Screen Australia kicks off first $86m approvals

[Release by The Lantern Group for Screen Australia]

Screen Australia’s board met in Brisbane on Monday August 18 and approved a range of projects in all major areas of production.

In total 25 projects were approved for funding during August, with a production value of $86 million. This includes four feature films, one adult television drama, four children’s dramas, 13 documentaries (four of which are series), one commissioned production and two projects from Screen Australia’s Indigenous Branch.

Following a decision by the board, projects requiring funding up to $1 million can be approved by the Chief Executive Officer of Screen Australia, outside the timetable of board meetings.

“The projects approved in the past month, including those at this board meeting, show the vast range of creativity and ideas the industry has put forward to us,” says interim CEO Lyn Maddock.

“We are setting in place a framework we believe will streamline the process of funding projects for the industry while also focussing on the development and marketing sides of the business.”

Feature films
Feature films approved for finance yesterday will see two highly experienced directors, Nadia Tass and Simon Wincer, heading into production along with Dean Murphy as well as first-time feature director Brendan Fletcher.

The Cup, with director Simon Wincer, writers Eric O’Keefe and Simon Wincer, producers Jan Bladier, David Lee, Lance Hool and Simon Wincer, tells of the emotional 2002 Melbourne Cup – with young jockey Damien Oliver at the heart of the story.

Love and Mortar, with director Nadia Tass, writers Lynne Renew and David Parker and producers David Parker, Richard Keddie and Nadia Tass, is a love story that defies explanation and breaks all the rules.

Mad Bastards is to be directed by Brendan Fletcher, who also takes a producer role along with Alan Pigram and Stephen Pigram, consultant producer David Jowsey and executive producer Martin Fabinyi. The film is set in Australia’s last frontier – the vast and remote Kimberley region of WA. A raw, gutsy character film, it’s a meditation on violence, community and the living spirit of contemporary Aboriginal people of the Kimberley.

Charlie and Boots to be directed by Dean Murphy, producers Shana Levine, Dean Murphy and David Redman and executive producers Thomas Augsberger, Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten. Boots McFarland and his estranged dad Charlie head off to Cape York Peninsula to drop a line off the northern most tip of Australia. This film will combine the comic talents of Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson.

Letters of Intent
Two letters of intent for feature films were approved: one to the Mad Bastards team, and the other to producer Ian Iveson, executive producer Michelle Harrison and writer/director Marty Murphy for End of Anxiety.
(Films chosen through Screen Australia’s evaluation program receive a letter of intent containing the terms and conditions of proposed Screen Australia funding.)

Adult Television Drama
In adult television drama, a second series of Bed of Roses was financed, with producers Mark Ruse and Stephen Luby, and writers Jutta Goetze and Elizabeth Coleman. Bed of Roses is the story of a woman’s search – and a community’s search – for a workable identity in the 21st century.

Children’s Drama
Children’s drama sees funding for a second series of the popular Dogstar approved, a third series of H20 Just Add Water and Lockie Leonard series 2, as well as a new series, My Place.

My Place is being produced by Penny Chapman with co-producer Helen Panckhurst, on-line producer David Gurney, script producer Simon Hopkinson and writers Alice Addison, Beth Armstrong, Blake Ayshford, Leah Purcell, Nicholas Parsons, Jacquelin Perske, Tim Pye and Greg Waters; the director is Jessica Hobbs. My Place is the story of one spot in Australia, told by the children who live there over 260 years.

Dogstar is from producers Colin South and Ross Hutchens, and writers Doug MacLeod and Phillip Dalkin. In series 2 the Clark kids have located the missing Dogstar, been reunited with their pet dog Hobart, returned all the dogs back to their owners on a rejuvenated earth and defeated the evil robotics tycoon Bob Santino – or so they think.

H20 Just Add Water series 3 is from producer Jonathan M Shiff, executive producers Jonathan M Shiff and Julia Adams, associate producer Stuart Wood, and writers Anthony Morris, Max Dann, Simon Butters, Joss King, Chris Roache, Phillip Dalkin, Sam Carroll and Sam Strauss; directors are Colin Budds and Jeffrey Walker. Cleo and Rikki think they know everything there is to know about Mako Island, but when water attacks them in a full moon, they realise a new, potentially dangerous force is developing on the mysterious island.

