Screen Australia injects almost $17m into 14 film and TV projects

Screen Australia has injected almost $17 million into a diverse slate of feature films and TV that is expected to trigger almost $100 million in production.

Feature films receiving funding include: The Grandmothers, The Mule, Patrick and These Final Hours, which involve filmmakers Leigh Whannel, Robert Connolly, Antony I. Ginnane and Paul Currie.

Erotic tale The Grandmothers, produced by Andrew Mason among many others, is based on a story by Doris Lessing about two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s teenage sons. Its strong cast includes Naomi Watts, Xavier Samuel, Robin Wright and James Frecheville.

Saw’s Leigh Whannell is back in Australia with a new film which he writes, stars in and co-produces: The Mule. The black comedy, which is also written and produced by Angus Sampson, tells the story of unlikely drug mule Ray Jenkins, from Victoria, who takes on all the authority figures in his life using the only option within his control – holding on.

As reported earlier by IF, Patrick is a re-imagining of the 1970s chiller, while These Final Hours will be written/directed by West Australian filmmaker Zak Hilditch and produced by Liz Kearney. To be filmed in Perth, the feature had a significant $750,000 investment from ScreenWest through its West Coast Visions initiative.

ScreenWest chief executive Ian Booth said in a statement that it was a unique take on the apocalyptic genre, while Kearney added they were currently developing an innovative transmedia strategy to "complement and enhance" the film. 

Other features include The Pappas Brothers and high-concept psychological thriller 2.22, which is set in New York City.

"The high-concept thriller 2:22 is a type of film that rarely gets presented to Screen Australia and will be an international career-launcher for Australian director Paul Currie," Screen Australia's chief operating officer Fiona Cameron said in a statement.

Five adult drama investments have been made including biographical telemovie Underground. Following the early life of Julian Assange, it will be written and directed by Connolly while Helen Bowden and Tony Ayres will produce and executive produce, respectively.

Other funding for adult TV drama went to John Edwards’ World Series Cricket and Puberty Blues, as well as two-part ABC series Devil’s Dust and period drama series The Doctor Blake Mysteries.

“Adult television drama continues to move from strength to strength. This compelling mix of quality series and telemovies will continue to provide audiences with engaging and iconic Australian stories,” Cameron said.

Children’s television shows receiving funding from the national agency include Dance Academy Series 3, live-action children’s series In Your Dreams, by producer Noel Price (Seven Network), and comic animation series The Flamin’ Thongs (ABC).


Lightstream Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Jackie O’Sullivan
Executive Producers Garrett Kelleher, Bruce Davey, Paul Brooks, Lawrence Inglee
Co-writer/Director/Co-producer Paul Currie
Co-writer Todd Stein
International Sales Gold Circle Films, Lionsgate International
Australian Distributor Icon Productions
Synopsis Dylan Boyd’s life as an air traffic controller is permanently derailed when an ominous pattern of events begins to permeate his life, funnelling him into Grand Central Station every day at 2.22pm. When he falls for a beautiful woman, it seems their lives were meant to intertwine long ago. With a grim fate looming, Dylan must solve the riddle of 2.22 to preserve a love that’s second chance has finally come.

Hopscotch Features, Ciné-@, Mon Voisin Productions, Gaumont, France 2 Cinéma
Producers Andrew Mason, Philippe Carcassonne, Michel Feller, Dominique Besnehard, Francis Boespflug
Writer Christopher Hampton
Director Anne Fontaine
International Sales Gaumont
Australian Distributor Hopscotch/eOne
Synopsis Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing’s beautiful and heart-wrenching story of two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s teenage sons. The Grandmothers is an erotic tale of misguided love and a celebration of the enduring nature of female friendship.

The Mule Development Co.
Producer Paul Clarke
Writer/Co-producers Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson
Executive Producer Bruce Kane
Director Tony Mahony
International Sales eOne
Australian Distributor Hopscotch
Synopsis Ray Jenkins, an unlikely drug mule from Sunshine, Victoria, takes on all the authority figures in his life using the only option within his control – holding on!

Pank & Martin
Producers George Pank, Eddie Martin, James Gay-Rees
Executive Producers Jude Troy, Rachel Okine, Paul McGowan
Director Eddie Martin
Editor Chris King
International Sales eOne, Cinetic
Australian Distributor Hopscotch/eOne
Synopsis Blood may be thicker than water but in the case of Tas and Ben Pappas who rose from the western suburbs of Melbourne to become the #1 and #2 skateboarders in the world, it was not sufficient to prevent both brothers from falling into a drug-fuelled spiral to hell from which only one returns.

