Screen Australia invests $2m across five documentaries

17 August, 2012 by Anthony Soegito

Paul Clarke’s documentary Whitlam and Gregory Miller’s and Nick Bleszynkski’s two-part Breaker Morant the Retrial are among the latest documentaries to receive Screen Australia funding.

Also receiving a slice of $2 million in total funding are The Search for the Ocean’s Super Predator, Outback Coroner, and Who Do You Think You Are?


“Backed by high-calibre and experienced filmmaking these documentaries will shine a light on a broad slice of Australian life,” Screen Australia’s documentary manager Liz Stevens said in a statement. “The result will be compelling and entertaining stories.”

Whitlam is a National Documentary Program funded two-part documentary focusing on the life of Gough Whitlam. Made for the ABC, the production is produced by Penny Robins and executive produced by both Penny Robins and Mark Hamlyn.

Breaker Morant the Retrial is funded through the International Documentary Program and is being made for the History Channel. Directors Gregory Miller and Nick Bleszynkski have brought together historians and legal experts to re-examine the trial of Harry ‘The Breaker’ Morant, who was tried and executed by the British during the Boer War. Georgia Wallace-Crabbe and Gregory Miller will produce the film.

Another International Documentary Program production is one-off documentary, The Search for the Ocean’s Super Predator for the ABC. Executive produced by Leighton De Barros, David Riggs and Michael Lynch, who wrote and directed, the film will investigate the mysterious super predator attack on a great white shark.

Screen Australia also invested in Hugh Piper’s four-part observational series, Outback Coroner, for FOXTEL. The series, produced by Helen Barrow, explores the accidental and mysterious deaths found in the most remote regions of outback Australia.

Meanwhile, Screen Australia invested in two episodes from the sixth series of SBS’s Who Do You Think You Are?

In May, Screen Australia invested $1.8 million across seven projects, including Grey Man, Licence to Kill, Love and Fury, Plumpton High Babies: 10 Years On, The Sunnyboy, Once Upon a Time in Punchbowl, and The Surgery Ship. In June, Screen Australia invested $750,000 across five one-off documentary projects: 10 Days That Shocked The Nation, Canberra Confidential, Ian Thorpe: The Swimmer A Journey Through My Life, and The Sharp End.

According to Screen Australia, the value of documentary production hit a record high last financial year, with 430 hours of Australian documentary projects produced during the 2010-11 period, totalling $133 million of expenditure.

National Documentary Program (NDP)


Synopsis: Whitlam examines an era and the man when as a country we were at our most confident and flamboyant, when we took risks and went to the margins. It was a time of power, of passion… and which divided us as a nation in a way that hadn't happened before – nor since.
Beyond Screen Production Pty Ltd & Bombora Film and Music Co.2 x 55 minutes
Executive Producer Mark Hamlyn, Beyond Screen Production Pty Ltd
Executive Producer, Producer Penny Robins, Bombora Film and Music Co.
Writer, Director Paul Clarke, Bombora Film and Music Co.
Broadcaster ABC Sales ABC Commercial

International Documentary Program


Synopsis: Harry ‘The Breaker’ Morant is about to be re-tried – 110 years after he was executed by the British during the Boer War. Breaker Morant the Retrial will capture a rare moment of living history through the cross examination of historians and legal experts, and the presentation of new evidence that reveals the betrayal and subterfuge at the centre of the trial.
Film Projects Pty Ltd 2 x 60 mins
Producers Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, Gregory Miller
Directors Gregory Miller, Nick Bleszynskiâ
Broadcaster History Channel Sales Sabidoâ


Synopsis: In the hidden depths of Australia’s wild Southern Ocean a great white shark is savagely attacked by a far larger and faster mystery predator. An electronic tracking device attached to the great white records a high-speed underwater chase six hundred meters deep before the shark and its tag are savagely devoured. Two weeks later, after being carried in the belly of the unknown killer, the still functioning tag is excreted and washed ashore, withholding clues that could reveal the identity of the shark’s super predator. This is the story of a super predator’s epic underwater attack that leads investigators to a mysterious and powerful natural phenomenon that, for a few short weeks each year, attracts the oceans most fearsome predators.
Ocean's Super Predator Films Pty Ltd 1 x 60 mins
Executive Producers Leighton De Barros, David Riggs, Michael Lynch
Writer, Director Michael Lynch
Broadcaster ABC Sales ABC Commercial / Al Rayyan Media & Marketing

General Documentary Program


Synopsis: Outback Coroner is an observational documentary series that explores accidental and mysterious deaths in the most remote regions of Australia. When the circumstances of a death are unknown the Coroner is called. The mix of cultures, social history and remote geography present unique challenges to these dedicated people and their teams, who seek answers essential for all of us. While Coroner’s outback inquests ultimately conclude in a court this series is not a courtroom drama. We will take the viewers inside the mind set and the challenges confronting the Coroner and his team who investigate the forensic evidence, conduct autopsies and counsel the bereaved, while seeking answers to the unexplained death.
Screentime Pty Ltd 4 x 60 minutes (series 1)
Producer Helen Barrow
Executive Producers for Screentime Bob Campbell, Simon Steel
Director, Writer Hugh Piper
Broadcaster FOXTEL Sales Cineflix UK


Synopsis: Well known Australians play detective as they go in search of their family history, revealing secrets and surprises from the past.Artemis International Pty Ltd & Serendipity Productions Pty Ltd 6 x 52 mins
[Screen Australia funding 2 of the 6 episodes]
Producers Brian Beaton, Margie Bryant, Celia Tait
Broadcaster SBS Sales SBS Sales