Wednesday, January 30, 2008


3D World's Top Films Of 2007
Written by 3D Wednsday, 19 December 2007

ANITA: Dee McLachlan, director of The Jammed. This film is a revelation. The most important film you’ll see this year, viewers will be shocked and sickened by what McLachlan’s investigation of the sex slave trade reveals about Australia. In addition, it has to be noted that the adversity the film has faced to get a distribution is astounding and deplorable. Australian films struggle enough to be made without having distribution and film festival doors shut in their faces. McLachlan must be applauded for her artistic vision and determination.

ANITA: The Jammed. It is simply unforgivable not to see this film. By far the best film of 2007, it is astounding to think that its content was considered so potent that it was going straight to DVD.
DENEE: Sorry, I haven’t watch any this year. So instead I will name my favourite documentary, which was Michael Moore’s Sicko, for reminding me why private health insurers are evil.
PHILIPPA: The Jammed is a tour de force of Australian filmmaking. Initially knocked back by distributors for being too dark, it’s been embraced by the viewing public and critically acclaimed. There’s a lesson there somewhere! Truly excellent performances, a compelling story, a flawless script and ace directing makes this a must-see.
DANIEL: The Jammed. The most important, harrowing, film you’ll see this year.

WE LIKE THIS QUOTE: “It is simply unforgivable not to see this film. By far the best film of 2007”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The Film Critics Circle of Australia is the national body of professional film critics in Australia. The FCCA recognises outstanding achievement in Australian film through the FCCA Annual Awards.

The Jammed received four nominations:

Best Film - Producers: Sally Ayre-Smith, Andrea Buck, Dee McLachlan

Best Director - Dee McLachlan

Best Script - Dee McLachlan

Best Supporting Actress- Saskia Burmeister

The awards are announced in Sydney February 1st, for more information or tickets head to:

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Scripts fail to tell the whole story
Lynden Barber January 02, 2008

Thanks to the introduction of a 40 per cent tax offset to producers, many players are confident that production levels will pick up and the industry can dig itself out of the slough of despond with a few overdue international hits.
Actor Hugh Jackman, who is producing Australian films through his company, Seed Productions, summarised the cautiously buoyant mood when he told The Australian: "I would have thought for the next two or three years it's an optimistic time for the industry. Let's pray it's going to be good."
Prayer will not be enough, however. The most common complaint about Australian films is that their scripts are undercooked and need more development money
Talk to some of the top screenwriting experts and it becomes obvious that the problem goes deeper than a mere lack of money for writers to polish their work. In their view the industry suffers from deep-rooted cultural problems that consistently militate against the possibility of compelling scripts emerging at regular intervals.
And they warn that if these problems aren't seriously addressed, then Australia's poor standard of screenwriting is unlikely to improve, no matter how much money is thrown at it, and the audience share for our films will remain frustratingly low.
These critics are not casual bystanders. They're screenwriting professionals who have worked at the highest levels in filmmaking and education. They are exasperated at the amateurism that engulfs so much local screenwriting: not just from would-be filmmakers but frequently from writers whose films go into production and are commercially released.
Joan Sauers has been an adviser at all four SPARK screenwriting workshops held annually by the Australian Film Commission, and taken part in six European workshops. In the late 1970s and early '80s she worked as a reader and script editor for leading US filmmakers Barry Levinson and Francis Ford Coppola. She is about to join the AFC as a project officer.
Former script editor and teacher Duncan Thompson is the artistic director of Aurora (the annual screenwriting workshops held by the NSW Film and Television Office) and is head of the International Film School Sydney, where he is also head of screenwriting.
Billy Marshall Stoneking is a veteran teacher, script editor and story consultant who has held or is planning screenwriting workshops for institutions including the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, IFSS and Sydney Film School. While all three script experts have some differences in emphasis, they display a remarkable unanimity on the seriousness of the creative challenges facing the Australian film industry. The chief problems are:
* A cultural blind spot regarding drama, because the Australian way is to avoid conflict.
* An alarming lack of knowledge about the craft of screenwriting but no willingness to admit this and to learn.
* Widespread ignorance of screen classics, and no understanding of the ways in which these great films work.
* Training is inadequate or, as Thompson puts it, "absolutely crap, atrocious".
In addition, there's a kneejerk anti-Hollywood attitude, in which basic notions of film structure are viewed as a form of US cultural imperialism, leading to the baby (a strong sense of dramatic structure) being thrown out with the bathwater. According to Sauers, "there's sort of this idea that 'it's either Hollywood, or it's what we do' -- and what we do isn't strong enough".
Most Australian professional screenwriters have spent time writing for television soaps Neighbours and Home and Away, where they've learned bad habits. For example: their characters talk about how they're feeling or what they're doing instead of just getting on with it. "I've seen this all the time in Australian cinema, where characters discuss the scene they're in," says Thompson. "I think it's the major flaw in Australian writing."
The myth of originality holds undue sway. The story doesn't have to be original; more crucial is the way the story is told. Stoneking recalls his incredulity at taking part in a workshop in which a feature script, which had already attracted $20,000 in public development money, had as its protagonist a puddle.
"It didn't speak, it didn't have a face, it didn't have any interior monologue or thought process, no arms or legs, and it moved around the floor and it was thoroughly undramatic," he says. "And when I queried the project officer ... the reply was, 'We'd never had one of those before'. It went completely against the idea of what character-based storytelling is about and it had absolutely no dramatic grammar whatsoever."
Characterisation tends to be lacking. The screenwriters don't get deep inside their characters in the way necessary to bring them alive and make them interesting and unpredictable. Lead characters in Australian films, especially the males, tend to be passive. And by the end of the film there's been little character transformation.
Whether in drama or comedy, the action suffers from a lack of motivation. Things happen at the whim of the writer, without showing the relationship between cause and effect. Effective screenplays create problems for characters, that they must strive to overcome.
There's also too little dramatic incident, and the crucial point from which the story takes off, called the inciting incident, often happens so late that viewers are already checking their watches.
Sauers says there's nothing wrong with presenting depressing subject matter if it's presented in an engaging way, citing the Danish film Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself. But Australian films too often make downbeat subject matter depressing to watch. Many Australian films, she adds, suffer from emotional and dramatic monotony that makes them seem like short films stretched thin over 90 minutes.
So who are some of the more recent offenders? Sauers and Stoneking are both critical of Romulus, My Father, adapted by Nick Drake from Raimond Gaita's memoir. Directed by Richard Roxburgh, it won best film at the Australian Film Institute Awards last month.
"It's not a dramatic film," says Stoneking. "There's so much about it that you want to like but it just never quite gets itself started, the energy doesn't really build." Sauers says Matthew Saville's Noise had script problems, and Stoneking calls Lucky Miles "a terrible film" because "it plays up to a lot of the baser instincts of the Australian mentality: that foreigners are buffoons at best".
Sauers approvingly cites a 2004 paper by producer Peter Sainsbury, in which he excoriates the standard of Australian screenwriting and names Japanese Story and Walking on Water as examples of films whose scripts should have been stronger. "They're interesting films, based on interesting premises," she says, "but essentially the characters are reacting to situations that have been thrust upon them."
So are there any local examples to learn from? Thompson says The Black Balloon (to be released in March from first-time writers Elissa Down and Jimmy Jack) is "brilliant". Stoneking says Ten Canoes is "one of the great world movies" and he admires Kenny ("there is a great transformative journey for a character").
Sauers nominates The Jammed, Saw (a US film but written and directed by Australians), Wolf Creek and Muriel's Wedding as films constructed around strong dramatic storytelling principles, including putting their protagonists through hell. It can hardly be coincidence that the above were all popular with audiences and most with critics too.
So what of the future? Mentoring initiatives such as Aurora and SPARK can help. Sauers says we need to spend more time educating producers and more closely mentoring writers throughout the creative process. For Stoneking the hope lies in building creative links with the corporate sector, which is becoming interested in storytelling workshops. But all agree the problem will not be solved by throwing more public money at extra script drafts when the blueprints are dramatically unsound to begin with.

