David Jowsey Films | BUNYA Productions
This was the website for David Jowsey's film production company, BUNYA Productions, a boutique digital feature film production house based out of Sydney.
In 2009 David Jowsey formed a new production company with acclaimed director Ivan Sen.
Content is from the site's 2010-2012 archived pages, as well as from other sources.
BUNYA Productions is a boutique feature film production company based in Sydney. David Jowsey and Ivan Sen are the principals of BUNYA. David Jowsey is a former Television Executive with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV). David has an extensive background in television production across many genres and programming styles. In 2009 he teamed up with Award winning writer, director Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds, Dreamland) to produce a slate of original and unique digital feature films. A new feature Toomelah has just been approved for production in Australia and shoots April 2010.
In 2009 David Jowsey formed a new production company with acclaimed director Ivan Sen. BUNYA Productions is a boutique digital feature film production house based out of Sydney.
BUNYA first produced the Ivan Sen's experimental digital Sci Fi feature DREAMLAND. The latest feature by Ivan Sen is TOOMELAH selected in Un Certain Regard at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
David has also produced the features MAD BASTARDS by Brendan Fletcher which was selected in competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, World Cinema section. He is currently producing SATELLITE BOY by Catriona McKenzie.
A former Commissioning Editor and Executive Producer for twelve years with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC TV). David Jowsey oversaw many television programs, including, live entertainment and special events, magazine series, music programs, drama and over a hundred documentaries and documentary series, many of which have won awards both in Australia and Internationally.
P. O. Box 7237
Sydney NSW 2026
+61 (0)419 445 374
Chasing the Dragon
An Ivan Sen Film
Producer: David Jowsey
Writer/Director: Ivan Sen
Genre: Feature, Martial Arts
Status: Scripting, Casting, Financing
Locations: Hong Kong, Macau, China
Delivery: 30 June 2011
Duration: 95 mins
BUNYA Productions Pty Ltd
P. O. Box 7237 Bondi Beach,
Sydney 2026, Australia
Chasing the Dragon Is a martial arts assassin film. Set at night in the neon of Hong Kong – the film is like Bladerunner meets Raise the Red Lantern. Dark, rich and textured.
Chasing the Dragon is the story of a master assassin who comes to Hong Kong to do his work and falls in love – but can love change the heart of a cold blooded killer?
Writer, director Ivan Sen is an accomplished film maker. His first feature film “Beneath Clouds” won a Silver Bear at Berlin and played at Sundance.
He has just completed his second feature – Dreamland, a digital sci-fi film about a UFO hunter’s quest for contact. Dreamland is set around AREA51 in Nevada.
Ivan is passionate about working in Hong Kong and has already spent a significant amount of time working on detailed plans for locations, casting and scripting Chasing the Dragon.
We are currently seeking partners for the Chasing the Dragon.
TOMATOMETER CRITICS 88% | AUDIENCE 74%
Debuting Director Brendan Fletcher’s 'Mad Bastards' Shapes Textured Relationships Within a Vividly Drawn Milieu
1/27/2011 by David Rooney
A stirring sense of a place and its people ripples through this moving story of men trying to take responsibility for their damaged and damaging lives.
PARK CITY – Like last year’s Sundance discovery from Australia, Animal Kingdom, debuting director Brendan Fletcher’s Mad Bastards shapes textured relationships within a vividly drawn milieu, swapping an inner-city crime family for an Aboriginal community in the remote North-West.
Set in the spectacular Kimberley region of Western Australia and reaping huge visual benefits from its rugged locations and pristine light, Mad Bastards departs in tone from recent screen forays into this world. It has neither the composed lyricism of Samson and Delilah nor the strained ebullience of Bran Nue Dae. Instead it goes for and achieves unembellished realism, remarkably so considering most of the unselfconscious actors are untrained locals.
At its center a father and son story, the film deals in universal themes of social dysfunction and constricting codes of masculinity that could apply to any marginalized community. If the basic ingredients seem familiar, the handling of them is distinctive thanks to a gaze that’s both clear-eyed and forgiving.
