Screen Australia invests in development of 26 projects, including a podcast

11 November, 2019 by Staff Writer

(L-R): Melissa Lee Speyer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Lynette Wallworth.

Screen Australia has put almost $900,000 towards the story development of seven TV dramas, nine online projects, nine features and in an agency first – a podcast.

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Podcast Engineering Consciousness, helmed by Emmy Award winner Lynette Wallworth (Collisions, Awavena), explores what happens to someone’s consciousness during a near-death experience. The idea is that the podcast will be used as a proof-of-concept for a television drama on the same topic. It will be produced by Bunya Productions’ Sophia Zachariou and Greer Simpkin.

Also on the slate is a live-action feature film from Ludo Studio (Bluey), written and directed by Daley Pearson, and a 10-part fictional TV series about what went on behind the scenes of the iconic Leyland Brothers’ adventures across Australia, created by Daina Reid and produced by Joanna Werner.

This is the first story development round of the year. Screen Australia runs two development strands: Generate and Premium. The Generate Fund is for lower budget projects with an emphasis on new and emerging talent, or experienced talent wanting to take creative risks. The Premium Fund is for higher budget projects of ambition and scale from successful screen content makers.

In the first year of the program (2018/19), 59 per cent of successful applicants for the Generate Fund had never received development funding from Screen Australia before. And while historically Screen Australia development had focused on feature films, new guidelines saw with 57.5 per cent across the funds have a a television or online release in mind.

Screen Australia head of development Nerida Moore said, “We’re now into the second year of the Generate and Premium Story Development programs, and the industry is fully utilising the opportunity to develop film and episodic content at different budget levels. Bunya Productions made a compelling case to try podcast as a television development tool to explore story, build audiences and create revenue, so we’re trialling a new format too.

“With episodic content taking around two years to transition from development to production, and film being anywhere upwards of five years, it’s essential we supply a pipeline of new talent and projects into the marketplace for financing, production and ultimately, audiences. To that end, I’m particularly pleased to see so many new names attached to applications, with over half of the successful Generate Fund applicants in this slate having never received Screen Australia development funding before.”

FEATURE FILM:

PREMIUM

EMPTY EMPIRE
Corrie Chen

Genre Drama
Director Corrie Chen
Writers Corrie Chen, Penelope Chai
Synopsis After the death of her mother, a biracial woman travels to a mysterious city in China to track down her long-absent father. Instead, she finds an emerald metropolis inhabited by only a handful of guardians, all waiting for the great and powerful wushi to turn the city into a home.

HEARTS OF STONE
Full Circle Productions Pty Ltd
Genre
 Drama
Producer Stuart Quin
Executive Producer Stuart Quin
Writer Shirley Pierce
Synopsis A diverse group of lawyers of many races and creeds work to free people of colour falsely charged with murder.

HOW TO PLEASE A WOMAN
Feisty Dame Productions Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Drama
Writer/Director Renée Webster
Producers Tania Chambers, Judi Levine
Synopsis When her all-male house-cleaning business gets out of control, a mature woman must embrace her own sexuality, if she is to make a new life for herself.

PETEY
Ludo Studio Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Science fiction
Writer/Director Daley Pearson
Executive Producers Charlie Aspinwall, Daley Pearson, Nick Boshier
Synopsis Twenty-five years after a daring, cheeky boy became best-friends-forever with a stranded extraterrestrial, the alien is back with a whole lotta baggage and its ready to start a kraktix (translation: family).

THE LAIRDBALOR
Asphodel Films
Genre Family, Fantasy
Writer/Director Nicholas Verso
Synopsis When an anxious young boy runs away from his estranged parents, he tumbles into a strange parallel world populated by creatures born from childhood nightmares. With only 13 hours to get home, he must brave the personifications of all his greatest fears come to life…or remain trapped for eternity.

TIME TRAP
Hopscotch Features
Genre
 Action adventure, Comedy, Science fiction
Writer/Director Michael Shanks
Producers Andrew Mason, Maeva Gatineau, Troy Lum
Synopsis When an intergalactic traveller becomes stranded on the long-abandoned Earth, he joins forces with a teenage girl also lost in time, as they both try to return home.

GENERATE

PETROL
Arenamedia
Genre
 Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Writer/Director Alena Lodkina
Producer Kate Laurie
Synopsis As Aurelia begins her film studies in Melbourne, she is reminded by her migrant parents to value her freedom to pursue her creative ambitions. When she falls under the influence of a charismatic performance artist Mia, Aurelia’s ideas of what freedom means are profoundly challenged.

