Screen Australia’s Indigenous department invests $1.5 million

Hunter Page-Lochard (left) and Leah Purcell (right) are among the funding recipients. 

As Screen Australia’s Indigenous department celebrates its 25th anniversary, it has announced $1.5 million in special funding across short films, web series and documentaries, in addition to business support.

Two web series have been funded through the Black Space initiative, eight short films will be developed via Short Blacks and three documentaries about the Indigenous response to climate change will go into production through State of Alarm. Screen Australia has also supported seven enterprises, including Bunya Productions and Bain Stewart and Leah Purcell’s Tahlee Productions, via the Indigenous Screen Business program.

The Black Space projects include the Anchorman-inspired Anchoring Mob, a 5 x 5 minute web series which will showcase Indigenous comedy talent against the backdrop of a community TV morning show, written and produced by Shakara Walley (Aussie Rangers) and directed by Kelli Cross (Aussie Rangers).

Musician Kutcha Edwards will host 4 x 4 web series Kutcha’s Carpool Koorioke, which will see him driving Indigenous talent to where they need to go through the streets of Fitzroy. John Harvey (Spear) of Brown Cabs is writing, directing and producing alongside Anna Grieve (Carry the FlagBig Stories, Small Towns) and Danielle Maclean (Croker Island ExodusCarry the Flag).

Among the State of Alarm documentaries is Chili Films’ documentary Shark Dreaming, which will follow writer-director Ashley Gibb as he becomes a shark eco-warrior, and investigates the knowledge of traditional owners surrounding marine wildlife and how this intersects with the science projects that measure, manage and mitigate the impact of climate change on marine life.

In Saving Seagrass, the Ramu Productions team, including writer-director Gary Hamaguchi (Black Comedy), producer Jodie Bell and writer Bessy-May Taylor, will investigate the plight and importance of seagrass, and will work to see if Indigenous people and scientists can collaborate in time to save it.

Warburdar Bununu – Water Shield will follow Scott McDinny, a young Garrwa song man from Borroloola who is determined to shield his Gulf Country homelands from mining, using ancient song and dance, and will be developed by Brown Cabs with Jason De Santolo on board to write and direct with John Harvey producing.

Among the eight Shork Black projects is Hunter Page-Lochard (ClevermanSpear) and Carter Simpkin’s Closed Doors, a thriller centred on a modern couple who face a number of challenges in the bush when their paranoia forces their car to peel off the road.

Outside of these initiatives, Screen Australia has provided production funding for writer-director Erica Glynn’s documentary She Who Must Be Obeyed. The Since 1788 Productions project explores the life and experiences of Indigenous film pioneer, Alfreda Glynn (Freda). Tanith Glynn-Maloney (Ward One) is producing the film, and NITV and Adelaide Film Festival have both invested in the production.

Jetzak Productions has also received development funding for their 3 x 5 minute online web series Bush Tucker Bunjie Does Gold Coast, which follows the outlandish misadventures of Bush Tucker Bunjie, a larrikin of the Gold Coast. Gabriel Willie of the Wulli Wulli nation forms as the series creator and has written the original script with Benjamin Southwell (Damari & Guyala) directing and E.J. Garrett of the Darumbal and Wulli Wulli nations (Gumbi Gumbi) producing.

“Supporting Indigenous screen story tellers is as vital as supporting the Indigenous businesses behind them. This funding is being distributed across a diverse group of strong Indigenous production companies who will use the financial support to strengthen Indigenous business planning as well as assist slate development through the employment of key business personnel.” said Screen Australia head of Indigenous Penny Smallacombe.

“For 25 years the Indigenous Department has put our people in control of their own stories. The funding model has been incredibly successful and has even inspired other countries to do the same for their Indigenous creators. It is our key focus to ensure Indigenous people continue to be seen and heard across a variety of storytelling platforms, and most importantly that Indigenous screen businesses are being invested in to continue producing such significant work.”

Screen Australia will mark the 25th anniversary of the department, on August 30 in Sydney, and later in the year, will release its blueprint for the next 25 years.


Chantelle Murray
Producer Dena Curtis
Director / Writer Chantelle Murray
Synopsis A historical outback drama about a forgotten soul, Mary, a young Aboriginal girl who is enslaved on a cattle station in western Queensland and used by the stock men for their pleasure.

