Screen Australia announces $10 million of production funding for nine projects

'An Ideal Wife' writer/director/producer Sophie Hyde, 'Runt' writer Craig Silvey and 'Ladies in Black' director Gracie Otto.

The third seasons of ABC series’ Ginger and the Vegesaurs and The Newsreader, as well as a new film from Sophie Hyde about Oscar Wilde’s wife, are among the projects to share in $10 million of production funding from Screen Australia.

A slate of six feature films, two television dramas, and one children’s project will be supported by the agency, including Dario Russo’s previously announced debut feature The Fox, starring Jai Courtney; Sophie Hyde’s An Ideal Wife, starring Emilia Clarke; and drama series Ladies in Black, a series reimagining of Madeleine St John’s The Women In Black.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the “high calibre” projects were a testament to the “remarkable talent within the Australian film industry and the international appeal that Australian stories hold”.

“This latest slate announcement presents an exceptional line-up of feature films and television series that have the ingredients to surprise, entertain, and translate on a global scale,” he said.

“This funding underscores Screen Australia’s commitment to nurturing local talent, showcasing their creativity with audiences worldwide, and supporting innovative stories that resonate. Whether you love crime drama, comedy or period dramas there really is something for everyone in this unique mix of projects.”

Arts Minister Tony Burke said the Federal Government was “proud to support an empowered and innovative Australian screen industry”.

“These projects speak to the incredible breadth, quality and relatability of Australian stories,” he said.

“Australia’s screen sector is something we should all be proud of.”

‘My Melbourne’

The feature films are as follows:

An Ideal Wife: This drama tells the story of Oscar’s Wilde’s wife Constance Lloyd, leader of the dress reform movement that led to women’s widespread rejection of corsets. Told from Constance’s point-of-view, audiences follow her discovery of her husband’s relationships with men as she wonders if there is another, more progressive way for them to live – leading to her own sexual awakening and transformation. Starring Emilia Clarke, An Ideal Wife is from writer/director/producer Sophie Hyde and writers Matthew Cormack and Claire Barré. Matthew Gledhill, Olivier Delbosc and Chris Curling are also producing. It is financed in association with the South Australian Film Corporation with support from the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund. International sales by Embankment.

The Fox: After Nick, an affable heir to a vineyard dynasty discovers his fiancé Kori is cheating on him, a rogue, talking fox that Nick captures offers him a trade-off to fix the problem: if Nick lets the fox live, the fox will help him save his relationship. All he has to do is push Kori into a magic hole with the power to change her into the perfect partner. But after following the fox’s advice, the re-emerged Kori’s new quirks make him question his decision. The Fox is a dark comedy feature film written and directed by Dario Russo that will be produced by Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films. It is financed in association with the South Australian Film Corporation, with support from KOJO Studios and the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund. Madman Entertainment is distributing locally and international sales are managed by Protagonist.

He Ain’t Heavy: Needing to take drastic measures to protect her family, 30-year-old Jade puts her drug-addicted brother Max into a homemade rehab in their empty grandparents’ house in this drama/thriller feature film. But Jade’s plan quickly deteriorates when her mum, Bev, unexpectedly arrives and they discover Max is wanted for a crime. He Ain’t Heavy is written and directed by David Vincent Smith and produced by Jess Parker. Kristina Ceyton is executive producing, with Bonsai Films distributing locally. It is financed in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest.

Inside: After being transferred from juvenile to adult prison, Mel is taken under the wings of Mark Shepard, Australia’s most despised criminal, and Warren Murfett, a soon-to-be-a-paroled inmate. But when Warren is forced to remove Shepard from the picture to pay his debts, he finds a surprising accomplice in the guilt-ridden Mel – with the paternal love triangle that develops between them being their undoing. Charles Williams wrote and will direct the crime thriller, with Marian Macgowan and Kate Glover attached as producers. Bonsai Films is handling local distribution, while Goodfellas will oversee international sales. Inside is financed with support from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund and Screen NSW.

My Melbourne: Set in Melbourne, this feature film is a collection of diversified stories told by writers and actors forming the future of the Australian film industry. This comedy/drama anthology comprises four stories addressing race, gender, sexuality, and disability to offer an insight into diversity and inclusivity based on authentic multicultural migrant experiences in one feature film. My Melbourne is directed by Kabir Khan, Rima Das, Imtiaz Ali, Onir, Puneet Gulati, Samira Cox, Tammy Yang and William Duan, who writes along with Cox, Monique Nair, Nazifa Amiri and Shivangi Bhowmick. Mitu Bhowmick Lange and Leanne Tonkes are producing, with the project financed in association with VicScreen, while Soundfirm is also providing support. It is developed with the assistance of Mind Blowing Films, who will distribute it locally.

Runt: Set in the country town of Upson Downs, this family feature film tells the story of ten-year-old Annie Shearer and an adopted stray dog called Runt. The film follows Annie and Runt as they try to save their family’s farm from drought and hardship by winning the Agility Course Championship at the Krumpets Dog Show in London. Directed by John Sheedy and written by Craig Silvey, Runt is being produced by Jamie Hilton and Jessy Rolleston Palmer. It is being financed in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund, with support from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) and Screen NSW. Studiocanal is distributing locally and handling international sales.

The funded television dramas are:

Ladies in Black: A six-part drama for the ABC about a group of women who fling open their shop doors to the fabulous 60s. Gracie Otto directes all six episodes from scripts written by Greg Waters, Joan Sauers, Sarah Bassiuoni, and Randa Sayed. The series is produced by Sophia Zachariou, Angela Littlejohn, Greer Simpkin, and David Jowsey for Bunya Productions. Sue Milliken and Allanah Zitserman, who produced the Ladies in Black feature film, are attached as executive producers, with Louise Smith executive producing for the ABC. It has received major production investment from the ABC and is financed with support from the South Australian Film Corporation and Screen NSW. ABC Commercial manages worldwide distribution.

The Newsreader season 3: A six-part third instalment of the ABC series that digs behind the indelible images of the 1980s for a compelling, intimate, vital look at an era of great change. Emma Freeman returns as director/executive producer, alongside writer/producer Michael Lucas, writers Niki Aken and Adrian Russell Wills, producer/executive producer Joanna Werner and executive producer Stuart Menzies. New additions include writer Christine Bartlett. It has received major production investment from the ABC in association with VicScreen. International sales are managed by eOne.

The funded children’s program is as follows:

Ginger and the Vegesaurs season 3: Following on from the popular first two series, the new episodes continue the adventures of young Tricarrotops, Ginger in this 20-part adventure comedy series for the ABC. Season 3 sees Ginger and her trio of baby Pea-Rexes meet the giant but timid Pumpkinsaurus during the Spooky Forest’s honeysuckle harvest, and revisit familiar friends they have met in their travels. They will also witness natural phenomena like thermal-air geysers and even a crazy snowstorm, which all the Vegesaurs must brave together. The series is created by Nick O’Sullivan and Gary Eck, who writes the new episodes with Sylvie van Dijk, Rebekka Schafferius, Bruce Griffiths, and Angus Woodiwiss. Celine Goetz and Amanda Spagnolo are attached as producers, while Patrick Egerton and David Webster are executive producing. It is funded in association with and developed with the assistance of the ABC with financial support from Studio100 who are also managing international sales. Post, digital and visual effects are supported by Screen NSW.