"Finding Joy" -- An Independent Autralian Feature Film

Life Wasn't Quite A Melody . . . Until She Met a Dog


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March 31 , 2004:

Media Release:
“Finding Joy” Launches
USA-Based Spiritual Cinema Circle

Laughing Owl Productions, Australia’s leading producer of spiritual entertainment, is pleased to announce that their first feature film, Finding Joy is set to launch The Spiritual Cinema Circle in the USA in April 2004.

Brainchild of veteran Hollywood producer Stephen Simon (Indigo, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure), The Spiritual Cinema Circle is a new distribution outlet for the international home entertainment market.

“The Circle will bring heartfelt, soulful movies to its customers,” says Simon. “And Billie Dean's, warm, witty, insightful first feature is everything that we look for in a film.”

“The characters in Finding Joy are real human beings with deeply felt emotions, hopes, and dreams and their humanity triumphs over all adversity. Along the way, we become so involved with the character's various challenges that we both lose ourselves in the universality of the story and also feel better about being human when the film ends. And that’s as great a gift as a filmmaker can give to an audience.”

Simon says The Spiritual Cinema Circle offers a service that is “unique and deeply needed.” He sees spiritual cinema as a new genre, “reaching the world with inspiration and instilling messages of hope for the future.”

“As a result of my connections in the film industry and my talks at film festivals and venues around the world, I see wonderful movies every year that hardly anybody else gets to enjoy,” he says.

“Hollywood Studios have gone the way of network television – lowest common denominator programming. The only interesting and imaginative filmmaking today is happening with independent films.

“Billie Dean's huge heart is all over Finding Joy and we are honoured to be able to present it to our subscribers. And Finding Joy is so aptly titled that it just had to be the first feature for The Spiritual Cinema Circle.“

Finding Joy is the story of a woman in her mid 40s, riddled with low self-esteem, who wants to be a singer but she can’t sing. She finds the courage to touch her dreams through the unconditional love of her dog,

Released late in 2003, as Australia’s first ever multi-cinema released, digitally screened feature, Finding Joy has been collecting rave responses from audiences around Australia.

“I’ve long believed it was time for uplifting films with heart and soul,” says writer/director Dean. “Finding Joy is just the first of the kind of feature films we want to deliver to an audience that is spiritually hungry. And we are delighted to be launching The Spiritual Cinema Circle. It’s a visionary idea whose time has come.”

Dean, also in demand as Australia’s foremost celebrity animal whisperer, has worked closely with her husband, writer/producer Andrew Einspruch, for the past 18 years to produce quality spiritual entertainment. The couple was hailed as a comedy duo in the 1980s, with their New Wave comedy shows featuring their delightfully earnest New Age characters David and Joanna. They have had over 30 children’s books published, have written for the Nine Network’s "Hi-5" and "Cushion Kids", and are widely published in magazines.

For more information about The Circle please visit www.spiritualcinemacircle.com.

For more information about "Finding Joy", contact Andrew Einspruch on +61 2 4842 2819 or email info@findingjoy.com.


November 22 , 2003:

Media Release:
“Finding Joy” Melbourne Premiere

“Finding Joy”, the first feature film from up-and-coming Australian filmmakers Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch will have its Melbourne premiere November 22 at the Waverly Cinema, Mt. Waverly, with a meet-the-filmmaker Q&A session followed by a party. This builds on screenings and seasons in Canberra, Katoomba, Raymond Terrace, Murwillumbah, Sale, and Leongatha.

Dean, a professional psychic animal communicator and former comedian, was inspired to write “Finding Joy” after working in animal rescue.

"I could have made a documentary about how hard it is for animals in pounds and abbatoirs, but I wanted to touch people and open their hearts. Too many people seem to think that dogs are like toys, to be discarded when the going gets tough," says Dean. "I wanted to focus on what a gift they can be."

"So Finding Joy is a love story. It's very funny, very New Age and very poignant. We're receiving letters and emails from people whom it has touched, uplfted and inspired. I hope eventually this will translate into people being more committed to their animal companions."

Einspruch and Dean, who take the lead roles in the film, have a private sanctuary of rescued animals at their farm in Braidwood where the film was shot. "We currently have 21 horses, seven dogs, four cats, a couple of budgies and alpacas, and assorted water fowl -- all part of our permanent family. My goal is that my films inspire no-kill sanctuaries around the globe."

"Finding Joy" is billed asa different kind of romantic comedy, set in rural NSW to the backdrop of the folk music scene. The movie tells the bittersweet story of Joy (Dean) a woman who wants to be a singer – but she can’t sing. Her life changes when she takes in a stray dog (Raffi). She meets and falls in love with Peter Wolfman (Einspruch), who encourages her to perform with him at the local pizzeria. But the road to bliss is littered with bumps and hiccups.