Prompted partly by his imprisoned brother’s enforced separation from his son, brawling ex-con TJ (Dean Daley-Jones) leaves his messy life in the city and hitchhikes north to get to know his own 13-year-old boy, Bullet (Lucas Yeeda). But with little supervision from his hard-partying mother Nella (Ngaire Pigram), Bullet threatens to follow in his absentee dad’s footsteps.
His destructive behavior gets him sent off to a camp for delinquent boys, where an Aboriginal elder (John Watson) takes them trekking across tribal lands, teaching them to catch crocodiles and lizards for food. Aided by Allan Collins’ crisp shooting of the mud flats, mountains and scrubland, this interlude and others underline the spiritual connection to the land in Aboriginal culture.
On arrival up north, TJ finds Nella unwelcoming, and gets off on the wrong foot with her father Texas (Greg Tait). A wild-man-turned-cop determined to be a role model, Tex’s hardass persona doesn’t hide a doleful awareness of the many ways men can go wrong. His frustrating attempts to start a men’s discussion group are hilarious, with participants coming for the sausages but clamming up when asked to share problems.
The inability of men to communicate their feelings is a central issue, blocking TJ’s clumsy attempt to rekindle his relationship with Nella and causing Bullet to react with hostility to his father’s return.
Balancing toughness and tenderness with considerable maturity and restraint, Fletcher went the unorthodox route of scoring and casting the movie before it was scripted.
Having worked previously with local indigenous band the Pigram Brothers, he built the story around their music, enlisting Alan and Stephen Pigram as well as singer-songwriter Alex Lloyd.
Played on guitar, mandolin and even spoons at one point, with the musicians frequently appearing in the film, the score and songs range from rootsy blues to calypso to foot-stomping country.
That musical connective thread ties gracefully into the narrative.
In oral-story videos before the end credits the actors share their own histories – of pattern-forming juvenile detention; of alcoholism and domestic violence; of waking up in prison after a bender with no recollection of the assault charge on the rap sheet.
These and other personal accounts were sewn into the screenplay by Fletcher, with contributions from cast members Jones, Tait and Watson, whose own lives overlap with those of their screen doppelgangers. This anchors the story in authentic experience.
There’s yearning as well as stubborn emotional isolation and anger in these characters, and any harshness in the observations of this richly satisfying film invariably is balanced by warmth.
Mad Bastards | trailer SUNDANCE 2011
** Michael T
Dec 10, 2016
Leisurely-paced study of the plight of the Aboriginal people of Australia.
**** Beth F
August 29, 2014
Caught this film at our local Art Film theater. Brendan Fletcher and his Aboriginal cast deliver a film both beautiful and tragic but, most importantly, one that leaves viewers with a sense of hope. The film doesn't hold back in depicting some of the horrors confronting Aboriginal people living in remote Australia but it also portrays the resilience and humour which so characterise the survival of Aboriginal people in a hostile and racist Australia. Unlike so many other films in the genre of Aboriginal despair Mad Bastards leaves hope and even optimism in its wake.
UPDATE: 2019 Recently I wanted to stream this film, but found out it was only available to stream if you lived in Australia. Boy that blows. The caveat is: Australia released, PAL/Region 4 DVD: it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada. However you can buy an audio CD of the film's soundtrack. The evocative soundtrack features Alex Lloyd with legendary Broome musicians Alan and Stephen Pigram [Pigram Brothers]. I checked out PAL/NTSC DVD players at B&H and was able to buy one. So I ordered the DVD version of the film. Yippee. While I was celebrating my smart move, jumping around and being a jerk, my fav Ray Ban glasses flew off my face and I stepped on them. Talk about dumb bad luck. But gratitude for the internet. I live out in the sticks. To go anywhere takes more than an hour. To get to a mall takes an hour and a half. Three hours to buy some replacement Ray Ban glasses is a bit too much. So thanks to the internet I always order them from Eyeglasses.com. They have two stores in Connecticut, but that is simply not convenient. Now that they have my eyeglass prescription on file it's easy for me to get new frames. By the time my new Ray Bans arrived a week and a half , I had my new PAL/NTSC DVD player. The CD of the film arrived the same day as my glasses. A few friends are coming over and we are going to spend the evening watching Mad Bastards, Priscilla, WalkAbout, and Rabbit Proof Fence.
