ADAMS, CHRIS + AUSTRALIAN FILMS = A BIGGER PICTURE
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
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
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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Andrew L. Urban’s fist interview with Chris Adamss in November 2008