“The core of the film is about how the unconditional love of a stray dog helps a women with incredibly low self esteem find the courage to reach her dreams,” says Dean.

"It's the first film to really embrace the New Age counter culture, and audiences are enjoying seeing themselves reflected on the screen in a positive way. We've been told its very real. And it is. I told a story about Braidwod culture, in the same way as English films tell their local, heartfelt stories. There's no extra gloss, just beautiful scenery."

The film features cameo appearances by Angry Anderson and Jenny Morris, and the soundtrack is rich with the work of Australian musicians. including Merrilyn Simmons, Richard Steele, the Gillespie Sisters, Katusha, Malumba, and Tribe.

“’Finding Joy’” is distinguishing itself as Australia’s first all-digital feature film, from shooting to screening to trailers. “We have embraced the digital platform from the word ‘go’,” says Einspruch. “The movie hasn’t touched an inch of film stock yet.”

The digital strategy lets “Finding Joy” appear in theatres that have taken the progressive step of installing digital projectors. “We’re very excited to be working with theatres like the Waverly Cinema, which are able to support distinctive, new Australian films like ours, and provide alternative, interesting viewing to their audiences,” says Einspruch.

Rated PG, “Finding Joy” has been hailed as a “film with its heart in the right place”, for its uplifting and funny story, because its characters are real people dealing with real issues, and because it is clean, both in language and image.

The film first came into being when Billie Dean entered the Sunrise pitching competition in 1999.
“I wanted to write something fun,” says Dean. “I’d had enough of dark, gritty movies. I felt some audiences must surely feel the same. Now is the time for hear
t movies with a little extra substance. There are layers in ‘Finding Joy’ if you want them. You can also just sit back and enjoy the romance, humour, and music. It’s a feel good movie for all ages.”

“Finding Joy” was chosen for Sunrise, as one of 10 stories from an entry pool of over 530 submissions, giving Dean and Einspruch the confidence to make an independent feature film on their own.

“Finding Joy” was made with the latest in digital technology and is currently being self-distributed, following in the footsteps of a new wave of truly independent producers.

Contact the Waverly Cinema to book seats on (03) 9803 3671 or (03) 9803 2911 or to find out about other sessions.

For more information about "Finding Joy", contact Andrew Einspruch on +61 2 4842 2819 or email info@findingjoy.com.


October 1, 2003:

Media Release:
“Finding Joy” begins screening in Australia October 9

“Finding Joy”, the first feature film from up-and-coming Australian filmmakers Billie Dean and Andrew Einspruch begins screening October 9 at selected cinemas in NSW and Victoria.

“Finding Joy” is a different kind of romantic comedy, set in rural NSW to the backdrop of the folk music scene. The movie tells the bittersweet story of Joy (Billie Dean) a woman who wants to be a singer – but she can’t sing. Her life changes when she takes in a stray dog (Raffi). She meets and falls in love with Peter Wolfman (Andrew Einspruch), who encourages her to perform with him at the local pizzeria. But the road to bliss is littered with bumps and hiccups.

“The core of the film is about how the unconditional love of a stray dog helps a women with incredibly low self esteem find the courage to reach her dreams,” says Dean.

The film features cameo appearances by Angry Anderson and Jenny Morris, and the soundtrack is rich with the work of Australian musicians including Merrilyn Simmons, Richard Steele, the Gillespie Sisters, Katusha, Malumba, and Tribe.

“Finding Joy” is distinguishing itself as a one of Australia’s first digitally released, digitally screened films. “We have embraced the digital platform from the word ‘go’,” says producer Andrew Einspruch. “The movie hasn’t touched an inch of film stock yet.”

The digital strategy lets “Finding Joy” appear in theatres that have taken the progressive step of installing digital projectors. “We’re very excited to be working with progressive cinemas, which are able to support distinctive, new Australian films like ours, and provide alternative, interesting viewing to their audiences,” says Einspruch.

Rated PG, “Finding Joy” has been hailed as a “film with its heart in the right place”, for its uplifting and funny story, because its characters are real people dealing with real issues, and because it is clean, both in language and image.

The film first came into being when Billie Dean entered the Sunrise pitching competition in 1999.

“I wanted to write something fun and uplifting,” says Billie. “I’d had enough of dark, gritty movies. I felt some audiences must surely feel the same. Now is the time for heart movies with a little extra substance. There are layers in ‘Finding Joy’ if you want them. You can also just sit back and enjoy the romance, humour, and music. It’s a feel good movie for all ages.”
“Finding Joy” was chosen for Sunrise, as one of 10 stories from an entry pool of over 530 submissions, giving Billie and Andrew the confidence to make an independent feature film on their own.

