Screen Australia greenlights 12 projects

06 August, 2014 by Don Groves

The ailing screen production sector is set to get a major boost with more than $80 million worth of films, TV dramas and a documentary receiving funding from Screen Australia.

The agency is investing more than $12 million in four features, four adult dramas, two children’s dramas and a theatrical doc. In addition Scroz is providing completion funding to sex comedy The Little Deaths, writer-director Josh Lawson’s feature debut.


The projects include a Blinky Bill animated movie, a comedy set during the Cronulla race riots, the long-mooted Molly Meldrum TV drama and The Principal, the first drama commissioned by SBS since Better Man.

“We have backed some of our great contemporary writers, directors and producers, alongside some exciting new voices, “ said Screen Australia head of production Sally Caplan.

“The projects target audiences as diverse as Australia is today, with projects which are ambitious, risk-taking and culturally important, revealing we have no shortage of great stories to tell. Who could resist Blinky Bill, the story of music biz legend Molly Meldrum and a neo cold-war thriller set in Canberra?”

The Blinky Bill Movie will follow the iconic Australian koala Blinky (voiced by Ryan Kwanten), as he sets out to find his missing father and gathers friends Nutsy and Jacko along the way. It’s written by Fin Edquist, produced by Barbara Stephen and directed by Deane Taylor and will be released in Australasia by Studiocanal.

Writer/director Abe Forsythe and producers Jodi Matterson and Ben Latham-Jones, the Australian-born head of the UK's Ealing Studios, will collaborate on Down Under, a comedy set  in the aftermath of the Cronulla riots, which Studiocanal will distribute. Matterson tells IF the narrative takes place the day after the riots when two groups of angry young men on opposite sides of the conflict collide with tragic consequences.

"The humour is in the dialogue, the characters and the ridiculousness of the situation," she said.  The film is fully funded, including an MG from sales agent Embankment Films, and shooting is due to start in January. "We raised the money without casting a single role, which is very rare," she added.  "We will go open slather on casting in the next few weeks." 

Paul Currie will write, produce and direct 2:22, a thriller about an air traffic controller whose life is derailed following a series of uncanny events all taking place at 2:22pm, which threaten the life of the woman he loves. Currie, who recently produced The Moon and the Sun in Melbourne and France, co-wrote the script with Todd Stein. Icon Film Distribution is aboard.

As IF has reported, theatre writer/director Simon Stone will make his feature debut on The Daughter, the saga of a man who returns home to uncover a long-buried family secret and while attempting to right the wrongs of the past threatens to shatter the lives of those he left behind. Roadshow will release the film, which will star Ewen Leslie and Geoffrey Rush, for producers Jan Chapman and Nicole O’Donohue.

The two-part Molly will chart the rise of Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum from his humble beginnings in Quambatook to one of the most powerful names in Australian music. John Molloy is producing for the Seven Network, working with writers Matt Cameron and Liz Dorany and director Kevin Carlin.

Matchbox Pictures’ six-part Secret City is set amidst rising tension between China and America as it follows a political journalist who uncovers a conspiracy which leads her into the underground world of political deception with deadly consequences. The writers are Belinda Chayko, Matt Cameron, Marieke Hardy, Alice Addison, Tommy Murphy, Kris Mrksa and Greg Waters, adapted from the Australian novel The Marmalade Files and upcoming sequel The Mandarin Code by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann. Joanna Werner produces for Foxtel.

Essential Media & Entertainment’s four-part The Principal revolves around a high school in Sydney’s tough south-west, written by Kristen Dunphy and Alice Addison, produced by Ian Collie and directed by Kriv Stenders. The protagonist is Matt Bashir, a history teacher and former deputy at a classy  girls’ school who is promoted to principal of  a troubled boys' high school. His attempts at reform are met with scepticism and in some quarters hostility from his colleagues. Just when it seems he is making progress, a 17-year-old student is found dead on the school grounds. Shooting starts in Sydney in November.

From Goalpost Pictures and New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures comes Project CM (working title), an innovative science-fiction television series for the ABC, the chronicle of two estranged Indigenous brothers at  the crossroads and a community struggling to co-exist with non-humans living among them. The writers are Jon Bell, Jonathan Gavin and Michael Miller, produced by Rosemary Blight with Ryan Griffen, Lauren Edwards and Angela Littlejohn.

The 14-part ABC children’s series My Life in 50 Words or Less from Big Chance Films follows five Indigenous kids who venture the city to pursue their dreams, written by Liz Doran, Jon Bell, Nakkiah Lui, Josh Mapleston and Kristen Dunphy, produced by Joanna Werner and Miranda Dear and directed by Rachel Perkins.

Media World Pictures’ Dogstar: Christmas in Space is a Christmas adventure telemovie based on the animated series Dogstar for Nine, written by Philip Dalkin and Doug MacLeod, produced by Colin South and directed by Scott Vanden Bosch.

Theatrical documentary The Guadagnini Project from writer/director Scott Hicks and producer Kerry Heysen journeys into a world of rarefied musical instruments and the dealers, philanthropists and musicians who seek them out. Sharmill Films is the distributor.


