Ben Lewin to direct Grainger biopic
The Sessions writer-director Ben Lewin is attached to helm Blue Rose, a biopic about the self-described “sex crazed” Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger.
LA-based Jeffrey Walker will return to Oz a to direct Dance Academy: The Comeback., a spin-off of Werner Film Productions’ popular TV series, which will follow a young ballerina who dreams of being a star.
Following Ruin and Hail, Amiel Courtin-Wilson is to write, produce and direct Hawkwood, a thriller set in the backwaters of Africa which tells of ageing mercenary’s journey from chaos to grace.
These are among 16 feature projects which are receiving more than $620,000 in development funding from Screen Australia.
Lewin will write Blue Rose with Wain Fimeri for producers Chryssy Tintner, Jan Eymann, Judi Levine and Arclight’s Mark Lazarus and Gary Hamilton. His next film is US indie romantic drama Purple Hearts, which will star Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez as an aspiring musician who falls in love with a soldier after marrying under false pretences.
See-Saw Films' Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Rachel Gardner are getting support for two projects. Set in the 1940s, Los Alamos is a political thriller which follows a disgraced intelligence operative who investigates a murder at high-security military base, written by Luke Davies (Lion). The North Wind is a drama by Alice Addison, one of the writers on Devil’s Playground.
Producer Martha Coleman receives funding for animated action adventure Pig Wing Pie, written by Erica Harrison and directed by Simon Rippingale; and rom-com The Wedding Officer, based on the novel by Anthony Capella.
Kate Dennis (Offspring, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) will direct Addition, a romantic comedy about an extraordinary woman and an ordinary man, scripted by Harry Cripps and produced by Bruna Papandrea (Wild, Gone Girl) and Cristina Pozzan (Return Home).
Top of the Lake co-writer Gerard Lee will adapt Peter Carey’s novel Theft: A Love Story, in which a man leaves jail and tries to revive his former life as a famous artist. He faces the challenge of changing times which drives him to swindle and forge. Alicia Brown, Melanie Coombs and Mish Armstrong will produce Theft.
After collaborating on mystery-drama Downriver, Jannine Barnes will produce and Grant Scicluna will write and direct Pig’s Blood, the saga of a young Italian man who is sent to Australia to settle an old family score, adapted from a Peter Robb novella. A young, fun suburban girl distracts him and his original plan with a scheme of her own – to kill her stepfather.
The Babadook’s Julie Byrne and Kristian Moliere together with Andy Cox are developing Lost Cat, a comedy-romance scripted by Cox.
Dirty Deeds producers Bryan Brown and Deb Balderstone will continue to develop Joanna Murray-Smith’s dramatic comedy Palm Beach.
In the Talent Escalator program, Corrie Chen is working on a director’s attachment to Shawn Seet on Shine Australia’s Seven Network mini-series Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door. Billie Pleffer is attached to director Glendyn Ivin on Endemol Australia’s six-part ABC drama The Beautiful Lie.
“Today’s funding announcement sees internationally based, award-winning Australian talent returning home to develop bold and original local stories. It’s an exciting range of films that will draw interest from all ages, celebrate Australian icons and tell unique Australian stories,” said Nerida Moore, Screen Australia’s senior development executive.
“It is also fabulous to have two very talented emerging directors placed with leading productions and experts in the industry, allowing them the opportunity to nurture their professional development.”
SINGLE-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: FEATURE DEVELOPMENT
Genre Drama, Romantic Comedy
Producers Bruna Papandrea, Cristina Pozzan
Director Kate Dennis
Writer Harry Cripps
Synopsis A romantic comedy about an extraordinary woman and an ordinary man.
Producers Chryssy Tintner, Jan Eymann, Judi Levine, Mark Lazarus, Gary Hamilton
Executive Producer Mike Gabrawy
Director Ben Lewin
Writers Ben Lewin, Wain Fimeri
Synopsis Once regarded as the world’s greatest pianist, an elderly Percy Grainger reflects on his youth, when his young heart yearned for freedom and his Swedish love, Ella, while it was bound to his fragile mother, Rose.
DANCE ACADEMY: THE COMEBACK
Producer Joanna Werner
Director Jeffrey Walker
Writer Sam Strauss
Synopsis Former ballet student Tara Webster needs to find the courage to return from a crippling injury in order to fulfil her destiny as a star ballerina.
