Matchbox Pictures to produce 1st project for commercial TV:Underground telemovie

02 February, 2012 by Sam Dallas

Matchbox Pictures, best known for recent hit series The Slap, will produce its first ever project for a commercial network.

The award-winning, Melbourne-based company is currently gearing up for its April shoot date on upcoming Channel 10 telemovie, Underground.


Penned and to be directed by Robert Connolly, the biographical telemovie is set in late-1980s-suburban Melbourne. It follows Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as a teenager along with his gang of friends – the International Subversives – as they try to break into the computer systems of the world's most powerful organisations.

Hoping to uncover the inner workings of these groups, the boys wage battle from their bedrooms with the technologies, with each other and with the Senior AFP detective who is intent on shutting down their group.

No cast had been confirmed, a Matchbox Pictures spokesman said.

Produced by Helen Bowden and executive produced by Tony Ayres, the telemovie – based on a 1997 Suelette Dreyfus book of the same name – received funding from Screen Australia.

"It's really a story about how and why Julian went from being a computer geek to being a political activist," Bowden explains to IF.

"I think it will resonate with people for all sorts of reasons. Julian Assange has had a profound effect on the world in recent times, yet he is something of an enigma.

"We hope that knowing more about his early life will give viewers some insight into who he really is, what he believes and why. It is a surprising and moving story.

"We also really hope that Underground will start a conversation about the ethics of Wikileaks' actions in the present day. Is transparency always better?"

Underground will be the first venture into commercial television for Matchbox, which has produced such projects as The Slap (ABC), Sex: An Unnatural History (SBS), The Straits (ABC) and My Place (ABC). The company was awarded the Independent Producer of the Year trophy at the SPAA Conference Dinner and Awards late last year.

It's currently in production on ABC docudrama Next Stop Hollywood, which follows six aspiring Australian actors as they compete for coveted roles during the US TV pilot season.

Underground will go into pre-production on March 13 and the shoot is scheduled to commence on April 16.