Lightstream Pictures Pty Ltd
Producers Paul Currie, Steve Hutensky
Executive Producers Bruce Davey, David Whealy, Bill Mechanic, Jackie O’Sullivan
Director Paul Currie
Writers Todd Stein, Paul Currie
Australian Distributor Icon Film Distribution
International Sales Good Universe International
Synopsis Dylan Boyd’s life is permanently derailed when an ominous pattern of events repeats itself in exactly the same manner every day and threatens the life of the woman he loves.
Greenpatch Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Barbara Stephen
Executive Producer Jim Ballantine
Director Deane Taylor
Writer Fin Edquist
Australian and New Zealand Distributor Studio Canal
International Sales Studio 100 International BV
Synopsis A young and mischievous koala embarks on a journey across the wild and dangerous outback in the hope of finding his missing father, but discovers that there’s more to being an adventurer than meets the eye.
Fate Films Pty Ltd
Producers Jan Chapman, Nicole O’Donohue
Writer/Director Simon Stone
Australian Distributor Roadshow Films
International Sales Mongrel International
Synopsis A man returns to his hometown and unearths a long-buried family secret. As he tries to right the wrongs of the past, his actions threaten to shatter the lives of those he left behind years before. Will they survive the truth?
Eddie Wong Films Pty Ltd, Ealing Studios, Londinium
Producers Jodi Matterson, Ben Latham-Jones
Executive Producers Greg McLean, Abraham Forsythe
Writer/Director Abraham Forsythe
Australian Distributor Studio Canal
International Sales Embankment Films
Synopsis The first comedy to be set during a race riot.


Ticket to Ride Pty Ltd
Producers Jamie Hilton, Michael Petroni, Matt Reeder
Executive Producer Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Josh Pomeranz, Viv Scanu and Stephen Boyle
Writer/Director Josh Lawson
Australian Distributor Hopscotch/eOne Entertainment
International Sales Level K
Synopsis Featuring an ensemble of breakthrough talent, The Little Death marks the arrival of Australian writer-director Josh Lawson, presenting an edgy sex comedy and a warm-hearted depiction of the secret lives of five suburban couples living in Sydney. Lawson's searing and sometimes shocking screenplay weaves together a story that explores a range of sexual fetishes and the repercussions that come with sharing them.


Fiddlestick Films Pty Ltd
Producer Kerry Heysen
Executive Producer Timothy White
Writer/Director Scott Hicks
Australian Distributor Sharmill Films
Synopsis A journey into a world of rarefied instruments and the dealers, philanthropists and musicians who seek them out.


M4 Entertainment
Producer John Molloy
Executive Producers Michael Gudinski, Mark Morrissey
Director Kevin Carlin
Writers Matt Cameron, Liz Doran
Broadcaster Seven Network
Domestic/International Sales Mushroom Pictures
Synopsis At a time when Australia was finding her voice, Molly Meldrum helped us find the music.
Essential Media & Entertainment
Producer Ian Collie
Director Kriv Stenders
Writers Kristen Dunphy, Alice Addison
Broadcaster SBS
Domestic/International Sales SBS Distribution, DCD Rights
Synopsis A gritty adult drama that revolves around a high school in Sydney’s tough south-west where life’s lessons are more often handed down on the streets than in the classroom.
PROJECT CM (working title)
Goalpost Pictures Australia Pty Ltd & Pukeko Pictures
Producers Rosemary Blight, Ryan Griffen, Angela Littlejohn & Lauren Edwards
Executive Producers Sally Riley, Kylie du Fresne, Ben Grant, Martin Baynton, Adam Fratto Writers Jon Bell, Jonathan Gavin, Michael Miller
Broadcaster ABC Television
Domestic Sales eOne Entertainment
International Sales Red Arrow International GmbH
Synopsis As a community struggles to co-exist with non-human creatures living amongst them, two estranged brothers find themselves at a crossroads.
Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd
Producer Joanna Werner
Executive Producer Penny Chapman
Writers Belinda Chayko, Matt Cameron, Marieke Hardy, Alice Addison, Tommy Murphy, Kris Mrksa, Greg Waters
Broadcaster FOXTEL
Domestic/International Sales Universal Media Studios International Ltd
Synopsis Amidst rising tension between China and America, senior political journalist, Harriet Dunkley, pursues a long-buried and exposing secret, leading to assassination attempts, suicide and murder. Beneath the placid façade of Canberra, she uncovers a ‘secret city’ of high-level Australians corrupted by the competing super-powers.


Media World Pictures Pty Ltd
Producer Colin South
Director Scott Vanden Bosch
Writers Philip Dalkin, Doug MacLeod
Broadcaster Nine Network
Domestic/International Sales DARO Film Distribution
Synopsis In space, no one can hear you open your presents.
Big Chance Films Pty Ltd
Producers Joanna Werner, Miranda Dear
Executive Producers Darren Dale, Joanna Werner
Director Rachel Perkins
Writers Liz Doran, Jon Bell, Nakkiah Lui, Josh Mapleston, Kristen Dunphy
Broadcaster ABC Television
Domestic/International Sales Australian Children’s Television Foundation
Synopsis A long way from home, five Indigenous kids come to the city to explore their dreams. For some it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, for others it’s a last chance. For all of them, family is the last thing they expect to find.