Laura and Josh Sambono.

Josh and Laura Sambono have managed to get the drop on seven other finalists to win the 2021 AACTA Pitch: Bite initiative, with the pair set to receive $10,000 in development funds and an exclusive distribution deal with Monster Pictures for their Drop Bears concept.

Delivered in conjunction with Monster Pictures, the horror and genre film development initiative required filmmaking teams to undertake multiple rounds of real-world challenges, such as financial planning, marketing and audience development, and concept art creation.

The eight finalists then pitched their project to a panel of established horror filmmakers, including Kathy Charles, Chris Brown, and Monster Pictures co-founder Grant Hardie.

Drop Bears centres on a bullied Indigenous teenager and an international marsupial expert who must protect a baby koala from a hoard of vicious Drop Bears.

It’s the second consecutive year the Sambonos have been included as a finalist in the initiative, which they said had “fundamentally changed” their approach to new projects.

By going through the process of creating a pitch deck, sizzle reel, marketing documents, and planning marketing content has helped us to better formulate a story idea into a product that fits into the marketplace,” they said.

“It was amazing to have access to Grant Hardie and Alfie Lagos. They provided invaluable resources and support that gave us a new perspective on our project regarding distribution and marketing.”

AACTA awards and industry development manager, Ivan Vukusic said the pair had showcased a highly original premise.

Drop Bears is a unique and fun concept that has great appeal and we’re really happy to be working with Monster to help bring it to our screens,” he said.

“It’s been great witnessing Josh and Laura hone their pitching and development skills over the course of the two years we’ve been collaborating with Monster Pictures, and it speaks to the meaningful education and training on offer by the initiative.

“We’re really proud of this result”

The top eight projects and AACTA Pitch: Bite final are available to watch on the ScreenFest website.

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