Screen Australia backs five projects with $3.5 million
Writer Jackie van Beek and director Armagan Ballantyne, who will collaborate on ‘Nude Tuesday’.
Two feature films, one from Robert Connolly and the other a Kiwi-Aussie co-pro penned by The Breaker Upperers’ Jackie van Beek; a ABC TV comedy from Closer Productions; and two online projects are the latest recipients of $3.5 million worth of production funding from Screen Australia.
Connolly, writer/director of box office hit Paper Planes, will return to Western Australia to shoot a feature film adaptation of Tim Winton’s acclaimed novel Blueback, while NZ’s Firefly Productions will join forces with Good Thing Productions to create absurdist dramedy feature Nude Tuesday, directed by Armagan Ballantyne. Erik Thomson teams up with Adelaide’s Closer Productions to produce Yes, Chef! for the ABC, following a notorious celebrity chef who is forced to flee to his hometown in the Adelaide Hills.
Screen Australia head of content Sally Caplan said: “We are thrilled to be funding productions across four states and to be back collaborating with New Zealand on a co-production.”
“Blueback is a great Australian fable coming to the screen from local IP that will have global appeal. And we have been waiting for more comedies so we’re delighted to get behind Yes, Chef! and Nude Tuesday.”
“We’re also very pleased to provide two emerging teams with their first allocation of production funding through the Online fund. This avenue has proved to be an excellent way for creators to develop a profile and their audience.”
Feature film projects:
- Blueback: A feature film based on the best-selling novel by Tim Winton, from the filmmaker behind Paper Planes, writer/director Robert Connolly with producers Liz Kearney and James Grandison of Arenamedia. The family-friendly film centres on Abby, a child who befriends a magnificent wild groper while diving. When Abby realises that the fish is under threat, she must take on the poachers to save her friend. Set on the coast of Western Australia and showcasing an extraordinary marine world, this is a story of friendship, family and nature. Blueback has also received principal production investment from the Western Australian Regional Film Fund (WARFF), supported by Royalties for Regions, and is financed with support from Screenwest and Lotterywest and Film Victoria.
- Nude Tuesday: A co-production between Australia’s Good Thing Productions and New Zealand’s Firefly Films. Nude Tuesday is an absurd dramedy about couple Laura and Bruno who are on the brink of breaking up, and spend a week at a new-age retreat in a bid to save their marriage. What results is one of the most outrageous, emotionally confronting weeks of their lives. Written by Jackie van Beek (The Breaker Upperers), the film will be performed in a fictional language, and will be subtitled by comedic writers after filming to create a number of completely different versions of the same story. This is the second film directed by Armagan Ballantyne (after The Strength of Water in 2009) and will be produced by Virginia Whitwell and Nick Batzias whose credits include The Australian Dream, and New Zealand producer Emma Slade (Come To Daddy). The project has also received conditional production investment from the New Zealand Film Commission and is financed with support from Film Victoria.
- Yes, Chef!: A six-part dramedy series for the ABC from Closer Productions. It follows a notorious celebrity chef who is forced to flee to his hometown in the Adelaide Hills after his latest outburst goes viral. But when he forms an unlikely business partnership with his 18-year-old pastry prodigy niece, he must learn to navigate a whole new world order – except old habits die hard. The creative team includes creator/writer/executive producer Julie De Fina, creator/writer/producer Matthew Bate (Shut Up Little Man), producers Rebecca Summerton (The Hunting) and Erik Thomson, along with writers Matthew Vesely (F*cking Adelaide) and Jodie Molloy (TVNZ’s Agent Anna). This project is financed with support from the South Australian Film Corporation. International sales will be handled by ABC Commercial.
- amazing Grace series 2: A five-part series for Facebook and other online platforms that follows teenager Grace as she navigates life after the death of her father, starring Justine Clarke and Ben Wood. Off the back of series 1, which was a finalist for Best Australian Drama at Melbourne Webfest in 2017, the second series will see Grace find solutions to more everyday challenges, aided along the way by the memory and advice of her dad. Based on her own life, this project is written by Grace Truman who stars as herself, and is written, directed and produced by Julie Money (Wonderland).
- Sonia & Cherry: A seven-part comedy for Facebook and YouTube centred on two best friends who think they know each other until they become mums. While Cherry is into attachment parenting and sugar-free food, Sonia uses apps and feeds her kids whatever will keep them from complaining. The pair navigate their different approaches to parenting in this honest look at friendship after kids. This project is written and directed by Victoria Thaine and produced by Naomi Mulholland. Thaine also stars alongside Petra Yared and Dave Lawson.