‘Facing the Fear’, ‘Mr. Wolf’ crowned joint winners of AACTA Reg Grundy Award

George Harrington, Jayden James and Rachel Kayrooz.

This year’s $50,000 AACTA Reg Grundy Award will be split between two teams after judges awarded the competition’s first-ever tie.

Rachel Kayrooz’s Facing the Fear and Jayden James and George Harrington’s Mr. Wolf were selected for the prize out of the five finalist concepts, with the panel of Debbie Cuell, Steve Oemcke, Sharon Wheeler, Marion Farrelly, and Ian Hogg unable to choose between the two.

Each concept will receive $10,000 in cash and $15,000 in development funds.

Described as a “psychological reality show”, Facing the Fear walks guests through their journey of facing and overcoming their deepest traumas and fears.

In contrast, fellow winner Mr. Wolf is a reality comedy competition series that pits 20 adults against one another over five supersized childhood-themed games. Only three contestants survive and compete in the final game, where they face off against the villainous Mr. Wolf for the chance to win a cash prize.

The announcement of the winners comes after each finalist team met with the judges to receive guidance, before making their final pitch last week.

Kayrooz said her experience within the competition had “far exceeded” anything she could have ever imagined.

“Being mentored and workshopping my pitch with five of Australia’s leading global industry producers and development execs kept me focused on my goal and helped me unpack my project on a deeper level every time,” she said.

“I am beyond grateful to AACTA, the judges, and Mrs Joy Chambers-Grundy, for this opportunity to help all of Australia in facing their fears.

Her sentiments were echoed by James and Harrington, who described their journey as “instructive, constructive, and inspirational”.

“The most valuable part of the process was the time spent with the judging panel; industry titans who we had previously aspired to spend time with, but didn’t have the means,” they said.

“Their support, advice, and critiques are what elevated Mr. Wolf from a concept to a completely realised idea. We can’t wait to share the series with Australia come 2023.”

Now in its third year, the Reg Grundy Award aims to honour the television icon’s entrepreneurial spirit, while also fostering a new generation of ideas.

Media CEO and 2022 AACTA Reg Grundy judge Ian Hogg said this year’s finalists underscored the “incredibly gifted Australian creative ecosystem”.

“Each judge found something to love in each of the finalists’ voices, ideas, and dreams,” he said.

“Their pitches were passionate, real, and raw. Narrowing it down to one recipient just didn’t seem possible this year. Or right.”