‘How to Stay Married.’

Princess Pictures founder/producer Laura Waters and MD Jenni Tosi have repositioned the production company.

Facing two choices – continue to expand or to consolidate – they chose the latter. “Reviewing our structure and business strategy has been such a healthy process,” Waters, who founded the company in 2003, tells IF. “It’s made us go back to our roots and our original purpose. I am feeling re-energised about the company.

“We are passionate and hands-on about unique projects and finding new ways of working with international and local partners.”

The company’s slate includes the second season of Network 10’s How to Stay Married, a co-production with Pablo Pictures, which is in the final stages of financing. Created by Peter Helliar, the first series followed Helliar and Lisa McCune as Greg and Em Butler, who had been married for 14 years and whose lives take unexpected turns after she takes a new job and he loses his.

Helliar again leads the writing team with Liz Packett joining as story producer. Returning writers Nick Musgrove and Trent Roberts are joined by new writers Lou Sanz, Vanessa Burt and Sarah Lang, who is also script editor. The supporting cast includes Darren Gilshenan, Phil Lloyd and Nikki Britton and newcomers Willow Ryan-Fuller and Vivien Turner.

Mike Cowap, who came on board 18 months ago as a senior producer, scripted and unscripted, from Screen Australia, is developing a raft of series including two with animator Michael Cusack.

Cusack has built a sizable online following with viral hits including Bushworld Adventures, Yolo, Ciggy Butt Brain and Koala Man.

The latter, the saga of Kevin, a divorced dad who works for a council by day but at night turns into a koala mask-wearing superhero on a mission to rid the streets of petty crime, loiterers and litterers, was one of four pilots commissioned by the ABC and Screen Australia’s Fresh Blood initiative.

“We’re cooking up a couple of big projects with major US broadcasters. We can’t say much about them at this stage other than they are both very cool,” Cowap says.

In addition, Cowap is working with Ryan Chamley and Nick Boshier to turn their short film Jeremy the Dud into a TV series. “It portrays living with a disability in a light we’ve never seen on screens before and has the power to generate important conversation and potentially agitate for cultural change,” Cowap says.

‘Wrong Kind of Black.’

Another project is Audrey, a feature film about Ronnie, a frustrated mother who lives vicariously through her two daughters. When her daughter Audrey ends up in a coma after an accident, Ronnie has no choice but to follow her own dreams of becoming an actor.

The dark comedy will be the feature debut of experienced TV director Natalie Bailey, who has been working in the UK, and writer Lou Sanz, teaming up with producer Michael Wrenn and Tosi as executive producer.

The Victorian Screen Development Internship offered by Film Victoria, the ABC, Matchbox Pictures and Princess Pictures has had a strong response.

Princess Pictures partner/producer Andrea Denholm says: “We’re very excited to offer this opportunity to emerging creatives from diverse backgrounds and have been so impressed by the number and strength of the applications. It’s going to be very challenging to make the final selections. Together with our partners, we expect to announce the recipients in early July.”

Its four-part online series Wrong Kind of Black, based on the life and stories of Boori Monty Pryor and directed by Catriona McKenzie, won the Rockie Award for best fiction web series at the Banff World Media Festival this week.

The series and one hour film version was executive produced by Princess Pictures partner Emma Fitzsimons and produced by Denholm with Kelly West and Melanie Brunt and is being distributed by Magnify Media.

Waters is full of optimism, observing: “2019 could not be a better year to be a television producer. New channels are popping up every day. Every time I go to the US the bar has been raised again. I find that creatively inspiring. Everyone is thinking globally. When I first started producing there were three doors to knock on, there was no such thing as a co-production and no one was thinking globally.”

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