Above: From JACKS  a Visul and 13th Street Films production. Cinematography: Trimedium
“Having faced my own mortality, I realise life is very short. I don’t want to do the nine to five and not give myself the chance to achieve the things that I love. That moment led me to write ‘Watch The Sunset’ and I haven’t looked back since. There are tough times. Your bank account goes up and down, particularly as you spend money on film shoots. But that doesn’t really worry me anymore. I feel all the money in the world is worth doing what you love, while you’re still alive.” Tristan Barr, co-founder Continuance Pictures
Tristan Barr plays the character Spud, a drug dealer in Joel Stephen Fleming’s upcoming comedy-crime short film ‘Jacks’. That’s how I came to meet him, at the table reading of the script. I loved how the script dialogue was funny and so random compared to what was actually going on!
“I love that too,” Tristan said. “I think that’s actually the signature of really well thought out writing. Because in our actual lives we rarely talk about actual feelings or intentions of what we want. We talk about all these other things, that are a guise for getting what we want.”
Tristan is co-founder of Continuance Pictures, alongside his business partner David Gim, who is based in Melbourne. Tristan and David are about identifying what different creators bring to the table, and finding the best ways to elevate their work.
“Now is a great opportunity for young producers,” Tristan said. “They don’t have to go through the old systems of distribution where there were just a few gatekeepers. People will always want to watch things, and in order to monetise that, you’ve got to keep up with the trends. We find that really exciting. Currently we’re doing several different projects, some with streamers, some with theatrical distribution.”
Making quality entertainment which is commercially successful – it’s the same challenge for all art forms. But these guys are committed to the game.
“I met David Gim in high school, when we were 14. We made several films, although at that time, your creativity is literally what 14-year-old boys find funny. But a relationship formed. We are friends first and beyond business.”
In time Tristan attended the prestigious Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) while David took an entrepreneurial path, studying journalism and finance, and starting his own business. David definitely has both business and creative genes, being a violinist and having played bass in Brisbane indie band The Surgeons.
“Dave was also producing the graphic novel of one of my next projects,” Tristan said. “So we were already working together.”
David sold his business and was searching for a new challenge. He was actually thinking about riding a motorcycle across Europe for inspiration (as you do) before Tristan suggested he go to the Cannes Film Festival.
“Dave was interested in film, and I had been doing it for the last twelve years, while he went off on his own trajectory,” Tristan said. “I was going to the Cannes Film Festival because Screen Australia had invited me to be part of their Young Producers group. I said to Dave, come to Cannes. We’ll have meetings in the marketplace and I can start to introduce you to people so you get the feel of how to pitch things.”
(On Zoom, Dave said the Cannes experience was very informative, and that this is an interesting time to be in the film industry. South Korean black comedy thriller Parasite had received huge critical acclaim that year and everyone wanted to talk to him about that, as David is Korean Australian.)
“By the end of that session we were committed to working together,” Tristan said. “The discussions that we had with distributors and financiers really added information to our business model, and contributed to what we are now trying to achieve at Continuance.”
Continuance works with filmmakers, writers and other creatives, to get their work made in a way which will lead to them being paid and sustaining a future. If you don’t approach this in a well thought out way, you waste your time and just burn out. We want to empower creatives not to make the decisions that will burn them out.Tristan Barr, Director, Producer, Continuance Pictures
Tristan added that script-writing in Australia tends to focus on ticking the right boxes to win government funding, rather than on being commercially viable per se.
“We want to create an ecosystem in Australia, where you can fund a project from the beginning all the way through to distributing it, without influencing the creativity or commerciality of the project. It’s difficult, but I think it’s a great time to do it. All the systems are changing because of the streamers. It used to be: your film goes to cinemas, then it would come out on DVD. Now you watch content on your iPhone, on Netflix, or you can watch it in the cinemas. There are so many different ways to distribute, it’s a very exciting time.”
“We think there is a gap in the market for creating films and other content here in Australia, particularly for the Asian and North American market.”
Tristan’s film ‘Watch The Sunset’ is showing on Stan right now. “I think every artist gets that there are driving forces which are from your own life,” he said. A few years ago Tristan underwent a operation to remove stage 4 cancer, which left him immobile for several months, and during which time he wrote a lot.
“I love that idea of dealing with your own trauma through art. Because I definitely think that traumatised me in a way. The end scene of ‘Watch The Sunset’, if you think about it as a metaphor, is really about me not having done what I wanted to do, before I pass away. Danny says goodbye to the people he loves, but what is powerful about that story for me is that the character was in some ways able to achieve what he wanted. He was able to sacrifice himself for his family.”
The film industry is so tough, it’s sometimes like a fight to just stay afloat. For me, it’s about collaborating with people who are like-minded, and building a collective of people who will stand with you through the tough times.Tristan Barr
‘Watch The Sunset’ is streaming now on Stan, iTunes, Google Play, Fetch TV, Vimeo On Demand.