Screen Australia backs 17 projects with $675,000 in story development funding

Sam Humphrey and Nick Boshier in ‘Jeremy The Dud’.

Screen Australia has announced the final round of story development funding for the 2018-19 financial year, backing five television series, six online projects and six feature films with $675,000.

The project include Musquito, an adventure film about an Aboriginal warrior from director Dylan River; Jane Campion’s revenge western Power of the Dog; Princess Pictures’ Jeremy The Dud, a TV comedy exploring the moments of challenge and levity when living with a disability; and Afro Sistahs, an online series about a group of twenty-somethings who connect at an Afro hair salon.

It has now been over 12 months since Screen Australia introduced new development funding guidelines, that are platform neutral and have broadened eligibility criteria. The new funds include Generate, for lower budget projects with an emphasis on new and emerging talent, or experienced talent wanting to take creative risks, and the Premium Fund for higher budget projects “of ambition and scale from successful screen content makers”.

Whereas historically Screen Australia development funding had focused on feature films, through the introduction of the new guidelines, the agency also intended to increase the development of episodic productions across the board. Of the projects successfully funded, 57.5 per cent are intended for television or online release.

In the 2018-19 financial year Screen Australia received 378 story development applications across both funds, up more than 75 per cent from 215 in 2017-18. Ultimately the agency backed 80 projects, 48 under the Generate Fund and 32 under Premium.

The Generate fund received 277 applications, of which 69 per cent were from applicants who had never applied for story development funding before. A total of $1.3 million was distributed across the 48 projects, averaging $26,454.97 per project.

A total of $1,446,699 was distributed across the 32 projects under the Premium fund, averaging $45,209.34 per project.

Screen Australia head of development Nerida Moore said:” “We are pleased to see that our revised Story Development programs are supporting a new wave of Australian storytellers while also supporting mid-career and experienced creators. In 2018-19, 59 per cent of successful applicants for the Generate Fund had never received Screen Australia Story Development funding before. This is an extraordinary outcome and way beyond our expectations.”

“We’re also pleased to see a much more even spread of our development funding across film, television and online, better reflecting the screen market.”

“The Premium Fund is also proving fit for purpose, with experienced creators taking creative risks and dreaming big in terms of story, audience and potential production values.”

Screen Australia has also opened applications today for the third round of workshop Developing the Developer to be run in November 2019. To view the guidelines and apply go here.

Feature film projects :

Producer Kate Laurie
Executive Producers Robert Connelly, Liz Kearney, Sam Holst
Director Sam Holst
Writer Sam Holst
Synopsis In an offshore detention centre, after an incident involving his family, a detainee man is kept under the close personal surveillance of an Australian guard, over the course of one day.

Pictures in Paradise Development Pty Ltd
Genre Action adventure, Drama
Producers Chris Brown, Tanith Glynn-Maloney
Director Dylan River
Writers Nathan Maynard, Jonathon auf der Heide, Raimondo Cortese
Synopsis A brutal, high octane Australian western in the vein of The Proposition meets Django Unchained, Musquito re-writes history to tell the controversial story of the notorious Aboriginal warrior and his bloody vengeance against white colonialism.

See-Saw Films

Genre Drama
Producers Jane Campion, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Tanya Seghatchian, Roger Frappier
Writer/Director Jane Campion
Synopsis The Power of the Dog is a chilling story of predator and prey with a sting in the tail that lingers long after it reaches its electrifying conclusion.

Arenamedia Pty Ltd
Producers Robert Connelly, Emmanuel Acuoth
Writer/Director Brendan Fletcher
Original Story Mayor Chagai
Synopsis The story of a young South Sudanese man’s mission to establish a basketball team in suburban Australia.

Werner Film Productions
Drama, Young adult
Producer Joanna Werner
Writer Melina Marchetta
Director Emma Freeman
Synopsis When her mother forces her to change high schools, Francesca is furious. St Sebastian’s? 800 boys. 20 girls. 0 friends. Who will save her when she’s drowning in a sea of testosterone?

KANGAROO (working title)
Film Depot Pty Ltd and Macgowan Films Pty Ltd
 Comedy, Family
Producers Louise Smith, Marian Macgowan
Writer Harry Cripps
Synopsis Inspired by a true story, Kangaroo is a heart-warming family comedy about a disgraced TV Host, Chris, and a young Indigenous girl, Charlie, who work together to rescue and rehabilitate a group of orphaned joeys in a remote outback community.

Television projects:

See-Saw Films (TV) Pty Ltd
Executive Producers Rachel Gardner, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Samantha Strauss, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning
Writer Samantha Strauss
Synopsis Wellness is a character study about a fascinating young woman who could only exist now.

