Animal Logic has launched Truant Pictures with the mission to produce genre films in Australia with Australian creatives for international audiences.

The new label is developing a raft of projects with the filmmaking teams of Zak Hilditch and Justin Monjo, Stephen McCallum and Michael Kratochvil, Shayne Armstrong and S.P. Krause as well as Jub Clerc.

The aim is to produce two films a year with budgets mostly in the $3 million- $10 million range, and up to $20 million for more ambitious projects which will likely need a US studio partner.

Animal Logic CEO Zareh Nalbandian will oversee production with his son Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt as vice-presidents of development and production.

“There is a lot of talent in the genre space in Australia among writers, directors and producers,” Zareh tells IF. “We will make films in Australia for international audiences. As a point of difference with other production companies we will bring a level of gap financing. We are prepared to back ourselves. It is a game of averages and we will try to be prolific.”

The Truant Pictures name was chosen for its irreverent tone and to differentiate from the animated-live action films on which Animal Logic built its considerable business.

Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt, who spent the past four years developing family films at Animal Logic, are open to submissions from Aussie writers, directors and producers.

“We have the capacity to put more projects into development,” Toby tells IF. “Truant was born from our passion to cultivate, nurture and promote Australian talent internationally. Working in this space allows us to engage with a diverse range of talent that will represent some unique and often times under-represented points of view.”

Toby Nalbandian.

Schmidt points out the genre category is among the most profitable, citing such break-out hits as Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which cost $US4.5 million and grossed $US255 million worldwide.

Truant Pictures’ entry into the genre market may be timely given the upcoming world premieres of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale at the Venice Film Festival and the Roache-Turner brothers’ Nekrotronic at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The development slate includes The Haunting of Mary Todd with Zak Hilditch and Justin Monjo; Biohackers with Stephen McCallum and Michael Kratochvil; The Galvanist with Shayne Armstrong and S.P. Krause; and The Gooynboon with Jub Clerc.

Screen Australia is co-funding with Animal Logic the development of Biohackers, which is set in the near-future where most of the population is addicted to their neuro-implants. The plot will follow a young biohacker whose chance at forging a new life for his family is threatened when his wayward older brother returns from prison, hiding a plan that could change the course of human evolution.

Truant Pictures is based at Animal Logic’s Sydney studios and will also operate out of its Los Angeles offices alongside sister company Animal Logic Entertainment. The executives aim to begin production of their first film in early 2019.

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