***** Adam S
Jan 30, 2014
A solid independent film, Mad Bastards was an entry into the 2011 Sundance Festival, and is a great character study. The film tells the story of a violent estranged father, TJ, who goes on a journey to reunite with his son Bullet. Along the way, he meets various characters and learns to let go of his violence. In the meantime, his son is struggling due to the poor parenting he's received, and his only role model is his grandfather, the town cop. What international viewers may not pick up on is the extreme reality that this story has in relation to the lifestyles and socioeconomic issues facing the indigenous population of Australia. While unflinchingly displaying these problems, it also shows situations that can be quite daunting to a white man in Australia (such as a group of Aboriginals blocking the road, which unfortunately has a reputation to mean that they will try to rob you or steal the car) to be quite harmless some of the time. A solid debut for director Brendan Fletcher.
**** Chris M
Aug 31, 2012
Amazing movie, great storyline, plot, characters. The ending was pretty relaxing, leaving with a feeling of comfort. Uncle Black was a great guy, wish I could meet him.
**** Lee M
Dec 15, 2011
While it tackles tough material, the terrific lead performances, stunning cinematography and uplifting score add up to a film that's pretty special.
**** Scott V
Nov 24, 2011
Brilliant show! Deep issues dealt with. Fantastic music, rites of passage stuff, indigenous issues.
**** Jaime M
Sep 12, 2011
I tend to avoid Aussie films but this one was bloody awesome mate! this is a movie with a nice warmness to it, bluesy folk music and lots of soul.
**** ½ Steven R
Jun 02, 2011
It's not so much about a tale that is wrapped up nicely by the end but the journey we are taken on. Much of the film, shown through the main characters journey to connect with his son and to some degree his culture, is a great depiction of indigenous culture of the past and it's relation to that of modern Australian culture. (Excuse the long scentence). Having lived in near the Kimberlys for a while, it was great to see a few familiar places; namely Turkey Creek roadhouse, Broome and Wyndam. It was also good not to have this region 'romantisised' as other films has often done. Oh yeah, great soundtrack too :)
*** ½ Paul N
May 15, 2011
Powerful emotional/regional authenticity, heartfelt storytelling & subtle humour ensure this handsome drama engages, even when it seems familiar.
*** ½ Rene D
May 09, 2011
This film from down under is a tale of redemption and reconciliation. As the movie opens we see 13-year-old boy, Bullet, set a home on fire while TJ, a burly hulk of a man, is engaged in pool game that leads to a brawl. As the story continues we find TJ is Bullet's absentee father. Part road movie, part domestic drama, the movie tracks TJ's attempt to build a relationship with his son while exploring the ideas of what it means to be a man. The movie drew me in with each frame and the Q&A only heightened my appreciation for it. Director Brandon Fletcher discussed how the story was developed based on real life experiences of the actors and other community members. The majority of the actors had never acted which is amazing given the performances he was able to get from them. Another highlight of the movie was the music by the Pigram Brothers. The music was great and was used effectively to comment on the story. We got an added treat in the Q&A - The Pigram Brothers were there and performed a song, which was terrific. I want the soundtrack!!
**** Mark B
May 08, 2011
Brilliant road movie, both sad and happy. The music from 'the bards' is excellent.
May 07, 2011
Well directed & quality performance from Daley-Jones. Every guy has a little man with axe inside.
