Screen Australia announces $1.2 million of development funding, welcomes new development executive

Ana Tiwary, Chika Ikogwe, and Rose Byrne.

Christmas has come early for 19 feature films, 11 television dramas, and two online projects, which will collectively share $1.2 million of Screen Australia development funding.

Of the 19 projects supported through the Generate Fund and 13 through the Premium Fund, there is Moja Vesna writer/director Sara Kern’s new feature A Way Away, children’s sci-fi animated series Combatoms, and series Just Chidi Things from writer/producer/actor Chika Ikogwe, producer Ana Tiwary and executive producer Rose Byrne.

Screen Australia head of development Louise Gough said the slate incorporated a distinctive mix of projects intended to serve a range of audiences and markets.

“We are proud to support creatives as they expand their body of work across a range of platforms and formats,” she said.

“This includes debut feature films from Jack Dowdell, a 2019 Developing the Developer recipient, and writer/director Bradley Slabe, who created the award-winning short film Lost & Found.”

Screen Australia’s head of online Lee Naimo said the agency loved seeing online creators taking advantage of the opportunities it provided to incorporate development into their project plans.

“It’s great that the creative team behind the hugely-popular TikTok and YouTube series The Formal will no doubt be growing their already enthusiastic following with new series Kick It, as well as Nicholas Colla and Nicolette Minster from Deadbeat Ends Meet teaming up with emerging creators,” he said.

“We encourage more online creators to talk to us early about Screen Australia’s development support.”

The funding announcement comes after Screen Australia welcomed Tanya Mukerjee as a development executive last month. Mukerjee previously worked in the corporate sector as a diversity, equity, and inclusion lead at BBC Television in London as a diversity & inclusion specialist, executive manager at creative diversity network. She has also previously worked as a script editor on programs such as Fireflies, and in script roles on Water Rats and McLeod’s Daughters.

The funded projects are as follows:



The Saviour (working title)
Linda Rachel Royal
Genre: drama, historical fiction
Writers: Nicholas Lathouris, Linda Royal
Co-writer: Joshua Lundberg
Producers: David Lipman, Linda Royal
Synopsis: When a rudderless young woman discovers that her traumatised family has lied to her about her heritage, she is desperate for them to reconnect with the past and travel to Japan to celebrate the stranger who saved their lives during the Holocaust, so they can live despite the fear of persecution. What starts out as a singular mission becomes a rich and complex journey of emotional and cultural connections, reunions, and choosing love and life. 

The Ghan
Triptych Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: comedy, drama
Director: Jeremy Sims
Writers: Joanna Murray-Smith, Emma Jensen
Producers: Julie Byrne, Kristian Moliere
Synopsis: For this group of travellers, the trip of a lifetime aboard the iconic train The Ghan – a transcontinental odyssey across Australia, from the southern ocean, through the red centre to the tropical north – becomes a journey of personal transformation as they let go of their old identities and, through conflict and laughter, discover brave new versions of themselves more suited for the journey that lies ahead.

Aquarius Films
Genre: Drama
Directors: Phoenix Raei, Rhys Graham
Writers: Abdul Karim Hekmat, Roger Monk
Producers: Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford, Osamah Sami
Synopsis: Paradise is the true, devastatingly beautiful love story of two young men who meet in offshore detention on Nauru after fleeing persecution. Met with similar hostilities to those they fled in Iran, and facing harsh Australian immigration laws, their epic story is akin to the greatest triumphs in Persian poetry. Fighting for their lives, forced into impossible choices, their story builds to a finale that is a testament to the great power of love.

Square the Circle
Carver Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama, crime, heist
Director: Ana Kokkinos
Writer: Jessica Redenbach
Producers: Sarah Shaw, Anna McLeish, Ana Kokkinos
Synopsis: Three women – a career criminal, an ambitious cop, and a daring teenage runaway – are drawn into a dangerous game of high-stakes heists and subterfuge that threatens to destroy them all.

The Choke
Roadshow Rough Diamond
Genre: Drama
Director: Claudia Karvan
Writer: Sofie Laguna
Producer: John Edwards
Executive producer: Dan Edwards
Synopsis: 10-year-old Justine Lee lives in a dangerous world of male violence in the rural underclass on the beautiful banks of the Murray River. Against the odds, she triumphs.

Southern Light Global Entertainment PTY LTD
Genre: Comedy, family, animation
Writers: Mark Sherrifs, Boori Monte Pryor
Producers: Timothy White, Nicholas McCallum
Script Consultants: Lark Lee, Georgia White
Synopsis: Skippy the bush kangaroo and her best friend, 15-year-old Sonny, agree to act as guides for a Korean teenage band stranded in the outback. In the process they must outsmart some shady locals.