THE BORDER
Eryk Lenartowicz

Genre Comedy, Drama, Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Science fiction
Writers Eryk Lenartowicz, Yvette Underwood
Director Eryk Lenartowicz
Synopsis Humanity is reduced to the last city left on Earth, absurdly overpopulated. It is entirely surrounded by a forest, inhabited by a mysterious creature that feeds off human sacrifices to maintain population balance. Matylda (32) a shy and low-ranking government worker illegally falls pregnant after an awkward one-night stand. In order to avoid punishment she is forced to confront her reality, and question the value of life.

THE MOOGAI
Causeway Films HQ Pty Ltd and No Coincidence Media Pty Ltd

Genre Horror, Thriller
Producers Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings, Mitchell Stanley
Writer/Director Jon Bell
Synopsis The Moogai is the story of a family terrorised by a child-stealing spirit.

TELEVISION:

PREMIUM

LEYLAND BROTHERS: MONSTER HUNTERS
Werner Film Productions
Genre
 Action adventure, Comedy, Drama
Director Daina Reid
Writers Daina Reid, Christiaan Van Vuuren, Connor Van Vuuren, Kirsty Fisher, Kodie Bedford
Producers Joanna Werner
Synopsis You know the name, but do you know the real story behind The Leyland Brother’s adventures across Australia?

LUCKY LEE
Easy Tiger Productions
Genre
 Comedy, Mystery
Writers Niki Aken, Melissa Lee Speyer, Lawrence Leung, Tristram Baumber
Producers Rob Gibson, Ian Collie
Synopsis A Chinese mystery. A girl without a clue. A detective without manners.

TALES FROM THE UNITED NONSENSE
Emerald Films Pty Ltd
Genre
 Action adventure, Comedy, Drama
Writers Tamara Asmar, Penny Greenhalgh, Sami Shah
Story Consultant Sarah Lambert
Producers Sally Browning, Katey Grusovin
Executive Producers Sally Browning, Katey Grusovin, Monica O’Brien
Synopsis Tales from the United Nonsense is an 8 part series that follows the adrenalin fuelled dramatic tragi-comic adventures of the free spirited Janey Resnik, a 39-year-old Australian woman with an undiagnosed white saviour hero complex who – at a tipping point in her life – realises her life-long dream when she is posted to South Asia as a communication consultant for the UN in the politically charged years following 9/11.

GENERATE

BLOOD SISTERS
Mad Dan Productions Pty Ltd
Director 
Madeleine Dyer
Writers Madeleine Dyer, Daniel Mulvihill, Kodie Bedford
Producers Madeleine Dyer, Daniel Mulvihill, Rosie Lourde
Executive Producers Stephen Corvini, Enzo Tedeschi
Genre Action adventure, Drama, Thriller, Western
Synopsis Three teenage girls flee into the North Queensland outback, after an assault by a “local hero”. On the run, they struggle to unite, survive and find their way back to themselves and the truth.

DOG BOX
Magpie Pictures
Genre
 Drama, Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Creator Rebecca Ingram
Writers Kodie Bedford, David Caesar
Story Consultant Crystal Clyne
Producers Lois Randall, Rebecca Ingram
Synopsis Mahlee Smith, a fourteen-year old girl from the bush, and Jazzie Fazzah, an idealistic youth worker fresh from London, arrive on the same day at Longley Juvenile Justice Centre in the Western suburbs of Sydney. Mahlee must learn the rules hard and fast to survive not just the institution, but the other teenage inmates. Jazzie thinks she can save the girls with her music program, but finds herself facing a bigger test – can she save herself?

ENGINEERING CONSCIOUSNESS
Bunya Entertainment
Genre 
Science, Art
Writer/Director Lynette Wallworth
Producers Greer Simpkin, Sophia Zachariou
Synopsis How a childhood ‘Near Death Experience’ (NDE) paved the way for the future.

SCIENCE+
Town by the Sea Productions Pty Ltd and Spaceboy Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Science fiction
Writer Seaton Kay-Smith
Director Leela Varghese
Producers Seaton Kay-Smith, Yingna Lu
Synopsis When salt-of-the-Earth handyman and Youtuber, Matt, scores a contract making ‘How to’ videos for ‘sci-fi-esque’ consumer goods, it seems like the perfect fit, until things inevitably go wrong, turning his dream job into an emotionally exhausting, psychologically tormenting, physically dangerous nightmare.