** Aaron R
May 06, 2011
A really disappointing entry into the current indigenous resurgence in Australian cinema with this meandering, one eyed and overly convoluted film that really had the potential to be something magnificent. It's not to say that it's not entertaining - it is. But it just meanders along and with a sense of "in the know" film making, there were moments I felt distanced by the proceedings because I was watching scenes of conversations about topics I knew nothing about. The source of it's problems come from the editing - with sequences in Western Australia joined to sequences in the Northern Territory so seamlessly that, unless you are actually from there, you're going to get confused as to where the hell you are in the film. (That happened to me). Yes it has a great moral and contemporary ethical core to the film - the effects of alcohol on Indigenous Australlians - and it tackles it head on - but we've seen it before in EVERY SINGLE Aboriginal based film in current day outside of BRAN NUE DAE. It's not done badly at all - but this sincerely, could've been so so much more...
**** Adrian E
May 04, 2011
A real charmer. Rich and red and dusty.
**** ½ Dave C
May 03, 2011
This is a fairly confrontational film about life in the Kimberley, acted by people who have lived the problems described in the film, but sometimes there is a flatness to the presentation that is less than perfect. There is also a cake and eat it acceptance of male violence which emerges towards the end. John Wayne could have swaggered through several scenes announcing "Pilgrim, fill your hands..." Having said that, there is a real heart beating here and the film is well worth seeing. Tourism should do well from the settings and the music is great although it's use is a bit gratuitous at times I thought. So... unreservedly recommended with reservations. ;-)
**** Steve P
May 03, 2011
Very moving realist look at aspects of aboriginal culture in and around the Kimberleys in Western Australia. Acting is amazing. Inspired by oral stories of people in the area. Slow and subtle and essential viewing for those who are genuinely interested in the plight and hopes of our indigenous people.
** ½ Steve S
Jan 19, 2011
**1/2 (out of four) Yeah! My first film from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. It is the Australian drama written and directed by Brendan Fletcher. The film has a wonderful visual style and is well directed. It does a good job of capturing a specific place in the wilds of the Kimberly region of Australia. I wish the script was a bit tighter and the lead character of TJ was better fleshed out. He seems a bit like a thug that would be at home in a Steven Seagal movie. In fact that is the films biggest ostacle. It feels like a better than average film from a huge action star. The performance by Ngaire Pigram helps ground the film a lot. He plays the area cop and makes the biggest impression on this audience member. TJ (Dean Daley-Jones) lives a wild and rough life. But that will seem easy compared to the journey he takes to go back to Northwestern Australia to try and help save his son from taking a similiar path in life.
An Ivan Sen Film
Producer: David Jowsey
Writer/Director: Ivan Sen
Format: HD Cam
Completed: Feb 19 2010
BUNYA Productions Pty Ltd
P. O. Box 7237 Bondi Beach,
Sydney 2026, Australia
Dreamland: An Ivan Sen film.
Dan Freeman, an obsessive UFO hunter, roams the Nevada desert around ‘AREA 51’ searching the skies for contact …
But alone in the desert he awakens to a bigger mystery ….
Dan Freeman is an obsessive UFO hunter, alienated by life. Dan has left his wife, his Las Vegas home and his former world behind...
Living out of his Ford Bronco, he drives the desert roads surrounding AREA 51, the secret American military base in Nevada.
His Bronco is dwarfed by the scale of the mountains and the endless road ahead… a passing sign reads “ Welcome to the Extra Terrestrial Highway”.
Spellbound by dreams of galactic journeys to new worlds… Dan is slowly hypnotized by the desert, his passage of time eroded.
Constantly searching the skies for contact, binoculars hanging from his neck, he is a space traveller, on the ultimate quest.
Searching for the highway to the heavens.
His wife April, arrives in the desert to find him. She is haunted by a sense of loss and of life forgone. April searches for a sense of truth within herself, to reconcile her intentions.
Dan totally alone, craves the fulfillment of undefined desire…The isolation of the desert and his vivid nightly dreams induce a profound intimacy with the natural world … he surrenders to its beauty and power…
He finds himself on the border of reality, at the edge of the restricted zone of AREA 51 – the world’s most mysterious space of non existence – Codenamed: Dreamland.
Dreamland is a unique quest for purity and meaning, connected to our fear of what may be “out there” in the cosmos, and also ‘within’, when our essential aloneness is confronted.
This article first appeared in IF Magazine issue #156 (Dec-Jan).
