LA-based production company, Msquare Productions, have recently opened offices in Sydney. Founded by a dynamic duo, Mia-Danica Jamora and Michael Cristian Greene, they’re entering the Sydney film market with two major international short film productions, The Alpha System (a VFX heavy Fantasy/Action short film shot in L.A.) www.alphasystemmovie.com and Isobel & The Patissier (a Romantic Comedy short film recently shot in Sydney) www.isobelandthepatissier.com. Word is the latter film looks like a $1M flick made on an $8K budget. Cool!
So what’s in it for you my beloved thesps? More opportunities of course, not just here in Australia but Los Angeles too… and that’s for cast AND crew. Here’s what Producer and Creative Director, Mia-Danica Jamora, had to say about a few things:
Why have you opened offices in Sydney?
Sydney holds a very special place in my heart as I’m originally from here.I was very passionate on the idea of expanding the company to a place where I believe has so much talent, potential and growth in our industry. Michael Greene (co-owner) had a chance to experience and see this talent when he first visited, hence why the expansion was inevitable for us.
Will this work as a sister company to your LA offices? If anyone pursues any opportunities with you (in front of or behind camera) does this open doors for them internationally?
Yes, our projects are not just Australian based, nor are our clients or audience. We’re currently in the US and Australian market, however our various projects often involve an international team. For instance with our film ‘The Alpha System’ we have VFX Artists from Europe, India, Australia and America. The benefit of working with us whether you’re an actor on one of our productions, a crew member or even a client, is that we’re constantly pushing our work to be seen in front of our international contacts which works in everyones favour as it provides a larger amount of exposure. We’re also really big on capturing the process that happens BTS. This isn’t just a great way to show the hard work going into the project, but it shows our clients and investors the return on their investment.
What’s the ultimate vision for Msquare Productions?
To have a strong presence in the motion picture industry, and to have a core creative team that grows alongside MSQUARE.
What future opportunities can they expect? Is it possible for actors to email their headshot, cv and web links to you (I would stress no video file attachments)? Are you expanding the team and/or contacts so that any crew can submit their details to you also?
Sending through things to our casting server may be of a disadvantage to actors/crew as we are constantly receiving head shots and CV’s – most of which we look through when we are going through a casting process. My suggestion would be to follow us on Facebook as we update our call outs as soon as we get them through that feed, which means they’ll be sending it through to the allocated casting email at the right time.
How do you conduct your casting process (giving Ozemag actors an insiders look if they should happen to audition for you).
We tend to favour actors that send in a reel for their submission as it gives us an initial look at their acting skills. Once we’ve short listed the submissions we bring them in for the initial casting. Our casting director looks at a number of things upon first approach:
- The actors confidence- theres a huge difference in being comfortable in ones shoes and being cocky. Actors take heed.
- Always bring a professional resume and headshot this may seem like common sense but you’ll be surprised how many people show up with nothing in hand. Bring your sides (if they were provided) as well. Theres nothing worse than looking unprepared.
- Dress appropriately. Enough said.
- Be comfortable looking into the camera and hit the home run your first time up to bat. The first impression could be your last so make it count. Be confident in your craft.
- Your actor is important but your person matters. Walk in with a good attitude be personable and leave saying thank you, it makes a difference to a casting director who’s seen a few hundred people that day.
How on earth did you get sponsorship from Panavision, Digital Logic and others?
We laid out the vision of our production, gave ourselves a deadline and it was reverse engineering from there. We looked at where we wanted ‘Isobel & The Patissier’ to be, what it would be shot on, who would be in it, where we shoot it and the details go on. If you have a clear idea of these goals in addition to a good story and you stay passionate about it, people will listen. If others see this passion they’re more likely to invest in your vision. Its amazing what you can do with dedication, planning and hunger.
How did you overcome filmmaking challenges (offering solutions for other filmmakers)?
Finding the right people, locations and permits can all be major hurdles when doing your production, however most likely financing will always be your biggest challenge. No matter if you’re a hollywood production and your pitching to the studios or if you’re an independent filmmaker trying to get your short film off the ground raising finances for your production takes the right planning, a good strategy and relentless determination. Unfortunately, the nature of making a short film will more than likely mean you’ll have to be out of pocket, this is where your planning and strategy plays a crucial part to help lessen the load. Here’s a few tips to incorporate in any filmmakers fundraising strategy:
- The ‘great story’ – nothing will be more important than how amazing your movie story is. You as the producer need to believe in it more than anyone. Be passionate when you talk about it, get people excited when you discuss its synopsis. If others feel your passion and excitement, you’re more than likely to move them, and often will gain their support.
- Lay out a fundraising game plan – this includes the total estimated funds needed (and add a little bit more on top of that for unexpected expenses….and they will occur), the time frame you have to raise the funds, a list of immediate supporters (relatives, friends, personal networks) and a large list of non-immediate supporters (this would include companies, organisations, philantropists etc). Begin by contacting your immediate networks and make them feel as involved and a part of your team – because if they do support you, they are part of your team! Do not only ask for financial support but ask them to also help spread the word amongst their own networks. Remember to stay excited and passionate as many of them will carry on that excitement if they feel it from you; this creates a chain reaction. As for companies… read on.
- No one likes doing cold calls – I hate doing them. I get nervous and forget what to say. (You’re waiting for the ‘but’, well here it goes). BUT, it’s part of the process unfortunately, and until you’re Steven Speilberg with a line down the street with people asking to fund your next project, you better get comfy with the idea of cold calls. They’ll be your best friend, and once you’ve come to terms with this, you’ll see the magic unfold. Be ready to get a hundred ‘no’s’ before that one ‘yes’. If you stay passionate and you don’t let the rejection get the best of you; you’ll find the companies that will support you.