bypass the candy bar! It totally sux.

Maybe when I'm big and famous I'll be able to make rock star demands like: Ricky requires x1 Medium Popcorn x1 Boysenberry Choc Top and x2 Ciders for this evenings Q&A session. Bam!

In the last month we've visited (in no particular order); Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Nth Qld, Regional NSW, Regional VIC, Mildura, Tassie, Adelaide and next stop Perth!   What a road trip! Dozens of fundraisers, special events, mini festivals and Q&A's. Love it!

18 months ago we didn't have a cent of our budget in the bank and had no real clue on how we'd make it happen. It's quite amazing really, to look back and think what might have been had we not taken the jump. Best decision of my life. You want something enough, you just have to do it! It will certainly never be handed to you. Very simple stuff I know. But it's the simple stuff that works.

Do you want to know a big secret? My fabulous team and I made Summer Coda for $680,000. Total. That's all in. Not a cent more. Finished with print. We didn't want anyone to know because we didn't want to be seen as just another low budget Aussie film. I'm so bored with that stigma. But now that we've been reviewed and judged and seen, I can let you know.  Because we believe we've made something really beautiful, with an amazing cast that looks and sounds like FIVE TIMES more than we spent. And we're really proud of it. We can do MORE for LESS. You just have to insert the key words: CRAFT and PASSION.

Big shout out to our wonderful distributors and our beautiful cast who have been absolute troopers through this whole crazy fun ride!  And to our marvellous Investors, Film Victoria and Screen Australia who have helped us so much in release. W.A. here we come! (not to mention Broken Hill, Bendigo, Rose Bud and Devonport!) That's how we roll!

Thanks for all the love,

Ricky : )

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week of release!

Hello friends,

Been doing a looooot of talking about our movie this last month. Hmmm, does that read like loot or lot, was supposed to be lot, but a loooooot. Like lots of lot. Anyway, you get it. 

Been on a mammoth Summer Coda campaign trail and man has it been a hoot! Ricky's in his element. So cool to travel with our actors and talk the talk and meet audiences and chat to press right around Oz at our advanced screenings and Q&A's. SO MUCH FUN. It's gotta be the best bit about making a film: Finally getting to sit back and see what people think. 

The greatest thing about Q&A's is you get to reflect on things you've forgotten about: We're ideas for the screenplay were first born (the image of a girl hitchhiking home with a violin case), how we found Mildura (by googling citrus), and why it took six years to fund (I now have all the answers -- want to buy my book? : ).  It's a lovely thing to sit in a cinema and have an audience genuinely interested in the process. I love it.

Something that is more difficult to grow comfortable with are reviews. Your pride and joy being critiqued by so many. You grow very close to a project and it's a surreal exercise reading opinions from all over the globe. It's both beautiful, humbling and gutting, depending on the outcome! I'm far too sensitive to not take things personally, which means I can hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with a simple mouse click! It's all so subjective and completely fascinating. 

Almost forgot: We had a massive premiere in Mildura! Overwhelming fun. After 6 years of visiting the great town we finally had something to show off. The response was awesome and I'm happy to say Mildura will always be a 2nd home for Ricky. Big shout out to Film Victoria for making the event so special. ...Mildura Brewery had something to do with the successful night too. 

As you can see from the pic up top, we have a Soundtrack! (you can order online here:  /   OR pick it up from JB Hi Fi, Borders, Readings...etc). This baby is one of the things I'm MOST proud about. Since I was 18 I've been blasting movie soundtracks in my car (film nerd) -- and now we have one of our own!  Glenn Richards (Augie March), Liam Finn, Dan Sultan, Amaya, Horse Stories, Custom Kings, Goodbye Motel, The Stems, Jim Keays -- just to name a few! Not to mention some of my fave score from our wonderful composer, Alies Sluiter. 15 Tracks. As Molly Meldrum would say... Do yourself a favour and go out and get it! 

