Episode 9 – Hedone

In an industry which is facing more Catch 22s than most and in a country (and state) where the odds are stacked against achieving success, is a film production company creating content and stories that really work.

In this episode we talk to Sandy Cameron about the film industry in Australia and how Hedone Productions is doing business.

We learn about the funding process and how technical and cultural trends present significant challenges to overcome in Australian Film Production.



Concepts and Themes

  • Introduction to Hedone
  • Breakdown of funding options in Australian film
      • Distributors role in funding film including the advance on sales
      • The risk for Distributors to get a return and the risk is getting larger
      • With an advance on sales this can help to gain Equity from Screen bodies such as Screen Australia and South Australian Film Corporation
      • The Producers Offset available from Screen Australia
      • Private investment and loans can make up the last portion
  • Eligibility for the Producers offset – defined by legislation and includes:
  • Theatrical release on a defined number of screens in a number of capital cities (500k and 6 theatres) making VOD strategies hard – but is becoming more flexible
  • Aim of the legislation is to create a gate
  • 80s was a time when there was a 150% tax deduction, leading to tax dodges on films that were never going to do well
  • Event Screenings and four-walling as a technique to launch films
  • Screen Australia’s funding cuts
  • “The Adelaide Tax” It is hard in SA to access the Market Finance. I.e. the distributors or broadcasters, you have to go interstate and overseas to markets
  • Other challenges include:
    • Audience awareness around australian films
    • Ticket Pricing and piracy
    • Language itself is an aid to foreign speaking countries – but australia has english so cannot play the localised content in mother tongue card
  • What is Australian film’s identity? Often alternative / indie and arthouse
  • We have a lot of high caliber people – Talent Leak to the places where the work is.
  • Copy Protection hurts the person doing the right thing more than the pirater who is unaware
  • Piracy is changing business models.
  • Piracy exist because they can but also because it is not available in the territories they habitat
  • Pre-selling into territories is being damaged my piracy because of the staggered nature of selling films to markets overseas
  • This means that pirating leads to diminished pre-sales, and without this it doesn’t trigger other funding opportunities so films cannot get made.
  • Piracy often hurts films trying to get made as much or more than films that area already in the market
  • They won’t buy something that has been pirated
  • Streaming as an opportunity e.g. Netflix – they are trying to wrap up the territories and break down those walls
  • They may become too big and the doors will be narrowed possibly leading to less diversity
  • But before you could just shop and eventually find an excited partner
  • But it should diminish piracy due to availability and price
  • Explanation of Co-production
  • The returns on films for $2 million need to make $5-$6 million to pay back all the investors only then can the producers earn profit.
  • The benefit of establishing a growing library that slowly builds residual income
  • Film allows more cooperation and co-production than tech startup because the exit comes so much sooner
  • Working as a husband and wife team
  • Advice to aspiring actors, writers and producers:
    • Make it personal / intentional
    • Keep it brief
    • Do lots of Networking
    • Casting is particular so don’t take it personally
    • Keep writing, write more than one story
    • Get professional / industry input into your script
    • Intern if possible
    • Get a mentor
    • Get early credits at assistant levels
    • Understand concepts and terminologies
    • Being a producer is likely to be a long road towards financial success.
    • Being a producer is like a fight


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