Essential Media Group (EMG) is in advanced development on a cold case murder mystery created by writer-director Erin White – EMG’s first drama since the sale of its scripted division to Fremantle.
Set in Australia in 1992 and the present, the eight-part drama entitled Aftermath will be a co-production between EMG and French studio Federation Entertainment.
The show is being pitched to international networks and platforms at C21’s Content London this week with the aim of going into production next year, produced by EMG’s VP of scripted Michelle Hardy.
The project was developed by White and Hardy’s production company Hardy White Pictures, which has a development deal with Essential, under a Screen Australia Gender Matters grant.
The plot follows two estranged high-school best friends as they reunite to pursue the truth surrounding the murder of their art teacher 28 years earlier.
White conceived the idea two years ago, telling IF: “I’d been looking around for a good story and I was thinking about two young women and a beautiful friendship that years later hadn’t worked out for some reason.
“That then led to one of them being guilty of a crime, which evolved into a storyline about Zoe who, years after confessing to a crime and spending time in jail, started claiming she wasn’t guilty and wanted to clear her name.
“I’d been binging on true crime drama series podcasts like Serial, Dirty John, Someone Knows Something etc and wanted to find a way to bring that kind of detailed, unraveling, amateur-sleuth murder mystery to the screen – and these are the basic elements that brought the show to life.
“At its heart, the show is about a deep and abiding female friendship. Some of the most important relationships in my life are very strong and rich connections to wonderful friends, both male and female, but the majority are female and I think a lot of people can identify with all the complexities and nuances of relationships that aren’t your blood family.
“Secondly, the show is a really compelling cold case murder mystery with a lot of surprising twists and turns with a great dramatic question: did Zoe really kill her teacher? She claims she didn’t, but maybe she did? And if she didn’t, then who did?
“Finally, the series is a vehicle for two female stars in their 40s. I think viewers are really going to get a kick out of watching two incredible Aussie female talents go head to head on screen.”
White, whose recent directing credits include two episodes of Doctor Doctor for Easy Tiger and Jungle Entertainment’s Squinters and Sando, has written the treatment and will be the set-up director. She and Hardy look forward to assembling a team of crack writers and directors.
EMG Australasia general manager Brendan Dahill says White and Hardy have a “great slate of projects in varying stages of development with us.”
Federation’s portfolio includes the Canal+ espionage series The Bureau; Netflix Original series Marseille; Bad Banks, a financial thriller for ZDF and Arte; procedural drama Amsterdam Vice; and Find Me In Paris, a tween series co-produced by ZDF and Opera National de Paris.