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Podcast 04 – LA based Executive Jason Brubaker – Getting your film distributed to a world wide audience.

September 6, 2017 by · Comments Off on Podcast 04 – LA based Executive Jason Brubaker – Getting your film distributed to a world wide audience. 

LA based Film Distribution Executive Jason Brubaker tells you how to get your film distributed and seen by the biggest possible audience.   Player at end of page

Jason articulates the very best process to attract the biggest possible audience. He is an executive at one of the primary aggregators , Distribber in Los Angeles. If you want to get on iTunes, Hulu, Google Play, Vimeo on Demand and many more Video on Demand platforms, Distribber is one of the aggregators, you have to submit your work to. This is a must listen to podcast for the filmmaker who has made or is aspiring to make a movie. The podcast will also be of much interest to the film buff who wants to learn about the current film distribution landscape.

Podcast 03 – Working as a Crew member on Hollywood Blockbuster movies and how you can break in.

June 25, 2017 by · Comments Off on Podcast 03 – Working as a Crew member on Hollywood Blockbuster movies and how you can break in. 

Leroy Page:  How to Break into the Big End Film Productions as a Crew member rand how to behave on big film sets with movies stars.  Player at end of page

I have a great podcast this month with Leroy Page, crew member extraordinaire. He has worked on big Hollywood fare here in Australia and has met every star that has worked on these movies. In many cases he has become good friends with them.  Here are some of his credits

·         Aquaman

·         Alien Covenant

·         The Matrix 1,2,3

·         The Great Gatsby

·        Pirates of caribbean 5

·         Mission Impossible

·         And many more movies

In this podcast he will talk about what is necessary to break in as a crew member and work on big movies. He will also talk about how to behave with movie stars so that they may actually like you and treat you well.  

This is fascinating discussion about movie stars and working as a crew member on big movies and invaluable to the up and coming filmmaker and film enthusiasts alike. It is also an entertaining discussion


Colm O’Murchu      Director

If you need filmmaking training to you need a restart in filmmaking, please go to our training on this link.

Podcast 02 – The Process of Editing

June 13, 2017 by · Comments Off on Podcast 02 – The Process of Editing 

It is Colm O’Murchu your host for Filmmaking 101 with Podcast 2.

This week it is just me on my own. Currently I am editing Tabernacle 101 our new one hour 45 minute movie that will be on worldwide release in 2018.

Editing is where the movie is made and the edit decisions and creativity determine the success of any movie. I speak about my process and what I do when I edit my movies.

You can see examples of this on Dealing with Destiny a movie I made some years ago.  Please also note that we have training and film courses for the determined keen filmmaker or enthusiastic beginner on this page.

Podcast Number 1 – Find out how Filmmaker Jon Cohen made his movie Ravenswood and found his audience.

May 23, 2017 by · Comments Off on Podcast Number 1 – Find out how Filmmaker Jon Cohen made his movie Ravenswood and found his audience. 

Today is a very exciting day for me. This is my first of many future podcasts.

In future  podcasts, you will hear from experienced filmmakers. You will hear how they made their movies and found their audience.
This podcast will help the emerging filmmaker to chart their own course to make their own movies and get them seen.

This episode is a fascinating chat with Filmmaker Jon Cohen about his most recent movie Ravenswood.  He made the movie on a budget of 30K and then found distribution in the US and Canada via his sales agent. You can see the trailer here.

As always if you would love to learn filmmaking with the best training in the world, please explore here.

Hear the story of how Jon did it in the following podcast.

20th Anniversary of Australian Film Base – plus my top 8 hot tips for the indie Filmmaker

May 16, 2017 by · Comments Off on 20th Anniversary of Australian Film Base – plus my top 8 hot tips for the indie Filmmaker 

Today is a retro post with my 8 top tips for the Indie Filmmaker at the end of this post. It is now 20 years since we first started our production company Sydney Film Base. At the time we shot numerous music videos, corporates and short films and decided this is how we wanted to earn our living.

We also started the first filmmaking course in May 1997, back in the last century. Since then, I personally have earned my living only from film production or film training. I have never worked for anyone else and have never had to do a day job for money. I have travelled the world and has generally a great time.

