Julian Roberts is a screenwriter, director and producer. He opened his film production company Arc Storm Pictures in 2011 and currently he is working on his upcoming film Before Dawn.
I welcome you Julian at SANGKRIT, please tell our netizens about yourself?
Ever since I was a kid I loved movies, my dad and I use to go to the movies every week but the film that really made me want to be a filmmaker was “Raiders of The Lost Ark” as a kid it was the greatest thing I had ever seen, I have lost track of how many times I have seen that film. I grew up on a diet of 80’s and 90’s films like The Goonies, The Karate Kid, Fright Night, Red Dawn, Highlander, Aliens, Top Gun, Jaws, Goodfellas, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, Predator, Robocop, Rambo, Casino, Platoon, Wall Street and many other classic films..
At the time I had no idea how to become a filmmaker as a kid and being extremely shy at school I use to skip class and go to the cinema, pay for one film and sneak into others all day. I think I spent more time at school in Saturday detention then I ever did in class but for me that was my film school.
When I finished high school I got into Business and IT at University but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do at the time I was lost so I deferred and never went back. I ended up getting a job in a nightclub where I worked for 4 years beginning as a bus boy and working my way up through the bar and to supervisor, but still I felt something was missing in my life. My cousin was getting Married in the UK so I decided to go to the wedding and spend some time traveling, I spent 6 months in London and Scotland and I was planning on attending the London Film School but ran out of money and returned to Australia, despondent.
I returned to my old job and ran across and article about a film school so I called up and there as only a couple of days left to enroll, but I didn’t have anything to show them so I grabbed my video camera I bought to take overseas with me and basically filmed pictures of boats from a book, using the zoom in and out buttons to make the boats look like they were moving and added some music in all done in camera. At the interview the teachers thought what I had done was creative and resourceful for the equipment I had. Over the next two years I made a handful of shorts and wrote a couple of feature length screenplays.
Out of film school I took my screenplays to some production companies who read the scripts and liked them but I was told I was too young and to come back when I was older. Again despondent I slowly faded away into a haze of working in hospitality where I did very well but it was never my passion. Ten years later I was on a tram one night after work heading home, when I ran into a friend from film school who was making his first feature film that he had raised private financing for to make a low budget independent horror film. Suddenly I was motivated again and wrote a script for a horror film that I had been thinking about for a while, I showed it to my friend and he liked it but said it would cost too much to make for my first film so I went the other way and wrote another screenplay that was more contained and focused more on the tension and fear inside this house between a kidnapped family working together with their kidnappers to survive the night from a group of ravenous zombies. The film would focus more on the relationships inside the house than the horror on the outside.
Once I had completed several drafts of the script I sent it to an Australian actor I had always admired Marcus Graham, who was known for doing low budget films if he liked the script, he loved my script and said “Lets do it” . So we filmed a short mood piece to show to investors, which we finished earlier this year and I am now trying to raise development funds to get legal contracts ready for an investor info night where we will pitch the film to a group of pre-selected professional investors.
How long have you been working on this project for?
I started work on the screenplay approximately two years ago and it has gone through seven drafts to get to where I was happy with the final draft and then planned the trailer shoot which took three days to film and many headaches as I had to get my two leads for one weekend while they were working on one of the most watched TV shows in Australia “Home & Away” which has a worldwide audience of 138 Million people. The three day shoot was the best three days of my life, it was stressful but incredibly rewarding working with a great group of people who all believe in the project and want to see it through to fruition.
We have an incredible crew consisting of some of Australia’s premier talent with an Award winning Cinematographer in Carl Robertson ACS, Make up and effects by Luke Polti, Armorer John Fox and our Sound Designer Frank Lipson.
When do you plan to film the feature and when do you think it will be released?
If we can secure funding in the coming months through private investors we hope to film in Feb 2014 and hopefully get a theatrical release in Australia late 2014 and build awareness of the film through the Horror film festival circuit. If we can do well at some festivals and sell the worldwide rights to a distributor who will hopefully put it in theaters and release it on DVD and VOD.
What advice can you give for first time filmmakers?
Be patient and don’t give up, keep on learning and working on your craft, try to learn every aspect of film production so you can communicate with your crew. Make a pile of shorts to hone your craft and technique but then move onto feature films, if you want a career in this business you need to step up and make a feature, the amount you will learn from making your first feature is incredible. You have to be committed 100% to a career in film as it can be heartbreaking trying to get your film made and the competition is fierce. Learn how to produce your own films if you can learn the business side of film-making you can make as many films as want but remember your first feature is going to be the hardest to get of the ground. Once you can prove to investors you can make and complete a film on time and on budget it becomes a lot easier to get funding for your next film.