Screen Australia announces $1 million in story development funding for 33 projects

'Bear the Dog'.

Feature films from directors Tony Ayres and Gracie Otto, as well Aunty Donna’s production company Haven’t You Done Well Productions, are among the 33 projects to share in $1 million of story development funding from Screen Australia.

The agency will support a slate of 19 feature films, 13 television dramas and one feature-length project to be released online, with the announcement including the remainder of titles funded in the 2021/22 financial year, during which Screen Australia supplied $2.4 million of story development funding.

The list also incorporates the five successful submissions that came through Screen Australia and Australians in Film’s Untapped initiative in 2021Deadname, How Did We F*ck This Up, Pasa Faho, Unloveable, and Salty.

Screen Australia head of development Louise Gough said there was an exciting mix of experienced creatives on track to take their stories global and up-and-coming talent with bold concepts.

“Knowing your audience is fundamental to a project’s success, and we’re pleased to see applications coming in with bespoke pathways to engage viewers for niche and wide audiences,” she said.

“We’d love to see more projects being conceived and developed for a range of ages, especially stories for children, families and young adults. We encourage online creators to engage with us for development funding as they move their projects towards production.”



Bronte Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama, Musical
Director: Tony Ayres
Writer: Pete McTighe
Producer: Blake Northfield
Executive Producer: Andrea Denholm
Synopsis: In the heart of Sydney’s Kings Cross, an event like no other is about to come to life. Little do the people involved know what difference they will make in years to come. We take the journey with a young man living in a housing commission environment about to explore the world and community of his sexuality and fall in love for the first time. We discover 1978 – the birth of Sydney’s famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Bear the Dog
Hoodlum Entertainment
Genre: Action-adventure, family
Writer: Stuart Beattie
Producer: Tracey Vieira, Stuart Beattie
Executive Producers: Tracey Robertson, Susan Cartsonis, Nathan Mayfield, Brent Emery, Suzanne Farwell, Tracey Vieira
Synopsis: With wildlife ranger Ash continually bumping heads with her co-workers, her boss decides she must find a dog to work with in the field where she specialises in rehoming koalas and ensuring they survive in their new homes. Bear has as many issues as Ash. He’s OCD and was given up for adoption because of his behaviour. Together, with a bushfire threatening the local koala population they must learn that the things that make you different are actually your superpowers.

Byzant Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama
Director: Gracie Otto
Writer: Katherine Thomson
Producers: Antony Waddington, Marcus Gillezeau
Executive Producers: Elizabeth Trotman, Ron Halpern
Synopsis: At the dawn of the 20th century, cosmetics guru Helena Rubinstein leaves Melbourne to conquer Europe, then New York. As the first woman to beat the men of Wall Street at their own game, she discovers the real cost of a global empire when her marriage, children, and sisters’ livelihoods are at stake.

Kangaroo (working title)
Macgowan Films
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Director: Kate Woods
Writer: Harry Cripps
Producers: Louise Smith, Marian Macgowan
Indigenous Consultant: Danielle MacLean
Synopsis: Kangaroo is a family comedy about Chris Matherson who becomes stranded in an Outback town after a car accident. There, he teams up with 11-year-old Indigenous girl Charlie, and the pair form an unlikely friendship working together to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned joeys (baby kangaroos), an endeavour that proves to be life-changing for both of them.

The Laugh of Lakshmi
Felix Media
Genre Musical drama
Writer/Director: S. Shakthidharan
Producer: John Maynard
Executive Producer: Bridget Ikin
Synopsis: Separated during Sri Lanka’s civil war, a mother and son are re-united in modern-day Sri Lanka.

Borella Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Family
Writer: Steve Worland
Producer: Sonia Borella
Executive Producers: Joel Pearlman, Edwina Waddy
Synopsis: When Ruby, 13, suffers injuries from a serious accident, her perfect dreams of a perfect dancing career are shattered. Charismatic ‘dance whisperer’ Ms Cameron, has other ideas, and with the help of Ms Cameron and her new dance troupe, Ruby might just come to see that being perfect is overrated.

