Stan ramps up original productions with two dramas and a special

Victoria Madden.

Celebrating passing the milestone of 1 million subscribers, Stan today announced it has commissioned two Australian dramas, The Gloaming and Bloom, and a No Activity Christmas special.

The streaming service also unveiled exclusive long-term output deals with Lionsgate, which will make Stan the Australian home of Starz as well as Lionsgate programming, and MGM.

The Kettering Incident’s Vicki Madden created The Gloaming, an 8-part drama about an unorthodox, troubled cop who leads an investigation into the murder of an unidentified woman.

Madden’s Sweet Potato Films, Fiona McConaghy and 2 Jons’ John Molloy and Jon Adgemis will produce in partnership with Disney’s ABC Studios International, its second Australian co-production following Harrow.

Disney Media Distribution will handle the rights outside Australia and it will be shot on location in Tasmania.

Sony’s Playmaker Media will produce Bloom, a 6-part mystery drama created by Glen Dolman, who wrote the series High Life and John Stevenson’s upcoming animated comedy feature The Ark and the Aardvark.

In his TV debut John Curran (Tracks, Chappaquiddick, Praise) will direct the show which is set one year after a devastating flood kills five locals in a country town, where a mysterious new plant appears with the power to restore their youth. Attempting to harness its potency means re-evaluating everything that’s important, a miracle some will kill to keep secret.

Playmaker’s David Maher describes Bloom as a supernatural love story about the scarcity of time and the choices people make. Sony Pictures Television will distribute globally and production is due to start in August.

Jungle Entertainment will produce No Activity : The Night Before Christmas, a spin-off of Stan’s first original series. The one-hour special will reunite the creative team of Patrick Brammall and Trent O’Donnell, who are currently shooting the second series of the US remake of No Activity for CBS All Access and Stan.

The improvised comedy will follow detectives Hendy and Stokes (Brammall, Darren Gilshenan) on a Christmas Eve stakeout as they monitor the scene from their parked car as a disgruntled Santa Claus holds a group of Christmas shoppers hostage inside a suburban mall.

Mike Sneesby.

Stan CEO Mike Sneesby said, “We have set out to pioneer the future of television in Australia and today’s subscriber milestone is a great indication of how quickly Aussies are changing their TV viewing habits. Premium programming is the key driver of our business growth and strategy and today we have announced some important strategic partnerships that will help us continue to change the face of television in Australia.

“With these new partnerships with Starz and MGM it’s clear we’re only just getting started. Bloom and The Gloaming will be our two biggest Original productions yet, each in partnership with major Hollywood studios, and we couldn’t be more excited to make a return to our first Original, with a special new instalment of No Activity this Christmas.”

Madden tells IF she loves the word ‘gloaming’ and used that as the foundation for the Bible and the first two episodes, centering on the twilight space where light meets dark and the space between awake and asleep.

The plot follows the protagonist Molly McGee as she teams up with Alex O’Connell – a man she hasn’t spoken to in 20 years. They discover the murder has links to a cold case and what begins as a routine investigation exposes something more insidious. To catch the killer, Molly and Alex have to face the ghosts from their past.

Madden is not yet willing to share her thoughts on casting. She met Keli Lee, ABC Studios International MD, at Screen Forever two years ago. Lee loved The Kettering Incident and asked about her next project, Madden gave her the pitch for The Gloaming and Lee jumped at the idea. She teamed up with Molloy, who left Mushroom Pictures to form 2 Jons with Adgemis.

Stan’s chief content officer Nick Forward said: “We’re delighted to be working with Vicki and John to bring this extraordinary and unique project to the screen. Partnering with Disney’s ABC Studios International, the scale and scope of this production has rarely, if ever, been seen in Australia before.”

The Starz deal begins with the new series Sweetbitter, which stars Ella Parnell as a girl who is introduced to the world of drugs, drinking, love, lust and dive bars in New York; Vida, which follows two Mexican-American sisters who are forced to return to their old neighbourhood; and Joe Berlinger’s docu-series Wrong Man, which examines three long-incarcerated inmates who claim they are innocent.

The agreement also covers supernatural spy thriller The Rook; The Continental, the TV spinoff of the Lionsgate movie franchise John Wick; and the miniseries The Spanish Princess.

Sneesby said: “Starz and Lionsgate have been fantastic partners for Stan ever since launch, bringing us some of our biggest hits including Ash vs Evil Dead, The Girlfriend Experience and Power, shortly to debut its fifth season. This new long-term deal takes that relationship to another level.”

The MGM deal kicks off with Condor, a conspiracy thriller starring Max Irons and William Hurt, which premieres on June 7; the 10-part event series The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, a murder mystery starring Patrick Dempsey; and dark comedy Get Shorty starring Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano.