Australians in Film (AiF), the LA-based Australian entertainment industry guild, has announced that the feature film script for Cargo is the winner of the inaugural Gateway LA Script Development Program Prize for 2015. The 2015 ‘Aussie List’ of finalists, the Australian version of the US Black List and the most prestigious script development program in Australia, has also been announced.
The feature film script, which tells of a father’s quest to save his daughter’s life amid a zombie apocalypse, will now benefit from the $10,000AUD cash prize, high level mentoring support with industry professionals from the program, US networking access and a flight to the US with thanks to Australians in Film and Virgin Australia. Yolanda Ramke’s short film Cargo, co-directed by Ben Howling, was a finalist at Tropfest in 2013 and has now had almost 9 million views on YouTube, predicting its popularity as a feature film.
Other finalists who submitted feature film scripts, all making part of the ‘Aussie List 2015’, include Michael Noonan’s Alternate Ending, Nick Pollack’s A.K.A. Nick Claus, Tim Bullock’s Deadfellas, Jo Watson’s Escape from Biology, Tim Schildberger’s His Son, John Ridley’s I Am The Thunder and Daniel Quigley’s The Killing of Sweet Molly Malone.
Each will have the opportunity to further develop their material by having it circulated within the industry in the US, two months of complimentary hosting on The Black List, a free evaluation of each script, a complimentary copy of the latest version of Final Draft and phone meetings with the program judges.
The judges’ vote was unanimous. Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon’s producing partner at Pacific Standard (Gone Girl, Wild) and judge for Gateway LA, said: "Cargo is a beautifully rendered script that is both emotional and suspenseful. The writer demonstrates great skill in creating a world to which we are completely transported, while never losing touch with our protagonists."
Another judge, US based agent at United Talent Agency Bec Smith, who represents Aussies such as David Michôd said, “Cargo is a clever screenplay that infuses a familiar genre with a fresh take in the form of unmistakable Aussie humour, an indigenous flavour, drama, suspense, action and real emotion.”
Of her win, Yolanda said, “I'm incredibly honoured to be the first recipient of the Gateway LA prize. I'm also awed and humbled by the calibre of the judges and the staggering number of fellow applicants, which I think speaks volumes for the insane amount of creative talent emerging from Australia.
“Ben Howling and I have been chipping away on Cargo for 2 years now and we've been blessed to join forces with producers Kristina Ceyton, Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder, who all share our passion for this story. This accolade is a giant leap for all of us in a hugely exciting direction.”
Other finalists, all feature film scripts, making up ‘The Aussie List’ for 2015 are:
Writer: Michael Noonan
A political candidate sees the movie version of his life and realizes he's going to be assassinated.
A.K.A. NICK CLAUS
Writers: Nick Pollack, Diane Drake
The untold, really true story of how notorious cat burglar and con man Nicklaus Kringle turned his life around and became the legend known as Santa Claus.
Writer: Tim Bullock
For wise guy turned rat, Joey Catanzariti, escaping the undead is one thing. Escaping the family is another.
ESCAPE FROM BIOLOGY
Writer: Jo Watson
Oscar, a spider who can’t spin webs, sets out to prove he is nonetheless hero material. Instead, he gets captured by a creepy biology teacher. To escape dissection and save his family, Oscar must do something no spider has done before: take on a human and win.
Writer: Tim Schildberger
A bitter man who hasn't seen his famous father in 20 years is suddenly visited because Dad has terminal cancer, and wants his son to kill him.
I AM THE THUNDER
Writer: John Ridley
The true story of a CIA Agent who recruits a young Indigenous Australian as a sniper assassin to remove key political targets in the early days of the Vietnam War.
THE KILLING OF SWEET MOLLY MALONE
Writer: Daniel Quigley (A.K.A Danny Matier)
When Molly makes the choice of saving the life of a boy she doesn't even know; she finds herself fighting the biggest gangster in the city.
Each writer will have the opportunity to further develop their material by having it circulated within the industry in the US, two months of complimentary hosting on The Black List, a free evaluation of each script, a complimentary copy of the latest version of Final Draft and phone meetings with the program judges.
Simonne Overend, President of Australians in Film and Co-Chair of Gateway LA Program said: “Congratulations to Yolanda Ramke – Cargo is well-deserving as the winner and her script was in the top three for all judges. We’re really looking forward to helping Yolanda and all finalists make connections in the industry over here, and further develop their international writing careers.”
Gateway LA program judges include Audrey Chon, VP Scripted Television, Shine America (Gracepoint, The Bridge), Michael Costigan, Producer (Stoker, Out of the Furnace), Executive Producer (Brokeback Mountain, Prometheus), Jonathan Hludzinski, Creative Executive at Animal Logic, Peter Lawson, VP of Production and Acquisitions, Open Road Films (Triple Nine, Nightcrawler) and co-chair of Gateway LA Program, Simonne Overend, Vice President of Scripted Development for Essential Media (Saving Mr Banks, Rake), President of Australians in Film and Co-Chair of Gateway LA Program, Bruna Papandrea, Producer, Pacific Standard (Warm Bodies, Wild), Executive Producer, Gone Girl, Milk) Michelle Sandoval, Executive, Ausfilm, Bec Smith, Agent (Motion Picture Literary and Independent Film Group) at United Talent Agency and Stacey Testro, Manager/Producer, Stacey Testro International.
Gateway LA is AIF’s new script development program for film and television writers. It aims to develop audience-driven, Australian-created content for US and international audiences, with the aim to spotlight and promote a select list of screenplays in the model of The Black List and the UK’s Brit List. In particular, the program promotes writers to both Australian and international producers, development executives and talent in Los Angeles, where AiF has a base. The program is open to writers, or writing teams, with at least one Australian citizen or permanent resident.
AUSTRALIANS IN FILM
Founded in May 2001, Australians in Film is a non-profit organization that serves as the industry guild for Australian entertainment professionals in Los Angeles, holding regular screenings, career development programs, seminars and labs, and currently has over 600 members. For more information on AiF, please visit www.australiansinfilm.org