It's been an absolute whirlwind and tonight and tomorrow we have our lavish red carpet premieres in Sydney and Melbourne! Rach Taylor has returned from Russia (shooting big action US flick) and we can't wait to show her the film on the big screen. We caught up yesterday, and she's so pumped about the movie it gave me goosebumps. She's such a fab leading lady, can't wait for you all to see. And if you're more into leading men, just wait for Alex Dimitriades' performance! They were both such a treat to work with. Generous, smart and funny -- what more could you want? 

Thank-you all for your incredibly support. The thought of writing this blog (and Twitter and FB) at first seemed a chore -- how quickly that changed! Love writing it and I'm not gonna stop anytime soon. Big shout out to all my new social networking buddies! 

As I've previously penned, SO MUCH depends on our first weeks box office result. So much. So get along and see our baby, and let us know what you think!  Summer Coda is playing at many, many fab cinemas right around Oz. Check out for all the cinemas. Book a ticket for our opening weekend and If you don't like it, I'll refund your ticket! *

What an exciting week!

Lots of love,

Ricky xo

* Ricky may not actually refund your ticket. : )

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

6 weeks until release!

Hello friends,

Sitting at Bangkok airport I had a sudden heart pang about what an amazing year it's been. The best of my life. Funny that I haven't earned so little cash since I finished film school. Interesting. Money certainly can't buy happiness in our trade. ...Um, not that I'm against it or anything. Actually, scratch that, can you spare a dollar?

Summer Coda is complete, MIFF screening was an absolute blast and we're now revving up for our Australian cinema release on Oct 21st.   

The last couple of months have been particularly eye opening. The cinemas (the exhibitors) hold so much power. I knew this of course, but I'd never experienced it first hand. Particularly on an Indy release.  Your distributor works their butt off on your film's campaign, gets the press and as many exhibitors as possible to come see your pride and joy. Then exhibitors get back to the distributors on whether they'd like to play your film, and how many sessions. And then let the games begin! Seriously, exhibitors and the distributors have very, very difficult jobs. A phenomenal juggling act really. 

I'm excited to say Summer Coda will be playing at 90% of the cinemas we wanted - which is just awesome. The size of screen and how many screenings you get a day are also crucial.  So the bargaining begins. Fascinating to watch. You have to fight to give yourself the best chance to be seen, and hang around long enough for positive word-of-mouth to spread. Hopefully.

Being an Indy film (but hopefully commercial too), you wont be seeing Summer Coda at a lot of mega plexes, you will however be seeing it at all the best art houses in Oz as well as a few of the finer big boys. Perfect for us. I  think we're looking at about 25 metro screens. We're also rolling out on a whole bundle of the best rural cinemas. We're thinking Summer Coda will go down well in the country, so l'll also be heading out on a massive road trip to visit as many of these cinemas as possible. 

You hear a lot of talk about PER SCREEN AVERAGE. This is the average of how much cashola your film takes at each cinema you're playing in. You need this bad boy to be HIGH. High means that people are coming along to your sessions -- not a lot of spare seats -- which means the exhibitors are happy for you to keep all your sessions for the following week, because it's clear punters want to come for a looksey. This is why your first weekends box office is so important.

It's hard to get Aussies to go see our home grown films at the best of times, let alone needing them to watch your pride 'n joy in the first week!  That's why your marketing strategy is so integral and why you live and die by your distributor. We're lucky enough to have two. 
Two champions that have put it all on the line for Ricky (and more than a few others ; ). Big shout out to Natalie Miller @ Sharmill FIlms and Jamie Bialkower @ Jump Street Films.
I have loved being in the trenches with them. As well as marketing, media, print, booking cinemas, other deals like TV, DVD, NZ and airline sales have been intriguing.

Summer Coda was privately funded. 90% anyway, 10% from the champs at Film Victoria (who have been backing Ricky for so long it's lovely to finally have something to show them). "Privately funded" means we have a bunch of investors that have taken the punt on Summer Coda. Beautiful people, because as you can imagine, backing a film is not the most 
blue chip of investments!  This brings massive responsibility to the production, to scrutinise every penny spent. Which doesn't mean we don't want to spend money -- because you certainly have to to market your film, but it just means you gotta get bang for your buck. You must know what type of film you have, who your key audience is, and what films in the past have worked. Not to mention what you can learn from the ones that didn't.  