As a result of the three month film course , many filmmakers have gone on to make their own film careers and have made some spectacular films. Jack Kelly, Eddie Arya and Sean Smith  who started with us as beginners on one of our film courses years ago are now established filmmakers and part-time teachers on the 3 month film course. Their passion fuels their desire to make films.

In 20 years hundreds of short films have been made on the film courses or as a result of the film courses and many people have made their dreams a reality. Eddie Arya is now on to his third feature film.

In that time, I have personally made four full length feature films that have sold worldwide and had substantial releases in Australia. You can watch both of them on OZFLIX (Links below)

Below,I have listed off the three more recent movies that we have made and details about their releases

Tabernacle 101 is a one hour forty five minute feature film currently in
postproduction.It will be completed in October 2017 and will be previewed and sold to the world wide market at  the prestigious American Film Market in Lost Angeles in November 2017 .

This movie was spooky to shoot and so many strange and unexplained events happened on set.  My production team and I feel we have a very spooky movie that will scare the audience.


Dealing with Destiny: Feature Film 90 minutes Starring Luke Arnold 

  • Nationwide Cinema Release Australia.
  • See Dealing with Destiny now on  OZFLIX  
  • Available on iTunes.

This is a $1 million budget  feature film, made in Australia. I was hired as the Film Director. The film is about the final day of four university students who go on a final day muck up that ends in total mayhem. The film stars Luke Arnold who played Michael Hutchinson of INXS fame in the TV series “Never tear us apart”.  He also played John Silver in Black Sail.  He is now staring in a Hollywood movie directed and starring Heather Graham , Half Magic. It is always great to see actors you have cast go to Hollywood.


The Makeover Trailers –  100 minutes Feature Film –
See it on OzFlix 

  •  Watched 2.701,203  times online and averages about 6000 views per day. 
  • Released Australia New Zealand on DVD everywhere.
  • Oz Flicks
  • iTunes America
  • Pay TV America
  • Pay TV Europe
  • Best Comedy Drama at the New York Film Festival.
  • Available right now on Ozflix 

I Produced wrote and directed and edited this film. I even acted in one scene. The Makeover is a 100 minute feature film staring Lara Cox and Martin Dingle-Wall.  

The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York Downtown Film Festival. The film was also sold to Pay TV in Europe and on Pay Per view everywhere in the USA. The Makeover has come a viral success on the internet with over 1 million views online and watched thousands of times per day all over the world.

Released on DVD with Blockbuster  everywhere in Australia and New Zealand and on Quickflix (Australian Netflix)  April 2011.

To help you, here is my take and eight hot tips

  • You make a movie when you decide to. Set a deadline and break it down into steps.
  • There is no better learning curve than making a movie
  • Think Audience. Set a target eyeballs that will see your finished movie and go after your audience for your film.
  • People will watch your feature movie in 50 years. Do your level best to make the best movie.
  • Enjoy the process of making your movie
  • Have the best mentors. (For example an excellent film course will help you here
  • Remember setbacks and challenges happen the most experienced and famous filmmaker. Decide that you will overcome what ever is placed in your path.
  • Do as James Cameron suggests. Set a crazy out of reach and massive goal with your movie. If you fail, it will be more than a likely another person’s success and much higher than if you did not set an exceptional goal.

To your filmmaking dreams

Colm O’Murchu

Editing, one of the most important filmmaking skills

May 3, 2017 by · Comments Off on Editing, one of the most important filmmaking skills 

At this moment,  I am editing Tabernacle 101, our 110 minute supernatural thriller movie. I am up at 5am every morning and edit to about 11am and in that time I edit about 1 – 2 scenes per day. There are 150 scenes in the movie, so I expect to complete the first cut during the first two weeks of July.

As I have edited films for over 25 years now and started on steanback flat tables back in the day, I would like to help you with some important advise with editing.

There is quick editing and there is slow editing. Rarely is quick editing any good. On my film courses, I always do my very best to teach, up and coming filmmakers to slow down.  Be fastidious and detailed with their edits and the result will be so much better.