Genre Drama, Thriller, Crime
Writer/Director/Producer Amiel Courtin-Wilson
Synopsis Jack is an ageing mercenary at the end of his career – ricocheting from crime to crime in the backwaters of Africa. When he finds work as a domestic body guard for a young family in a gated community, Jack’s struggle with violence slowly begins to devour him. Hawkwood is a visceral, transcendental journey from chaos to grace.
THE HIGH GROUND
Genre Action Thriller
Producers David Jowsey, Stephen Johnson, Witiyana Marika
Executive Producer Jack Thompson
Director Stephen Johnson
Writer Chris Anastassiades
Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Rachel Gardner
Writer Luke Davies
Synopsis Spring, 1945. Michael Connolly, a disgraced intelligence operative, enters a labyrinth of secrets and espionage when he arrives at the high security military base of Los Alamos. Sent to investigate a seemingly open-and-shut murder case, Connolly is thrown into the heart of the Manhattan Project and must navigate a path through military protocol, political intrigue and personal agendas in order to uncover the truth in the most secretive place in the world.
Genre Comedy Romance
Producers Julie Byrne, Andy Cox, Kristian Moliere
Writer Andy Cox
Synopsis When Katherine’s cat Tibby disappears and then returns sleeker and healthier than before, Katherine’s world is turned upside down sending her on a cat’s eye view-of-the-world adventure with new lover, Annie. Based on the comic memoir by Caroline Paul and illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton.
THE NORTH WIND
Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Rachel Gardner
Writer Alice Addison
Genre Comedy, Drama
Producers Bryan Brown, Deborah Balderstone
Writer Joanna Murray-Smith
Genre Black Comedy
Producer Jannine Barnes
Writer/Director Grant Scicluna
Synopsis Sent to Australia from Naples to settle a 22-year-old score, Salvatore’s plans get complicated by a trashy suburban girl who just wants to have a good time and kill her stepfather. Based on the novella by Peter Robb.
PIG WING PIE
Genre Animated action adventure
Producer Martha Coleman
Director Simon Rippingale
Writer Erica Harrison
Genre Romance, Action, Drama
Producer Sylvia Wilczynski
Writer/Director Kim Mordaunt
Synopsis The lives of three people, from three corners of the world, collide in Africa.
Producer Heather Ogilvie
Writer/Director Megan Simpson Huberman
Synopsis After her husband and brother die within days of each other, a woman throws in her job, sells her house and buys a rundown waterside shack in a tight-knit community on idyllic Pittwater. In a place that demands an open heart, she unexpectedly finds friendship and love. Based on Susan Duncan’s bestselling memoir.
Producers Alicia Brown, Melanie Coombs, Mish Armstrong
Writer Gerard Lee
Synopsis Theft: A Love Story, adapted from the novel by Peter Carey. Michael ‘Butcher’ Boone springs from jail and in an effort to rekindle his former reputation as a ‘famous artist’ immediately begins a new dark work, a painting based on one of his dead mother’s tea-towels. But times have changed and the only way forward now is scam and forgery.
SINGLE-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: FEATURE MATCHED FUNDING
Genre Action Adventure
Producers Ying Ye, Gary Hamilton, Mike Gabrawy, Mark Lazarus
Director Kimble Rendall
Writers Kimble Rendall, Nick Parsons
Synopsis While a team of scientists desperately search for a colleague trapped in an ancient labyrinth, they must fight a swarm of deadly, man-eating funnel web spiders and discover the secret behind their power and intelligence – before it’s too late.
SINGLE-PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: FEATURE MATCHED INITIAL OPTION FUNDING
THE WEDDING OFFICER
Genre Drama, Romantic comedy
Producer Martha Coleman
Synopsis Based on the novel by Anthony Capella.
TALENT ESCALATOR PROGRAMS: INDUSTRY PLACEMENTS
CORRIE CHEN PLACEMENT
Director Corrie Chen will be attached to director Shawn Seet during the pre-production, principal photography and post-production of the Channel 7 mini-series Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door.
BILLIE PLEFFER PLACEMENT
Director Billie Pleffer will be attached to director Glendyn Ivin (Gallipoli, Puberty Blues, Last Ride) on the six-part miniseries The Beautiful Lie.