Wooden Horse
 Comedy, Drama
Producer Jude Troy
Director Fadia Abboud
Writers Fadia Abboud, Sarah Walker, Amal Awad
Story Consultant Jane Espenson
Synopsis Best friends since childhood, Samira and Rima are two 30-something Arab chicks. One Muslim, one Christian; one married, one widowed. Both bitch-slapped by life.  Their worlds are turned upside down when their desires and ambitions come into conflict with family and community expectation. Sex in the West is a surprising, sexy, poignant and often hilarious celebration of love and friendship – and finding family in the most unexpected of places.

Midwinter Films, 33 Films
 Post-apocalyptic family comedy
Producer Bridget Callow-Wright
Co-producers Abi Tabone, Gemma Knight
Writers Adele Vuko, Christiaan Van Vuuren
Synopsis Two parents, Lewis and Freya, are struggling to survive the trials and tribulations of raising toddlers… Whilst being smack bang in the middle of the post-apocalypse.

Princess Pictures Holdings Pty Ltd
Producer Mike Cowap
Writer/Director Ryan Chamley
Contributing Writer Nick Boshier
Creative Consultants Daniel Monks, Adam Bowes, Sam Humphrey
Synopsis Jeremy The Dud is a comedy set in a world where everyone has a disability, and those that don’t are treated with the same prejudice, stigma and condescending attitudes people with disabilities face in our own society.

Factor 30 Films Pty Ltd
 Comedy, Science fiction
Producer Melissa Kelly, Louise Smith
Executive Producer Ryan Hodgson
Writer/Creator Alicia Walsh
Synopsis On a remote island in the near future, selected guests have the chance to experience love via the augmented reality game Hotel Amore as part of a bold experiment to prove there is such a thing as a soul mate.

Online projects:

Razor Bear Films Pty Ltd
Action adventure, Horror
Producer Kiki Dillon
Writer/Director Josh Sambono 
Synopsis Terror Zone is the story of Amy, a genetically enhanced teenage assassin who lives a lonely existence hunting mutants through the radioactive ruins of Sydney. . . until she meets Erica a sassy scavenger from the underground. The two go on a journey across the wasteland and discover that even though everything good will fail, love is still worth fighting for.

Photoplay Films
 Procedural, Supernatural
Producer Linda Micsko, Oliver Lawrance
Director Tony Rogers
Writers Anthony Vercoe, Maurial Spearim
Creators Anthony Vercoe, Tony Rogers, Nicole Dade
Synopsis When two female detectives hunt for an escaped murder suspect in a dried-up dusty town in the sunburnt heart of Australia, the case seems open and shut. But there may be another monster in their midst. An Australian procedural series with horror and supernatural elements and an absurd, comic thread just below its dark surface.

Haven’t You Done Well Productions Pty Ltd
Executive Producers Max Miller, Mark Bonanno, Zachary Ruane, Sam Lingham, Broden Kelly, Thomas Armstrong
Writers Brianna Williams, Naomi Higgins, Vidya Rajan, Ben Russell
Director Max Miller
Synopsis An overworked zoo deputy is faced with the closure of the zoo that she loves and must turn to relying on her difficult co-workers and their ridiculous schemes to raise the money to save it, before it is too late.

Afro Sistahs Collective Pty Ltd
 Comedy, Drama
Producers Safia Amadou Hamidou, Mumbi Hinga
Director Hawanatu Bangura
WriterMoreblessing Maturure, Rebekah Robertson
Synopsis Western Sydney’s Premiere Afro Hair Salon – the social hub to recuperate, rejuvenate and glow up away from nosey aunties, ‘woke baes’ and shoddy jobs. Here we meet four eclectic sistahs learning, the hard way, that they’re gonna need more than Afro picks, hot combs and rollers to untangle the mess of their lives.

Dean Thomas David Ferrier
Producer Amanda Reedy
Creators David Ferrier, Dean Thomas
Director David Ferrier
Contributing Writer Michelle Brasier
Synopsis Childish Deano is an animated comedy about an 8-year-old boy with a grown man’s voice and heart of gold, navigating the politics of a small town school yard.

Raygun Film Company
Science fiction
Producer Nathan Dalton
Writers Jesse O’Brien, Penny Jelly
Director Jesse O’Brien
Synopsis A masked vigilante and a young journalist join forces to bring down a criminal gang in a dystopian cyberpunk city. They’re going to have to work together to break the silence and the truth, in a world where the cries of the innocent go unheard.