Matlida and Bryan Brown.
Matilda Brown and her father Bryan Brown have collaborated on Lessons from the Grave, a series of short films that will premiere on ABC1 in September.
The pair plays a fictional daughter and father, Bonnie and Douglas, who live in a remote country area. He wins $50 million in the lottery but has a heart attack and dies. Douglas is unwilling to move onto the next world until he knows Bonnie will be OK and stays as a ghost to teach her some lessons in life.
Matilda wrote the scripts and produced and directed the 3-minute episodes. Her dad financed the production and it was shot on her NSW country farm. Each segment will screen before the 7 pm news.
She told IF, “The idea came from having a coffee with my dad and he said ‘you should write something for us to do together when neither of us is doing anything.’ I said ‘OK, I will’ and two weeks later sent him some scripts.
“I guess it's inspired by the father-daughter relationship. I've always been close to dad but in the last four years that we've been working together on different projects and developing stuff, he's taught me so much about the industry. And life in general. So our bond has become much stronger. I think there's something so special about the father- daughter relationship and I wanted to express that, or pay homage to it.”
It’s the first time father and daughter appeared on screen together. However Matilda’s first acting job was in the 1996 TV series Twisted Tales, which her dad produced. Also Bryan produced the 2003 short film Martha's New Coat, directed by his wife and Matilda’s mother Rachel Ward, in which Matilda played Martha.
“This was a very new experience for both of us,“ she said. “We share a very similar sense of humour so we were on the same page for most of it. Only the occasional disagreement and that was usually at the end of a long day's shoot when his dad jokes were wearing thin.”
Bryan, who has a close working relationship with the ABC, pitched the series to the public broadcaster and it will also screen on Qantas flights during the Christmas season.
Matilda is confident the series will sell internationally, noting it deals with universal themes including fathers and daughters, grief, vulnerability, life lessons and growing up. The actress is spending some time in the US, where she has signed with Kenny Goodman of The Schiff Company.
Brown and Sam Neill are starring in Old School, an eight-part drama for the ABC produced by Matchbox Pictures. Sam plays a retired cop and Bryan is a retired crim. They get together to solve crimes, unravel scams and make some much-needed cash, while avoiding the wrath of the police and the underworld. The director is Gregor Jordan, reuniting with Brown after their 1999 film Two Hands.
Last year Brown played an Australian soldier in France during WW1 in An Accidental Soldier, an ABC telemovie directed by Rachel Ward, their first collaboration since her 2009 movie Beautiful Kate.