11 February 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

Having a film screen on national television is the dream of every budding film maker. For Scott Baskett, of Legitimate Films, this dream has become a reality. His latest documentary Colours By Numbers – The Sudokumentary was recently screened on the ABC1. Scott gave me the chance to pick his brain and hopefully shed some light on how the rest of us should go about getting a break in the seemingly impenetrable world of the film industry.

How did you get started in the film industry?

Well, I enrolled at the Victorian College of the Arts to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Film and Television focussing on documentary film making. My graduating film A Triumphant Tale has been screened at the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Adelaide Shorts Festival and the Heart of Gold International Film Festival. I started taking it to production companies that I knew of to see if they had any work for me. Through doing this I met my producer-to-be (Michael Green) for Colours By Numbers – The Sudokumentary. I began freelancing and did all sorts of documentary type projects. I guess with word of Triumphant Tale getting around people started coming straight to me and asking me to make films for them. Thus Legitimate Films was born.

Where did the idea for Colours By Numbers – The Sudokumentary come from?

I love a good competition film and this is what I’ve tried to explore over the past year or so with Triumphant Tale and Colours by Numbers. When I visited my girlfriend a couple of years ago in London, her girlfriends gave me a book of sudoku puzzles for the long flight home. I found myself completing 58 easy puzzles in a row just to pass time. It led on to be a small obsession of mine at work and while I was at uni, so I thought that maybe I should try to make a sudoku based film. Then I met Mick Colliss who went on to become the founding member of Australia’s first ever sudoku team. He told me that he and his rugby mates were desperate to represent the country in something and it was looking like sudoku was going to be it. He told me they were rubbish at it but none the less they thought they had a chance. This was good enough for me.

What do you think fascinates people about sudoku?

Everybody has a different opinion I guess. I think it’s the fact that in theory it is a very basic concept – every number from one to nine needs to be in every row, every column and every box in the grid, or something like that anyway. But if I may quote Thomas Snyder (US and World Champion Sudoku Player) indirectly “It’s got an addictive nature to it – once you get one you want to get another…and another…and another… and so on.”

How did you go about getting funding for Colours By Numbers?

I mentioned to Michael Green from Drift Media what I wanted to do and asked if he would be interested in producing the doco. He agreed and fronted a small amount of cash to pay expenses to send myself and a camera man over to Perth for the initial interviews. We happened across some contacts in Perth…who wanted to get behind the team with some sponsorship. They agreed to give us some money in exchange for large credits in a version of the film that would be shown to friends, families and invited guests in Perth as a preview of the final product.

How did you go about selling the finished product?

I finished editing Colours By Numbers two weeks before the AIDC (Australian International Documentary Conference) at the beginning of this year. The AIDC conference is for documentary filmmakers to go to and pitch their ideas to broadcasters form the world over. We were quite lucky in this sense because we weren’t pitching an idea – we were pitching a finished product. At the conference I introduced myself to one of the ABC’s commissioning editors and told her a little about the film. She was excited by the concept and wanted to take a disc with her to watch. Several months later, after discussions with a few other interested parties, ABC sent through an offer of acquisition.

What do you hope will result from your film being on national TV?

First and foremost I hope people watch it and enjoy it. On a more selfish level I’m hoping it will help ensure future work and make future projects easier to get off the ground. I’m hoping that the wider contacts I have made through promoting the doco will help open future opportunities that I can explore.

How far do you hope to take your career?

I want to be a prolific filmmaker. I want to make lots of content for lots of different purposes and in different styles. At this stage I don’t have an exact end point. So long as I’m enjoying doing it, I’m going to keep doing it.

Matt Horne is a Bachelor of Arts student at La Trobe University. This is his first piece for upstart.