The Complete Micro-Budget Feature Filmmaking Masterclass


Nexus Production Group has been making innovative and original film content since 2007. Now based in Malta and led by directors Ivan Malekin and Sarah Jayne Portelli, with close collaborators in Melbourne and New York, Nexus is driven by a passion to create compelling, character-driven stories, for both traditional cinema and online viewing.

Ivan and SJ predominantly focus on producing improvised films in the micro-budget sphere, while also delivering educational workshops for a wide range of platforms and institutions – such as IFH Academy, Cine Circle, Udemy, Skillshare, and multiple Universities – both live and online. Their courses revolve around implementing improvisation techniques and the importance of micro-budget filmmaking, topics that are pertinent to the difficult distribution climate accompanying modern filmmaking.

In 2016 Nexus produced the short film and awareness project Daughter, addressing victim-blaming and gendered violence, and starring Katherine Langford. The film has won multiple awards at festivals around the world and continues to be used as an educational tool in schools throughout Australia, Malta, and the UK.

Ivan and SJ co-produced and co-directed the ambitious improvised feature Friends, Foes & Fireworks in one night over New Year’s Eve in 2017, which went onto a brief cinema release in Melbourne, won Best Drama at Oz International Film Festival, and is available to stream on various platforms and on DVD throughout North America.

In 2017 they also settled in Malta and embarked on another ambitious improvised feature titled In Corpore, filming in Melbourne, Malta, New York and Berlin. Tackling the dynamics of relationships and the need to follow one’s own desires from a female perspective, In Corpore is a sex-positive and sensual dive into the grey areas of modern coupledom. The film was released on Australian cinema on demand platform Lido At Home in late 2020, followed by a worldwide release through Vimeo On Demand as well as Amazon Prime in US and UK.

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Throughout 2019 Ivan & SJ filmed and released seven episodes of burgeoning web series Life Improvised for their website and YouTube channel. In the same year, they won a grant from the Arts Council Malta to attend a Character Based Improvisation (CBI) workshop with coach and mentor Robert Marchand in Basel, Switzerland, further extending their improvised filmmaking repertoire.

As the world shut down in 2020, the duo continued to produce content, producing and directing their third improvised feature, Machination, a psychological drama / horror about an anxious woman struggling to cope in isolation as a pandemic sweeps the world. In the same year, they would also produce their first feature documentary, Cats of Malta. Both films are due for release in 2021.

The directors plan to return home to Australia by Christmas 2021, taking Nexus Production Group back to where it began. However, before they leave Malta, Ivan and SJ are planning to shoot another feature film called Imbedo as a love letter and a temporary goodbye to the island.

Inspired by life and the complexities of being human, Ivan and SJ continue to create work they are proud to share and work that provokes discussion. They strive to pass on their experience and knowledge to fellow filmmakers and help foster a sustainable independent film industry, living up to the connection in the name Nexus.

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