Thursday, August 1, 2013


Matt Zappala, Writer/Director, Debbie Thoy, Priscilla-Anne Forder, Brodie Butler (DOP) and Matt Elverd
Photo by Karl Pearce



With convincing, I put The Manuscript into the 25th WA Screen Awards for consideration. Sitting at the announcement with Matt Zappala and Matt Elverd, I was relaxed. I was just there to support the film and FTI.  Matt Elverd leans over and asks if I am nervous.  I respond “Not at all, I don’t expect to be nominated” and I really didn’t.

Our first nomination came in the way of Creative Legal’s Best Original Music by our composer, Jamie Murgatroyd.  That was exciting and not surprising, I had worked him hard with the music and he had risen to the occasion with a wonderful soundtrack. Absolutely well deserved.

When it got to the ECU Best Feature (Long form) I sat back.  The first nominee was Needle.. then Blame...  then RED DOG.  I chuckled and whispered to Matt Zappala.  See we are not even in the same league and just as I finished that sentence they announce The Manuscript.

All three of us spontaneously burst out laughing as much for the timing of my sentence as the total disbelief of being nominated.  I sat there completely shocked and confused.  Red Dog, a multimillion dollar Australian Box office hit and then they say The Manuscript, a Micro Budget film....?  hahahaha... WHAT?  That just doesn’t compute!

Director, Debbie Thoy and Director of Photography, Brodie Butler
Photo by Ian Greenwell.

So, the thought enters my mind, did they not have enough people enter this category, did we get in by default?  OR did we actually do it? Did we make a great all round film for next to nothing?

And I am not putting myself or anyone who worked on the film down, for what we went through making this film, which I would rate as being one of the toughest things I have ever done and I know that I am not the only one.  We certainly deserve the recognition of finishing a film under the extreme circumstances that haunted it.  There were so many reasons to quit, but I didn’t and the main cast (Priscilla- Anne Forder, Matt Zappala and Matt Elverd) and my DP (Brodie Butler) stuck with me the whole way and we succeeded with not just making an okay film, we made a quality film with what we had to work with.  It all boils down to fighting and believing in yourself and those around you.  Never say die.... Keep going.

Matt Elverd, Priscilla-Anne Forder and Matt Zappala
Copyright Wizard Corporation Productions.

The whole point of the film for me was to prove that you could make a quality film with practically no money and limited equipment and with an emerging cast and crew.  It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you do with what you have.  You can make a great film with very little, while all that fancy equipment can make life a hell of a lot easier, it is not what is going to make your film great, it’s about skill and being able to think outside the box.  Being nominated for Best Film tells me that we achieved that and all the hard work was worth it.  Everyone should be very proud of their efforts, especially those who stuck with the film from beginning to end and it was one tough ride.

Being in the same category as high quality films such as Needle, produced by Deidre Kitcher and Directed by John V Soto, a full length feature that has sold to over 80 countries and has been very well received. Also Blame and of course Red Dog is really quite an honour and while we are pretty certain that taking out the award for best film for us is highly unlikely, being nominated with these films is a win for us. As the Producer, Writer and Director it's a pretty big deal to me too.
Priscilla-Anne Forder, Matt Zappala, Troy Varian, Ross Metcalf, Debbie Thoy, Luke Brooks and Brodie Butler
at The Manuscript Premiere, January 2013

I am also happy for those who believed in the film, such as Troy Varian who put his heart and soul into helping me get the premiere up and running and keeping me motivated.  The amazing businesses who supported the film, Bob Hart who’s generosity with lending us his equipment is so incredibly appreciated and The Massara family who donated their house for 4 months and so much more to the film.  The most amazing and giving family I have ever met.  So our journey was tough, with insane challenges, but we discovered amazing people and strength and ability within ourselves and made a film that is fun and puts a smile on the audiences face... What more could I ask for?  I ticked every box I was aiming for....Moving onward and upward.

Matt Zappala and Matt Elverd
Copyright Wizard Corporation Productions.

If you want to know more about the Film we are on facebook and also IMDb.  The Manuscript Website will be up in the next week in preparation for the film to be sold to raise money for the Industry and a chosen charity.

If you would like to attend the Screen Awards this Friday, 2nd August.  Check out for tickets and join us and a host of special guests such as Jack Thompson.  Should be a fun night.  Might see you there,


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