“Finding Joy” was made with the latest in digital technology and is currently being self distributed, following in the footsteps of a new wave of truly independent producers.
For more information you can visit the film’s official website – www.findingjoy.com..

For more information about "Finding Joy", contact Andrew Einspruch on +61 2 4842 2819 or email info@findingjoy.com.


April 9, 2003:

Media Release:
“Finding Joy” to screen at National Folk Festival

“Finding Joy” will be the first feature film ever to appear as part of the National Folk Festival in Canberra. "We are very excited to be part of the festival's program," said producer Andrew Einspruch. "Music, especially folk music, is the heart and soul of 'Finding Joy'. So the NFF is a natural home for us."

The film features music from Malumba, who will also be at the festival.

"There's a lot of folk in the movie," said writer/director Billie Dean. "The main characters, Joy and Peter, test their performing wings at folk music nights at a local pizzeria. And when I was evolving background and foreground sound for the film, it was the richness and intimacy of folk that I was trying to capture."

Described as “a different kind of romantic comedy”, “Finding Joy” tells the story of Joy, a 40-something woman in a mid-life crisis. With little confidence and less self-esteem, Joy has a burning desire to realise her dream of being a singer/songwriter. But she can’t sing. Joy’s life changes when she takes in Raffi, a stray dog, and meets Peter, another would-be musician. Set to the backdrop of the folk music scene and featuring an uplifting array of music, the film celebrates universal themes of friendship, low self-esteem, love relationships, and the joy of dogs.

The screening will be April 20, 2003 at 8:00 pm at the Singing Room (Building M). The festival is held at Exhibition Park, Canberra.

For more information about "Finding Joy", contact Andrew Einspruch on +61 2 4842 2819 or email info@findingjoy.com. For information about the National Folk Festival, see www.folkfestival.asn.au.

 


October 15 , 2002:

Media Release:
“Finding Joy” Feature Film World Premier at Ausfest 2002

“Finding Joy”, the first feature film from writer/director Billie Dean will have its world premiere screening at Ausfest 2002, the inaugural international Australian Digital and Video festival in Brisbane, Qld on October 25th.

The film was selected from 470 entries, including 45 feature films, from 27 countries. It is one of only eight Australian features to make the program.

Described as “a different kind of romantic comedy”, “Finding Joy” tells the story of Joy, a 40-something woman in a mid-life crisis. With little confidence and less self-esteem, Joy has a burning desire to realise her dream of being a singer/songwriter. But she can’t sing. Joy’s life changes when she takes in Raffi, a stray dog, and meets Peter, another would-be musician. Set to the backdrop of the folk music scene and featuring an uplifting array of music, the film celebrates universal themes of friendship, low self-esteem, love relationships, and the joy of dogs.

Billie Dean, a television writer and author, was inspired to write “Finding Joy” when a stray dog turned up on her doorstep. “Raffi joined a pack of seven strays at our place,” says Dean. “But for some reason he was the one inspired me to write about the unconditional love of a dog – the gift that they are to us. And he was a natural for the lead role. I’m sure he came just because he wanted to be a star.”

A love of music also inspired Dean. “In our home town, the folk music club hosts regular events in our local pizzeria. The talent is incredible. I thought it would be fun to watch a nervous person as they grow on their performing and personal journey. But at the same time, I wanted it to be real. If someone’s not a singer, she’s not going to suddenly sound like Maria Carey at the end of the film. I wanted the story told and shot very naturally, and I feel we’ve achieved this.”

Dean also wanted to create something uplifting for audiences. “I think people need feel-good movies now. In life we are looking for joy. We’re also looking for movies with substance, that perhaps we can glean something from that might help us on our own journeys. There are layers in “Finding Joy” if you want them. On the other hand you can kick back and enjoy the humour, the romance, the scenery and the music. It’s a movie with both heart and soul.”
Shot entirely on location in Braidwood, NSW, the independent feature embraced the latest digital technology from beginning to end. “Digital gave us a great deal of flexibility,” said producer Andrew Einspruch. “For example, we were able to choose our post-production team independent of their location. Our editor was four hours away in Sydney. And we’ve never even met our sound designer in person, as he is in South Australia.”

“Also, Billie wanted an intimate crew, and we achieved that by going digital.”

Says Dean of Ausfest, “’Finding Joy’ is part of a grass roots revolution in independent feature film production that is being spurred on by digital technology. Ausfest is to be congratulated, not only for shining the spotlight on films made this way, but for choosing to showcase heartfelt Australian stories like ours.”

Australian and international distribution inquiries for “Finding Joy” are welcomed. For more information, see www.findingjoy.com, or contact Andrew Einspruch on +61 2 4842 2819 or email info@findingjoy.com.

 

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