Djalihouse Pty Ltd
Producer / Director / Writer Hunter Page-Lochard, Carter Simpkin
Synopsis A modern couple carelessly drive down a dirt road in the middle of the bush, their paranoia force the car to peel off the road. They decide to ditch the car and keep on moving, leading them into the surrounding bush. Tracking through the darkness of the bush, they must overcome the natural obstacles nature presents in order to break through. Once through and onto a clearing they arrive at an eerie old Federation home with two home owners that give off a threatening vibe. Once inside they reach for their goal and are given a final challenge before they can make their decision.

Brindle Films PTY LTD
 Drama, Coming of Age
Producer Brindle Films Pty Ltd
Director / Writer Viviana Petyarre
Synopsis Another pay has been humbugged out of him, leaving Wenye, a young council worker on a remote Central Australian community, only a chunk of stale damper for supper. Inspired by a dream, he leaves for the city in search of material comforts only to find that perhaps his home country had more to offer than previously realised.

Noble Savage Pictures Pty Ltd
Executive Producers Majhid Heath, Ross Grayson-Bell
Producer Hayley Johnson
Director / Writer Shane Salvador
Synopsis Father Jericho is a 10-minute revenge thriller about an Aboriginal man of god with a heart breaking past.

Typecast Pty Ltd
Genre Family, Drama
Producer Damienne Pradier
Director Tony Briggs
Writer Tracey Rigney
Synopsis Two Elders feel that their grandson is old enough to start learning vitally important lessons that will equip him with the necessary tools to maintain the future survival of his culture. His classroom is the expansive country of his ancestors. But is he ready for the challenge that is placed before him, and will he know what to do when the time comes?

No Coincidence Media
Producer Mitchell Stanley
Director / Writer Jack Steele
Synopsis When two First World War enemy soldiers become stranded in No Man’s land, an unlikely bond is formed. Will they still be able to pull the trigger if the time came? Or will their bond be the very thing to save their lives?

Third Impact Films
Drama, Family, Thriller
Director / Writer Michael Hudson
Synopsis Ties That Bind opens with Thomas, a sensitive mixed-race Indigenous teen, who is being escorted home by police after an altercation which left him visibly injured. When he arrives, Thomas is confronted by his abusive and domineering mother Marlene, who discovers that he didn’t fight back. As a form of punishment and a means to “man him up” she forces him to chop down a dead tree in the backyard. Punishment turns into reflection as Thomas questions his life and confronts his past which leads him to make a life changing decision.

Ramu Productions Pty Ltd
Drama, Comedy
Producer Jodie Bell
Director / Writer Gary Hamaguchi
Synopsis A man wakes up on an isolated beach; he doesn’t know how he got there. On the beach is a Black female mannequin. The mannequin is an avatar used by an alien to communicate with the man.


BUNYA Productions made up of Australian screen creatives Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds, Toomelah) and David Jowsey (Mad Bastards, Jasper Jones). The company aims to create a business hub to unite other Indigenous creative companies and engage two new personnel including an experienced Line Producer and Junior Indigenous Producer.

Inkey Media helmed by company director Dena Curtis (Grace Beside Me). The funding will go towards refining Inkey Media’s business model, setting up an office and bringing on board experienced Production Manager, Tara Wardrop.

Mitchell Stanley’s (Servant Or Slave) production company No Coincidence Media (NCM). Funding will allow NCM to engage a business advisor to refine their business plan and transition their slate toward narrative drama production. Additionally, the funding will enable NCM to employ Toni Stowers as a Junior Development Executive to work across their upcoming television, documentary and online projects.

Majhid Heath (A Chance Affair, Brown Lips), company director of Noble Savage Pictures. Majid will use the funding to bring on board Hayley B Johnson as a Development Producer for the company. Both Hayley and Majhid will work on a large slate of projects in development.

Bain Stewart and Leah Purcell of Tahlee Productions have secured Indigenous Screen Business Funding to go towards building a business plan. With Tahlee in late stage development of Leah’s first feature film as writer/director, The Drover’s Wife – The Legend of Molly Johnson, the funding comes at a perfect time to develop their strategy for the next 3-5 years.

Tamarind Tree Pictures (Croker Island Exodus, Carry the Flag) comprising of Danielle MacLean, Steven McGregor and Anna Grieve. The team will use their funding to consolidate production, set up an office and have Danielle MacLean transition to being a dedicated producer for the company.

Tony Briggs (The Sapphires, The Warriors) and Damienne Pradier of Typecast Entertainment. Typecast will use their funding to engage a consultant to assist in developing a detailed business plan.