Jessica Parker, David Vincent Smith, Lauren Brunswick.

Writer-director David Vincent Smith is poised to make his feature debut, with his project Burden awarded $750,000 in production funding via Screenwest’s West Coast Visions initiative.

Burden, produced by No Labels Media, is described as tense family drama about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances.

The film explores themes of mental health and addiction as it challenges audiences to ponder the question; “How far would you go to save someone you love?” 

Smith has worked on swathe of short films and music videos over the last decade, including We Were Here which won four WA Screen Awards, and is a former recipient of Screenwest’s Feature Navigator program.

His script The Jesus Machine was shortlisted for the Australian Writers’ Guild’s John Hinde Award in 2019.

“I feel incredibly honoured to receive West Coast Visions from Screenwest, who have always been so supportive of my filmmaking. I’m so proud to make my debut film at home in Western Australia with my dearest friends and long-time collaborators.” 

Jessica Parker and Lauren Brunswick are the project’s producers. Both have been producing short films, TVCs and music videos for over 10 years. Brunswick recently produced documentary feature Koko: A Red Dog Story and Parker produced Sam Lara’s short Featherweight, also written by Smith.

Parker said: “I’m thrilled to be producing Burden with the continued support of Screenwest. David is a phenomenal talent and I deeply respect his authentic approach to filmmaking. Burden is a beautiful, heartbreaking story about love and its complex themes are dealt with respectfully. It is a privilege making films with David and Lauren. We all share the same passion, and we are beyond excited to bring this brave, topical film to audiences. 

Brunswick added: “After working with David for 13 years, it’s a privilege to be on the team for his debut feature. His distinctive and singular directors’ vision alongside his compassionate and collaborative nature make him a joy to work with. Jess is the next best creative producer to emerge from Australia and I’m excited to work with her to bring this important, bold film, to audiences in Australia and overseas.” 

Previous winners of West Coast Visions recipients Renee Webster’s How to Please a Woman, which recently wrapped, and Jub Clerc’s Sweet As, currently in production. Others include Ben Young’s breakout feature Hounds of Love, Stephen McCallum’s 1% and Maziar Lahooti’s Below.

Screenwest CEO Rikki Lea Bestall said: “As an exceptionally competitive funding initiative, applicants must have a well-developed, budget-savvy and marketable project with a team that can deliver it. The team behind Burden delivered this and I congratulate them on being awarded this year’s West Coast Visions funding.” 

Last year West Coast Visions was broken up into a two-stage program encompassing development and production funding. The other projects that received development support during round one were Miranda and Khrob Edmonds’ Whale Shark Jack and Zoe Pepper’s Fads & Miracles.

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