From The Australian:,25197,22995224-16955,00.html

Monday, January 14, 2008


Fine thrillers stole the show
David Stratton December 26, 2007

BY my count, 255 films were released in Australian cinemas during 2007 and I saw just about all of them.This number doesn't include the Bollywood and Asian films that opened, without previews for the mainstream press, in marginal capital-city theatres. The vast majority of films released were American and the quality, not surprisingly, varied from the dire (Saw IV, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) to the splendid, 10 of which are listed below.
It was a moderately good year for Australian cinema, even though box-office returns were mostly very disappointing. The high-profile films were flawed in one way or another, and my choice for best Australian film of the year is Dee McLachlan's The Jammed, a beautifully written and acted thriller in which an ordinary young woman discovers the evil underworld of sex slavery is alive and thriving in her city.
McLachlan fought a long, hard battle to fund the film (the leading funding bodies rejected it) and to release it (there was initial reluctance on the part of all the distributors). It was even, mysteriously, rejected by the Melbourne International Film Festival. But after screening at the Sydney and Brisbane festivals it caught the attention of public and critics alike and enjoyed a modest, but encouragingly successful, commercial run.
Sadly, the Australian Film Institute deemed the best Australian film of the year ineligible for the AFI Awards because of a technicality, which could surely have been overcome with a modicum of goodwill. Would it have displaced Romulus, My Father as the winner? Who knows, but no other locally made film of the year succeeded so completely in what it set out to do. McLachlan had to be content with winning the IF Award for best film.

Very Special thanks to David Stratton for finding and supporting The Jammed in 2007, Mr Stratton is in a word, Incredible!


Jim Schembri presents the Schembri Film Awards for Cinematic Excellence in 2007.

The I Can Do More Than Open Blockbusters Award goes to:

Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness, a touching, personal drama that drew in a sizeable chunk of his fanbase.

■The … And We Thought This Franchise Was Dead Award goes to: Die Hard 4.0 for reviving an action movie franchise that had been comatose for 12 years with a kick-ass, steroid-fed action spectacle that cleared the cynicism from the sinuses.

■The We Wish This Franchise Was Dead Award goes to: the third instalments of Pirates, Ocean's and Shrek. Enough already.

■The Most Realistic Action Hero Award goes to: Matt Damon, doing his best running-and-jumping work in The Bourne Ultimatum.

■The Comic Brilliance Ignored Award goes to: Dr Plonk. Rolf de Heer's masterful monochromatic silent comedy was fast, funny, clever and seen by practically nobody.

■The Best Period Film Award goes to: This is England, for evoking the evil allure of racism in 1980s Britain with such frightening authenticity.

■The Best Straight-friendly Gay Film Award goes to: 300. Something for everybody with abs aplenty amid crowd-pleasing action. Runner Up: I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry. Wake up, Gay Rights lobby. Having Adam Sandler on your side is a good thing, not a bad thing.

The Come From Behind Award goes to: The Jammed. By far the best Australian film of the year, this compelling, micro-budget drama about the Melbourne sex-slave trade was destined for a straight-to-DVD release before being discovered by audiences who carried it to victory at the IF awards.

And the list goes on.. big shout out to Jim Schembri from The Jammed team, THANK YOU for all of your support!!!Check out his blog here: