Family features Drone Racers and Whale Shark Jack join the new children’s series Galaxy Girl in being among nine projects to share $7.4 million in production funding from Screen Australia.
Also receiving support is dramedy Audrey, the debut feature from director Natalie Bailey, starring actor and disability activist Hannah Diviney, which started production last week.
Of the other titles, there is the Paramount+ One Night, starring Jodie Whittaker, Nicole da Silva, and Yael Stone, and season two of Channel Seven’s RFDS.
Screen Australia head of content Grainne Brunsdon said it was “fantastic” to start the year off with such a strong pipeline and wide mix of projects coming through.
“These distinct local stories, whether it’s uniquely Australian comedy, suspenseful thrillers, or exciting family adventures, highlight how much high-quality drama is being created in our sector at the moment,” she said.
“We’re committed to supporting children’s content to ensure Australian kids are able to see themselves reflected onscreen, and we’re pleased to announce two television shows and two family films that are set to engage young audiences. There is a strong appetite for Australian children’s content around the world which was evident at MIPCOM last year, so we’re thrilled to see more exciting projects coming through in this space.”
Audrey: A dramedy following self-appointed Mother of the Year, Ronnie Lipsick, who is living a life she never wanted, with a derailed career, a husband whose love for life has gone limp, and two daughters who she struggles to connect with. When an accident lands her eldest daughter Audrey in a coma, Ronnie gets a second chance at life by taking on her daughter’s identity – only she’s not the only one in the family who sees Audrey’s comatose state as an opportunity. Directed by Natalie Bailey and written by Louise Woodruff Sanz, the film features actor, writer, and disability activist Hannah Diviney. Audrey is produced by Michael Wrenn, Dan Lake, Shannon Wilson-McClinton and Diya Eid with executive producers Kurt Royan and Roxana McMallan. It is financed in association with Screen Queensland, with support from the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund. International sales will be managed by Bankside Films with Rialto distributing in Australia and New Zealand.
Drone Racers: This family feature is about unruly tween Esme who discovers a talent for the fun, futuristic sport of drone racing. Working with her tech-nerd cousin, she takes her new skills from the beaches, bush, and burbs of their outback town, all the way to the world championships. Alison James is directing from a screenplay by Jules Duncan. The film is produced by Janelle Landers, Aidan O’Bryan, James Grandison and Jessica Mitchell. Drone Racers is financed with support from Screenwest, Lotterywest and the Western Australian Regional Screen Fund. The film is being released internationally by Universal.
Fear Below: From director Matthew Holmes and writer Gregory Moss, this 1940s-set thriller is about a team of professional divers who when hired to locate a sunken car from a river are thwarted by a deadly bull shark. When they discover they are working for ruthless criminals trying to recover their stolen gold bullion, their situation becomes even more dangerous. Fear Below is produced by Blake Northfield and Michael Favelle, with Sandra Tahmasby and Clement Dunn executive producing. It is financed in association with Screen NSW and Odin’s Eye Entertainment who are also managing international sales. Studiocanal is distributing the film in Australia.
Whale Shark Jack: This family feature, set at the breathtaking Ningaloo Reef, centres around 11-year-old Sarah, whose parents research whale sharks. Sarah’s best friend is a whale shark named Jack, who she rescued as a pup. Following a tragic accident, Sarah and her dad move to the coastal town of Exmouth. Sarah wants to return to her old life at sea and pegs all her hopes on Jack’s anticipated annual migration. But when Jack fails to return, Sarah embarks on a risky mission to find him. Written by Kathryn Lefroy, Whale Shark Jack will be directed by Miranda Edmonds and Khrob Edmonds, whose credits include Tango Underpants. Edmonds is producing alongside Timothy White. Also producing are Kelvin Munro and Philip Wade. The film is financed in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest and the Western Australian Regional Screen Fund, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and Filmology Finance, with support from Wade Brothers Films, Minderoo Pictures, and Ulladulla Films.
