Clock online for filmmaking

In an on-stage interview with Andrew Urban (Urban Cinefile, SBS's Front Up) held at Popcorn Taxi, Proyas previewed the new site, which features attractions for practising filmmakers and film buffs.

For Proyas, this is a natural extension of filmmaking. "The internet is an extension of what I do in day-to-day business. Filmmakers dream of the situation where they can get their work to an audience without a middleman. This is the essential problem of being a filmmaker," he said.

Proyas has invested in a long-term creative project. The site is a collaborative space that provides filmmakers and writers with an opportunity to contribute their ideas in a forum for people to see and for MysteryClock to make.

"MysteryClock.com is a production company not out to buy and distribute other short films but to make our own," Proyas said. "The bottom line is that a filmmaker that has been used and abused by many people wants to be seen." Proyas is embracing the internet for the creative challenge it offers filmmakers.

It is still difficult for concept providers to turn content into revenue-producing business because it is not perceived to be commercially viable. Content of any kind is hard to sell these days and the failed examples are many. So could MysteryClock evolve into a sustainable industry? "It has to evolve into a business. That is what we are trying to do," said Proyas.

The site was developed jointly by Animal Logic Play, the new interactive division of Animal Logic Film, and Proyas' production company, Mystery Clock Cinema.

Mystery Clock Cinema currently has several projects in development with Twentieth Century Fox, New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures and is planning to expand to establish itself as both a producer and distributor of internet-based entertainment via the new site.

Andy Polaine, head of Animal Logic Play, said that the site will not be relying on banner ads as a source of revenue. "At the moment that model is the most popular," said Polaine. "It is seen as the only way of sustaining these things, but we are trying to be more creative in keeping these things running."

Ultimately, MysteryClock.com is an entertainment site for a niche market, and won't take the place of bricks-and-mortar cinemas. But it is also a demonstration of the possibilities that new technology will provide, and how as technology improves, the internet gets closer to being a viable delivery tool for the moving image. MysteryClock.com recommends the use of broadband technology for best results in viewing the site. "It's for the tooled-up user," Polaine commented.

With the advent of broadband technology, Proyas, like many other filmmakers, is excited about the possibilities. "The reality of beaming movies into cinemas via satellite is five years away," Proyas said. This must bring some comfort to him because he comments that the projection quality in Sydney is "woeful".

Animal Logic Play stretches the capabilities of Flash applications in some of the attractions on the site. An animated comic strip entitled "Multiverse" uses lots of different camera movement with tracking and panning. "We're pushing the technology as far as we can. I think what the Animal Logic boys are doing is really impressive - they're really pushing the envelope with all the areas of the site, including the Multiverse program," said Proyas.

Private filmmaking journals will appear on the site, documenting the process of production from the initial concept to its final stages for his popular features. As Andrew Urban noted: "It's a sign that Australian filmmakers are coming closer to seeing the potential of the Internet."

MysteryClock.com launched on November 3.

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Siobhan Chapman

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