The Ninja and the King conquers Cannes by riding a donkey
A rough translation to an article by Gali Meiri 09.05.2018
Original article link at the Taasiya: https://www.taasiya.co.il/magazine/1239.htm
The Ninja and the King conquers Cannes by riding a donkey
Sounds like a puzzle? Not to those who knows DonkyShot Films, who are currently Screening their independent film "The Composer" in the Cannes film market.
The DonkyShot Film Productions Company of Matan Melech and Alon Newman (the director, not the actor) I have known for a long time. They specialize in a very unusual activity, breaching borders that are rarely done by Israeli filmmakers who cannot break them without financial backing, government support or various foundations. When they decide they are going to produce a movie, they do it. And this is an inspiring thing in every sense.
Their day-job keeps them between fulfilling one dream and the other. Alon is an Commercial director at Vista Systems and Matan Melech is a video editor and producer in the Israel Police's Training Division.
Alon is also currently working on the pre-production of the NINJA: THE RESURRECTION the upcoming American Ninja Story, which he will direct. (And we met him here on this occasion in the past)
The two from Donkyshot Films are currently screening their new independent film, "The Composer", in Cannes International Film Market, Marché du Film. A prestigious and high-quality framework in which it is the only Israeli film.
Tell us a bit about the composer's production. How technically did you manage to produce it?
Alon: I read Zohar Levy's script and fell in love. I enlisted people on this subject, and I simply believed that the project had to be carried out. Faith brought hope, hope brought action, and action brought the right people, and that is how we created the film.
Matan: We've been going for nine years as a group of artists Donkyshot Films, and we've recruited all the people necessary to make this film. They believed ... and came saying "What?! another feature? Let's go."
Alon: It took exactly 10 months from first day of shooting to the first time of screening at the pre-Ophir Awards as we promised to hold in front of all the people who helped us with the funding and the work itself. We promised a 10-month framework from the beginning of filming to the academy screening, and we did it. The film is ready.
How did you manage to finance the film?
First of all we turned to the Israeli Film Fund and received a small budget to develop the production. After that, we both did Crud funding and we also invested in equity, and in the end this film consists of people who came and worked and contributed their time, in fact, to the film.
Most of the staff worked on a volunteer basis and in Differ. Some of them received a symbolic fee, so if we calculate the manpower and all the working hours of the film, including the prep and the post-production, it would cost about $250,000 ... For comparison, an Israeli film is usually produced with an average budget of $800,000 us dollars.
If we were waiting for funding and a full budget it would not happen. The film funds are not aiming towards Commercial screening or to the public but at festivals. We decided that with the money that we already had on this film, together with our money and the fundraising money and sponsors who joined us, we will be able to produce the film by the end of the filming days ...
We started filming and planned to ask the foundations for support to complete the production later, and that's what we did. Unfortunately, we received a negative answer. With the help of editor Tal Keller, who became the post-producer of the film, we finished the rough-cut. And with excellent rough-cut we managed to harness all post-production people, most of them voluntarily.
An interesting story is that this film was supposed to be finished in 14 days of filming. The actress Lucy Dubinchik has been gone missing after three days of Shooting, we learned from her family that she would not participate in our film for the next three weeks. The family gave us no further information. They suggested we either postpone the production or replace an actress. Because we did not understand what's going on and we could not tell whether it was true or not ... We went out to find out on our own, because it was a Friday morning and the Shooting were scheduled to continue Sunday at 6 AM. We couldn’t afford it. We went to look for Lucy and when we did not find her and did not get answers from anyone, we decided to replace the lead actress to Debbie Levine, who took on the lead role in the film within a day and a half.
What was the process of submitting it to Cannes?
Matan: We worked on the preparation for Cannes at the Berlin Film Festival, and we were assisted by Noa Cacharel whom we Both studied with her international fundraising and marketing for films. We went to the festival with Noa to study the market, prepare ourselves for Cannes Film Festival. Later on, we submitted our film to the competitive framework and when we realized that no Israeli film had been accepted there, we submitted a special request to screen the film in the market. It took a long time for us to get the permit to screen it. Until the last minute the festival team accompanied us and actually only a week ago we received the final confirmation that the film will be screened at the festival.
How does the Cannes Festival experience for independent filmmakers?
Alon: The experience is amazing, the very fact that we're here is amazing. Matan found us an amazing and pleasant family hotel, with an excellent room and a breakfast that the hotel owner cooks for us every morning. At the festival itself, all the accompaniment of the Festival staff to independent filmmakers is very special. The staff respects us very much. There are also other services like Via Pass which took care of everything. All of them - international distributors and producers participating in the festival - very much likes the independent filmmakers and we get a really warm and loving embrace that we have not encountered before.
What else in the program for "Composer"?
We are submitting to more festivals, candidates for Ophir Awards (the Israeli Oscar) and we had a very successful academy screening. There are other plans for the film which we reveal later. "The Composer" already goes very well. I promise.
Do you have other plans for Donkyshot Films?
Matan: We have made a six years plan, in which we will produce no less than 5 full-length films. We develop scripts in our writer's room, and we are already in the pre-production of the first film developed in the program of our writers' room directed by Alon Newman.
What is the writers' room?
Our writers' room is a project that has already have developed two full-length screenplays for FPGs. The first script is already in advanced pre-production. Soon we will update on the opening of a new writers' room. The process is the submission a short script according to the genre we are looking for and those who passed the screening stage, we meet with them in the second stage.
The room is usually composed of four to five scriptwriters led by Alon Newman.
Later this year our third writing room will be opened, and we will publish a link for registration.ץ