The Rooster: A mysterious drama that follows a sole police officer in a small town, Dan, who feels responsible for the death of his childhood friend. Grieving, Dan camps out in the bush at the site of his friend’s death where he meets an older hermit who may have been the last person to see his friend alive. As Dan uncovers the truth about how he died, he faces some difficult truths about himself as an unlikely friendship develops with the old man and he realises that all is not as it seems. A debut feature written and directed by Mark Leonard Winter and produced by MahVeen Shahraki and Geraldine Hakewill, The Rooster is funded by Mind The Gap in association with the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund and distributed in Australia by Bonsai Films. It received funding through Screen Australia’s Enhancement Fund.
One Night: A six-part drama for Paramount+ about three women whose bond was all but destroyed by the traumatic events of one night 20 years ago. Now 20 years later, one of them, Simone, has written a book – the one story she could never get out of her mind, and her debut manuscript has become an unexpected overnight success. But it soon becomes apparent that the devastating story the book tells doesn’t exclusively belong to her. Headlining the ensemble cast are Jodie Whittaker, Nicole da Silva, and Yael Stone, with appearances by George Mason, Erroll Shand, Noni Hazlehurst, Tina Bursill, Damien Strouthos, and Jillian Nguyen. One Night is produced by Easy Tiger’s Ian Collie, Rob Gibson, and Ally Henville with Motive Pictures’ Simon Maxwell as executive producer and Harriet Creelman, as co-executive producer. It is created and written by Emily Ballou, who also serves as executive producer. The series is directed by Catherine Millar and Lisa Matthews. It is financed in association with Paramount+ and Fifth Season is managing international sales.
RFDS S2: Following on from the success of season 1, RFDS returns to the Seven Network with another eight-part season. This gripping medical drama based in Broken Hill follows the modern-day heroes of the Royal Flying Doctor Service as they navigate private lives as turbulent and profound as the emergencies they attend. Directing season two are Jeremy Sims, Rachel Ward and Adrian Russell Wills, who also writes with Ian Meadows, Claire Phillips, Kodie Bedford, and Magda Wozniak. The series is produced by Ross Allsop, co-produced by Meadows, and executive produced by Sara Richardson and Imogen Banks. The series is financed in association with Seven Network with support from Screen NSW and Endemol Shine Australia. International sales are managed by Banijay Rights International.
Space Nova S2: A 15-episode second series for the ABC following the space faring Aussie Nova family who, on the brink of their greatest mission ever – travelling to the homeworld of the elusive Stardustians – almost destroy their starship, throwing them off course and stranding their new Stardustian friend Ziggy in parts unknown. Now, to find Ziggy and unravel an ‘imbalance in the universe’, the Novas will have to challenge everything they thought they knew about space: see the unseeable, know the unknow-able, and find the unfindable. The creative team sees the return of series director Pablo de la Torre and head writer Thomas Duncan-Watt, and producers Yasmin Jones and Suzanne Ryan, who also executive producers. Joining the creative team for season two is writer/episode director Chantelle Murray. The series is financed in association with the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and is co-produced by Giggle Garage, Malaysia. International sales are managed worldwide by ZDF Studios, excluding Australia and New Zealand, which are being handled by ACTF.
Galaxy Girl: This 10-part series for the ABC is a coming-of-age sci-fi comedy about an extraterrestrial and all-round extra sparky human being called Lulin, whose Astoradian powers suddenly kick in, complicating her world and make her the target of hostile intergalactic invaders. Lulin must learn to control her powers before they lead to serious Year 6 uncoolness. Galaxy Girl is written by Melanie Sano, Jessica Paine, Michael Drake, Megan Palinkas and Vidya Rajan, teaming up with producer Pennie Brown and executive producers Emma Fitzsimons and Gillian Carr. It is produced by Princess Pictures and Moody Street Kids with finance from the ABC in association with VicScreen. ABC Commercial is managing international sales.