Month: March 2019

  • Monk turned filmmaker Clarke Scott shoots his first feature film

    Buddhist monk turned filmmaker Clarke Scott on the set of his debut movie. Photo: Simon O’Dwyer Clarke Scott, in 2008, when he was a Buddhist monk named Loden Jimpa. Photo: Justin McManus
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    Movie session timesFull movies coverage

    The last time Clarke Scott appeared in this newspaper, he was bald, and he went by the name of Loden Jinpa.

    Then a Buddhist monk, Scott had been admitted into a PhD in philosophy at the University of Tasmania after writing and submitting an honours thesis in the space of eight weeks.

    But his career in academia was derailed when a chance encounter with an Australian filmmaker in the Indian Himalayas set him on a different path.

    Scott had already been struggling with his PhD. “My intuition was telling me, this is not going to work out, you’re burnt out … all your colleagues who have already finished their PhDs who are better, brighter, smarter, more academic than you, they can’t get a job, how can you get a job?” says Scott.

    His chat with the filmmaker while on his morning walk reignited Scott’s creative spark (he had been studying jazz at the VCA before finding Buddhism and quitting the course) and he decided to return to Australia and pursue a career in film.

    For the next four years, Scott took what he calls the “P.T. Anderson approach to filmmaking.”

    Paul Thomas Anderson, celebrated director of films such as Magnolia and Boogie Nights and the recent Inherent Vice, went to film school for two days before dropping out because he knew he could teach himself better than his teachers could. Scott spent at least 60 hours a week studying film, “watching movies and deconstructing them, watching directors’ commentaries”.

    His background in computers (his lama encouraged him to get a job in IT so he could support himself while studying to become a monk) meant Scott picked up the technical skills quickly. He got a job at a video production company and then started his own boutique digital agency, where he’s done “everything from really bad corporate video to shooting commercials” while making his own short films on the side.

    Now he’s shooting his first feature film, a love story shot in the style of Derek Cianfrance’s​ ​ Blue Valentine using natural light, documentary-style shooting and just two characters.

    Shot on a shoestring in Essendon, Barwon Heads and on the Great Ocean Road the film, A Thousand Moments Later, follows a young couple attempting to reconnect after some time apart.

    At this stage, Scott can’t afford to pay his actors, or himself. “Everyone’s working on the back end,” he says. “Once we see profit we’ll start divvying it up.”

    As a first-time, unknown feature film director, Scott knew the chance of securing a distribution deal was unlikely. So he plans to take the finished film on the festival circuit. “They’re set up for distributors to find films,” he says. “I see this as my first feature film, and certainly not my last feature film.”


  • Ten posts $264 million loss and says it may need emergency funding

    “I’m a celebrity.. get me out of here!” has helped Ten lift its ratings, but the audience improvement has yet to lift its advertising revenues. Photo: Network Ten High hopes: Can Masterchef with its judges Gary Mehigan, Matt Preston and George Calombaris extend recent ratings gains and boost Ten’s share of the TV advertising market? Photo: Supplied
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    Pressure is tightening on Ten Network Holdings to raise cash and conclude its tortuous strategic review after the embattled broadcaster warned investors it could run out of money if it misses revenue forecasts amid a volatile advertising market.

    Ten plunged $264 million into the red at its half-year after writing down the value of its television licences by $251 million, following larger rival Seven West Media, which impaired the carrying value of its own licences in February.

    Ten’s earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation fell from $10.1 million a year earlier to $7.5 million on revenues down 2.2 per cent to $324 million as the network’s improved ratings failed to translate into a materially higher share of the advertising market.

    Ten’s board has run a six-month auction process aimed at securing its long-term future.

    The company told investors on Thursday it was operating within the limits of its $200 million loan, which three of its billionaire shareholders – WIN Corp owner Bruce Gordon, News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and Crown chairman James Packer – guaranteed in October 2013.

    But it warned of “material uncertainty” that the company will be able to continue as a going concern if its revenues miss forecasts. Nevertheless, the company was confident it will hit forecasts and, if not, could raise the debt or equity finance necessary.

    “There a range of things you can do in the business and raising money is just one of them,” executive chairman Hamish McLennan told Fairfax Media. “But the simple fact is we are within our $200 million working fund.”

