Smart St. Films - in production for 42 years.
Formed in Melbourne in 1969 Smart St. has been making quality cinema drama and TV documentaries ever since. We're not the biggest but we are one of the oldest continuously working film companies in Australia. We've managed to produce high quality films without Government production investment, a rarity in Australia.
We have produced three feature films, two of which, 27A and Going Down, are regularly cited as milestones in the development of Australian cinema. The third, Pandemonium, is a skid mark across the landscape of Australian film to this day. We've made a dozen documentaries, plus the odd music vid and TV commercial.
We don't have a huge slate but it's all good stuff. We've been in for the long haul and made films which have clearly targeted audiences and an innovative and individual approach to both production and distribution.
The company is operated by Haydn Keenan and Gai Steele. "We work the left field" said Keenan, "the middle of the road is highly oversupplied. Whether in production or distribution we've had success thinking laterally."
Our national theatrical release of Going Down was followed by a roadshow through Sydney's biggest pubs successfully taking the film directly to it's audience. We were the first to sell non-drama to airlines for inflight use, initiated the government to government talks which led to the signing of the Australia-Ireland co-production treaty and successfully lobbied the major copyright collection agency, Screenrights, to amend their payments policy to make it easier for independent film makers to receive copyright payment for recordings from TV. In conjunction with Palace Films we have collected, sold and serviced more than thirty Australian feature films to Pay TV. We currently have a major exhibition running at Sydney's Museum of Justice & Police museum. This is an extraordinary insight into the workings of ASIO taken from the research we've done for Persons Of Interest. The exhibition runs until April 2012.
It's not front page stuff, but it's a demonstrated commitment to Australian cinema and the need for independent voices to be heard. A mature film culture has room for a broad range of production, from servicing international films to provincial production. The fact that Smart St is still here indicates that maturation is happening.
There is debate at the moment around the idea that the recent local flops indicate that Australians don't want to see Australian films. This argument is akin to the comedian blaming the audience for not laughing at the jokes. The success of Kenny, The Castle, Two Hands, and Wogboys proves otherwise. They were all in touch with their audience. Make them Australian, make them good.
Smart St. is currently financing a small but broad ranging slate of feature films and TV documentaries. Budgets are value and potential good.
We've always taken inspiration from Gomez Adams' business philosophy: As Morticia said, "Gomez, you're the one man I know who can take a failing company and run it into the ground in six months".
In this regard we are deficient and here we are forty years old.
To all those who we've worked with, who've seen our films or batted for us thank you. And to all those getting under way and thinking about the long haul, keep a sense of humour and you'll live longer.