Debut director's tips for success
WHEN Galvin Scott Davis flew to LA this year he had three goals.
"I wanted to come back with one award, an 'attachment' to my next project, a US agent and a three picture deal," Scott Davis said. "I got them all but the three picture deal."
Scott Davis' 10-minute psychological thriller, Brother, marked his directional debut and it actually won him a number of awards in LA film festivals. It also landed him separate "big" agents in both LA and Sydney. His feature screenplay Stricken is currently being shop around LA. Meanwhile, The Room is finding support locally including an "attachment", which means a big name, in this case an actor, but Scott Davis cannot share the news just yet.
What he can share is his tips for succeeding in film.
Get a 'day' job
Scott Davis' dad told him to 'get a trade', so he went to design school as well as taking acting classes. "Dad's advice still pays my rent every week," he said. He set up multimedia agency Protein One in 2003, "which pays for Protein Films". Protein operates out of the Sydney office of visual effects firm Rising Sun Pictures' [RSP credits include Charlotte's Web, Superman, Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins]. "It's been great to build a business within a business I admire," Scott Davis said.
Taking every opportunity to learn
"Learn in front of the camera, learn behind the camera - it is all valuable. When I was acting, I would ask questions of the director of photography between takes. Whatever you learn - acting, lighting, how to load film - it's all useful," he said.
Set goals and surround yourself with good people
"Some people do 20 short films before making a feature. I only ever wanted to do one, so I set out to make that short film the very best it could be. I shot on 35 mm and got the best possible people on board," Scott Davis said.
His crew included AFI award-winning cinematographer Anthony Jennings and veteran actor Linal Haft.
Work hard and prepare for knock backs
"You have to be prepared to be told every week that you're not good enough," Scott Davis said. "You also have to expect to do everything yourself - nobody is going to do it for you or make it easy for you."
When applying for funding for Brother from the NSW Film & Television Office, Scott Davis presented not just a script but also a marketing plan complete with poster art and DVD packaging.
"You have to be a hard worker because you might only get one shot so when it comes you need to make the most of it," he said.
Scott Davis also went the extra kilometre when in LA supporting his film. He took over 35 copies of his film packaged to look like a special edition DVD feature film.
"I bought a Hollywood Directory, looked up the names of important film contacts and media and sent out the copies. We had also made up flyers that I passed out on the street before the screenings and then after we won, I followed up with everyone I had sent copies of the film to," he said.
"I got a call from the VP of acquisitions at The Weinstein Company asking me to lunch," he recalls. "Her secretary was about to put our film on the self with the other 2,000 films sent in but the packaging really impressed her so she showed it to her boss," he said.
The VP was curious enough to take a look at the film and after watching it she called Scott Davis immediately. He said the extra effort was what made the difference and landed him a new and important contact.
Galvin Scott Davis
Education & Training
Drama classes with UK theatre director Malcolm Knight
London College of Printing & Design (now called the London College of Communication). The four-year apprenticeship included three years of study.
Tuition with Richard Wherrett
Assorted writing workshops
Member of the Australian Writers Guild since 2003.
Career high points
Winning the awards for Brother (2006)
Securing a high-profile agent in Australia - RGM (2006)
Securing an agent in the US - the Rose Brant Agency (2006)
Lunch with the VP of acquisitions at The Weinstein Company (2006)
Wrote, directed, co-starred in and produced Brother (2005)
Founding Protein One and Protein Films (2003)
Awards for film Brother
Co-wrote Seen (Galvin's first short story), which was a finalist in the "747 competition" sponsored organised by Inside Film magazine and Fox Studio (2002).
Screenplay Stricken was selected as a Quarterfinalist in the American Screenwriting Competition (2003).
French writer, actor, director Mathieu Kassovitz [Amelie; Munich; Gothika]
Australian-born Hollywood screen writer Stuart_Beattie [Pirates of the Caribbean; Curse of the Black Pearl]
By Kate Southam, Editor of careerone.com.au