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Ghost Bride scares up Filipino business

David Blyth’s independent feature Ghost Bride has had a 25-screen opening in Manila over the weekend after being picked up by longtime Filipino distributor PMM.

Ghost Bride had its world premiere in Auckland in late 2013, the opening night film (appropriately on Halloween) at the inaugural edition of the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Auckland. Its first major market outing came at Hong Kong’s FILMART in March, presented by US genre distributor Acort International.

Ghost Bride drew strong interest at FILMART, and Acort has also made sales of the film to Taiwan, where it will have a theatrical release, and to other Asian territories that have yet to be announced. Beyond Asia, the film has been sold for video release to the US – including an interesting side deal which will see it play US military bases.

The film has already released on video and BluRay in Germany. Blyth hasn’t yet seen any data from the weekend’s release in the Philippines, although he noted wrily that 25 screens was very possibly “the widest international release for one of my films”.

Ghost Bride trailer

Acort is a committed genre distributor, so Ghost Bride marries well (sorry, couldn’t resist!) into a catalogue that includes titles such as Bunnyman Massacre, Rabid Love and Slaughter Creek. However, having been shot in 4K on a RED Camera, it’s fair to say that Ghost Bride’s production values are somewhat higher than a number of the titles in Acort’s stable.

Here in New Zealand, Ghost Bride is yet to progress beyond its initial festival screenings. Blyth’s previous film Wound (which also made plenty of sales internationally, especially in Europe) was released here on DVD through Vendetta, but the video market has dropped off since then. He’s been approached by NZ VOD services about Ghost Bride, and also some of his previous titles.

Blyth explained that while he’s obviously keen to see the film make money, he’s presently being rewarded in other ways, playing a small part in bringing through some younger talent. Blyth found Ghost Bride’s male lead Yoson An via StarNow. Following Ghost Bride, An has gone on to HBO Asia mini-series Grace, which is currently in post. Grace is the second HBO Asia original series following 2013’s Serangoon Road.

In a more formal environment for developing talent, Blyth spent 12 years teaching directing at South Seas. Two of former pupils have recently brought their first features to the big screen: Doug Dillaman’s independent feature Jake recently screened in Auckland and Wellington, and Gerard Johnstone’s Escalator feature Housebound has been busy drawing love and laurels on the international festival circuit ahead of its NZ premiere.

Ghost Bride

Ghost Bride

For Ghost Bride Blyth was also quick to praise emerging producer, Craig Parkes, whose post-production background has been a great help in getting Ghost Bride into the international arena, given the increasingly technically complex deliverables required in various territories.

Blyth isn’t averse to the benefits of experience either. Ian Mune plays a part in Ghost Bride, as does David Bowie’s China Girl, Geeling Ng.

When we spoke, Blyth was about to head off to his local RSA to do an interview with a 97-year old World War II veteran, which continues a strand of work he began well over a decade ago with TVNZ documentary Our Oldest Soldier, about his grandfather’s participation in World War I. The doco aired in 2002 and was the highest-rating of the year.

During the recent royal visit to NZ, Blyth presented William and Kate with a copy of the film. Sice their return to the UK, they’ve been in touch to let him know how much they enjoyed appreciated the film.

The letter didn’t mention whether they’d checked out other titles in Blyth’s back catalogue, although – had their trip taken them to New York – they could have stopped by the New York Fetish Film Festival to catch Blyth’s Bound for Pleasure, made around the same time as Our Oldest Soldier.

As well as continuing his work documenting the experiences of World War II veterans, Blyth is working on a script for a new feature.

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