‘Working Class Boy’ (Photo credit: Andrew Farrell). 

A feature documentary adaptation of Jimmy Barnes’ memoir; a four-part SBS series which will see black and white archival footage of early 20th century Australian life colourised, and a immersive take on the blue whale, designed to be screen in dome cinemas and planetariums, are among the 12 documentary projects to recently receive production funding from Screen Australia.

Overall, $850,000 will be invested via the funding agency’s Documentary Producer program and $2.66 million through its Commissioned program.

Screen Australia senior manager of documentary Liz Stevens said: “In the last few months of 2017, we announced that online and interactive documentaries were a priority for the Producer program. Innovative projects like Gun Ringer, The Horrors and Mission: Whalesong are perfect examples of creative teams exploring alternative business models and distribution avenues for documentaries. In 2018 we will be looking to support more similarly forward-thinking projects, alongside more traditional features and broadcasting commissions.”

The six projects supported through Documentary Producer:

  • ABC iview series Gun Ringer, about Indigenous ‘Ringer’ Jeff Harrower, who catches feral bulls in regional Northern Territory. The concept is from emerging NT producer Tom Lawrence, who has teamed up with Bondi Rescue creator Ben Davies (EP, Ronde Media) and Ash Davies, who is the series producer.
  • Ruby Girl Productions will produce Death Art for ABC Arts. An examination of one woman’s journey to explore what it means to use a dead body in artworks, the one-off special will be poduced by Julia Peters (Becoming Superhuman), and written and directed by Sascha Ettinger Epstein (The Pink House).
  • Mission: Whalesong, from Prospero Productions, produced by Julia Redwood and Ed Punchard (Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia; Outback Truckers), and written/directed by Russell Vines (Who Do You Think You Are). Focused on the blue whale, the project will be designed as an immersive experience to be screened in dome cinemas and planetariums.
  • A feature length version of producer/director team Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw’s Guardian short The Fight, examining the discrimination faced by people with disabilities in Bolivia.
  • ABC iview series The Horrors from Mashup Pictures, which will examine common themes of Australian life by reinterpreting real-life situations where things have gone horribly wrong. The production reunites the creative team behind Housemates: producer/director Rob Innes, producer/writer Scott Brennan and EP Mish Armstrong.
  • CJZ’s feature Working Class Boy, based on Jimmy Barnes’ memoir, to be produced by Toni Malone (Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!), executive produced by Andrew Farrell (Marry Me Marry My Family) and Michael Cordell (Vitamania), and directed and co-produced by Mark Joffe (Love Child).

The six projects supported through Documentary Commissioned:

  • Stranger Than Fiction Films’ Australia in Colour for SBS, produced in association with Arrow Media. The four-part series will take a look at pivotal moments in Australia’s history from 1900 – 1970, using technology to colourise black and white archival footage. Produced by Jo-anne McGowan (David Stratton: A Cinematic Life), executive produced by Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) and Nick Metcalfe (America in Colour) from Arrow Media, the series will be written/directed by Alec Morgan (Hunt Angels) and Lisa Matthews (Australia – The Story of Us).
  • A second season of SBS’s Filthy Rich & Homeless from award-winning production house Blackfella Films, to be produced by Darren Dale and Jacob Hickey.
  • Artemis Media’s My Family Secret also for SBS, a three-part series helping regular Australians scrutinise the silences from both their family’s and our country’s past. Produced by Claire Forster (Australian Story) and Robin Eastwood (Miss Lebanon), executive produced by Celia Tait (Who Do You Think You Are) and directed by Steve Peddie (Secrets of Our Cities).
  • Northern Pictures’ The Magical Land of Oz from writer/director Tosca Looby (Outback) and executive producers Sue Clothier (Whiteley), Karina Holden (Blue), Caroline Hawkins (Meerkat Manor) and Clare Birks (Animal Mums). A wildlife series, it will explore the unique exotic creatures of Australia, and is set to air on the ABC in Australia, BBC2 in the UK and PBS in the US.
  • Church Street Films’ The Cult of the Family commissioned by the ABC, a three-part investigation into the rise and fallout of an insidious cult led by the charismatic Anne Hamilton-Byrne. The series reunites the same team from the 2017 feature The Family, producer Anna Grieve (Croker Island Exodus) and writer/director Rosie Jones.
  • Screentime’s The Secret Life of Four Year Olds for Network Ten, which will look at the lives of four year olds at a pivotal age of their development. It will be EP’d by Jennifer Collins (Todd Sampson’s Life on the Line), Emily Griggs (The Chef’s Line), and Basia Bonkowski (Married At First Sight).


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