'Vitamania' (Photo: Harry Panagiotidis).

Screen Australia has announced $1.6 million in production investment funding for seven new documentaries. Among them is Storm Rider, the first VR project the agency's documentary unit has funded. The funding comes through its Documentary Producer and Commissioned programs. 

“Funding such a broad range of projects from both established and emerging talent points to a promising future for our local documentary industry," said senior manager of documentary, Liz Stevens.

"Australians are passionate documentarians and we are confident these projects will offer Australian and international audiences important, entertaining insights into our world."

The successful projects are:

  • Princess Pictures’ My Year 7 Life for ABC ME, which follows the lives of 16 children as they transition from primary school to high school. From the same team behind My Year 12 Life, which airs in February 2017, this series will be composed of self-shot ‘vlogs’. This project has also received Film Victoria funding.
  • Vitamania – The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins and Minerals, an investigative look at the science and history of the $90 billion global supplements industry, hosted by Dr Derek Muller whose YouTube channel Veritasium has 3.5 million subscribers. Emmy award-winning producer Sonya Pemberton will executive produce, write and direct the project. It will be broadcast on SBS and on Arte in France and Germany. It has also received Film Victoria support.
  • Feature doco Sanctuary, an examination of the current global refugee policies against the individual experience of a young Iraqi man whose harrowing life has taken him to the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia and back again. From Bunya Treehouse Productions, it will be directed by Kaye Harrison, produced by Greer Simpkin and executive produced by David Jowsey.
  • I Used To Be Normal – A Boyband Fangirl Story will take a look at the multi-generational phenomenon of boy-bands and the devoted fan-girls whose lives are consumed by an intense obsession with their idols. Producer Rita Walsh is collaborating with Jessica Leski who will produce, direct and write the feature-length documentary to be distributed by Madman Entertainment, with Film Victoria support.
  • Artist Shaun Gladwell’s VR project Storm Rider, produced by Leo Faber for SBS. Gladwell, best known for his piece 'Storm Sequence', will document his quest to teach a young British Muslim woman how to skateboard. Faber and Gladwell recently had their VR film Orbital Vanitas selected for Sundance’s New Frontier 2017 program.
  • Natural history documentary Sixteen Legs, a feature-length extension to the critically acclaimed short of the same name, from producer/writer/director and scientist Niall Doran and Media Stockade. Doran was a 2016 recipient of SPA’s Ones to Watch program and has already secured two festival screenings in Santa Barbara and Washington D.C. for this documentary. After the festival circuit, it will also screen in two parts on French broadcaster ARTE.
  • ABC Arts documentary You See Monsters, in which six Muslim-Australians artists will share their experience of using artistic expression – including painting, poetry and music – to articulate and reclaim a sense of identity in a climate of anti-Islam sentiment. Written by David Collins and produced/directed by Tony Jackson, it's also received funding support from Film Victoria.

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