Richard Finlayson joins Jude Troy’s Wooden Horse

Richard Finlayson and Jude Troy.

Former director of ABC television Richard Finlayson has joined Jude Troy’s Wooden Horse as director and joint CEO.

The duo is developing a raft of projects including an adaptation of JP Pomare’s novel In the Clearing, a psychological thriller about two women who belong to a cult in rural Victoria, inspired by the infamous Australian cult The Family.

Troy and Finlayson plan to meet with the Kiwi-born, Victorian-based Pomare next week and are yet to attach a writer.

The slate includes a UK-Australian co-production created by Giula Sandler and projects scripted by Jane Allen, Sarah Lambert, Tim Lee, James O’Loghlin, Alison Bell, Tristram Baumber and Natesha Somasundaram.

Founded in 2018 by Troy, the former executive VP of TV production and acquisitions for eOne Australia, Wooden Horse co-produced with Aquarius Films the second series of Matt Okine’s comedy The Other Guy for Stan.

The same team is working on the feature film adaptation of Okine’s debut novel Being Black ‘n Chicken, and Chips, scripted by Okine and based loosely on his pubescent years and the loss of his mother Roslyn to breast cancer when he was 12.

Alexandra Cameron, a former journalist who had a producer’s attachment on The Other Guy S2, has joined Wooden Horse as development and production coordinator.

Finlayson said: “Our partnership is a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts. Jude has an outstanding reputation for creative judgement and indomitable energy.

“Most of all, we both believe in the incredible potential of the Australian television industry and our focus will be on working with the best writers and talent, finding the best people and partners to grow with us to bring great projects to life.”

Troy added: “Our skills complement each other perfectly and I look forward to shaping the company alongside him. We hope to leverage our local and international relationships to collaborate externally with the best of the best.”

Since departing the ABC in March 2017 Finlayson has been running his own production firm, Headland Media Group, primarily focusing on premium scripted and documentary projects for international platforms.

Headland Media co-produced with WildBear Entertainment Waltzing the Dragon, a factual miniseries recounting the history of the China-Australia relationship in Australia, for the ABC.

Finlayson’s company also provided strategy and advisory services to clients such as Shanghai Media Group, WildBear Entertainment, Blue Ant Media and Northern Pictures.

Jane Allen (Halifax: Retribution, The Unlisted, Cleverman) is writing a six-part drama based on a true crime involving two feuding families set in remote Cape York for Stan, supported by Screen Queensland.

James O’Loghlin is crafting a comedy series for children based on his book The New Kid: Unpopular Me, the tale of 11-year-old Sam who is determined to make himself the most popular kid ever, even if it takes years, in collaboration with Alison Bell, Tristram Baumber and Natesha Somasundaram.

Also on the slate is a 4 x 1 hour adaptation of the Emily Maguire novel An Isolated Incident, a thriller about a woman’s quest to find out who brutally murdered her younger sister. Sandler is writing the Bible in collaboration with Sarah Lambert and Tim Lee.

Troy tells IF she pitched the Maguire project to networks and distributors at Content London and had terrific responses.

Wooden Horse is working with eOne UK’s Polly Williams on the co-production created by Sandler, who co-wrote the acclaimed ITV true-crime drama White House Farm with Kris Mrksa.

Based on an original idea, the 6 x 1 hour character-driven mystery is set in Leeds and Queensland and is already attracting interest for EOne in the UK.