Eight projects to share in $5.5 million of Screen Australia production funding

'No Ordinary Love'.

New seasons of children’s series, The PM’s Daughter and Little J & Big Cuz are among the eight projects that will share in $5.5 million of production funding from Screen Australia.

The slate of two feature films, two children’s series and four online projects also include psychological thriller Runaway from writer/director Mirrah Foulkes and See-Saw Films, as well as a sequel to Flying Bark Productions’ 2020 animated family feature100% Wolf.

Of the four online projects, there is hybrid narrative-natural history series It’s A Jungle Out Here! from the producers of Playing with Sharks for ABC ME; TikTok series Cool Mum about a non-binary teenager coming out to their mum; a YouTube K-drama inspired romantic comedy No Ordinary Love; and Salma’s Season, which follows a mother as she pursues her dream of winning the Australian Open, also for YouTube.

Screen Australia head of content Grainne Brunsdon said the projects showcased a healthy cross-section of new and familiar storytelling.

“We’re delighted to announce these projects including some stellar children’s content, which demonstrates the ability of Australian creators to produce high calibre, original IP that connects with young viewers,” she said.

“It’s very special that Little J & Big Cuz is engaging children around the country in-language and we are proud to support another series of this ground-breaking production.

“The team behind riveting feature thriller Runaway has an exceptional track record, and we are pleased to support Mirrah Foulkes on her second film. It’s also encouraging to see new, smart online storytellers finding their niche. These creators know their audiences and how to reach them on the right platforms, and we are confident these series will captivate viewers.”

The production funding announcement comes as Screen Australia welcomes two new investment and development managers in Kristen Hodges and Andrea Ulbrick,

Hodges, who started last month, is a producer whose credits include First Day, In Vitro, Ticketyboo, Australia Beyond 2020, Mother Mountain, and Bent 101. She has also worked as a production and development producer for Seven West Media and in development management at Elevate Entertainment in Los Angeles.

Ulbrick joins the agency on May 30 from her role as Screen Investment Manager at Screen NSW, where she has managed projects including The Stranger, Carmen, Mystery Road, Girls Can’t Surf, and Playing with Sharks. Her experience also includes working as a commissioning editor at ABC Factual, as well as producing and directing a range of international science and history co-productions for ABC TV, SBS, CBC, Arte France, BBC, Channel 4, WNET, National Geographic, and Discovery.

Hodges and Ulbrick join investment and development manager Seph McKenna in reporting to Screen Australia’s head of scripted, Christopher Sharp in the agency’s content department.

Kristen Hodges and Andrea Ulbrick.

The funded feature films are:

200% Wolf (working title): A sequel to the 2020 animated family feature 100% Wolf from Flying Bark Productions, and following the popular ABC series of the same name. When pink were-poodle Freddy Lupin goes on a mission to save a baby moon spirit, he finds himself caught up in the magic of a werewolf sorceress. The creative team sees the return of director Alexs Stadermann, writer Fin Edquist, producers Barbara Stephen and Alexia Gates-Foale, and co-producer Francesca Hope, with producer Carmen Perez-Marsa Roca joining the team. The film is financed in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest with support from Siamese. It is being distributed by StudioCanal with Studio 100 Film managing international sales.

Runaway: For her second feature film, writer/director Mirrah Foulkes teams up with See-Saw Films to tell the story of Carla, a young woman immersed in an unravelling relationship who attempts to save her marriage by leading her husband, Clark, into a complex and dangerous world of sexual fantasy that entangles the lives of her older neighbours, Sylvia and Leon. It is a psychological thriller based on the Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro’s short story of the same name about control, innocence, and where true salvation lies. Runaway is produced by Liz Watts, Emile Sherman, and Iain Canning of See-Saw Films, and executive produced by Jane Campion and Jan Chapman. Transmission Films is distributing in Australia and international sales are by Cross City Films.

The funded television projects are:

Little J & Big Cuz Series 4: The animated children’s series for NITV and the ABC centres on 5-year-old Little J and his 9-year-old cousin Big Cuz, a couple of lively First Nations Australian kids who live with their Nanna and their Old Dog. Whether it’s at school, in the backyard, or beyond the fence, Little J and Big Cuz find out about culture, community, and country with the help of Nanna and their teacher Ms Chen. Little J & Big Cuz director Tony Thorne again teams up with producer Ned Lander and writers Dot West, Erica Glynn, Sam Paynter, Danielle MacLean, and Adam Thompson. This project is financed with support from the ABC, NITV, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation with VicScreen, Screen Tasmania, and ACER.

The PM’s Daughter Series 2: This ABC live-action drama series follows Cat, a teenager that has seemingly found her groove as the Prime Minister’s daughter, only to have her school and home life upended when she discovers an unexpected crush, begins a feverishly competitive internship, and outs a shocking parental secret – all leading to the unmasking of a brand new conspiracy. Series two sees the return of writers Lou Sanz, Hannah Samuel, Gemma Bird Matheson, Craig Irvin, and co-executive producer Kieran Hoyle. They are joined by writers Jess Paine, Alexandra Cullen, and Nikki Tran, series producer Tim Powell, co-producer Yingna Lu, and executive producer Warren Clarke. This project is financed with support from the ABC and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

The funded online projects are:

Cool Mum: A 12-part comedy TikTok series that follows non-binary teen Pat who comes out to their excitable mother, Roz. Captured for TikTok by Pat’s sister Stella, Roz throws a surprise “coming out party” to show her unwavering support. But is this “cool mum” support from Roz really what Pat needs and wants? Cool Mum stars Aiden Hawke, Roz Hammond, and popular Australian TikTok performer Samantha Andrew. The series is co-written and co-directed by Jakob Grasa and Naoimh Healy, and is produced by Stephanie Cole.

It’s A Jungle Out Here!: A seven-part hybrid scripted-documentary series from WildBear Entertainment for ABC iview and ABC ME YouTube that combines a live-action narrative with quirky wildlife footage. The series follows aspiring filmmakers, 14-year-old Su and Pharrell behind the scenes of their fictional documentary series Australian Wild, as they try to find the best wildlife footage. The creative team features director Isaac Elliott and writers Anita Punton, Danielle Walker, and Lawrence Leung, as well as writer/script producer Mark O’Toole and series producer Kate Pappas. It is executive produced by Pappas, O’Toole, and Alan Erson. It’s A Jungle Out Here! is financed with support from the ABC and VicScreen.

No Ordinary Love: A five-part YouTube series that follows an ex-couple, Hyun Woo and Beck who broke up seven months ago and are thrust back together for Hyun Woo’s sister and Beck’s best friend, Hannah’s wedding. Still broken-hearted, the exes are forced to work together to find the bride when she disappears before her impending nuptials. A love letter to K-dramas, this romantic drama is written by Esther Fwati, Mina Kang, and Helen Kim, and directed by Chase Lee and Mina Kang. The producers are Joanna Beveridge, Esther Fwati, and Helen Kim.

Salma’s Season: A six-part series for YouTube from Blacksand Pictures. Determined to grab life by the balls and achieve her dream of playing at the Australian Open, 45-year-old Pakistani-Australian wife and mother Salma must battle family expectations, gender stereotypes, and the reality that she’s never picked up a racket in her life. Writer/director/producer Kauthar Abdulalim teams with producers Sher-Li Tan and Lucy Maclaren and executive producers Tony Jackson and David Collins. This project received Screen Australia development funding through the Generate Fund.