Poppy Montgomery (Photo: Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV via Flickr)

The Australian Directors Guild has clinched a ground-breaking deal with production arms of the Walt Disney Co. for four Aussie directors who will work on crime drama Reef Break, set to shoot in Queensland.

It is the first agreement between the guild and an offshore production company and ADG CEO Kingston Anderson hopes it will serve as a template for all foreign TV shows shooting in Australia.

The deal applies to the four Aussies who will work with a US set-up director on the 13-episode series, all yet to be revealed.

“We know what the US rates are for directors and Australian directors were getting a lot less,” Anderson tells IF. “We have negotiated a much better deal covering basic pay and conditions, and directors can still negotiate individual agreements. This will help us keep directors in Australia.”

Pre-production has started at the Village Roadshow Studios and the production will employ a large number of local cast and crew.

Separately the ADG is in final negotiations with Screen Producers Australia for a general TV drama directing agreement, which is expected to conclude next month.

The guild is also in talks with the producers of another offshore production and aims to roll out new agreements for directors as these shows come on line.

Reef Break and Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs. Kong are the first beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s Location Incentive Program, receiving a total of $16 million.

The Sydney-born actress Poppy Montgomery will star in and executive produce the series produced by ABC Studios and ABC Studios International in partnership with French broadcaster M6.

Montgomery, who was a regular in the long-running US series Without a Trace and Unforgettable, will play Cat Chambers, a thief-turned-fixer for the governor of a Pacific Island paradise. Her less-than-perfect past gives her an instinctive gift for understanding crime and criminals as she becomes enmeshed in fast-paced adventures and island intrigue.

Black Sails alum Ray Stevenson has been cast as Jake Elliot, a down-on-his luck federal agent who has a history with Cat. Desmond Chiam (The Shannara Chronicles) will play Jake Wyatt, a detective on the island who finds himself assigned to a case with Cat after they have a one-night stand.

Montgomery came up with the idea; the writer Ken Sanzel will serve as the showrunner. Disney Media Distribution holds international rights.

It is ABC International’s second co-production following Hoodlum Entertainment’s Harrow. Also on its slate is The Gloaming, an eight-part murder mystery from Vicki Madden’s Sweet Potato Films, Fiona McConaghy and 2 Jons’ John Molloy and Jon Adgemis, commissioned by Stan.

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