FG Film Productions (Australia) Pty Ltd in association with Rising Sun Pictures
Producer Antony I Ginnane
Writer Justin King
Director Mark Hartley
International Sales Bankside Films
Australian Distributor Umbrella Entertainment
Synopsis For three years Patrick has been lying mute and immobile, a patient in Dr Roget’s clinic for the comatose. Dr Roget has been discharging increasingly large doses of electricity into Patrick’s brain, hoping for a sign of brain function. When young nurse Kathy starts working at the clinic, Patrick figures out how to utilise all that pent up power with deadly effect. A reimagining of Richard Franklin’s 1970s chiller.

8th In Line Pty Ltd
Producer Liz Kearney
Executive Producer Robert Connolly
Writer/Director Zak Hilditch
International Sales Maze Film Sales, Celluloid Nightmares, XYZ
Australian Distributor Footprint Films
Synopsis A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Their relationship ultimately leads him on the path to redemption.


Fremantle Media Australia Pty Ltd and Bravado Productions
Producers Jason Stephens, Antonia Barnard, Stephen Corvini
Writer Kris Mrksa
Director Jessica Hobbs
International Sales DCD Rights
Australian Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Devil’s Dust is a thriller of David and Goliath proportions ripping the cloak of secrecy from a huge corporate scandal that exposes how asbestos multi-national company, James Hardie, oversaw a strategy that, by ignoring the dangers of asbestos for decades, was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

December Films
Producers Tony Wright, George Adams
Lead Writer John Alsop
Director TBC
International Sales ITV Global
Australian Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Dr Lucien Blake, a keeper of secrets, a solver of mysteries, returns home to 1959 Ballarat to take over his deceased father’s general medical practice after an absence of 30 years.

Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers John Edwards, Imogen Banks
Writers Alice Bell, Tony McNamara, Fiona Seres
Directors Emma Freeman, Glendyn Ivin
International Sales Endemol Worldwide Distribution
Australian Broadcaster Network Ten
Synopsis The classic story of the seventies retold. Sex, surf and suburbia rediscovered.

Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Helen Bowden
Executive Producer Tony Ayres
Writer/Director Robert Connolly
International Sales NBC Universal
Australian Broadcaster Network Ten
Synopsis Set in suburban Melbourne in the late 1980s, Underground follows a teenage Julian Assange and his gang of friends – the International Subversives – as they try to break into the computer systems of the world’s most powerful organisations. Hoping to uncover the inner workings of these groups, the boys wage battle from their bedrooms with the technologies, with each other and with the Senior AFP Detective who is intent on shutting down their group.

Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producers John Edwards, Mimi Butler
Writer Christopher Lee
Director Daina Reid
International Sales Endemol Worldwide Distribution
Australian Broadcaster Nine Network
Synopsis World Series Cricket is the story of how in 1976 businessman Kerry Packer caused a cricket war by signing up 50 of the world’s best cricketers and establishing World Series Cricket, a highly successful rebel group which challenged the establishment and thrust the game into a new era of professionalism.


Werner Film Productions
Executive Producers Bernadette O’Mahony, Joanna Werner
Producer Joanna Werner
Head Writer Samantha Strauss
Directors TBC
International Sales ZDFE
Australian Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Tara and her friends are now seniors at the Academy and no one can forget for a second that the Company is watching. It will be a nail-biting chase to the finish line to see who will be offered a contract and finally achieve what they have been working towards for so long… and who will have to find a new dream…

Media World Holdings Pty Ltd
Producer Colin South
Writers Bruce Griffiths, Simon Dodd
Director Kelly Lynagh
International Sales Daro
Australian Broadcaster ABC
Synopsis Whale Bay is home to Australia’s least visited tourist attraction, the Giant Thong. But that may be about to change, for all the wrong reasons.

Southern Star Entertainment Pty Ltd
Producer Noel Price
Writers John Armstrong, Tim Gooding, Kym Goldsworthy, Julie Miller
Director Ralph Strasser
International Sales Endemol Worldwide Distribution
Australian Broadcaster Network Seven
Synopsis Australian teenage twins Samantha and Ben Haselton discover what ‘culture shock’ is all about when they spend the summer with some eccentric, aristocratic and accident-prone relatives who live in a remote German castle.