Friday, November 26th, 2010
Note: This feature article was a part of assignment 3 for HEJ606 Advanced Journalism at the University of Tasmania in Semester 2, 2010.
“I’m from Sydney, I moved down six years ago to focus on my film work, my writing and stuff.”
The first thing you notice is enthusiasm to be in the conversation; he’s almost throwing teeth across the table and feeding fingers to the budgerigar to get his story out there. That’s the indie film industry in a nutshell – it’s self motivated, self directed, self promoting. It’s self actualising from the ground up.
“Sydney is a big place that has lots of distractions and it’s a much more expensive place to live,” he says. “So I figured if I moved to Tasmania it might put me in a hard practical situation but it would force me to focus on what I wanted to focus on. And it’s working really well.”
The everyday world imagines Sydney-born Dan Weavell as an indie filmmaker, soundman, writer, director and producer. He relaxes at an upper-level window table of the Criterion Café in Hobart’s Central Business District enjoying the opportunity to discuss his passion – the Tasmanian indie film industry. Dan’s a thin guy, 31 years old, unfettered by creative ambition and intentionally understated – if he were a bottle of wine in the foyer of North Hobart’s State Cinema a critic might describe him as being ‘of a very good year without the hint of arrogance one would assume from that vintage’.
Dan wears a dated earthy-green tweed jacket with the sleeves rolled up two-parts to the elbow and drinks the mocha he ordered with delicate and expressive vein laden hands that attest life and filmmaking are all about hard work and sweating out the details. His sunglasses are pushed back like a torso-less rodeo wrangler and that impression is only heightened by the four or five sharp turrets of hair manufacturing themselves around the black plastic ear stems.
Dan Weavell looks every part the multi-talented and highly respected passionate filmmaker that the Tasmanian taxpayer has been investing in.
There is little doubt that nurturing a local film industry is an expensive journey and the local industry’s responsible government body, Screen Tasmania, has been defensive about public criticism. Two months ago, at the end of July, The Mercury ran a scathing article written by Damien Brown titled ‘Tassie’s film funding flop’. The premise of the article was that statistical figures, released under Freedom of Information legislation, show a disparate waste of public funds. The report, supplied to the Tasmanian Government by the Nous Group, an independent management consultancy based in Melbourne, was highly critical of Screen Tasmania’s grants process and recommended it be changed.
Those figures in isolation sound damning – Tasmania’s $4.3 million in grant funding over the last decade has only seen 6 per cent of funded projects go into production. This is against the national average of 10 per cent. The rate of Screen Tasmania funded projects that don’t go anywhere is a disconcerting 76 per cent.