Secret Santa
Nicholas Boshier
Genre: Action-adventure, Comedy, Family
Writers: Jazz Twemlow, Nick Boshier
Producers: Jazz Twemlow, Nick Boshier
Executive Producer: Debbie Liebling
Synopsis: Decades after a mind-blowing chance encounter with the man himself, four joyless ex-best friends must go on a globetrotting mission to find Santa. Again.

The Good People
Aquarius Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Psychological thriller
Writer: Hannah Kent
Producers: Angie Fielder, Polly Staniford, Martina Niland
Synopsis: In 19th century Ireland, as the Catholic church wages war against pagan beliefs, three women conspire to free a young boy from evil spirits – leading to tragic consequences.

Two Nations
Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedic thriller
Writer/Director: Trent O’Donnell
Producer: Bridget Callow-Wright
Executive Producer: Jason Burrows
Synopsis: Inspired by the true story of journalism’s most audacious sting. A small town Australian dog food entrepreneur is recruited as a fake pro-gun lobbyist to infiltrate the world’s most powerful gun lobby, The NRA. This grounded, comedic thriller is the story of one man searching for a purpose, one nation understanding how much dirty money is in its political system, and how two nations are irrevocably intertwined.


10 Moments
Big and Little Films and Future Pictures
Genre: Drama
Writers: John Sheedy, Neil Triffett, Tim Spencer, Franco di Chiera, Pete McTighe, Brendon McDonall, Alberto Di Troia, Roger Monk, Samuel Van Grinsven, Adrian Chiarella
Directors: Nicholas Verso, Neil Triffett, Samuel Van Grinsven, Aaron Wilson, Adrian Chiarella
Producer: Matt Govoni
Executive Producer: Michael McMahon
Synopsis: An 11×10 minute anthology feature film that tells the story of a gay male relationship from the moment a couple first meet through to their decision to continue or separate ten years later, using eleven key moments told by eleven gay male directors working in a multiplicity of genres.

A Life Unknown (working title)
Ismail Ahmed Khan
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Writer/Director: Izzy Khan
Synopsis: A young mother, living as a foreigner with her husband in his home country, must learn to live without him after his strange disappearance.

Kylie Aoibheann
Genre: Psychological horror
Writer/Director: Kylie Aoibheann
Synopsis: Returning to her creaky family home in search of answers to her mother’s horrific death, a 20-year-old transgender woman is haunted by the grotesque apparition of her younger “male” self… which seeks to reclaim what belongs to it.

Pasa Faho
Kalu Oji
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Writer/Director: Kalu Oji
Producers: Ivy Mutuku, Mimo Mukii
Synopsis: It’s been nearly two years since struggling shoe shop owner, Azubuike, has spent a summer holidays with his now 10 year old son, Obinna. When Azubuike receives news that his store is to be sold to developers, the task of guiding Obinna into manhood seems unfathomable in the midst of his economic downfall. When Obinna, in anger, commits a shocking act, Azubuike must confront his own demons to be able to rekindle their bond, before it is lost for good.

Wildflower Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Writer/Director: Taylor Ferguson
Producer: Nicole O’Donohue
Synopsis: After the death of her brother and a family divorce, determined 12 year-old Drew navigates a loving but destructive relationship with her childlike mother as she swindles her way into an elite pony club, uninvited. Set against the backdrop of Far North Queensland, this coming-of-age story explores the depths of grief within a dysfunctional family and how it can shape an individual.

Small Spaces
Triptych Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Thriller
Writer/Director: Shelly Lauman
Producers: Kristian Moliere, Rebecca Green
Synopsis: Nine years ago, Tash Carmody saw her imaginary friend, Sparrow, abduct young Mallory Fisher at a carnival but no one believed her. Now in her final year of high school, Tash has learnt to manage the trauma caused by the past. That is until Sparrow reappears and childhood memories come flooding back. As Tash tries to determine what is real and what isn’t, discovering the truth about what happened to Mallory that night is the only key to ending her nightmare that just won’t go away.

