Writer-director Jordan Watton and producer Julia Corcoran's 'Burning' won AACTA Pitch: Isolation.

After last year’s iteration saw six projects optioned, AACTA is set to re-team with Monster Pictures to run a horror and genre film development initiative.

2020’s AACTA Pitch: Isolation saw close to 200 submissions, and through a series of development rounds, filmmaking teams were required to demonstrate clear planning around finance, marketing, and audience development. Ultimately, eight projects were selected to compete in a live-streamed pitching final at AACTA ScreenFest.

Writer/director Jordan Watton and producer Julia Corcoran’s Burning won that event, receiving $10,000 and an exclusive distribution deal with Monster Pictures. 

However, Monster Pictures director Grant Hardie was so impressed with the concepts that following the 2020 competition, with Chris Brown’s production company Pictures in Paradise, he optioned five of the other first round finalists’ projects. They are now working with the teams to develop their projects and take them to market. 

One of those projects is Aaron McCann’s Jonesy, which as IF has reported, was recently selected to participate in the Frontières International Co-Production Market.

AACTA awards and industry development manager Ivan Vukusic said: ”This is an amazing result for the first year and due to this overwhelming success, on behalf of the AACTA team, I am extremely excited to announce that we are carrying over the competition with the soon to be launched 2021 initiative”. 

The theme for 2021 will be announced on August 30, but Hardie hints: “Let’s just say this year we’re looking for films with real bite”

The full list of projects that have been optioned by Monster Pictures and Pictures in Paradise: 

BURNING: Jordan Watton, Julia Corcoran 

A low-achieving outsider who works as volunteer firefighter ignites a series of deadly blazes throughout bushfire season in his small town in rural Australia 

FIERCE: Christian D’Alessi, Jesse O’Brian 

A single mother and her two children, trapped and stalked by the mythic blue mountain phantom, must escape imminent bushfires and take back their lives. 

JONESY: Aaron McCann, Michael Facey 

When a lazy newlywed’s pet cat starts telepathically convincing him to assist the feline in murdering the neighbour’s pet Cockatoo — things start to spiral out of control, as bad planning and ineptitude lead to a grizzly triple homicide and a desperate attempt at a cover-up. 

REAR VIEW MIRROR: Samantha Price, Sean Loch 

Crossing the desert to visit her sick mother, an unassertive teen, along with her father, are hunted by a malicious entity that only reveals itself to its next victim. 

TERROR ZONE: Josh Sambono, Laura Sambono, Lucca Barone-Peters, Colin Wilson 

A lonely assassin must confront traumatic childhood memories before she is consumed by a monster inside of her which has awakened. 

THE REMOTE: Kelly Baigent, Luke Kneller 

In 2021, Australian local authorities investigating multiple human deaths on a decommissioned nuclear test site, found several discarded cameras. The contents of those cameras, and the identities of the dead are classified: Top Secret. Anonymous whistle-blowers collated this footage, and when pieced together, it reveals: An enthusiastic group of young Sydney University academics travelling to the nuclear test site to analyse the radiation impact on the flora and fauna. 

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