Screen Australia has announced seven television series, four online projects and 10 feature films which will share in nearly $700,000 of Story Development funding.
The slate includes Monash, a drama about celebrated army officer John Monash from director Bruce Beresford; a thriller from the author of Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey, called Cage in the Wild; as well as a television adaptation of award-winning novel The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart from Sarah Lambert and Made Up Stories.
Since July 2018, Screen Australia’s Story Development funding has had two strands – the Premium Fund for higher budget projects from established screen content makers, and the Generate Fund for lower budget projects with an emphasis on supporting emerging talent, or experienced talent wanting to take creative risks.
Graeme Mason, Screen Australia’s CEO said: “It’s great to see such an array of established creators utilising the Premium Fund to pursue projects of ambition and scale. We’re particularly pleased to see more television and online development coming through our doors.”
“The Generate Fund is bringing new voices into Screen Australia’s development slate, and I’m thrilled we are able to support emerging artists like Ashlee Page working on her first feature with Fat Lady, and Dan Prichard developing his first screenplay with online series Sundowners.”
The projects funded for development include:
Cage in the Wild: A feature film from Factor 30 Films that follows a young woman as she leaves the scene of a catastrophic event. She absconds to the forests of south-western Australia where she must learn to survive while being haunted by the horror of her past. This thriller is written by Craig Silvey, author of the best-selling novel Jasper Jones and co-writer of its screenplay adaptation. Director Ben Young and producer Melissa Kelly, who previously worked together on the AACTA Award-winning Hounds of Love, are on board alongside producer Ryan Hodgson (Blame).
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (working title): An eight-part series about a young woman whose violent childhood casts a dark shadow over her adult life. After a family tragedy, nine-year-old Alice is raised by her grandmother on a flower farm where she learns a language using Australian native flowers, to say things that are too hard to speak. Written and produced by Sarah Lambert, writer of Lambs of God and creator of hit drama Love Child, this series is based on the novel of the same name which won the General Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards 2019. It will also be produced by Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson, Steve Hutensky and Casey Haver from Made Up Stories.
Monash: A feature film from acclaimed director Bruce Beresford, whose credits include Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy and Ladies in Black. The film tells the true story of Australian army general John Monash, who in World War I was faced with annihilation on the western front, and against extraordinary odds led those under his command to victory. Beresford is joined by writer Louis Nowra and producer Helen Leake who previously worked together on Heaven’s Burning and Black and White.
Fat Lady: A crime comedy about agoraphobic Joan, whose only contact with the outside world is her string of home carers. When Kelly takes on the job to escape an abusive relationship, they become unexpected partners in a new business venture – selling ecstasy on the dark web. This project is the first feature film from Ash Page, writer and director of award-winning short films such as The Kiss. Page will team up with producers Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton from Causeway Films whose previous projects include The Nightingale, Buoyancy and Cargo.
Partners in Crime: An eight-part television series from Hannah and Eliza Reilly and Bikeshed Productions, which follows sisters Katie and May as they quit their day jobs in their quest to become full-time criminals. Can they make it in the crime world without killing each other first? This dramedy is the latest project from the duo, off the back of their online series Sheilas which received funding under Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative. The all-female creative team also features producer Julia Corcoran (assistant producer on Mr Inbetween), story producer Niki Aken (The Hunting), and a writers’ room featuring Yolanda Ramke (Cargo) and Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God).
Secret Threads: A six-part television series set in Melbourne’s tight-knit Hmong-Laos community. The series follows Parita Waters who, after her nephew dies suspiciously, is driven to uncover the truth of a government conspiracy and her family’s war-time transgressions. This project is created by Rebecca Ingram and written by Mike Jones, award-winning playwright Michele Lee (Hungry Ghosts) who will draw on her own Hmong-Laos heritage, as well as Kris Wyld (Pulse).
Sundowners: A six-part online series from On The Deck Productions, set in a world where a mysterious virus has attacked and transformed the female population. When young mother Dawn is infected, she comes to depend on her son Tash to protect her, from both the dangers outside her front door and those that lie within her. Sundowners is the first screenplay from writer and producer Dan Prichard, who participated in Screen Australia’s Developing the Developer program in 2018. Laura Scrivano (The Language of Love) is attached as director.
Voices in Deep: A feature film from Small Village Films and Exile Entertainment about an Australian humanitarian worker and two orphaned refugees whose lives are connected by a tragic accident at sea. They must each overcome insurmountable odds to survive in present-day Athens. It will be written, directed and produced by Jason Raftopoulos whose film West of Sunshine premiered at Venice International Film Festival in 2017. Alexandros Ouzas, who previously worked with Raftopoulos on West of Sunshine, will also produce.
Log: A 13-part animated comedy series for children centred on a log which drifts into the lives of people in need. Like Wilson from Castaway, Log is whatever people need it to be. From lying still in the dark and tripping up a burglar, to rolling down a hill at speed causing bullies to scatter with fear, Log always manages to turn up at just the right time. And although Log might not walk, talk or even technically be alive, Log is a solid and reliable friend. This project is presented by Bryony McLachlan, Daniel Nixon, Alyssa Smedley and Simon Howe from newly formed production company Pirate Size Productions, with Starburns Industries Animation Studio serving as creative consultants.