Reilly sisters lead all-female creative team on crime series

Hannah and Eliza Reilly.

Sisters Hannah and Eliza Reilly love the crime genre but wondered why Australia has never produced a TV series which tackles the subject from a female perspective, apart from Wentworth and Prisoner.

So when the writers-directors-performers met with experienced crime writer Niki Aken at the Engendered Masterclass hosted by Bunya Productions last December, they came up with the idea of a premium drama series about two sisters who quit their day jobs in their quest to become full-time criminals.

The Reillys then asked Yolanda Ramke (Cargo) and Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God), whom they had met on a Screen Australia/Australian Writers’ Guild’s Talent USA trip last September, to join the project entitled Partners in Crime.

Producer Julia Corcoran (an assistant producer on Jungle Entertainment’s Mr Inbetween, Here Come the Habibs and No Activity) signed on and Screen Australia today announced it is receiving story development funding.

Not lacking in ambition, the sisters plan to produce eight episodes budgeted at $1.1 million or more per hour via their company Bikeshed Productions.

“We want to look at the crime genre from the female perspective and break open the notion of who can and can’t play in this genre,” Hannah tells IF today.

“As it’s our first drama we wanted to surround ourselves with storytellers who are experts in the crime genre. We think it will be the first all-female team on an Australian TV drama.

“The show is about sibling relationships in stressful circumstances and the feminist career struggle.”

Hannah and Eliza intend to play the sisters Katie and May, who face one challenge: Can they make it in the crime world without killing each other first?

Aken, whose credits include Closer Productions’ SBS series The Hunting, Janet King, Hyde & Seek and Underbelly, will be the story producer. Aken, the sisters, Lambert and Ramke will enter the writers room in July.

The series marks a major progression in the careers of the creative duo behind the Screen Australia-funded online comedy Sheilas and the ABC documentary series Growing Up Gracefully, which is now screening on Stan.

The Talent USA trip to Los Angeles was a game changer for the sisters. “It was a great introduction to the US market,” Hannah says. “We learned so much, including how to pitch.”

Another benefit was meeting with reps of the US talent agencies with the assistance of their Australian agents Morrissey Management and Yellow Creative Management. That led to the Reillys signing with CAA for US representation a couple of months later.

“We are getting a lot of support,” Eliza says. “Things are happening faster than we expected; we are both still in our 20s.”