Tania Chambers’ Feisty Dame Productions ramps up film and TV slate

Tania Chambers.

Years of perseverance in developing feature films and TV series with multiple collaborators are paying off for producer Tania Chambers.

The MD of Feisty Dame Productions is in the midst of financing How to Please a Woman and casting the co-lead of Time to Tango, a feature inspired by Miranda Edmonds and Khrob Edmonds’ short film Tango Underpants.

In addition, she is holding a writers’ room on a TV drama with such talent as Renée Webster, Miley Tunnecliffe and Kelly Lefever.

Webster is writing and will direct How to Please a Woman, a comedy-drama about a mature woman who must embrace her sexuality when her all-male house-cleaning business gets out of control.

Supported in development since 2016 by Screen Australia and Screenwest, the film has an Australian distributor and sales agent attached and the plan is to start shooting in Perth in March with funding from Screenwest’s West Coast Visions.

Chambers will produce with Judi Levine, who produced Falling for Figaro, a romantic comedy set in the world of opera starring Joanna Lumley and Danielle Macdonald, written and directed by Levine’s husband Ben Lewin.

Reprising her role in the short, Emma Booth will star in Time to Tango as a woman who discovers she is not the result of a one-night stand: her father is a tango dancer in South America. Katy Lefroy wrote the screenplay.

The ABC’s Fresh Start fund is supporting What Would Suki Do?, a 6 x 24′ comedy-drama about the adventures of a Sikh girl growing up in Perth, inspired by the life of writer/producer Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa.

Ana Tiwary is producing, with Chambers as EP and Marieke Hardy as story consultant.

Her development slate includes Angry Underwear, a feature drama co-written by Tania Ferrier and Lefever, based on the true story of artist Ferrier’s experiences creating “underwear with attitude” in the 1980s.

Author David Michie (The Dalai Lama’s Cat series, Buddhism for Busy People, Buddhism for Pet Lovers) has created Cape Grace, a TV drama about a psychologist who goes to a small town where she discovers secrets.

Michie, Webster and Tunnecliffe are working in the writers’ room with script producer Lefever.

Chambers made a late-career start to producing at the age of 50 after serving as CEO of both Screenwest and Screen NSW and with Barron Entertainment, the Film Finance Corp. and as a lawyer for the ABC in Sydney.

Last year she co-produced the ABC’s Itch with Komixx Entertainment. Among her earlier credits are Kriv Stenders’ Kill Me Three Times and Mark Lamprell’s A Few Less Men.

In a webinar on Monday with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner, she lamented the lack of producers who have financial producing skills and the ageing profile of the much of the producers cohort.

The Perth-based producer said: “In WA we’re seeing a whole gang of really talented and diverse creative people coming through the ranks. We have to make sure we are passing on skills and creating opportunities so people can realise their potential.”

After serving as chair of the WA Screen Industry Diversity Industry Leadership Group for three years she is getting ready to pass the baton.

She applauded the screen industry and agencies’ swift agreement on COVID-Safe protocols and the Federal Government’s $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund, while hoping the latter is not quickly exhausted.

Asked how she is supporting gender equality in the screen industry as a producer and a member of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters task force, she said: “I am looking at all the stages, from the initial idea through to the roles of female protagonists and the way in which women are represented in the projects I am working on.

“My biggest challenge is I have fallen into the trap of looking at the heads of department that are available and their experience. The lack of females in some areas is a real issue.

“How can we give females more opportunities? Somebody has to give you a break. Each of us had someone who believed in us at some point.”