The Alien Abduction of Emily Hill
Haven’t You Done Well Productions and Pacific Electric Picture Company
Genre: Romantic comedy, Science fiction
Writers: Michelle Brasier, Sam Lingham
Producers: Michelle Brasier, Sam Lingham, Georgia Mappin, Ed Helms, Mike Falbo, Brett Harris
Executive Producer: Niki Aken
Synopsis: When Emily’s fiance is abducted by a beam from the sky mid-marriage ceremony, she finds herself sucked into her own bright spotlight.

The Border
Good Thing Productions Company Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy
Director: Eryk Lenartowicz
Writers: Eryk Lenartowicz, Yvette Underwood
Producers: Virginia Whitwell, Nick Batzias
Synopsis: The last city left on Earth, an absurdly overpopulated dystopian metropolis surrounded by a malevolent forest inhabited by a terrifying creature that feeds off human sacrifices. Population is strictly controlled, unsanctioned procreation punishable by death, and self-sacrifice rewarded. A hopeless romantic, Matylda, discovers that she is unlawfully pregnant after an awkward one-night stand with Vincent. They are forced to make a choice between the rules of the city, and the creature in forest.

The Coconut Children
Caravan Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Ben Lawrence
Co-Writers: Vivian Pham, Kim Pham
Producer: Paula Jensen
Synopsis: Based on the highly acclaimed, award-winning debut novel, this adaptation transforms the bitter-sweet coming-of-age story where Hong Kong cinema, Shakespeare monologues, and a drunken grandmother collide with the infinite possibilities of a girl’s wild imagination and the desperate heart of a teenager searching for love and identity.

Thomas Wilson-White
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Writer/Director: Thomas Wilson-White
Synopsis: Will Beckett takes a job as an assistant on an international period film shooting in Tasmania and falls into a love affair with the famous male lead. Losing themselves in a gentle and profound romance, the lines between fact and fiction blur, and both men are confronted with reality when their time together abruptly comes to an end.



Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Writers: Marieke Hardy, Celia Pacquola, Nathan Maynard
Producer: Fiona McConaghy
Executive Producers: Marieke Hardy, Chloe Rickard, Shay Spencer
Synopsis: Based on the novel by Robbie Arnott, a young woman with a magical secret flees her cursed family after the death of her mother. In a desperate attempt to bring her home, her unraveling brother hires an eccentric detective to hunt her down.

Spreadsheet (S2)
Northern Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy
Creators: Kala Ellis, Darren Ashton
Director: Darren Ashton
Writer: Kala Ellis
Executive Producer: Catherine Nebauer
Synopsis: Lauren continues to strive for her right to casual sex whilst juggling an ever increasing list of complications plus a brand new format for her Spreadsheet Version 2.0 (breaking news: it’s now an App). But just when she thinks she’s got it under control, she meets someone she might actually “like”. Uh-oh.

The Alex Clayton Mysteries
Magpie Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Writer: Giula Sandler
Producers: Lois Randall, Rebecca Ingram, Ivy Mak
Synopsis: Rebel art dealer Alex Clayton has a strange habit of stumbling upon, and cracking mysterious art world murders. If only she could solve some of her own life issues.

The Outrageously Fabulous World of Terry Logan
Tama Films Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Creator/Writer: John Davies
Producer: Miriam Stein
Synopsis: An acerbically astute 14-year-old finds the courage to face up to a world of bullies and oppressors with his very own brand of outrageous fabulousness.

Sweetshop & Green Pty Ltd
Genre: Drama
Writer: Giula Sandler
Producer: Gal Greenspan
Executive Producers: Ayelet Waldman
Synopsis: In a close-knit, insular religious community, three sisters discover that each of them was sexually abused by a school staff member. As they fight to bring the accused to court, they must each struggle to reconcile the truth with their families, their community, and themselves.


Barren by Choice
Nudge Co Studio Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Creator/Director: Jo-Anne Brechin
Writers: Jo-Anne Brechin, Jo Gowda, Michelle Law, Kirsty Webeck
Producer: Janelle Landers
Synopsis: Three female friends who are barren by choice try to find love in a land of hot baby mamas and men who yearn to spread their seed, navigating social and cultural pressures and their desperate-to-be-grandma mothers who will do anything to unearth their maternal instincts.

Future Girl
Orange Entertainment Co
Genre: Action-adventure, Drama, Romance, YA
Writers: Asphyxia, Jane Allen
Producers: Asphyxia, Stephanie Westwood
Executive Producers: Kurt Royan, Dan Lake
Synopsis: In an unstable future where major corporation Organicore mass-produces artificial food for every Australian, a naive Deaf teenage girl discovers a community of rebellious environmentalists and becomes an unlikely leader – despite being the daughter of Organicore’s top scientist.

How Did We F*ck This Up

Linda Chen
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writer Linda Chen
Synopsis When Margot, a modern-day, ‘hypermarginalised’ and deeply malcontent costume designer is thrown into memories of her past life as a suffragette, she must face up to her past to work out why she’s been experiencing symptoms of PTSD, and to find out what progress truly means to her in a world that feels stubborn, stuck and often f*cked up.

Lucky Country
Naomi Telushkin & Chris Squadrito
Genre: Drama, Psychological horror, Romantic comedy
Writers: Chris Squadrito and Naomi Telushkin
Synopsis: When highly-strung New York advertising executive Emma Izgi returns home to her native Australia for a new job and a new life, she is enchanted by the laidback breeziness of life down under – until she discovers the reality of ‘she’ll be right’ may be far darker than she ever imagined.

Orange Entertainment Co
Genre: Drama, Horror, Supernatural
Writers: Shannan Tamby Lim, Stuart Page, Marisa Nathar
Producers: Stephanie Westwood, Dan Lake
Executive Producer: Kurt Royan
Synopsis: Salty is a supernatural drama about multiple generations of a migrant family in Melbourne, navigating careers, love, life, and their salt importing business while hiding the fact that they are demonic entities from Malay folklore.

Tales from the Crips/The Wheelhouse
A2K Media Pty Ltd
Genre: Comedy
Directors: Colin Cairnes (Tales from the Crips), Jason Marion (The Wheelhouse)
Writers Ade Djajamihardja, Belinda Aitken, Madeleine Stewart, Jason Marion, Sarah Barton, Colin Cairnes (Tales from the Crips), Phineas Meere (Tales from the Crips), Jamie Aditya (The Wheelhouse)
Producers Ade Djajamihardja, Kate Stephens
Synopsis: The Wheelhouse is current affairs in high-speed chairs and Tales from the Crips is a freewheeling comedy series destined to disable discrimination.

The Astrogirl Column
Film Camp
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Writer: Alies Sluiter
Producers: Philippa Campey, Molly O’Connor
Synopsis: A philandering housewife navigates her way from small-town obscurity to psychic stardom, leaving a tsunami of emotional debris in her wake.

Sophie Smyth
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Writer: Sophie Smyth
Synopsis: Based on a true story, Sophie, a 20-something almost-not-a-virgin, is dumped on her birthday because of her autism (well, according to her) and flung headfirst into the throes of modern dating in Melbs — and she’ll do anything to prove that she. is. loveable.



More Sauce
Genre: Drama
Director: Luke Eve
Writers: Luke Eve, Maria Albiñana
Producers: Luke Eve, Maria Albiñana
Synopsis: One pandemic, one baby, a two-year wait and now Maria and Luke are finally getting married but with the world and their relationship so upside down why even bother getting married at all?