I’m sure you’ve met a few budding young film producers whose talent surpasses their budget. There is an ever-growing number of zealous indie filmmakers with extraordinary ideas but limited spend, yet creating a movie remains, resolutely, a costly venture. The result: most would-be, inspired, cinematic brainchilds never make it past the kitchen table.
Officially launched in March this year, The Backlot Studios is a post-production company with a unique philosophy.
Its goal is to be a one-stop-shop, empowering independent Australian filmmakers by providing professional post-production, film distribution and exhibition services to those whose budget isn’t as plentiful as their talent.
With a motto like ‘Globally inspired, locally focussed’, it’s a model that’s set to make a difference.
Chatting with audio engineer Craig Jansen, it’s clear that passion is a driving force behind his work at The Backlot Studios.
A sound designer and composer by trade, Craig shares the reasoning behind The Backlot’s role in the industry: “There’s a massive gap between what you’d class as an indie film and a well-funded $5m film. For a lot of indie producers and directors without the budgets, professional post-production is almost unobtainable.”
The Backlot aims to fill that gap by providing quality post-production services, employing the likes of film mixer Phil Heywood (The Lego Movie, Knowing and The Great Gatsby), while forging long-term relationships with promising filmmakers.
The Backlot studio is equipped to record ADR, foley and even film score tracks.
Craig uses the Euphonix Artist series controllers to provide 32 faders of tactile mixing, with an Avid S3 control surface also available.
Two Avid 16×16 HD I/O units complement the Pro Tools HD rig and nearfield monitoring is provided by the JBL LSR4300 series speakers with its automatic Room Mode Correction. Preamps include Avalon 737-SPs, Focusrite ISA430s and Focusrite Liquids. Outboard compressors are on the shopping list, which Craig says he will eventually use to place over the master output buses.
The Backlot recently opened a studio in Perth and hope to have another in Brisbane by October this year. Each contains the same mixing/monitoring gear so as to provide painless cross-compatibility when previewing or mixing a film nationwide.
The impressive in-house cinema doubles as the mixing theatre with an 8m x 4m screen, Christie digital projection and 7.1 monitoring provided by Krix. Another three production studios are in construction at the Melbourne Southbank site.
Founder Tony Ianiro explains that the purpose behind building a fully-fledged cinema at each property is to provide film producers and crew with the opportunity to preview their creation without having to rent the same experience at a higher price elsewhere.
On top of this, the cinemas are intended to function as a launchpad for independent film releases. The Backlot also hires out the screening rooms for birthday parties, functions and even big-screen gaming!
It’s still early days for The Backlot Studios but both Tony and Craig are quietly confident. One thing is very evident though: nurturing the local film industry is top-priority for these guys. So if you’re involved in any indie productions that are bursting with creativity but lacking a solid compass, point them in The Backlot’s direction.
At the very least, as Tony and Craig note, “the advice is free”, and at best, you might just find your film project is now going places.