Lockie Leonard series 2 is from producer Kylie du Fresne with executive producers Rosemary Blight, Jo Horsburgh and Bernadette O’Mahony, and writers Keith Thompson, Shelley Birse, Michael Miller, Drew Proffitt, LeeAnne Innes, David Ogilvy, Peter Templeman, Josh Wakely, Wayne Blair, Rhys Muldoon and Matt Ford. Series 2 features the same familiar endearing characters and humour that made the award-winning series 1 such a success, enjoyed by kids, adults and critics alike.

A broad range of documentary projects was approved. Including Contact, which looks at the first contact between white and indigenous people in the Great Sandy Desert in 1964, and China Art, exploring life and art through the reflections of Chinese contemporary artists.

Anatomy of a Massacre tells the story of the 1991 massacre of an estimated 200 people during an independence march in occupied East Timor. Executive producer is Michael Cordell, directors Andrew Sully and Max Stahl.

China Art, from producers Peter Hiscock and Graham Davis and director Catherine Hunter, combines art and life on screen in spectacular fashion as Chinese contemporary artists reflect on the vast social upheaval that has accompanied China’s emergence as a world economic power.

Contact, from producers/directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, is being constructed around one of the most extraordinary pieces of footage in Australian history where a group of 20 Martu women and children walked out of the Great Sandy Desert in 1964.

For Valour is being produced by Michael Tear and directed by Serge Ou. On the road from Sydney to Canberra 22 ordinary Australians are remembered for their extraordinary deeds of courage and sacrifice. They are all winners of the Victoria Cross. This is their story.

Heartbreak Science, from producers Ed Punchard and Julia Redwood with director Andrea Ulbrick, looks at research into the workings of the human heart and how doctors are searching for answers that could finally unlock the mysteries of the heart and understand an intriguing system of neurons dubbed ‘the little brain in the heart‘.

My Asian Heart is from producers Carmelo Musca and producer/director David Bradbury and is about contemporary Australian photographer Philip Blenkinsop, who brings us Asia, a world of conflict, life, love and beauty – a unique perspective through his Asian heart.

Skippy: Australia’s First Superstar from producers Andrew Ogilvie and Andrea Quesnelle and director Stephen Oliver tells the inside story of a remarkable television series starring a crime-fighting kangaroo who became the emblem of a nation for children the world over.

The Ocean’s Super Mum – A Sea Lion Odyssey is a natural history documentary from producer Tina Dalton and director Susan McMillan featuring previously unknown underwater behaviour, and a passionate and engaging scientist whose mission it is to unlock the secrets of the most devoted of all marine mothers – the Australian Sea Lion.

Winning World War 1 – The Western Front Diaries from producers Dr Jonathan King and producer/director Bill Leimbach, is an Armistice Day tribute to the Australian soldiers who fought in the battles of the West Front from Fromelies to Montbrehain and through to Armistice.

Documentary Series
Angels in New York, from producers Gregory Miller and Elizabeth Courtenay and director Chester Dent, tells of two rookie writer/producers from Sydney who take on Broadway with a most unique show, Angels – the Musical!

Bush Slam, from producers Matt Scully and Chris Thorburn and executive producer Rick Spence, brings together Australia’s top poets, songwriters and comedians in a performance best described as a poetry brawl. Two poets, one town, capturing the heartbeat of the nation in verse.

Persons of Interest, from producers Frank Haines and Gai Steele and series director Haydn Keenan, follows four Australians as they guide us through their ASIO files. Using evidence kept secret for more than 30 years, it is the story of ASIO and the people they spied on.

Whatever! The Science of Teenagers comes from producers Ian Collie and Chris Hilton and director Daniella Ortega, questioning why perfectly loveable children turn into grunting aliens overnight.

Commissioned Production
Tackling Peace, from producer/director/writer Marc Radomsky with executive producer Catriona Hughes, is a one-hour documentary about a combined Israeli-Palestinian Aussie Rules football team who are travelling to Australia in September to compete in the 2008 AFL International Cup.

Indigenous Branch
The two projects approved from Screen Australia’s Indigenous Branch are part of the New Black initiative, which is developing and producing 10-minute dramas with emerging directors and producers.

Nia’s Melancholy from producer Andrew Arbuthnot and writer/director Sio Tusa Fa’Aaefili tells of a young ‘Yalanji’ girl who witnesses her sister’s suicide. This is the story of her descent into melancholy and her journey of redemption.

Ralph from producer Jessie Mangum, writer/director Deborah Mailman and writer Wayne Blair tells of Madeline, who learns that it takes more than just dreaming to survive; it takes a friend.

Producer Offset
Since the Producer Offset’s inception, 142 projects have been issued with provisional certificates. Two final certificates have been issued, with a further seven applications for final certificates currently under assessment.