Your $14-18 ticket at the box office gets split many ways. The exhibitor and the distributor take a big piece (as they should), and the rest flows back to the production company -- who pay the investors. However, the production company doesn't see a cent until the P&A is paid back. P&A is the costs of the film's Prints and all Advertising that the distributor has forked out for. The distributor (who's taken a large financial risk)  must recoup their costs, AND THEN money flows to the investors, while continuing to be split with exhibitor and distributor.

Summer Coda is in an amazing position where we have already paid for our P&A before a single ticket is sold. Which is due to the hard work and selling of our distributors. This is extremely rare in our country. This means from the very first ticket sold on Oct 21st, our investors are beginning to recoup their investment. This might not sound like anything too special, but let Ricky assure you, it is amazing. And it's taken some bloody hard work. 

Many Australian films aren't able to pay off their P&A by the END of their cinema run, let alone before the movie screens for the first time. The above is usually confidential, but we're working on a very different model to the vast majority of Oz films, so i think info sharing is constructive. I certainly would have liked to learn this stuff at film school.

Often we celebrate Aussie films that make over a $1m at the local box office, without looking at important things like - P&A spend and the film's actual budget. It seems like millions of dollars in losses are acceptable in our business. And maybe they have to be? Because If more than $3m is spent on an Australian film, it is virtually impossible to make your money back through local box office. As I've illustrated above, after all the splits, your film would need to make over $10m at the box office. That's if it was made for just $3m. 

As you know, many films are made for a lot more, and so those numbers compound terribly. And how many Aussie films made in the last 10 years have grossed more than $10m at the box office? And when they did, were they also made for a lot more than $3m? When you do the maths, it's not a pretty picture. But does it matter? Who cares? The general public heading to the movies don't. They just want a to see a good film.  I have no problem with that. 

However, it matters when you're trying to protect your investors so that they'll invest AGAIN.  It matters if you want to think of our industry as a business. I've been told many times just to worry about the creative: "You're the filmmaker". However, if this filmmaker wants to make another film, he needs to look after his investors. Not a bad thing to do because:

If Summer Coda's investors make their money back, they'll invest again. Meaning more privately funded Aussie films. Meaning other like-minded producers can sell this as a model and more investors will gain confidence in investing in Aussie films, when they are set up correctly. 

And so, with every ticket sold to Summer Coda -- from the very first ticket -- cashola flows back to the people that made it happen. Awesome. This is why our first week, starting Oct 21st is so crucial. 

We are very fortunate to have a film industry largely funded by our government. But we should respect that money, like we would if it was our own 2 cents. 

And that was mine. 

Lots of love,

Ricky : )

PS. By "liking" our Summer Coda facebook page you help us broaden our social network. Wink wink. Nudge, nudge....   Same goes for Twitter

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week 25 Trailer, MIFF and Premiere countdowns begin!

Hello Friends,

I'm excited to announce Summer Coda is complete! Seeing it in a cinema for the first time was TOP 10 moments of my life. It was only a test screening at Digital Pictures, but emotions hit me like a ton of bricks... and I'm not talking soft mud brick -- I'm talkin big bluestone bad boys! Totally knocked me for 6. Not because I hadn't seen it before, or didn't know what to expect, but because it's finally finished after 6 years of dreaming about it. Beautiful feeling! And now she heads out into the wide world. Wooot!

No rest for the wicked though, it's now festival, sales agent, exhibitor / media screenings and world premiere time! Very important phase. Perhaps the most important, as building awareness is so crucial. We have a soundtrack to release too. Mushroom and Liberation Records have come onboard and it's an absolute cracker album -- as well as our original score, we have music from Liam Finn, Dan Sultan, Glenn Richards, The Stems, Goodbye Motel, Amaya, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros -- just to name a few!

