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Dustin Clare & Camille Keenan from the film SUNDAY, photo: Jim Lounsbury
Dustin Clare & Camille Keenan from the film SUNDAY, photo: Jim Lounsbury

Q & A with Fighting Chance Films

Gallery Coordinator, Lee Mathers catches up with Dustin Clare from Fighting Chance Films (FCF), Ignite Studios @ NRCG newest resident company.

LM: Tell us about Fighting Chance Films?

FCF: "Fighting Chance Films is an independent film production, distribution and sales company, the distribution and sales side of the Buisness came to be after my wife Camille and I produced the feature film Sunday that I distributed and sold. Fighting Chance Films had made all these great contacts with exhibitors, aggregators, broadcasters and streaming services from that film and there was a real gap in the market servicing independent film, and I was able to help get some stories to audiences that otherwise would not get a chance to be seen. There is a vast array of quality films, that challenge audiences or have real integrity that are just getting missed. Not picked up by distributors or represented by sales agents for a variety of reasons, but films that none the less are of real quality and substance. I thought we could help those films get an audience and get seen and return revenue to independent film producers."

LM: What's in store for FCF over the next few years particularly living and working in Northern NSW?

FCF: "We are investing in film production and rights management of titles domestically, growing global relationships and contacts for the benefit of our film catalogue internationally. Our ambition is to grow the buisness and create opportunities locally for employment and domestically for film investment, while expanding our reach in the global marketplace. Our longer term strategy is to have a satellite office in Los Angeles where we can have a closer on the ground connection to the American market from the the standpoint of investment, production and sales. We want to be able to continue to operate the core Buisness locally in the Northern Rivers."

LM: What's behind the name FCF

FCF: "The name was really born out of the indefatigable Australian spirit to fight on in the face of adversity or insurmountable odds and to give yourself a fighting chance, a chance ground out through real grit and determination, and that is what independent film is often doing, it's not gifted or awarded, it's fought for. I think both documentary and narrative filmmaking have the power to affect, to educate, to shine a light on another perspective of an argument, to evoke genuine change, to bring attention to certain issues that we are facing currently within our society and be able to present a view, and in some instances real change is made. Conversation is sparked, ideas are tested and challenged, and debate ensues, debate is the cornerstone of the development of our ideals as a society. When debate becomes muted, or shut down, or free speech becomes muzzled, we as a country loose our ability to develop and to challenge our own sense of who we are and where we come from, of what makes us together a nation. Film has the ability to spark that debate, and to challenge individual viewpoints. In the end, story is what we are all drawn to as human beings, it's then our own individual perception of the narrative and how that affects us that determines our opinion. I would like to think the films that we represent have a sense of balance and help to develop and challenge a multifaceted audience."

LM: How is the independent film industry evolving, particularly with new online distribution opportunities such as Amazon Prime?

FCF: "The pathways to audience have changed and are constantly changing rapidly. Companies need to be nimble enough to transition quickly, and tech savvy enough to see the opportunities when they arise in small windows to be able to make sure they get a share of the realestate. The ability to reach large audiences through service providers like iTunes, Amazon or google play is a boon for filmmakers, but that transactional VOD window is also fast moving on to subscription video services and those licensing fees are a lot smaller to those of the traditional TV broadcast fees, so while opportunities to access audience grow, downward pressure on licensing fees increases. The next frontier I believe will be along rights management and digital ownership, legal copyright, and how the payment and tracking of rights ownership will be simplified and streamlined in the digital space, removing multiple middle men and the constant skimming of transactions, working towards the simplification of revenue streams is where we aim to land as a newer entrant company, clearer, fairer, transparent transacting is what our industry needs and what we want to be a part of providing."

LM: Give us the Ignite Studios @ NRCG lowdown... how are you liking it so far??

FCF: "It's a positive for the Northern Rivers and Ballina in particular to be able to have a precinct that is arts based, that is supporting local practices and companies to grow and create jobs and opportunities for the future creatives of the region. Ballina Shire Council should be acknowledged for the risk it has taken in providing a space to start this precinct with and not just selling an asset on, and the council should be encouraged to grow on it. The ability to grow the creative industries and the jobs of the future in a regional area will be an important piece of the future economy as we see a shift in the jobs market."

LM: Any FCF screenings or events readers should watch out for?

FCF: "At FCF we released earlier this year the doco 'The End of Meat' about the growth of the synthetic meat industry and the challenges facing diets globally in terms of maintaining our consumption of meat, April 1 we released doco 'Fish Out of Water', The extraordinary story of two ordinary men who dared to cross the North Atlantic Ocean, in a wooden row boat. We release 'The Meaning of Vanlife' exclusive to Stan in Australia April 26 that we also produced with Sydney based Cubic Films, an adventurous and revealing look into the Vanlife community through the eyes of a new generation of nomads who have chosen to live a life of freedom on the road. Our fourth release this year will be 'Watch the Sunset', Australia's first one shot feature film, that has had fantastic festival and awards success for the filmmakers and is a technical triumph, a true piece of independent cinema fighting on.

// END //

Dustin Clare is also the chairperson of not for profit Regional Screen organisation Screenworks, who also reside in Ballina NSW. Screenworks is helping to grow opportunities, creative networks and provide training for regionally based Screen practitioners.

Visit FCF Website

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