Watch every single take and every single shot that you have shot listed for your scene. Mark off the good sections of each take and you can type in comments for later. When I watch my coverage, I am looking for the best performance from my actors. Therefore as I watch the raw footage,  I am detailing what is best for the edit. I usually have 8 – 10 shots per scene with an average of 4 – 8 takes per shot. That means I usually detail 40 – 50 clips per scene.  That takes about an hour to an hour and a half to watch.

A slow editor watches and details every single clip. A fast editor takes short cuts and cherry picks takes. There is an impatience to get the edit completed. This leads to a poor cut. So slow down and watch every single take and every single clip that you have shot. I type in comments on the best takes so I will know later what is best for the edit.

I enjoy the process of editing the film and take my time. I know, the awards are later with the best possible cut of the film. It may take me an hour to an hour and half to watch every clip. The rule is that I spend as long as it takes.

Once I have watched every single take, I have a  coffee break for 15 minutes.  I need this break to let all of the takes I have watched sink in to my unconsoicous mind.

Then I start to edit. Often the first couple of cuts are the most challenging. Once the cut gets going, a certain rythm sets in and editing comes effortless and fluid. I compare this to a musiscian composing music or a cook creating a great dish.  This is where talent and practice combine to make a great cut.

Often I will have side by sides to make sure that I get the best performance.  A side by side is placing Take 1  , 2  ,3 and  4 side by side on the sequence  to see which is the best performance for that line. It is so easy to see the best performance when you see the same line said four different ways. I pick the best one.

When I do this as the director of the film, I am doing the actor and the film a great service  . Eventually 45 minutes to an hour  or so later I have  a very good cut of the scene.

In low budget filmmaking, editing is a really important skill to learn. You can find a professional editor to edit your film and if time is important this is quicker than learning on your own.

Make sure you work closely with your editor and watch every single take and makes sure that he or she marks off the clips with your thoughts on performance and the takes. Back in the day, we used to have rushes screenings every night after shooting where this process would happen with the editor. I have noticed that at the low budget end of filmmaking, this rarely happens these days.

How does one learn film editing?  First find the best editing software. At International Film Base, we recommend Adobe Premiere Pro. Google it. It usually comes as part of a package called Adobe Premiere Pro CC

They have excellent video tutorials. online and one can learn film editing on their own. This of course is the hard way. I honestly recommend that you learn filmmaking on a reputable film course and learn how to shoot a scene and then how to edit a film by actually doing it on a film course.   On our 3 Month Film Courses we do have post production covered. We have also edit coaches whereby you hire an edit coach to teach you one one one editing. This is the best way of all to learn editing. One can learn the software and editing skills quickly this way. Edit coaching is open to people who have graduated from our 3 month film courses.

Editing is fun but learning how to edit can be  a challenge. Practice makes perfect and the more you actually edit your films, the better you will get.

Till next time, all the very best with your filmmaking ambition

Colm O ‘ Murchu – Director

Philip Seymour Hoffman – What a loss to the film world

February 3, 2014 by · Comments Off on Philip Seymour Hoffman – What a loss to the film world 

imgresI woke up this morning and heard the very sad news that one of America’s best actors Philip Seymour Hoffman had died of an apparent drug overdose.  This is such a loss to the acting world and the film world for that matter He was only 46 years of age and had always delivered powerful performances on screen.

I thought today as tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman,  I would add in a trailer for his most important film role as Capote. He won an Oscar for Best Actor for this film.

Capote Trailer 


Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now.

October 16, 2013 by · Comments Off on Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now. 

Today, I would like to talk about the holy grail of Film Making, The Feature Film.

Cast an Director on The Makeover

Cast and Director on “The Makeover”

Some of you may feel like the Feature Film Production is an impossible task, only for the lucky determined few who can navigate the funding bodies and Distributors.  Today, I would like to talk about the possibility of making your feature film as soon as you can.

Of course, one should always learn film making via making short films first.  The reason for this is that it is an inexpensive way to learn from your mistakes and gain the valuable experience to make an idependent feature film when you have the experience of making successful short films.