Most Admired Woman
Aquarius Films & Decade Films
Genre: Drama
Writer: Becca Johnstone
Producers: Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford, Ray Quint, Andrew Handelsmann
Synopsis: As waves of polio epidemics sweep the world, a fiery bush nurse travels to America with her revolutionary treatment. Scoffed at by the medical fraternity, Sister Kenny fights tooth and nail for her methods to be accepted, only to lose sight of a battle much closer to home.


First Light
Majella Productions
Genre: Drama
Writer/Director: James J Robinson
Producers: Gabrielle Pearson, Jane Pe Aguirre, Joey Romero
Synopsis: After dedicating her life to a crumbling convent in the mountains above the Philippines, an elderly nun has her faith uprooted when she witnesses the brutal death of a young construction worker.

Take My Hand
Invisible Republic Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director: Jack Dowdell
Writers: Dean Nash, Jack Dowdell
Producer: Michael Wrenn
Synopsis: Noah, a newly married young professional with Cerebral Palsy is building a life with his wife, Libby. Noah is in advertising and is offered a dream promotion, the only catch is the requirement to play the ‘disability card’ and take advantage of the disabled community he’s always kept himself apart from. This forces him to reconnect with his old university roommate and disabled community activist Toby and his outspoken social media influencer girlfriend, Sonja. As a result, Noah has to reconcile his own feelings and prejudices to other disabled people and face up to himself.

Owner’s Manual: Operation and Maintenance of the Human Body 
Bradley Slabe
Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure
Writer/Director: Bradley Slabe
Synopsis: A girl with anxiety rushes to fix herself when she’s sucked into her own body, which is a series of clumsily-managed power plants… still under construction.

Omar and Dawn
James Elazzi
Genre: Drama
Writer/Director: James Elazzi
Producer: Andrew Arbuthnot
Executive producer: Lisa Shaunessy
Synopsis: Omar, a young gay Lebanese Australian, determined not to return to dangerous sex work and life on the streets, is given one last chance in foster care with an older woman, which challenges and changes their lives forever.

A Way Away
Sweetshop And Green
Genre: Drama
Writer/Director: Sara Kern
Producer: Gal Greenspan
Synopsis: 11-year-old Rana is determined to take care of her family following her mother’s injury, in an effort to keep an abusive uncle out of their lives.

Love Is Not a Verb
Northern Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: romantic comedy
Writer: Rebecca Sommi Fisher        
Executive producer: Catherine Nebauer
Development producer: Darren Ashton
Synopsis: Thomas Carrington, a young man on the autism spectrum is heartbroken when the girl of ‘his dreams’ ends their relationship. Believing that love is a formula that he can solve, and with the help of an eccentric young woman, he embarks on a mission to win her back. He discovers that sometimes you need to let go of rigid ideals to find true happiness.

Genre: comedy, drama
Writer: Allanah Avalon
Producers: Allanah Avalon, Gabrielle Pearson
Synopsis: Between sex work, Orthodox Russians, and a rising Melbourne property market, the twenty-something-year-old Scorpio has a few balls to juggle. To make matters worse, she finds herself pulled in multiple directions; trying to honour the old world Russian values set by her family, while embracing sex, love, and lesbianism for all they’re worth. What results is an irreconcilable cocktail ready to explode in her face, revealing to those around her that there’s more to Scorpio than they know. A comedy/drama, Scorpio traces one young woman’s experience dealing with family expectation, and the lies one must keep in order to sustain a double life.

One Hundred Days
Michelle Law
Genre Drama, Horror, Thriller, Psychological
Director Corrie Chen
Writer Michelle Law
Synopsis Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Alice Pung, One Hundred Days is a psychological drama/thriller about motherhood, autonomy, and the frightening singlemindedness of those desperate to protect their loved ones… at any cost.

Jorrden Daley
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Physchological
Writer: Jorrden Daley
Producer: Jessica Carrera
Synopsis: A devout young woman turns to solitary confinement to surrender her life to God, but instead of Salvation, she finds herself in Hell. 



End Of.
Werner Film Productions
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director: Alethea Jones
Writer: Ash Flanders
Producer Joanna Werner
Script Editor Cléa Frost
Synopsis After taking a job as a legal transcriptionist, a failing performer fights a losing battle with the transcript of his own life.

The Cailleach
Babadook Pty Ltd
Genre: Horror
Director: Jennifer Kent
Writers: Jennifer Kent, Lynne Vincent McCarthy
Synopsis: In 1740’s rural Ireland, the already hard lives of an elder healer and her daughter are irrevocably changed when a terrifying host of creatures begin to feed on the broken souls of their poor and remote farming community.

Big Serious Studios Pty Ltd
Genre Family, Sci-fi, Action adventure
Creator Charlotte Rose Hamlyn
Director David Peers
Writers Charlotte Rose Hamlyn, John Armstrong
Producer Katrina Peers
Synopsis When a group of kids discover super powered creatures (Combatoms) in their small town, they must race to harness their amazing abilities before a ruthless corporation can exploit them to reshape the world.

