After devoting herself to teaching at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and serving as president of the Australian Directors’ Guild, Samantha Lang is looking forward to getting back to her first love: making screen stories.
Lang aims to progress two projects in development when she meets with agents, managers and production companies in Los Angeles next month as part of the Screen Australia/ Australian Writers’ Guild’s Talent USA delegation.
One is Kill the Messenger, a romantic tragi-comedy adapted from Nakkiah Lui’s play about the couple at the centre of a post-colonial interracial love story. Lang likens the tone to films such as Kumail Nanjiani’s The Big Sick and Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck.
The other is Lucy and Linh, which Michelle Law is writing based on the young adult novel by Alice Pung. The film is about the daughter of a Chinese migrant family who goes to an exclusive girls’ school dominated by a cabal of white girls known as the Cabinet.
The subject resonated with Lang, who has a blended family and whose partner is originally from Burma.
During her tenure as head of directing at AFTRS from 2010-2016 the School gave her leave to direct the telepics Carlotta for the ABC and The Killing Field for the Seven Network – but her main commitment was to emerging filmmakers.
She is thrilled to see so many of her former students achieve success, including Stephen McCallum (whose first feature 1% opens in Australian cinemas in October), Jennifer Leacey (Reckoning, Bite Club, The Wrong Girl), Miranda Nation (Undertow), Shannon Murphy (Rake, Sisters, Offspring, The Ropes), Lucy Gaffy (Doctor Doctor) and Melissa Anastasi, who is one of the recipients of the 2018 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.
“Directing is a passion,” Lang tells IF. “And that, alongside producing, is where I am putting my creative energies now. The LA trip will be a great way to reboot some of my connections.”
She also serves on the taskforce at Screen Australia that rolled out the Gender Matters initiative to redress gender and diversity imbalance in the sector.
With producer Brian Cobb she is developing The Mediator, a TV series about a female mediator who dispenses restorative justice. As the set-up director and producer, she and Cobb would hire emerging female filmmakers to helm further episodes on the series.
Also on her slate is Anthropocene, a six-part VR anthology project in collaboration with Erth Visual & Physical, for which Create NSW is funding development.
It’s the follow-up to Prehistoric VR, based on Erth’s stage show Prehistoric Aquarium, which invited viewers to travel back 200 million years to encounter prehistoric creatures, and premiered last year at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.