Take Two: Ivan Sen and David Jowsey
Fri 20/06/2014 11:17 AM]
By Jessica Shields
The working relationship between David Jowsey and Ivan Sen goes way before they formed boutique feature film company BUNYA in 2009. Outback noir film, Mystery Road, marks the latest stepping stone in the pair’s shared career path.The director and producer duo talk to Emily Blatchford about their partnership.
Ivan and I have a long history of working together at the ABC. Ivan made programs and documentaries for the ABC which I commissioned. For maybe four or five years we made a documentary every year.
Eventually there came a time where I said, “look, I want to get back into making drama.” Ivan had this plan to shoot a very low-budget, sci-fi film in Nevada called Dreamland so I ended up getting involved with discussions about that. One thing led to another and I said, “Right. I’ll leave and we’ll do this together and we’ll form a company and we’ll set out in the world and go on an adventure.” So I promptly left the ABC, we set up BUNYA productions and away we went.
Ivan is really the creative leader of the company and I’m the producer. I run the business and he is the creative engine. It’s a good balance and I think you do need both. A director could consider having an agent and getting people to negotiate for them but Ivan benefits more directly from being the owner of the company. He has more control over what he does. And me, I get to work beside Ivan, which is a big plus.
I don’t think either of us have a particularly commercial sensibility. Working out a way to be slightly more mainstream in the sense of finding a wider audience is a struggle for us. Our tendency is to talk one another into doing slightly crazy, arthouse stuff and to go off on tangents that are interesting to us rather than being more business-like. We’ve tried to become more focused on that and Mystery Road was a direct result.
Ivan is a very unusual person in the sense that he is highly creative but he’s also very technically-minded. It’s not something you find a lot, where there’s that crossover. I’m just a lucky person to be able to tap into a mind like that. On the reverse side of that, I had many years working in a TV station where I was able to manage the government systems and bureaucracies of film funding. So I’ve got a good understanding of how to manage that process and to make it work for us.
In the first few years we spent a lot of time in each other’s company, now we’ve sort of got our own lives. We live in separate locations and go about our business separately. You have to have an ongoing trust in the relationship and sometimes that’s a tricky thing. Ivan and I work in each other’s interests and I think that’s the key.
I think my first contact with David was around 1997 in Alice Springs. He was the manager at CAAMA (Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association) and I was doing one of my first television documentaries for the ABC. He left CAAMA for the ABC and that’swhen we began working together. I distantly remember his relaxed attitude and his genuine understanding of Indigenous people.
After making a lot of TV documentaries, it was around 2008 that we decided to make an experimental feature film together. With this film and plans of making a production company together, David made the big decision to leave the ABC.
For the first film, it was only really the two of us. We funded it from our own pockets and that set up a model of working which was very efficient and intimate. Both of us developed multitasking abilities, which we have carried with us into larger projects. I guess it’s been David’s strong belief in me and my potential that has taught and encouraged me to be brave and push boundaries.
David and I are similar in the sense that we are both pretty calm and try not to get too carried away with negativity or unnecessary details. If something not so great happens, we just get on with it and do what we can to deal with the issue. Also, we both share our long term goals of reaching bigger audiences with meaningful films. I guess David is slightly more social than me, although I know he enjoys a bit of isolation, like myself. I admire David’s generosity, sincerity, his calmness and his ability to get excited and passionate about a project.
If David were to describe me, he’d probably say that I was a workaholic.
Over the years, I don’t think our relationship has really changed all that much. We don’t see a whole lot of each other these days. Maybe that’s the secret to our success!
There is certainly a long working future ahead of David and I, we’ve got a lot of stories we want to make with BUNYA. You’re always one film wiser when you go into the next one, so we always want to make sure we step up a level, not repeat ourselves and keep on learning.
Bunya Productions has produced a slate of award winning feature films, all of which have premiered in selection at a top international film festival; Mystery Road (Toronto) Toomelah (Cannes), Mad Bastards (Sundance), Satellite Boy (Berlin and Toronto), and Dreamland (Busan).