Our Mini Jib used on  The Makeover

Our Mini Jib used on “The Makeover”

However, when you are ready to make a feature film, it can seem like an impossible task.  I would like to talk about the Weekend Feature Film. Many film makers have used this approach in the past.  The reason is that it is a very inexpensive way to make a long format film.

In 2007, we decided to take that approach and make a feature film on the weekend with no budget raised.  Instead, we cash flowed the film as we made it.  We made this a very enjoyable challenge.

Over 14 months, we shot our 95 minute feature film, “The Makeover”.  It took ten weekends with an average of three shooting days per shooting weekend.  Therefore, we shot on thirty days over 14 months which was the equivalent of 30 Shooting Days or a six week shoot on a normal feature film.  This shooting schedule is adequate to make a professional feature film.  We started at Easter, 2007, and completed it in May, 2008.

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

I did not complete post production till mid 2009 and then hit the festival circuit and promoted the film.  It was tremendous fun and in the end we had a saleable product.  However, the best part was the cost.

Each three day weekend Shoot cost, on average, $3000 which was saved and cash flowed on every weekend.  The total shoot cost was $30,000 spread over 14 months.  Most Indie feature films have budgets ranging from $1million – $20 million.  The Australian feature film, “The Sapphires”, cost $10million.  So how would you like to shoot a film for $30,000?

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High. Yes, it was worth it.

Yes, one has to be clever and get most locations for a contra promotion and for Zero cost.  We owned our own film equipment to the value of $20,000.  All our crew were co- owners of the film and therefore contributed their time and effort to the film they part-owned.  Yes, one had to be clever and determined. However, money was not the barrier.

The point is that it is far better to be making a film than talking about it.  One can make a micro budget feature on the weekend while raising a budget for the $1 million dollar film and have two projects on the go.

Once again, I must add that we shot ”The Makeover” for $30,000.  However, Post Production did cost a considerable amount after the shoot and had to be cash-flowed.

  1. I edited the film myself (Free)

    Cafe Scene The Makeover

    Cafe Scene “The Makeover”

  2. I paid my composer $5,000
  3. I paid my Sound Post person $5,000
  4. Colouring cost $5,000
  5. Final Post and Deliverables were $10,000

Yes, the above five elements cost another $25,000.

Now let’ s mention the promotion and sales over two years.

  1. Film Marketing Materials cost $5,000
  2. Film Festival Entries were $7,000
  3. Film Markets and Promotions cost $25,000
Shooting Bar Scene The Makeover

Shooting Bar Scene “The Makeover”

This totals another $37,000.  Other expenses relating to the film included Censor Rating and other issues to the value of $15,000.

The Total Budget in the end was $103,000 cash flowed over four years.

This is still very inexpensive.  If I was to make the film again on the weekends I could do this slightly cheaper, knowing what I know now.  But not by much.  Here is what I estimate it would cost now if one owns their own film equipment.

1.  Shoot  $30,000
2.  Post    $30,000
3.  Marketing and Promotions  $30,000

Directing Cafe Scene The Makeover

Exterior Manly Beach

How did “The Makeover” fare in the world market?

Film Festival Screenings
1.  Cannes Independent Film Festival 2010
2.  New York Film Festival Best Comedy Drama 2010
3.  Screening American Film Market, Los Angeles 2010

Sales Worldwide

  1. Australia: DVD Release in Australia and New Zealand in all DVD Blockbusters and shops
  2. Europe: Pay TV
  3. America: Pay Per View Cable
  4. ITUNES Movie Release 2011 US only
  5. VOD available on many different VOD Platforms

Top 10 Movies on YouTube for 2012-13
As of today, the film has been watched on Youtube 1,084,196 times.On Set The Makeover

In my opinion, this is not that bad for a film that was shot on $30,000.  In 2007, one had to shoot on the most basic of cameras, if one was shooting on a low budget.

Today, one could shoot their film on a Cannon C300 or if one can on the Red Epic or Scarlet and shoot a film that looks like a big budget film.  If you want to learn how to shoot a your film professionally and make a film for a very low budget, please enrol on the 4 Month Film School.