    Local pay-TV monopoly Foxtel is close to agreeing to a deal through which it would take a 14.9 per cent stake in Ten. It is believed Foxtel is prepared to inject about $75 million at 18¢ a share into the broadcaster, with Ten prepared to raise a similar amount from existing shareholders.

    Mr McLennan said the network had managed to lift its audience ratings this year through the Big Bash cricket and reality TV shows including I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!

    “Since the start of the 2015 ratings year on February 8, Network Ten is the only commercial network to increase its 25-to-54s and total people audiences, with growth of 25 per cent in 25-to-54s and 22 per cent in total people,” he said.

    “They are obviously doing a very good job with ratings. The question is whether they can continue that momentum and convert it into revenue share,” said Alice Bennett, media analyst at CBA, who has a 14¢ target price on the shares.

    Ten’s shares closed unchanged at 20.5¢, having fallen 9 per cent this year.  ‘Reform media ownership laws’

    Mr McLennan urged the government to scrap all restrictions on media ownership, saying they  applied only to terrestrial TV, radio and newspapers and not global technology giants such as Netflix and Google. This was hurting Australia’s traditional media companies, he argued.

    Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested abolishing the “reach rule”, which limits coverage of any TV network to 75 per cent of Australians, stopping metropolitan broadcasters – Seven, Nine and Ten – from merging with their regional affiliates.

    Mr Turnbull said the so called “two-out-of-three rule”, which bans a company from owning a radio station, television network and newspaper in the same market, could also be scrapped.

    However, hopes of reform have been dampened because the Abbott government is unwilling to propose a package unless it gets broad support from media moguls that  it currently lacks, and a smooth passage through the Senate.

    Mr McLennan said the government needed to present a broader media reform package. “The two-out-of-three rule and the audience ‘reach’ rule are hurting Australian media companies by inhibiting our ability to grow and compete,” Mr McLennan said.

    “However, piecemeal reform, such only removing the ‘reach’ rule, will make the situation worse. Allowing some companies to pursue consolidation while continuing to restrain others will exacerbate the damaging impact of the remaining rules.”

    Mr McLennan and his counterparts at Seven and Nine and pay-TV monopoly Foxtel met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this month and called for broadcast licence fees to be scrapped. Mr Abbott agreed to review the fees.

    Mr McLennan said paying the licence fee, which is 4.5 per cent of a broadcaster’s revenue, on top of corporate tax was “unreasonable”.

    “Australia’s licence fee regime is the most punitive in the world,” Mr McLennan said. “Every dollar we pay in licence fees is a dollar we cannot spend on local content.” Ten goes after AFL, NRL

    Mr McLennan said Ten was determined to participate in the broadcast right bidding for the AFL and NRL, both of which are running simultaneously after the NRL brought forward negotiations with networks.

    Mr McLennan said Ten had a record of thinking “creatively” to seal sports rights. He said the network had secured a “fair chunk of cricket” with the Big Bash, “recut” its Formula One deal with Foxtel and acquired V8 Supercars, which had been held by Seven for much of the past decade.

    “The negotiations with the NRL and AFL don’t have to be absolute. We don’t have to trade for everything,” Mr McLennan said.

    “We are flexible and creative with how we deal with these rights. I’m not going to tip my hand on how we are going to approach these negotiations. But we have suffered by not having a winter sport.”

    When asked which code he favoured, the NRL of AFL, Mr McLennan said “we like all sports”.

    “But we could end up with nothing. It might get too expensive. We have a plan for a winter sport and one without. We are not going to blow our brains out.”

  • Celebrities who were desperate to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao do battle

    Rap singer Vanilla Ice called for the superbout in 2013.Manny Pacquiao ‘100 percent relaxed and confident’ for bout
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    Not only is the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight on Saturday (Sunday afternoon AEST) one of the most anticipated in the sport’s history – it was arguably the most difficult to organise.

    Organising such a fight while pleasing all parties involved is a logistical nightmare, however, there were other factors which delayed the fight.

    For years, Mayweather said he would only fight Pacquiao if he took an Olympic-style drug test before they stepped into the ring.

    The American was sued for defamation by Pacquiao who alleged that Mayweather kept attributing his success to performance-enhancing drugs. The case was settled out of court in 2012.

    Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has always defended his fighter, saying the Filipino world champion did not like having blood taken from his body within a month of a fight.

    Through all this turmoil, there were numerous celebrities doing their bit on social media to kick the fight along.

