Aust stars, filmmakers hold US showcase

simon baker naomi watts

Simon Baker, left, and Naomi Watts attend the premiere of "Breath" at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in New York. Image: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP

Some of Australia's biggest stars and master filmmakers are in New York showcasing the nation's film, television and digital content talent.

The four-day inaugural Australian International Screen Forum kicked off with the New York premiere of Simon Baker's film directorial debut, Breath, based on Tim Winton's novel and shot in the Western Australian beach town of Denmark.

Oscar-winning Australian cinematographer John Seale, directors Gillian Armstrong and Kate Dennis, documentary film maker Jennifer Peedom and actress Deborra-lee Furness will hold master-classes and question-and-answer sessions over the four days.

American producer Mark Johnson, who won the best picture Oscar in 1989 for Rain Man and produced Breath and three other films in Australia, said he is stunned by the talent that comes from Down Under.

He is actively seeking to make new films in Australia and said government subsidies and incentives were crucial.

"There must be something in the water because proportionately there shouldn't be so many stunningly talented directors, cinematographers, crew and actors," Johnson told AAP.

"With Breath we got a great deal of support from Screen Australia, the state of Western Australia and Screenwest and without their support we could not have made the movie."

Johnson said one of his first experiences in dealing with Australian filmmakers was with Seale on Rain Man.

The producer said Australians were not only talented, but have a freshness and enthusiasm.

"I was used to American cinematograhers who felt it was a big deal to be in their position, they held rank, made sure someone else moved their chair," Johnson said.

"John was just one of the crew and would pick up equipment and take it to the next set up.

"He almost had a film school mentality and was excited to be there."

© AAP 2018