2019 Screen Tank participants: (Top Row L-R): Nicole Dade, Linda Micsko, Rachel Higgins, Jasmin Tarasin, Charis Orchard, Robbie Miles, Shannon Wilson. (Bottom Row L-R): Sarah de Possesse, Kate Separovich, Tricia-Lyn Morosin, Gabrielle McKinlay, Georgina Jenkins.

Professional women’s collective Dame Changer has announced four projects selected for its accelerator program, Mentor To Market: TV series Edge of the Woods, Family Happiness and Last Frontier, and feature film Blackbirds.

Recipients were selected from a group of 12 teams that participated in Dame Changer’s workshop program Screen Tank in May, which gave insights into financing, sales, marketing, festival and distribution strategies from senior industry specialists, and involved a project market review session. At the conclusion, the teams pitched their projects to distributors in one-on-one meetings and received constructive feedback.

The program was facilitated by film and distribution consultant Beatrice Neumann, Oscar-nominated writer/producer Meg LeFauve (Inside Out, Captain Marvel); producer of The Babadook, Cargo and The Nightingale Kristina Ceyton; Screen Herd content strategist, Beatrix Holland; and Jonathan Page, founder of film production and distribution company Bonsai Films.

While three teams normally then progress to Mentor to Market, organisers were so impressed by the promise of the 2019 projects that they selected a fourth, highly commended project to join the program.

Mentor to Market is a 12-month program which will see each team will work on a detailed plan with industry experts to get their screen project to market, including one-on-one mentoring and the opportunity to pitch their project to broadcasters, distributors and sales agents.

The projects are:

  • Edge of the Woods.

In an isolated village, which has closed its borders to protect its citizens from a plague, 16-year-old Emma is more focused on boys and status than questioning her oppression. But when her father dies and she’s reduced to social pariah, Emma has to discover the strength to define herself and fight to free her people from old world traditions – and the magic in the woods.

Producers: Kate Separovich, Rachel Higgins

Writer: Ceinwen Langley

  • Family Happiness

18th Century Tolstoyian movement meets near-future utopian bliss in a bold, original series that explores whether humans can make a perfect functioning state, wherein everyone is happy? Or, by our very nature, are we destined to fail? Family Happiness was selected for Create NSW’s She Directs Development Initiative.

Producer: Linda Micsko

Writer: Nicole Dade

Director: Jasmin Tarasin

A Photoplay Films production

  • Blackbirds

When she is forced into aged care, a stubborn Greek woman in denial about her dementia must manipulate her carer, a juvenile delinquent on a community service order, into taking her on a road trip to retrieve her hidden lifesavings before the family home is sold.

Writer/Producer: Georgina Jenkins

Producer: Shannon Wilson-McClinton

  • Last Frontier 

Last Frontier is a 3 x 1-hour documentary series that explores Aboriginal people’s experience in the Kimberley Pastoral Industry, from before white settlement to the present day, where a quarter of the region’s cattle stations are now owned by Aboriginal communities.

Host Robert Watson, a Nykina man and 4th generation pastoralist, will guide us through this trepid but tenacious journey of a people who are faced with horrendous conditions in their determination to protect and stay connected to their traditional country.

Producer: Jodie Bell

Writer: Dot West

Director: Kimberley West

Of the opportunity, the team behind Edge of the Woods said: “It’s fantastic that a program like Screen Tank exists to accelerate series such as Edge of the Woods towards being commissioned. It’s so important, especially for those of us from Western Australia, to have face-to-face networking opportunities with the people who can make this happen.

“Based on the Amazon-charting novel of the same name, Edge of the Woods is a female-centric narrative dealing with the universal themes of gender inequality, social status and grief. We feel the timing could not be better for us to tell this story and thank you to Dame Changer for helping make this happen.”

The team behind Blackbirds added, “We’re completely thrilled to have been selected for the Dame Changer Mentor to Market project accelerator program. The Screen Tank intensive workshop provided us with some incredible feedback and the ability to assess our project with renewed vision and this further opportunity is fantastic, not just for our film Blackbirds but also for the further development of our screen careers.”

Dame Changer advisor board member Jennifer Naughton said: “We’re so proud of this year’s line-up and congratulate all four teams on progressing to the Mentor to Market program.

“Emboldening broader, more inclusive voices is a crucial part of our work at the Dame Changer and these stories, which inspired us, moved us and even occasionally made us uncomfortable, perfectly represent the capacity for female filmmakers to shift our perspectives, spark conversation, create change and entertain an audience.”

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