Wide release expected for A Heartbeat Away

Producer Chris Fitchett says A Heartbeat Away will try to capture the same wide audience as Bran Nue Dae and Strictly Ballroom, with more than 100 copies and a “heightened musical reality” and oil-painting look.

“Hoyts Distribution and we filmmakers see A Heartbeat Away as a multiplex film. If it turns out ok, which we’re confident it will, the target will be a family audience, very wide, which is the one going to see Bran Nue Dae,” Fitchett told Encore.

Fitchett believes Rachel Perkins’ hit musical Bran Nue Dae was “marketed really well” with a wide multiplex distribution that suited the film and its audience.

“The trailer said “this is a fun film” and the audience went to it. They were intending to make a feel-good film, which would appeal to a wide audience, and they succeeded.”

Fitchett and his Pictures in Paradise partner Chris Brown first started developing the project in 2003, and when the script was ready, Gale Edwards was the director they wanted for the project. Although this is Edwards’ first feature film, Fitchett says her experience directing musicals and drama made her the ideal choice.

“We deliberately sought her out as a director because the film is so heavily influenced by music; we wanted someone who could bring a fresh vision to it, someone from theatre.”

A Heartbeat Away is the story of a young rock guitarist who must take over the musical direction of his father’s marching band four weeks before a major competition. It has been described as a musical, although it is not one in the traditional, strict sense of the word; the film will have musical elements, but it is not a musical with singing actors/characters. The music will mix contemporary rock and brass music.

“What’s interesting the way Gail is approaching this film, the drama has a heightened quality to it. She describes it as a myth with a magic quality to it, so hopefully in the end it will look like a musical but not necessarily sound like one, because the actors are not singing,” explained Fitchett.

The film will be shot on the Genesis digital camera, primarily on location northeast of Brisbane’s airport, until the end of March. Post-production will be done by Cutting Edge in Sydney and Brisbane.

“There will be CGI to do that heightened reality, so it doesn’t look like reality. We want every frame to have a filmic quality, but Gail’s message was that each frame should look like an oil painting.”

The $7.5m film was financed by Hoyts Distribution, Screen Queensland, Screen New South Wales, Cutting Edge, sales agent Arclight and Quickfire Films (UK). According to Fitchett, the project will be eligible to receive the producer offset, and international sales efforts will begin when the initial materials are ready to present at the next market.

Fitchett expects the first materials to be released in October for a potential Christmas 2010 release, with more than 100 screens.

Encore presented the first images from the set of A Heartbeat Away last week.


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