Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Year's Reflection

Having There Once was an Island in distribution has been - well - not different than expected necessarily, but busier and more intense. This is my first time as key producer for post and distribution and despite having managed aspects of both on another feature doc, the growth of new ways to self-distribute documentary has been so fast that I find myself constantly learning - I think this is something all independent filmmakers find.

Many times I've found myself lost in a sea of possibilities - post-production workflows and facilities, technical delivery options, distributors, festivals, distribution platforms and approaches - it's a multifarious list and I'm blessed with so many work commitments that it's next to impossible to be fully informed about a decision before making it. I'm really lucky to work with a second producer (and also the film's director - Briar) who is able to bring so much new information to the table, but even so, the process of choosing an option from the plethora on offer, knowing that it will foreclose an unknown number of others, is often nerve-wracking, as is taking responsibility for ensuring that technical parameters are met to the satisfaction of all parties involved in any screening of the film.

We are now almost a year into our festival run and have enjoyed success in the form of invitations to prestigious festivals like IDFA and Dok Leipzig, prizes and honours - including the Jury Grand Prix at FIFO (Tahiti) and Best Documentary at both Cinefest (Miskolc, Hungary) and Raindance (London), the Filmpreis Leipzinger Ring and the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Editing, Documentary/Factual. We have also been broadcast in Sweden, Germany, France, in Africa and across the Asia-Pacific region on ABC. It all seems a million miles away from the hot, sweaty experience of shooting on Takuu, the welcome of the community there and the hard reality of their largely pre-industrial life-style and incipient environmental problems. It's also a long way from the time spent in endless applications for funding - a two-year process which prepared me for the myriad difficulties of distribution if only because being told "no" became commonplace.

I've learned countless things from making this film, but if I had to distill out the most important it would be this: if you really want to achieve something and you refuse to give in, you will eventually attain your goal. Briar has always believed this, and thanks to working on There Once was an Island with her, I find I now do too. Be careful what you wish for - it's out there and coming your way....

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