I'd always dreamed of releasing a Summer Coda soundtrack (2nd dream mention - brain clearly still mush from Inception). I spent much of my youth listening to them. From the moment I got my drivers license I've been blasting John Williams, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer and Jon Brion in my car. Not so cool when you're 18... actually, not so cool now but who cares!  

Summer Coda is playing at MIFF on August 4th. Very pumped about that. I've been going to MIFF for years and years. When I was at film school, I remember sitting in the Forum (drinking a lot of Stellas) looking up at that ceiling, thinking how much I'd love to play at the festival. Last weekend I was sitting in the forum (drinking lots of Magners) and it's FINALLY HAPPENING! Perhaps my switch to cider played a part.  Yes, that must be it.

The pic of Alex above is one of my absolute faves. He's introducing the film at MIFF -- hope you can be there! If not, we'll be doing a mountain of Q&A's in the lead up to our Oz release (Oct 21st). Come along and mention the blog and let's have a spritzer or two after the show. So keen to hear all your thoughts. 

Finally, thanks for all your fab feedback on our trailer. If you haven't seen it yet, you can find it here. To think that 12 months ago we didn't have a dollar in the piggy bank for this movie. Desire is a powerful thing!

Much love,

Ricky : )

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Week 22 Poster time!

Hello Friends,

How exciting. There it is! Man does it feel like a movie now. So happy we were able to make use of my fave production still. It's a key romantic scene in the movie too, so all good things. Was the most perfect sunset and we got about 40mins our of magic hour filming -- just perfect.

So much time and effort goes into movie posters, and I'm proud to say ours conveys the type of story we're trying trying to tell. Should feel warm, beautiful and romantic, and should also hint at a new world that our characters are discovering. Love having our fab cast up in the clouds too.

More than anything, the poster should feel inviting and make you wanna go check it out! Hope you think so.

Next step trailer! It's all happening.

Come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Clicky clicky!

Website's been updated with production stills of Rachael and Alex too:

Lots of love,

Ricky : )

Monday, May 10, 2010

Week 18 Mixy Mixy

Hello friends,

Ricky's had more time on his hands lately -- It was easy for me to pretend to have a great deal of input in the grade, but it's a lot tougher in the sound mix. Truth is I'm just sitting back and listening to everything sounding better and better. I might occasionally say "I'd like to hear a magpie there" or... "would it be cool if we had some water sprinkler fx there"... but that's me just trying to earn my keep... and my toasted sandwich.

Truth is I've been spending much more time thinking about distribution. There's a couple of new considerations that have come to light: The fabulous AFI Awards have an Oct 6th deadline (if you wanna make 2010 awards), which means Summer Coda would need to be released before Sept 30th to be eligible (that's the last Thurs before the 6th). Now, you certainly don't wanna set your release date around an awards deadline, but you do stop to think about the fact that your film might be forgotten about 13 months later at the 2011 awards -- that said, there's no guarantee we wont be forgotten in 2010! -- but you gotta be in it to win it!

There's also a bunch of other fab Aussie flicks set to release around Sept. At this stage i think Matching Jack, Blame, Kin and a couple others too. This is interesting cause you don't wanna hurt each-others box office potential. In my humble opinion people that see Aussie films are largely a lovely loyal crowd, but they might not venture out 3 times in the same month. So that's more food for thought. The other issue with Sept is school holidays -- makes it harder to get screens for Aussie content when all the kids flicks are on.

So why all this talk of Sept you ask? Well, Summer Coda will be completed in June and you wanna give yourself 3 months for long lead reviews and publicity so Sept sits about right, but so does Oct which is why the AFI dilemma is an interesting one. Hmmm... much thinking to be done. Thankfully, smarter people than Ricky are working on it.

In other news: We finished the trailer last week! Woot! We're now in a holding patten for the appropriate time to release it. I HOPE SOON! POSTER TOO!

Anyway, back to the sound mix. "How bout a bit more wind in that night scene on the river?" 
..."Um, I don't think so Ricky, could you keep it down mate?".

Much Love,

Ricky : )