    From basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, to teenage heart-throb Justin Bieber, celebrities from far and wide used every bit of their credibility and pushing power to coerce organisers and promoters to get the show on the road.

    Here are some of the best tweets going back as far as 2010 when rumours began circulating that Mayweather would agree to fight Pacquiao – a boxing fan’s ultimate dream. 

    I watched allota fights but that decision was some bs. Now I wanna see pacqiou verses may weather I spelled PAC mans name wrong so what lol— SHAQ (@SHAQ) June 10, 2012

    MOST LIKELY @FloydMayweather for the win? I would like to see @FloydMayweather vs. @MannyPacquiao— Vanilla Ice (@vanillaice) September 14, 2013

    I wish @FloydMayweather and @MannyPacquiao could agree to terms and fight already.— Keegan Allen (@KeeganAllen) December 4, 2014

    We’d like to welcome @floydmayweather & @MannyPacquiao to tonight’s game! pic.twitterm/APMMeSCwat— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 28, 2015

    heard Manny did work tonight. I think it’s time we got the Money Mayweather fight we have all been waiting for. #EPICBATTLE— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) November 14, 2010

    If Charlie Scheen can take a test I know Manny Pacquiao punk ass could take a blood test— 50cent (@50cent) March 5, 2011

    Yo Pacquiao is getting his ass whooped right now……..there is no way that he can beat @FloydMayweather …….— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) November 13, 2011

    I refuse to accept that @floydmayweather is going to retire w/out fighting @MannyPacquiao.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 9, 2012

    When the fight was officially announced in February this year, many celebrities could not contain their excitement on Twitter.

    Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao Mega-Fight is Official. WHAT’S YOUR CALL? @MikeTysonhttp://t/CYwJC5569zpic.twitterm/R4Kd0ZDjUH— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) February 21, 2015Game on > RT @TMZ: Mayweather & Pacquiao — COURTSIDE STAREDOWN … At Miami Heat Game http://t/vZ8g77QDZ8— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 28, 2015

    Looking forward to @FloydMayweather vs. @MannyPacquiao & wishing both the best of luck. Rumble, young men, rumble! #AliTweet— Muhammad Ali (@MuhammadAli) March 31, 2015

    Damn – I wish I could fight Mayweather! @MikeTysonhttp://t/mQe8USbJkMpic.twitterm/CjexePGhnz— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) February 23, 2015

    [email protected] and @MannyPacquiao are finally gonna “walk that aisle”!!!!!!!!!!#RickFlairWooooo— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) February 20, 2015

    Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquio are finally going to fight?!?! Better late than never. The only fight that can save the sweet science!— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) February 20, 2015

    Twitter: @tomdecent

  • Property returns mixed results

    Housing prices vary across nation, reflecting the impact of local economies and supply and demand drivers, says Domain Group.House and unit prices continue to vary across regional and capital cities, with the national median house and unit prices recording modest growth in the March quarter.
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    Domain Group’s latest House Price Report shows the national median house price increased by 1.8 per cent across the quarter, contributing to an annual increase of 8.0 per cent. The national median unit price increased by 0.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent in the year to end of March.

    At a Victorian regional level, the REIV reports Ballarat rentals and Geelong sales and rentals, remain strong, with the market buoyed by low interest rates, CEO Enzo Raimondo said, which was good for investors.

    “Despite some economic uncertainty around employment levels, consumer confidence has picked up since the March interest rate cut,” Mr Raimondo said. “This is flowing through to the property market.”

    Dr Andrew Wilson, Domain Group senior economist, said that despite lower interest rates, varying economic activity in different states meant there were mixed results for house and unit price growth in capital cities.

    Sydney continued to soar with a strong quarterly increase of 3.6 per cent, taking the median house price to a new record of $914,056. In the March quarter, the median unit price also increased by 1.2 per cent to $609,800.

    Adelaide and Darwin were the only two other capital cities to record increases in both house and unit prices; while Melbourne and Canberra recorded an increase in the median house price of 2.2 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively; and falls in unit prices at 0.3 per cent and 3.6 per cent.

    House and unit prices fell in Brisbane, with the median house price falling marginally by 0.7 per cent while units fell sharply by 2.3 per cent.

    “Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane saw falls in the median price of units as the impact of recent construction and new supply filters through to the market,” Dr Wilson said.

