Screen Australia invests $7.5 million across seven projects

Jacki Weaver. 

Comedy feature The Chain Breakers, to star Jacki Weaver, Jack Thompson, James Cromwell, Denis Waterman and Shane Jacobson, is one of seven projects to have recently received production funding from Screen Australia.

Written by Luke Preston and directed by Mark Lamprell, the film follows four Vietnam vets, famous for escaping a POW camp, who find themselves in a new hell: The Hogan Hills Retirement Home for Returned Veterans. Each has an unrealised dream they want achieve, and so they band together to escape again. Produced by Antony I. Ginnane and David Lightfoot, the film is billed as a cross between Grumpy Old Men and The Great Escape. It will be distributed via R & R Films, the new venture between Richard Becker and Robert Slaviero.

Among the other projects to have shared in the $7.5 million of funding from the federal agency is Lone Wolf, writer-director Jonathan Ogilvie’s adaptation of Joseph Conrad novel ‘The Secret Agent’. It follows Winnie, a young woman overprotective of her disabled brother Stevie, who runs a struggling political bookshop with her boyfriend Conrad. Her efforts to provide security for her brother are obliterated when Conrad becomes entangled in an act of terrorism. Ogilvie will also produce with Mat Govoni.

Screen Australia has also invested in four television series: Nine’s Halifax Retribution, produced by Beyond Lonehard; Matchbox Pictures’ Hungry Ghosts for SBS; Lingo Pictures’ The Secret She Keeps for Network 10, and 10-part children’s live action series Itch, from Kommix, which has also been supported by Screenwest.

In addition, the agency has backed Glennridge Secondary College, a 14-part sketch comedy series for YouTube based on Aunty Donna’s live show of the same name. It is the first series made by Aunty Donna’s new production company Haven’t You Done Well Productions.

“2018 was a remarkable year for Australian television with series including Mystery Road and Mr Inbetween proving popular with audiences here and overseas,” said Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan.

“In an increasingly busy marketplace it’s great to see that three of the four funded television projects are new concepts, and the majority of them have female central characters.”

“Australian films took over $55m at the box office last year, and we already have a very strong pipeline of titles scheduled for production or release in 2019. The Chain Breakers is a notable addition to the slate, led by a cast of Australian screen luminaries, and I’m confident the themes of mateship and the challenges of growing old will resonate with audiences. Whilst political thrillerLone Wolfwill captivate viewers with its strong script and innovative storytelling techniques.”

“We’re delighted to be supporting a new web series from comedy group Aunty Donna whose absurdist sketch videos first captured our attention through the ABC Fresh Blood and Google Skip Ahead Initiatives. Aunty Donna’s commitment to developing their own audience and making their own success is impressive and I look forward to seeing this team take their unique brand of comedy to new heights.”


FG Film Productions (Australia) Pty Ltd
Romantic Comedy, Drama
Producers Antony I Ginnane, David Lightfoot
Director Mark Lamprell
Writer Luke Preston
Australian Distributor R&R Films
International Sales Myriad Pictures
Synopsis Four Vietnam veterans, famous for escaping out of a POW camp, must break out of the nursing home from hell to fulfil their unrealised dreams.

Lone Wolf Cohort Pty Ltd
Drama, Crime
Producers Jonathan Ogilvie, Mat Govoni
Executive Producer Lee Hubber, Shaun Miller
Writer / Director Jonathan Ogilvie
Australian Distributor Label
International Sales Level K
Synopsis Winnie, a young woman overprotective of her disabled brother Stevie, runs a struggling political bookshop with her boyfriend Conrad. She strives to provide security for Stevie and herself but her efforts are obliterated when Conrad becomes entangled in an act of terrorism.


4 x 51 mins
Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd
 Drama, Horror, Thriller
Producer Stephen Corvini, Timothy Hobart
Executive Producer Debbie Lee
Director TBC
Writers Timothy Hobart, Michelle Lee, Alan Nguyen, Jeremy Nguyen, John Ridley
Broadcaster SBS
International Sales NBCUniversal Distribution
Synopsis When a powerful amulet is broken on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Melbourne, a vengeful spirit is unleashed, bringing the dead with him. As they wreak havoc across the Vietnamese Australian community, reclaiming lost loves and repaying old grudges, a young woman who’s never taken responsibility for who she could be, must finally step up and accept her destiny.

8 x 48 mins
Beyond Lonehand Pty Ltd
Genre Drama, Thriller
Producers Roger Simpson, Louisa Kors
Executive Producer Mikael Borglund, Rebecca Gibney, Roger Simpson
Director TBC
Writers Mac Gudgeon, Jan Sardi, Roger Simpson
Broadcaster Nine Network
International Sales TBC
Synopsis When Jane Halifax receives a letter threatening a terrible retribution against her family, she finds herself back in a world she thought she had left behind – profiling a diabolical killer.

6 x 42 mins
Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre Drama, Thriller
Producers Helen Bowden, Paul Watters
Executive Producers Rick MaierJason Stephens
Director Jennifer Leacey, Catherine Millar
Writers Jonathan Gavin, Sarah Walker,
Broadcaster Network Ten
International Sales DCD Rights
Synopsis The Secret She Keeps is a six-part domestic noir series based on Michael Robotham’s acclaimed novel of the same name. Everyone has an idea of what their ‘perfect’ life is. For Agatha, it’s Meghan Shaughnessy’s. These two women from vastly different walks of life hold one thing in common – explosive secrets that could destroy everything they hold dear. Both will risk everything to conceal the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in one shocking act that cannot be undone.

14 x 4mins
Haven’t You Done Well Productions Pty Ltd
Executive Producers 
Tom Armstrong Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly, Sam Lingham, Max Miller, Zachary Ruane
Producer Rachel Millar
Director Max Miller
Writers Tom Armstrong, Mark Bonanno, Broden Kelly, Sam Lingham, Zachary Ruane
Platform YouTube
Synopsis Glennridge Secondary College is a sketch series about growing up in Australia. Based on Aunty Donna’s award-winning live show of the same name this is a mix of absurd, wild, filmic and animated sketches that lampoon the everyday happenings of a suburban high school.

10 x 24 mins
Komixx Entertainment Pty Ltd
Children’s Drama, Action Adventure
Producers Amanda Morrison, Tania Chambers
Writer Ron Elliott, Heather Wilson, Roger Monk, Jessica Brookman, Craig Irvin
Broadcaster TBA
International Sales ABC Commercial
Synopsis What happens when a source of unimaginable power falls into the hands of a teenage boy?