Disney series ‘Reef Break’ is a bonanza for Aussie directors
Poppy Montgomery (Photo credit: Omar Cruz).
The producers of the Disney crime drama Reef Break, now shooting on the Gold Coast, have hired six Australian directors.
American Alex Zakrzewski, whose credits include Blue Bloods, Bosch, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and CSI: NY, was the set-up director on the series commissioned by Disney’s ABC network, which stars Sydney-born Poppy Montgomery.
Shawn Seet, Kieran Darcy-Smith and Sian Davies are each directing one episode while Peter Andrikidis, Grant Brown and Fiona Banks will each do two.
All are benefiting from a ground-breaking deal which the Australian Directors Guild signed with the producers, ABC Studios and ABC Studios International.
The first agreement between the ADG and an offshore production company, it gives directors much improved basic pay and conditions while still enabling them to negotiate individual agreements.
ADG CEO Kingston Anderson hopes it will serve as a template for all foreign TV shows shooting in Australia, stating: “This will help us keep directors in Australia.”
Montgomery, who was a regular in the US series Without a Trace and Unforgettable, is playing Cat Chambers, a thief-turned-fixer for the governor of a Pacific Island paradise. Her less-than-perfect past gives her an instinctive gift for understanding crime and criminals as she becomes enmeshed in fast-paced adventures and island intrigue.
Black Sails alum Ray Stevenson is Jake Elliot, a down-on-his luck federal agent who has a history with Cat. Desmond Chiam (The Shannara Chronicles) is Jake Wyatt, a detective on the island who finds himself assigned to a case with Cat after they have a one-night stand.
Montgomery came up with the idea and Mark Rosner is serving as the showrunner. The series is due to premiere on ABC in the northern summer; Disney Media Distribution holds the international rights. A licencing deal with an Australian broadcaster is expected to be announced soon.
Banks will direct the last two segments, episodes 11 and 12, after she wraps Hoodlum Entertainment/10’s drama Five Bedrooms.
Disney is yet to confirm who will direct eps 9 and 10; a spokeswoman could not say whether that gig will go to an American or an Aussie.
Reef Break and Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs. Kong were the first beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s Location Incentive Program, receiving a total of $16 million.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has said her government secured both productions through Screen Queensland and the Production Attraction Strategy.
The Disney series is employing 75 per cent Queensland crew and will spend about $41 million in the State, she said.