Screen Australia board’s first meeting since Graeme Mason was hired as CEO was eventful as the agency approved $11 million investment in four feature films, four adult dramas and one children’s series.

All told, that will trigger $70 million in production. The features include family film Oddball from the team who made Kenny, starring Shane Jacobson and directed by his brother Clayton; and See-Saw Films’ Life, which stars Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson.

Two theatrical documentaries were funded: Only the Dead, which explores the career of Australian war correspondent Michael Ware; and Sherpa: In the Shadow of the Mountain, which looks at the drama of a high altitude Everest expedition from the point of view of the Sherpas.

“This is a strong line-up of character-driven feature projects coming from an incredibly talented mix of filmmakers,” said Mason.

Scripted by Peter Ivan, Oddball centres on an eccentric chicken farmer who saves a colony of penguins by putting his sheepdog on their island. The producers are Richard Keddie, Steve Kearney and Sheila Hanahan Taylor; Roadshow will distribute.

Life is a German/Canadian/Australian co-production written by Luke Davies (Candy), the saga of a freelance photographer on assignment for Life Magazine and his friendship with actor James Dean, directed by Anton Corbijn (The American, Control). The producers are Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Christina Piovesan, Benito Mueller and Wolfgang Mueller. Transmission is the distributor.

Only the Dead will be co-directed by Ware and Oscar® winner Bill Guttentag, produced by Patrick McDonald, co-scripted by Ware and McDonald. It’s also a Transmission release.

Jennifer Peedom is writing and directing Sherpa: In the Shadow of the Mountain, produced by Felix Media's Bridget Ikin and John Maynard and John Smithson (127 Hours, Touching the Void).  Maynard and Rob Connolly's Footprint Films is the distributor.

The adult TV dramas include Hiding, a series about a Gold Coast criminal who, with his dysfunctional family, enters witness protection and finds himself in a strange city with a new identity, posing as a psychology academic. It’s written by Matt Ford and produced for the ABC by Playmaker Media’s David Taylor, David Maher and Ford.

Two-part telemovie Gina is a biopic of mining heiress Gina Rinehart, produced for the Nine Network by Claudia Karvan, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder’s Michael Cordell and Paul Bennett, written by Bennett and Katherine Thomson.

"We have had a lot of interest from many actresses and agents," executive producer Nick Murray tells IF. "It seems everyone wants to play the world's richest woman."

The Kettering Incident, written by Victoria Madden, is a serialised mystery drama about two girls who disappear in identical circumstances 15 years apart, set and shot in Tasmania, produced for Foxtel by Porchlight Films’ Vincent Sheehan. BBC Worldwide has international sales.

The Secret River is a two-part miniseries based on the Australian novel by Kate Grenville and stage play, set in 1810 and following an emancipated English convict who stakes a claim on land owned by a clan of Aboriginal people. It will be adapted by Jan Sardi and Mac Gudgeon, directed by Daina Reid and  produced for ABC TV by Ruby Entertainment’s Stephen Luby.

Luby tells IF he aims to start pre-production in May and shoot in July/August, with funding from the producer offset, Scroz, the ABC and Film Victoria.

The children’s animated program is a second series of Luke Jurevicius’s The New Adventures of Figaro Pho for ABC3, a co-production between Ambience Entertainment and Canada's Chocolate Liberation Front. The producers are Frank Verheggen, Daniel Fill, Michael Boughen and Jurevicius.

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