The phrase ‘local independent film’ is often met with an apathetic sigh and visions of a hand-held, motion-sickness-inducing mess of bad acting and a disjointed plot line. However, the incredibly talented (and mostly Novocastrian/Hunter-based) crew behind the locally-shot and locally-produced independent film, Love Is Now, have completely turned this common misconception right on its head.
Love Is Now is an intriguing story of two photographers, Audrey and Dean, following their Summer of love on the NSW Harvest Trail, and of course, as with all tales of love and intrigue, nothing is quite as it seems…
For Newcastle’s film industry, however, Love Is Now is exactly as it seems; a beautifully shot, well-crafted, and now award-winning, feature film which has set an impressive precedent for locally-produced independent films.
Love Is Now was filmed over 5 weeks in 2014, with much of the shooting done in the Hunter Valley region, including Bulga, Maitland, and surrounds.
The production was led by Eponine Films, a company established by director, Jim Lounsbury (Seattle-born, but now Newcastle/Sydney based), and producer, Behren Schulz (originally from Maitland). The crew was made up of mostly locals, including Newcastle’s Shane Burrell, who handled post-production of the film at Final Post on Parry St.
For many of the crew, it was their first feature film experience, and most had to put their lives on-hold to devote their blood, sweat, and sanity to making it happen.
One of the film’s associate producers, Newcastle-born Sam Eather, said it was a chance meeting with producer, Behren Schulz, that led him to give up his job as a full-time lawyer to dive right in to working on Love Is Now. Though, Sam tells us his story of leaving behind a ‘normal life’ to chase a filmmaking dream is not the only one…
“For some of us, it was our first time working on a feature film,” Sam says, “But, we all had the same approach… We all thought we may never get to do this again, so we better give it our all.”
Giving it their all often meant many down-to-the-wire moments, including the final version of the film arriving minutes before it was set to premiere at Hoyts Charlestown last December.
“For a few different reasons we’d had to give ourselves a very ambitious timeline, so we really were working on it right till the end making sure everything was perfect,” recalls the film’s producer Behren Schulz,
“I know it seems like a cliche getting the final delivery to the cinema just moments before the premiere, but it was all part of the plan – we timed it pretty perfectly actually.”
The film is currently on the festival run across the globe, and is arguably becoming the Hunter’s most critically successful film ever, having won 5 awards, including ‘Best Film’ across 3 continents.
However, one of the biggest milestones for the film was reached before it was even premiered, with Universal Pictures buying the international distribution rights. A feat unheard of when it comes to low-budget indie films.
“We’d been talking to Universal for a long time, and the relationship was good – they were really supportive of what we were doing,” says Behren,
“Having Universal support us as first-time filmmakers was really rewarding and it was really exciting when we could talk about it publicly.”
After seeing the initial success of the film, and the response it’s receiving from audiences across the world, the team behind Love Is Now hope to inspire other local filmmakers to create their projects in the region, proving you don’t need to move to the bigger cities of Sydney or Melbourne to create something that captures the world’s attention.
They also want Novocastrians to be proud of, and share the successes of Love Is Now, as it’s an opportunity to see the Hunter region on the world stage,
“We want Newcastle to own it,” says Sam, “Support us, support local film… The more we support local, the better the future will be for creating films in the area, and our creative industry can flourish.”
The film and its powerful soundtrack (composed entirely by Aus music legend, Kram) is available for purchase via the links below – Not only will you score yourself an excellent movie to watch this weekend, but you’ll also be able to show your support for a film that is sure to become one of Newcastle’s creative industry gems…
Soundtrack by Kram