Doco makers get to meet the money men

THE big names in international film will arrive in Perth this week to seek out new stars and lucrative co-productions for documentary film-making in Australia.

Twenty-four representatives from international broadcasters and networks including BBC, ABC, Granada, National Geographic and Discovery Network will spend three days in Perth meeting with documentary film-makers eager to negotiate deals to get their projects produced and screened.

Perth is an ideal location for the Australian International Documentary Conference with the highest per capita rate of documentary film-makers anywhere in Australia

The three-day conference is a balance between academia, craft, keynote addresses and a strong commercial emphasis, AIDC executive director Michael Elwood said.

“The bottom line is there is an academic side to this conference but most of the documentary makers here are moving towards a career where they want to be film-makers,” Mr Elwood said.

“There’s a strong commerce market environment, it’s a large market event.”

The conference includes Revelation, an independent film festival and Documart.

Based on the Amsterdam Forum, Documart is an opportunity for a short list of film-makers to pitch their idea to a panel of commissioning editors from around the world.

Following an international call for entries, 13 projects have been shortlisted, including two WA film-makers.

The film-maker is given seven minutes to pitch the idea to the panel and the panel responds to the pitch before it is opened up to discussion with the other delegates.

Of the 10 projects pitched at Documart in 2000, several have advanced considerably.

“To survive, these people have to sell their films, this conference is a platform to meet commissioning editors and distributors and get their product overseas,” Mr Elwood said.

Commissioning editors control multi-million dollar budgets set aside for new works and international co-productions

“We’re bringing Australia to the world and we get exclusive attention on our own terms, unlike the big international conferences where we would get battered by 10,000 other people,” Mr Elwood said.

“There’s no way we could afford to send 400 Australian film-makers to the rest of the world...when you go to those big international festivals or conferences you are totally overwhelmed by the magnitude.

“It takes two or three visits to start to develop recognition and start networking.”

The conference costs an estimated $600,000 to run, which is raised through government funding, sponsor-ship and delegate fees.

Sponsorship partners include the ABC and Screenwest, which is a primary sponsor providing $100,000 to the conference.

The economic impact of the conference in Perth is estimated to be worth more that $1 million.

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