Support announced for eight compelling documentaries as new funding programs finalised

Support announced for eight compelling documentaries as new funding programs finalised

Friday 14 November 2014

Screen Australia will provide funding of $2.2 million to eight new documentary projects, stimulating production of $5.5 million across a number of broadcast partners. The latest funding round offers a strong selection of documentary singles and series from skilful storytellers that will inspire debate and reflection beyond first broadcast.

Following nine months of consultation, today Screen Australia also released the final guidelines for its new suite of documentary programs. The program review was initiated to explore the best ways to support Australian documentary into the future, in the context of reduced funding and changes in audience behaviour.

Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia, said, “We want to ensure we maintain a robust documentary environment in Australia. The quality of our storytelling is recognised internationally – demonstrated by the seven Australian documentaries showcased next week at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. We have a great breadth of local filmmakers and producers and we want to enable them to make the important stories that educate, make an impact and are shared with audiences around the world.

“The new guidelines respond to industry’s desire for both certainty and flexibility. They maintain our strong partnerships with the broadcasters while giving producers opportunities to develop new funding models, reach audiences beyond television and drive more entrepreneurial deals.”

The final guidelines comprise two main programs – the Producer program and the Broadcast program – alongside documentary development support and the Producer Equity program. The first application deadlines for the new programs are 23 January 2015 for development, and 30 January 2015 for the Producer and Broadcast programs. The guidelines are available at

Mr Mason said of the latest funding round, “A broad range of stories will be supported that will show audiences a diverse snapshot of contemporary Australian subcultures – through the lives of hard-living fishermen, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, Indigenous teenagers, cross-cultural love and multicultural cage-fighters. Larger canvas work exposes the extreme views surrounding Indigenous recognition in Australia, the hardship of island life and the truth about the nation’s education system.”

These projects have been supported though the General Documentary Program (GDP), National Documentary Program (NDP) and International Documentary Program (IDP).

Emmy®–award winning filmmakers from Cordell Jigsaw, Michael Cordell, Toni Malone and Rick McPhee, examine the status quo of the Australian education system. The four-part series The Great Australian Education Experiment will be broadcast on ABC.

Norfolk Island (working title) will profile the residents of Norfolk Island and the hardships they face – forcing them to reach out reluctantly to mainland Australia. Producer Jennifer Cummins and director Martin Taylor will receive support for their one-off project which will be broadcast on SBS.

Provocative one-off documentary I Can Change Your Mind About Recognition (working title) follows two fierce individuals who travel the nation with opposing views about the referendum on Indigenous recognition. The film by writer/producer/director Simon Nasht and producer Ruth Cross will be made for broadcast on the ABC.

Funded through the International Documentary Program, Northern Pictures will create a hard-hitting series that investigates the tough lives of fishermen and women and their disappearing way of life on the oceans surrounding Australia. Writer Colette Beaudry, producer Karina Holden and director Adam Geiger will make the four-part series Salt Water Heroes for Discovery Australia.

For the first time the hidden life of the small and highly reclusive Adass Israel community in Melbourne will be revealed in a documentary by producer Dan Goldberg and director Danny Ben-Moshe. Often referred to as ‘Australia’s Amish’, audiences will see the most ultra-Orthodox Jewish subculture battle to maintain its millennia-old traditions in the modern day, with all its subversive temptations and trappings. Mint Pictures will receive support for the one-off documentary Australia’s Amish: The Secret World of Adass Israel for SBS.

Caged follows the trials and tribulations of several mixed martial arts fighters in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs. Some of the competing fighters carry the hopes of the community on their shoulders; others are redeemed by the disciplined training following a life of crime – but all of them are passionate about fighting the media’s portrayal of cage-fighting as an ultra-violent free for all. Producer Nial Fulton and writer/director Ivan O’Mahoney will be supported to make the one-off documentary about the reality behind the controversial contest for SBS.

In a colourful, cross-cultural tale, Love & Marriage in Little India follows three young people from Melbourne’s Little India searching for a marriage proposal in Australia. 360 Degree Films’ one-off documentary by writer/director Sean Cousins and producer Sally Ingleton will be funded for broadcast on SBS.

In a follow-up to the On the Edge series, Over the Edge: ‘Where Are They Now?’ will revisit eight Indigenous teenagers first introduced to audiences in 2009 on their journey of self-discovery. Now young adults, the audience catches up with them five years on to see what has transpired since the last visit. For SBS/NITV, support will be given to Earthstar Productions for the one-off documentary by writer/director Benjamin Rose and producer Fran Dobbie.


4 x 60 mins
Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd
Producers Michael Cordell, Toni Malone, Rick McPhee
Broadcaster ABC
Sales Cordell Jigsaw Distribution
Synopsis The Great Australian Education Experiment – taking the class to task, examining the status quo of the Australian education system.

58 mins
Smith & Nasht Pty Ltd
Producers Simon Nasht, Ruth Cross
Writer/Director Simon Nasht
Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis As Australia heads to a referendum on Indigenous recognition, two fiercely opposed advocates travel the nation to see if they can change each other’s mind.

NORFOLK ISLAND (working title)
51 mins
Heiress Films Pty Ltd
Producer Jennifer Cummins
Director Martin Taylor
Broadcaster SBS
Sales SBS Distribution
Synopsis The residents of Norfolk Island are fiercely independent – but recent hard times have forced the island to reach out to Australia for help, and with mainland help comes mainland rules.


51 mins
Mint Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Dan Goldberg
Executive Producer Adam Kay
Director Danny Ben-Moshe
Broadcaster SBS
Sales SBS Sales
Synopsis Australia’s Amish is a revealing observational documentary that opens an unprecedented window into Australia’s most ultra-Orthodox Jewish subculture – the small and highly reclusive Adass Israel community in Melbourne – as it battles to maintain its millennia-old ultra-Orthodox traditions in the face of modernity and all its subversive temptations and trappings.

58 mins
In Films Pty Ltd
Producer Nial Fulton
Writer/Director Ivan O’Mahoney
Broadcaster SBS
Synopsis Caged follows the trials and tribulations of several mixed martial arts fighters in Sydney’s multicultural western suburbs. Some of whom carry the hopes of their community on their shoulders, others who might have followed a life of crime if not for the discipline of the contest, all of them fighting the media’s portrayal of cage-fighting as an ultra-violent free-for-all.

51 mins
360 Degree Films Pty Ltd
Producer Sally Ingleton
Writer/Director Sean Cousins
Broadcaster SBS
Sales SBS Commercial
Synopsis Three young people from Melbourne’s Little India search for marriage partners in a new land.

52 mins
Earthstar Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Fran Dobbie
Executive Producer Carolyn Johnson
Writer/Director Benjamin Rose
Broadcaster SBS/NITV
Synopsis We revisit eight Indigenous teenagers, now young adults, five years after they went on a journey of self-discovery in 2009 as part of a series titled On the Edge.


4 x 48 mins
Northern Pictures
Producer Karina Holden
Executive Producer Sue Clothier
Director Adam Geiger
Writer Colette Beaudry
Sales Discovery Australia
Synopsis Saltwater Heroes is a series about our toughest fisher folk and a disappearing way of life on the oceans that surround our island continent.

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