In any case, I am looking forward to shooting my next film “Absolute Freedom” on close to a million dollars in the outback with the Red Camera.  Please follow the adventure via this blog.

If you made it this far, please watch the trailer for “The Makeover”.

“The Makeover Trailers –  100 minutes Feature Film 

The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York Downtown Film Festival.  The film was also sold to Pay TV in Europe and has come  a viral success on the net.








29 Days to Screenplay Heaven.

September 25, 2013 by · Comments Off on 29 Days to Screenplay Heaven. 

Its taken 29 days exactly to complete the first draft of  ’Absolute Freedom’.  In the hope of helping you with your own projects, I would like to share my own experience writing the screenplay.

Writing the Final Scene for the screenplay Absolute Freedom Date 19th September

Writing the Final Scene for the screenplay Absolute Freedom Date 19th September

Before ‘Absolute Freedom’, I have written 7 full length feature screenplays, two of which have been made into movies.  My third  will be ‘Absolute Freedom’ which will  be produced in 2014.  Here are my observations on my experiences writing the first draft of the  screenplay ‘Absolute Freedom’.

1. It was so much fun this time.

Yes, I cut off the phones and did not look at an email on every single morning that I wrote.  The hardest part was when I had to stop.  This time it was very exciting.  In fact, it was the first time I felt nervous about the day’s writing at the start.

2. The importance of a really good screenplay.

I am very aware that every scene that I write effects a full on crew and cast shooting the scenes in March-April, 2014.  I am also aware that millions of people around the world will see the film.  The creations on the page now are what they will spend part of their life watching as a movie in late 2014 to  2015 and beyond.  I must emphasise that creating an outstanding screenplay affects the whole production process down the line.  If the script is hot, the crew and cast are excited and into the film.  Likewise the opposite is true when the script is lame.

2. Writing pace and stats.  

I started on Thursday, August 22nd, and finished the last page on Thursday, August 19th. Each writing session was about 2-3 hours long.  So you could say that I wrote the screenplay in four weeks.  However, on closer inspection, I averaged about 4-5 pages per day and wrote on average 4-5 days per week.  I took Saturdays and Sundays off.  The total screenplay is 96 pages long so in the the 29 day period I wrote for 21 dDays.

3. The writing zone. 

The most challenging draft is the first draft of the screenplay.  The writer faces blank

The Final Scene Absolute Freedom

The Final Scene Absolute Freedom

white emptiness when one sits down in the morning.  The Director has a screenplay to work off.  The Editor has the shots covering the scenes to work off. The Writer only has his or her creativity.   I believe the writer needs a creative zone seperated from other people and interuptions.  To write well, one needs to dive deeply.  David Lynch expressed his thoughts about the writer’s zone in his recent book.  He compared screenwriting to diving for fish.  In the shallow waters, one only finds small fish.  One needs to go deep, to find the big fish.

I personally wrote only in the morning.  Normal work happened in the afternoon.  When I concluded writing at 12.30pm and had to go to work at International Film Base in the afternoon, I found it hard to seperate from my story.  I personally found that I suffered Left Brain Syndrome where your mind wanted to stay in the very pleasant world of creativity and resisted the drag to Right Brain Reality of logic and organization.

I assume this is why so many writers will cut themselves off from all distractions and find a cottage in the middle of some mountainous valley.  They need to access the zone.

I started the 2nd draft on Monday, 22nd September, and I should have the 2nd draft completed by the end of this week.  All the people who I have promised the script to by the end of the month, shall read ‘Absolute Freedom’ early next week.

To conclude, all the preparation before I wrote the first draft paid off handsomely.  Having my 30 page Story Event Document meant that I always knew where I was going with the story.  Spending time on my intensive preparation was so essential to the writing process on the First Draft of ‘Absolute Freedom’.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on the writing process.



Should I hire a professional DOP or shoot from the hip?

September 11, 2013 by · Comments Off on Should I hire a professional DOP or shoot from the hip? 

