A mother and daughter team behind the $4m indie sci-fi thriller Occupation have put two of their movie production companies in administration.
A mother and daughter team behind the $4m indie sci-fi thriller Occupation have put two of their movie production companies in administration.

Sad demise: Mum and daughter pull plug on movie companies

CINEMATIC PAIN

Fresh pain has flared up in the Gold Coast movie sector.

A mother and daughter production team behind the $4m indie sci-fi thriller Occupation in 2018 put two of their companies in administration this week.

Carmel Imrie and her child Carly Imrie pulled the plug on their Quirky Mama Productions Pty Ltd and Occupation Two Pty Ltd.

Overseeing the grim job are bean counters Terry Rose and David Stimpson from clean-up crew SV Partners in Brisbane.

Carly Imrie, Luke Sparke and Carmel Imrie.
Carly Imrie, Luke Sparke and Carmel Imrie.

The sad demise of the two entities raises plenty of questions about the fate of the Occupation sequel, Occupation: Rainfall, which is understood to have been shot and in the post-production stage ahead of a planned December release.

The twin blows follow the $12.1m collapse of Carly's firm SparkeFilms Pty Ltd two years ago and its subsequent revival under a "deed of company arrangement,'' commonly referred to as a DOCA (more on that below).

Neither Carmel nor Carly, based just minutes away from Warner Bros studios, returned a call seeking comment on Thursday.

UNDER A CLOUD

After the first "Occupation'' flick proved to be an unexpected hit around the world, the Imries tapped writer/director Luke Sparke to return and oversee the $5.5m follow up on the Gold Coast.

It features award-winning actor Lisa McCune, as well as Ken Jeong, Vince Colosimo, Dan Ewing and New Zealander Temuera Morrison.

Earlier this year, Sparke raised the bar very high for fans keen to indulge in a second instalment. "I think it's one of the most ambitious independent Australian films ever attempted,'' he said.

But the undertaking went ahead under a cloud, with Quirky Mama and Occupation Two suing the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union for at least $500,000 in damages in late 2018 over social media comments alleging the underpayment of some of the crew.

Carly Imrie and Luke Sparke
Carly Imrie and Luke Sparke

They denied the allegations and claimed that some of the financial backers of the film had pulled out as a result. The case remains before the Brisbane Supreme Court but is now on ice because the two companies have fallen over.

Before embarking on the ill-fated "Occupation" series, Carmel and Carly had previously been involved with Sparke in making other indie films, including "The 34th Battalion," "Red Billabong" and "Yesterday is History".

Rose and Stimpson did not respond to messages so we don't know yet how much money is owing to unsecured creditors or whether either of the two firms can be resuscitated.

TROUBLED EMPIRE

As it turns out, Rose is already deeply familiar with the family's troubled cinematic empire.

Following a 2017 wind-up action in court against SparkeFilms, Rose won approval from about 60 creditors for the DOCA in May 2018.

Under the terms of the deal, which allowed the company to continue trading, those chasing money stood to recover up to 34 cents in the dollar from a pool of $4.75m set aside to settle debts.

SparkeFilms, which, as you might guess, Luke Sparke launched in 2012, claims to have one of Australia's biggest supply of military costumes and props.

Corporate records show Sparke stepped down as sole director in late 2017, handing the job over to Carly just three months after that wind-up action lobbed. Sparke remains the sole shareholder.

Carly started off as a make-up artist and she met Sparke on the set of a short film before quickly taking on weightier assignments.

Originally published as Sad demise: Mum and daughter pull plug on movie companies


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