The Subjugate
Aquarius Films
Genre: Thriller, Science fiction
Writer: Becca Johnstone
Producers: Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford
Synopsis: A near-future, dystopian, sci-fi crime thriller, where two homicide detectives hunt a serial killer in a small-town religious community that has been rehabilitating surgically reformed murderers.

Have I Said Too Much
Hardy White Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama
Creator: Amy Molloy
Director: Erin White
Writers: Erin White, Michelle Hardy, Amy Molloy
Producer: Michelle Hardy
Executive Producers: Ian Collie, Rob Gibson
Synopsis: A window into life after oversharing, Have I Said Too Much? is a half-hour drama series that follows UK journalist, Amy Murphy (25) as she rebuilds her life in Australia after her controversial memoir about being widowed at a young age makes headlines around the world for the unconventional way she tried to move on. Inspired by a true story, and the memoir Wife, Interrupted by Amy Molloy.


Summer Of Evil
Orange Entertainment Co
Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Writer: Michael Hudson
Producers: Michael Hudson, Stephanie Westwood, Diya Eid
Synopsis: An unlikely gang of youths venture on a terrifying quest deep in the bush to save the adults of their small community from a supernatural threat that has enslaved them. On their journey, they’ll also discover that the spooky Dreamtime stories they were told as kids aren’t just stories.

Chips & Gravy Films
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Writers: Alexandra Keddie, Gemma Bird Matheson
Producers: Alexandra Keddie, Gemma Bird Matheson
Script Consultant: Jane Allen
Story Consultant: Jada Alberts
Synopsis: Off the back of a career-defining story, journalist Charlotte Barber returns home to Launceston, Tasmania to make a podcast; a ‘then and now’ piece juxtaposing the current 2017 Marriage Equality vote with the unsolved murder of her girlfriend’s mother 20 years earlier when homosexuality was still criminalised. As she conducts her investigations, Charlotte’s personal connection to the story becomes intertwined with her own need to confront the shame she’s held around her sexuality.

Just Chidi Things
Chika Ikogwe
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Writer: Chika Ikogwe
Producers: Chika Ikogwe, Ana Tiwary
Executive producer: Rose Byrne
Script editor: Alexandra Cullen
Synopsis: After people pleasing Chidi is suspended from med school, she does whatever it takes to avoid disappointing her Nigerian parents. She thinks everything’s under control, but nosy Aunty Janice has other plans.

Bhang Bhang
Every Cloud Productions 2
Genre: Mystery, Dark Comedy, Crime, Magical Realism
Creator: Meleesha Bardolia 
Writers: Meleesha Bardolia, Marieke Hardy, Hannah Samuel
Executive Producers: Mike Jones, Drew Grove
Synopsis: When an Indian-Australian detective, Celeste Pritchard, investigates a high-stakes Bollywood film crime plot at a luxurious Melbourne hotel, she is forced to confront a case she herself may have caused and is thrown into a colourful, dangerous, and morally ambiguous new world.

Jem Splitter
Genre: Comedy, Science fiction
Director: Molly Daniels
Writers: Jem Splitter, Molly Daniels
Producers: Jem Splitter, Malachy Cole
Synopsis: A depressed physicist accidentally strands herself in the year 2000 and decides to mentor her own younger self, underestimating what a handful she was as a teenager.

Ambience Entertainment PTY Limited
Genre Drama
Director: Partho Sen-Gupta
Writers: Partho Sen-Gupta, Cathy Strickland
Producers: Monica O’Brien, Megan Hutt, Faith Martin
Synopsis: What happens when bureaucracy grates up against the complex realities of people’s lives? Through the eyes of a Case Worker, the series lifts the lid on the high stakes and emotionally charged world of foster care, where the devastation of separation and the hope of reconciliation swing on a pendulum of entangled emotions.


Deadbeat Ends Meet
LateNite Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Animated Comedy
Creator: Evie Hilliar
Writers: Evie Hilliar, Nicolette Minster, Mike Greaney, Holly Tosi
Producer: Nicholas Colla
Synopsis: Deadbeat Ends Meet is an animated sitcom that follows housemates Milo (a frilled-neck lizard) and Indy (a dingo) as they reckon with the cost of living in the gig economy.

Kick It
SLAG Productions P/L
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sport
Directors: Monique Terry, Abby Gallaway
Writers: Monique Terry, Hannah-Rae Meegan, Abby Gallaway
Producers: Monique Terry, Hannah-Rae Meegan, Linus Gibson
Co-producer: Dana Bradshaw
Synopsis: Cameron’s attempt to nab the local women’s AFL championship is threatened by newcomer, Angie, and when sweaty tension rises both on and off the field, Cameron must decide whether to play with her heart or her head.