UnknownShould I shoot my own film or hire an experienced DOP (Cinematographer)?  This is a question that I am asked by my clients on a regular basis.  So here is my take on this all important question.

I believe that if you do not intend to earn a living from shooting films,  hiring a professional DOP is the best option.  This means you can focus on the job at hand - producing and directing your film.

Most Film Directors have never trained as DOPs.  The Film Directors who make Hollywood films and big budget independent films, always hire a Director of Photography who takes care of the technical aspects of shooting the film.  The DOP in turn will then hire their camera operators on a big budget film.  This is how it has happened since the early days of Hollywood and how it happens today at the top end of Film Making.

images-3In small independent films, the lines between DOP, Camera Operator and Director are more blurred.  One extreme example is El Mariachi where Robert Rodrigos was an all up one man crew directing the film and shooting the film as best as he could.  The book “Rebel without a Crew” is a great read and talks about Robert’s adventure shooting El Mariachi with a crew of only one.

My feeling is this.  As a Film Director, you want to be like the General looking at every aspect of the film.  You want to be like Steve Jobs and have the vision for the project and imbue your vision through to your creative crew.  Hiring an expert DOP will improve the quality of your film dramatically.

Unknown-1Matt Smith hired me as his DOP on “Repressed” (please have a look).  This meant that he could add his vision to my cinematography skills and get the film that he wanted.  I was able to help him get the visual look that was needed for the film.  I spent a full day on the various locations in pre-production planning the shot list.  Matt also had ideas visually for the film and as a result a wonderful collaboration happened with a great result, a short film that looks awesome.  Matt actually edited “Repressed”.  What a great job!

Hiring professionals will increase the success of your film.  Remember the Director in the indie film world will usually get the credit for the successful film and not the DOP or the Editor.  So why make life hard for yourself?

If you shoot the film yourself, it might be  a lot of fun.  However, if you are inexperienced, it is likely that you will make many mistakes and shoot films with lack of coverage, ultimately ending in a poor film.

imagesIf your goal is to use several films learning via mistakes and you are not worried by the results of your film, well this might be a fun way to go.  If your goal is to earn money as a gun for hire DOP, it is important to learn how to be an expert DOP via shooting as many films.

However, if your goal is to become a successful film director as quick as possible, shooting your own films is not a great way to proceed.  Hiring a professional DOP is the way forward and should be part of your production plan for your film productions.

Unknown-3Hiring an experienced DOP Pros and Cons

Pros for hiring a DOP:

  1. You get great shots and coverage for your edit
  2. The Film looks much better and has the professional sheen
  3. You can find a collaborator in the DOP you choose that will stay with you on many future films
  4. It is much less stress

Cons for hiring a DOP:

  1. You might have creative clashes with your DOP
  2. You might feel that  your vision for the look of the film is not adhered to
  3. You might choose the wrong DOP
  4. Good DOPs cost money; all good professionals do

Most of the above cons can be alleviated if you check out your DOP.  Check how you feel intuitively with the DOP when you first meet him or her.
See the films that he or she has shot before.  Do not look at showreels.  See the full film. Make sure their previous work is exceptional as that is exactly what you will get.  A great way to get value when you hire a DOP is to ask them to throw in all the cameras and lights equipment with their labor in a daily capped fee.  This way you can get the equipment as part of the deal.

Unknown-2Trying to do it all yourself usually leads to an amateur result unless you have been trained in cinematography and have shot many low budget short films.  Here are the suggestions for hiring a DOP:

  1. Look at our Services page
  2. Place in Google Search one or all of the following Keywords: DOPs, DOP Agents, Cinematographers
  3. Star Now

However, I highly recommend that you learn as much as you can about cinematography and shot listing for a scene when you are learning film making craft.  This way you will be able to communicate with your DOP and get the result you are after.  One way, of course, of learning about cinematography is to book on to a film school that teaches you all the technical side of film making.  Make sure you get to do all the crew roles.  That is the why we created the ’4 Month Film School’ so you get to sample all the crew roles.  This will ultimately make you a better Film Director in the long run.

Colm O’Murchu      Director

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