Melbourne writer finds success in Venezuela

The soccer film Hermano, written by Melbourne-based Rohan Jones, is currently the number four film at the box office in Venezuela.

“One of the reasons I went overseas was to get a film up. The process to do so here, is limited by imagination,” Jones told Encore.

Jones met director Marcel Raquin at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2003, when Rasquin was an international student.

“I helped him on all his films and we became good friends. Then I went to Venezuela to write three times, from 2005 to 2008. The original was written in English – which I have the rights to make into a film,” he said.

According to Jones, the idea for the script came from a story Raquin told him on the way back from dropping some friends off at Melbourne airport.

“He told me about a protest in Caracas where two factions came head to head on a freeway overpass. On the verge of bloody violence between countrymen and women, a football was kicked into the gap between them. It was then kicked back, totally diffusing the situation. This inspired the story of brother against brother, and football,” explained Jones.

According to Jones, he received “some initial script money” from Film Victoria, but he financed most of his research and expenses. It was always conceived as a Venezuelan production; the film was funded by the Venezuelan film finance body CNAC, and produced by Rasquin’s company A&B Producciones.

Hermanos was shot in the slums and some professional football pitches in Caracas. It tells the story of two talented brothers on the verge of the big time playing soccer, as they strive to overcome poverty and violence.

The film premiered at the Moscow International Film Festival in June, winning the “Golden George” for Best Film.

“I think a credit on a festival-winning film will translate to some credibility [in Australia],” argued Jones. “Success at the box office in Venezuela may not mean much – although it has screened on 24 screens so far which I am happy with – because I’m not sure box-office success means too much to funding bodies in this country. However if it gets a release in the USA or Mexico (a big film market) or other Latin American countries (or European/Asian) – then it could promote my cause overseas.”

Jones said that his script won an award at VCA, and Raquin’s work won best film when he finished his Masters, but that success did not generate any interest in the industry.

“Australia is a strange beast. If it had been a science award, a law award, I would have been head-hunted. But no interest from anyone. And I’ve seen it happen at RMIT with international students who are exceptionally talented and dedicated. They go back home. Why aren’t they grabbed? They could make someone a lot of cash. That is where Australia falls down.

“Generally, and I’m talking government as well as business and society in general, the screen industries are underestimated in relation to business opportunities. But not in the USA, who take on the best talent from all countries, so they can keep their industry alive and, above all, profitable,” said Jones.


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