    The REIV’s House Price Index (HPI) reported price growth continued to strengthen with regional Victoria rising by 0.9 per cent in March to 133.5. The HPI also rose in Melbourne, increasing 0.8 per cent to 171.6.

    A key contributor to the regional increase was Geelong, Mr Raimondo said, with the index for the region up 0.4 per cent. He said the auction market, which was a key determinant of activity in regions close to Melbourne, continued to grow. In the year to date, 7600 auctions took place statewide, with most (4200 auctions) in March.

    “The 76 per cent statewide clearance rate for the year to March 31 was the highest for five years. We expect that in the short term the low interest rate environment will continue to drive demand,” Mr Raimondo said.

    “More broadly across the state, private sales continue to be common, and statewide in March there were 10,780 sales in total – an increase on March last year when there were 10,600 private sales.”

    For investors in regional Victoria rental vacancy rates remained stable at 2.1 per cent in March and 50 basis points lower than a year ago.

    “While the rate actually eased to 2.8 per cent in both Ballarat and Bendigo, both of which have been experiencing severe accommodation shortages, in Geelong it has been tightening for the past six months,” Mr Raimondo said. “The rate of 3.1 per cent there is at its lowest since April 2013.”

    Median house rents across regional Victoria were stable at $300 a week, while median unit and apartment rentals were up $5 to $245. Median unit rents in Geelong were up $10 to $290 and Ballarat were up $30 to $240. Both vacancy rates and house rents in Melbourne’s outer suburbs remained stable, while unit rents there increased from $316 to $320.

    According to Domain Group, in Perth the median house price fell steeply by 2.1 per cent while units were flat across the quarter.

    Hobart saw house price growth weaken with the median falling by 0.6 per cent while unit prices increased strongly by 5.0 per cent.

    “Capital city prices growth is likely to track local economic performance with the prospect of lower interest rates now diminishing as early signs continue to emerge of an improvement in national economic activity,” Dr Wilson said.

    “Sydney will continue to lead the pack in house price growth – clearly ahead of Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane and Hobart, which are set to continue to record modest to moderate prices growth on the back of improving economies.“Flattening economic activity and falling confidence in Perth, and to a lesser degree Darwin, will continue to put downward pressure on house price growth as those capital cities transition rapidly from their previous resource and population boom environments.”

    EARLIER:Buying property for investmnent

  • Buying property for investment

    Australians love affair with bricks and mortar continues to grow. With a plethora of lifestyle shows promoting the benefits of owning and renovating your own home no wonder people feel the desire to enter the property market.
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    Real estate bodies nationally are discovering that while home ownership remains a great Australian dream, many people stay with property when there is spare cash or equity to invest.

    “While the term ‘property investor’ conjures visions of an individual with a broad property portfolio, it actually applies to many of us,” Real Estate Institute of Victoria CEO Enzo Raimondo says. “According to the Real Estate Institute of Australia, the latest taxation statistics show 14.9 per cent of taxpayers are investors in the residential property market.

    “The majority of those are ordinary ‘mums and dads’ with only one investment property.”

    Latest statistics from 2010-11 show 73 per cent of investors had only one property, but there has been substantial growth in the past five years.

    “For most of us negative gearing, which enables investors to claim a tax deduction for expenses on an investment property, provides an opportunity, and incentive, to invest. “However, it’s important to remember that the same principles apply when buying an investment property as when buying your own home.”

    Mr Raimondo says some principles when buying property to live in also apply for investment purchases, but rental properties can come with comprises.

    “After deciding on preferred locations and whether to buy a house or apartment, start by checking out median prices in those areas. Consult your bank, draw up your budget and be clear about your maximum price. There are many great properties out there, do not be tempted to exceed your maximum if you find ‘the right’ one,” he says.

    During research, make a list of features you must have and those on which you would compromise.

    “Remember: this is a rental; those criteria may be very different from those for your home. For example, you may be willing to spend time on a high maintenance, hard-to-clean home, but a rental property should be hard wearing and easy to maintain,” Mr Raimondo says. “Think about what would make your property attractive to tenants. For example, you may enjoy driving to work, but rental property proximity to public transport is essential. If buying a family home to rent out, is it near schools? If buying a trendy apartment, tenants will want cafes nearby.”

    When on the investment property trail, it’s important to put aside emotion.

    “When buying your home you are looking for ‘the one’. But you don’t have to love your investment property – it needs to meet a particular purpose, and do that job well.”