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In November 2008, American film deal maker Chris Adams was in Australia and talking frankly about how he can take Australian creativity and maximise it, by helping Australians to make better films with better financial returns – and international prospects. This week, three months later, Andrew L. Urban got him on the phone to discover that those plans are going gangbusters.

“It was a wonderful business development opportunity for us,” says Chris Adams from Los Angeles, speaking about the 2008 Screen Producers Association of Australia conference on the Gold Coast in November 2008. “We” being Chris and Australian writer & producer Steve Kearney. By the end of 2009, Chris will have relocated his family to Brisbane (near his Australian in-laws) and his 4 year old son will start Aussie school in February 2010.

But even now, just three months after announcing he wanted to talk turkey with Australian writers, directors and producers, Chris says he and Steve were “overwhelmed by project offers.” They’ve narrowed it down to half a dozen projects to develop, “but we’re equally excited about all the directors and producers we met with new projects where we can attach ourselves,” he says.

"driven by the quality of the screenplays"

Ranging from one extreme of US$500,000 to another of over US$150 million, the diversity of the projects are united by one thing: Chris Adams’ focus on films that work all over the world. “The projects are driven by the quality of the screenplays, but this also makes it easier to leverage the new Producer Offset,” which rebates up to 40% of eligible budget expenditure to the producer.

“I’ve been having an average of 10 meetings a week since I got back to Los Angeles,” says Chris, “and anecdotally I can say that the awareness of the Offset scheme has trickled into Hollywood consciousness – and it rises above the plethora of tax schemes offered around the world.”

The bottom line is, that while global recession is beating up the economy and businesses are panting for economic air, Australia’s film production sector is more attractive to bigger players than ever, says Chris Adams. “I feel that companies financing the Offset are very excited about doing bigger budget movies. And I am hearing that big budget movies with connections to Australia are attractive …”

The not-so-hot US box office results for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, says Chris, has not hurt the Australian film industry. It’s simply not relevant. “People know about the Offset and understand my take on things: that is, let’s take these ideas and stories to the global marketplace.”

The slate so far (all amounts in US $):

1 - Daniel Meadows Project - rough budget of $1.25M, to be made from largely existing videos posted to YouTube, RJ Cutler Directing, Chris Adams Producer/Executive Producer, Steve Kearney Producer Status: Pre Production

2 - Stratosphere - $150M+ budget, in discussions with writer. DEVELOPMENT

3 - Freedom Ride - The Charlie Perkins Story. Budget of $25M, to be shot primarily in Australia, writer being sought, talent being sought, Chris Adams EP, Steve Kearney, Producer. Based on the book of the same name. Rights optioned from Sydney film maker Damien Toogood. STATUS - DEVELOPMENT

4 - Bank CIA - budget $35M - based on the book Sleight of Hand by John Owen - the true story of the Nugan Hand Bank. Chris Adams Executive Producer. Steve Kearney, Producer. Rights optioned from Sydney film maker Damien Toogood. STATUS - DEVELOPMENT

5 - Maestro - based on the book by Peter Goldsworthy. Budget $10M (cast dependent), Catherine Jarvis writer/director, Marco Mehlitz, Daniel Harvey, Brett Popplewell Producers. Chris Adams and Steve Kearney Executive Producers STATUS - FINANCED, SEEKING DISTRIBUTION

6 - Jucy - independent low budget. QLD setting. - Producer Kelly Chapman. Chris Adams and Steve Kearney Executive Producers. STATUS - PRODUCED -SEEKING DISTRIBUTION

7 - Bullet - written by the producer/writer of the Disney Air Bud franchise Paul Tamasy, Australian Brian Trenchard Smith to direct with Vinnie Jones in lead. Adams and Steve Kearney Executive Producers STATUS - SEEKING FINANCE

8 - The Franklin River Story - Director: Anita Ondine budget $20M. STATUS - SEEKING FINANCE

9 - SECOND HAND WEDDING - 2008 top box office grossing film in NZ, Adams/Kearney has exclusive US sales rights

Published February 12, 2009


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Freedom Ride


Chris Adam

Andrew L. Urban’s fist interview with Chris Adamss in November 2008

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