(L-R) Andrew Goldsmith, Lucy Hayes and Bradley Slabe.

Bradley Slabe, the co-director with Andrew Goldsmith of the Academy Award-shortlisted animated short Lost & Found, looks set for a major career boost after securing representation in the US.

The writer-director signed with Los Angeles-based Verve after being introduced to the talent and literary agency by Jonathan Hludzinski, Animal Logic’s senior VP, production.

On the same trip to LA he met with four management companies and is yet to decide which one to take on. “My dream is to create my own content but Verve has showed me the IP properties on their roster and asked me which ones I’d like to pitch for,” he tells IF.

Slabe, Goldsmith and producer Lucy Hayes are keen to develop a TV series spin-off of Lost & Found, which would look at the community of knitted creatures before their ranks were thinned to two.

He pitched that project at the Seoul Promotion Plan in Korea last August, winning the $15,000 Grand Prize. His slate also includes a period drama set after the Holocaust. He met with the Verve executives after flying to San Francisco to confer with Mary Coleman, senior development executive at Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, whom he had met at the Austin Film Festival.

Coleman strongly recommended Verve and told him Pixar will only consider pitches for features which have representation. Slabe intends to meet with reps of Sony Pictures Animation and other producers after he and Goldsmith attend the Annie Awards in LA on February 2, where their film has been nominated for Best Animated Short Subject.

Alaric McAusland joins Grace

Alaric McAusland.

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group’s former Australia/New Zealand MD Alaric McAusland has joined LA – and Sydney-based Grace: A Storytelling Company.

In the newly created role of chief operating officer and head of studio and production he is overseeing development, production and global business operations and partnerships.

He reports to the firm’s founder, writer-director-producer Josh Wakely, who created the animated series Beat Bugs, a co-pro with Thunderbird Entertainment and Beyond Screen Production that was acquired by Netflix and is now in its third season.

Grace: A Storytelling Company and Beyond Screen Production then teamed up for Motown Magic, an animated series for kids inspired by classic Motown songs, which launched worldwide on Netflix on November 20.

McAusland departed Deluxe at the end of 2017 after running the company for eight years, which included working on Beat Bugs and Motown Magic. Before that, he was CEO of post house Atlab and general manager of VFX facility Dfilm Services. His executive producer credits include feature documentaries Storm Surfers 3D and Show Me the Magic.

Wakely said: “Alaric was integral in empowering Beat Bugs and Motown Magic for a successful global release. Now that we have expanded with multiple international production deals spanning TV, film, and live, immersive entertainment, bringing him on board is the next step in the development of Grace as a global studio.”

McAusland added: “I feel immensely privileged to be joining Grace at such an exciting time and to be given the incredible opportunity to contribute to its storytelling success and to its global growth.”

He will relocate to LA in the first half of this year but intends to return to Sydney as shows go into pre-production and for post-production as the Oz studio expands. The development slate includes a live-action TV drama based on the music of Bob Dylan and various TV projects based on songs from Universal Music Group’s library.

North American premiere set for ‘Ladies in Black’

Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black will screen on the closing night of the 30th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), one of four Oz titles to be showcased at the event which runs from January 4-13.

Executives at Sony Pictures, which acquired worldwide rights to the 1950s-set comedy-drama, will no doubt be keen to see the responses from audiences.

Sony Pictures Releasing executive VP Stephen Basil-Jones told IF last November he had begun discussing release plans with his colleagues in the US and Europe.

Produced by Sue Milliken and Allanah Zitserman, the film has grossed $12 million and is still playing at several key locations around the country although it’s now available on DVD and VOD, where it’s performing strongly.

The director, producers and stars Julia Ormond, Rachael Taylor, Alison McGirr and Celia Massingham are expected to attend the festival.

Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga will screen in the Foreign Film Oscar submission strand. There will be a retrospective screening of Baz Luhrmann’s breakout 1992 Strictly Ballroom while Jeffrey Walker’s ABC telemovie Riot will feature in the Queer Cinema Today & The Gay!LA section.

New categories for ADG Awards

The Australian Directors Guild (ADG) has added several new categories for the 2019 ADG Awards.

For the first time the feature film awards will be separated into two: Best Direction in a Feature Film (budgeted at $1 million or more) and Best Direction in a Feature Film (budgeted under $1 million.)

The other new categories are Best Direction in a Commercial Advertisement and Best Direction in an Interactive or Immersive Title.

To be eligible, all work must have screened publicly for the first time between July 1 2017 and December 31 2018, except for student films where the project needs only to have been completed within these dates. Nominations will be announced in April and the ceremony will be held in May.

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