Screen Australia injects $2m into nine documentaries

Screen Australia has injected more than $2 million into nine “diverse” documentaries that expect to generate production worth more than $12 million.

Funding was given to seven international documentaries, which include a look at how modern science could hold the key to cracking the case of Jack The Ripper, a look into Aussie actors moving to Hollywood, a year in the life of koalas and an insight into the ferocious Tasmanian Devil.

“The seven international projects will further extend our uniquely Australian stories and voices on the world stage,” Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley said in a statement.

Funding for two domestic documentaries – which match a domestic broadcaster’s licence fee – was also announced this morning including series three of ABC TV’s Anatomy, produced by Matchbox Pictures, and observational doco Running To America which follows four Indigenous men who aim to take part in the famous New York City Marathon.

“…The critically acclaimed Anatomy series will continue to deliver visually-inventive arts documentaries, while Running to America promises a feel-good story from the Top End,” Harley said.

Other documentary topics include the rise of bull sharks on the Gold Coast and a look into Irish dancing in Australia.

The full list, with details, can be seen below:


Matchbox Pictures
Executive Producer Tony Ayres
Producers Michael McMahon, Polly Staniford
Writers/Directors Paola Morabito, Alethea Jones, Kim Munro
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales None as yet
Synopsis After the success of the first and second series of Anatomy, Matchbox Pictures are currently developing a third series, which, following the form of the previous series, will consist of three documentaries that explore art, sex and the body. The three films – Hair, Nerve and Tissue – will all touch upon a wide range of human experience and emotion well beyond the boundaries of traditional arts documentaries. They will be unique with each story being realised in distinctive director driven visions.

RUNNING TO AMERICA – post production
Executive Producer Michael Cordell
Producer Juliet Bishop
Writer/Director Matt Long
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales Off The Fence
Synopsis This observational documentary follows four young Indigenous men from Outback Australia as they take on an opportunity to be the first Indigenous Australians to run in the world's most famous race, the New York Marathon.


AUSSIEWOOD (working title)
Matchbox Pictures
Executive Producer Tony Ayres
Producers Michael McMahon, Cecilia Ritchie
Writer TBC
Director Gary Doust
Broadcaster ABC TV
Sales ABC Commercial
Synopsis Every year another Aussie actor makes it big on American screens. Who will be the next of our homegrown actors to become a Hollywood star?

Wild Fury
Executive Producers Hugh Marks
Producer Veronica Fury
Writer/Director Susan Lambert
Broadcaster ABC 3, TG4
Sales ACTF
Synopsis This series is a journey through the colourful and competitive world of Irish dancing Down Under. It is the untold story of passion, music and rich Irish culture thriving in mainstream Australia. From the harsh outback to glitzy inner city dance schools, we follow the highs and lows of an amazing bunch of Aussie kids as they prepare to compete in the Australian ‘Nationals’ for a chance to represent their country in the World Irish dancing championships in Dublin.

360 Degree Films
Executive Producer/Producer Sally Ingleton
Director Andrew Sully
Broadcaster ABC TV, ITV UK, France TV
Sales ABC Commercial, NGTI
Synopsis In a real life ‘Madagascar,’ 50 mollycoddled Tasmanian Devils are hauled from the 5-star luxury of Australian zoos and released into the wilds of a remote island to fend for themselves and, with a little luck, to save their species from extinction.

Mindful Media & Wild Fury
Executive Producer Hugh Marks
Producer Bettina Dalton
Writer/Director Paul Scott
Broadcaster ABC TV, Thirteen/WNET
Sales NGTI
Synopsis A year in the personal lives of eight koalas, featuring previously unknown science, some surprising and fascinating natural behavior, and a dedicated scientist who wants to decipher the ‘koala code’.

Prospero Productions
Executive Producers/Producers Julia Redwood, Ed Punchard
Writer TBC
Director Franco di Chiera
Broadcaster Network Seven, UK TV, Discovery Canada
Sales BBC Distribution, Oberon
Synopsis The story of Jack The Ripper is one of the most gruesome and infamous crimes in history. A horrific killing spree, which exposed the darkest recesses of Victorian London, leaving a city gripped in terror. Today more than 120 years later, modern science may just hold the key to cracking the case. There has been a major new development in the Ripper story. In a laboratory on the other side of the world, lies what is believed to be the skull of Fredrick Bailey Deeming, infamous as Australia’s first serial killer. At the time of his execution in 1892, Deeming was a suspect in the Jack the Ripper case. In a recent experiment in an Australian laboratory, DNA was extracted from the skull. Now if DNA can be discovered that can be linked to the crimes, Deeming could finally be proved to be the world’s most notorious killer or once and for all eliminated from the enquiries. The hunt is now on.

Markland Communications
Executive Producer Kip Spidell
Producer/ Director Jason Markland
Writers Kip Spidell, Jason Markland
Broadcaster National Geographic Wild Australia, National Geographic Wild International
Sales NGTI
Synopsis The idyllic Australian resort city just south of Brisbane known as The Gold Coast has the usual blend of urban challenges faced by any fast-growing metropolis. But the town council has an issue that few other cities have to contend with – sharks in the suburbs. The region is seeing an alarming rise in Bull Shark incidents in canals, rivers and the popular beaches. But can anything be done to protect local residents? And perhaps more importantly, can anything be done to protect this species of shark from wholesale slaughter in the face of increasing demands for public safety? Local scientist Jonathan Werry believes the answer to both questions begins with a better understanding of the shark itself – and
especially its attraction to these urban canals.

Wild Fury with Moers Media and NDR Naturfilm
Executive Producer Hugh Marks
Producer Bettina Dalton
Writer TBC
Director Rory McGuinness
Broadcaster National Geographic Aus, NDR Naturfilm, ZDF/Arte, NDR LMA
Synopsis Sumptuously shot in full HD over multiple episodes Wild Australia will showcase some of our most iconic and significant national parks and what makes each ecologically unique. Featuring ‘blue chip’ animal behaviour footage, the series will take Australians beyond National Parks as tourist attractions and into the heart of each of these living icons, revealing their history, character, biological significance, and what shapes and potentially threatens them in the current state of our planet. These are the jewels in the crown in our national heritage, islands of wilderness in a sea of environmental change, reminding us of our natural legacy past and future.