UNWELL
Clever Rabbit Productions Pty Ltd

Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Monica Zanetti, Vanessa Alexander, Erica Harrison, Nick Coyle, Gemma Bird Matheson,  Clare Cavanagh
Director Monica Zanetti
Producers Monica Zanetti, Geraldine Hakewill
Synopsis Believing her partner is experiencing suicidal ideation, Carey panics and fakes a terminal illness in an attempt to keep her alive via distraction.

ONLINE:

GENERATE

50 SHADES OF BLACK (GIRL)
Chips & Gravy Films Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Drama
Creator/Writer Gemma Bird Matheson
Producers Lizzie Cater, Ratidzo Mambo
Executive Producers Gemma Bird Matheson, Alexandra Keddie
Synopsis When Hanna gets mistaken for another, more successful black girl at a gig one night, the recognition and confidence she draws from this experience drives her and best friend Bonnie to conduct an experiment; what else can they get for free by pretending to be other people of colour?

ARGUMENTS WITH MY MUM
Different Films
Genre
 Comedy, Drama
Producers Lee Matthews, Naomi Mulholland
Director Jason Christou
Writers Jason Christou, Zoe Carides
Synopsis The first-born boy of a Greek-Australian household might always be revered, but it’s his Mi̱téra (his Mama) who always knows best, or so she thinks…

FLUNK
Lilydale Films Pty Ltd
Genre
 Drama
Writers Ric Forster, Mekelle Mills, Phoebe Williams, Helen Le, Luke McCarthy
Producer Melanie Rowland
Executive Producer Ric Forster
Synopsis Teen drama Flunk tells the story of sixteen-year-old Ingrid, who starts to explore her sexuality whilst struggling to cope with the pressures of a country high school and her conservative Chinese-Australian family.

KARA, INFECTED
Last Frame Productions
Genre
 Thriller, Science fiction
Producers Taylor Litton-Strain, Wendy Hanna
Writer Wendy Hanna
Synopsis Quarantined at home after a deadly plague decimates Sydney, Kara’s only solace is her mobile phone, and her friends on the other end of the line. But when Kara’s already devastated world implodes, she’s forced to leave behind the safety of her home and risk the looming threats that await her in the seemingly empty streets, dangers which only become increasingly fraught as the eyes of the world watch on…

MASC.
Six Sisters Pictures
Genre 
Comedy, Drama, Horror, Romantic comedy
Creators Madeleine Gottlieb, Laura Nagy
Writer/Directors Madeleine Gottlieb, Laura Nagy, Renée Marie Petropoulos, Hyun Lee, Imogen McCluskey, Shari Sebbens
Producers Yingna Lu, Rachel Argall, Georgia Gilbert
Executive Producers Madeleine Gottlieb, Laura Nagy, Martha Coleman, Rob Gibson
Synopsis A 6-part anthology series created, written, directed and produced by women… all about men.

SHE BECOMES HER
Chips & Gravy Films Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Drama, Musical
Creator Alexandra Keddie
Director Morgana O’Reilly
Writers Alexandra Keddie, Harry Morrissey
Producer Mark Morrissey
Executive Producers Alexandra Keddie, Gemma Bird Matheson, Paul Currie, Mark Morrissey
Synopsis Following a woman called Sam, She Becomes Her is a musical anthology series that explores the restrictive nature of gender roles and the social narratives that inform our lives.

THE EMU WAR
Hot Dad Productions Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy
Director Jay Morrissey
Writers Lisa Fineberg, Jay Morrissey, John Campbell, Jonathan Schuster, Dane Simpson, Urvi Majumdar
Producer Lisa Fineberg
Synopsis An absurd take on the unbelievable true story of Australia’s war with the native emu (and how the humans were defeated).

THE TROUBLE WITH UNICORNS
1959 Productions Pty Ltd
Genre
 Comedy, Drama
Writers Chris Pahlow, Grant Scicluna, Holly Alexander, Marieke Hardy
Directors Grant Scicluna, Michelle Savill, Greta Nash, Chris Pahlow
Producers Chris Pahlow, Daphne Do
Executive Producers Richard Kelly, Hayley Adams, John Molloy
Synopsis A couple in their early-30s begin their first non-monogamous adventure, only to find that open relationships aren’t always as liberating as you might think.

PRISON X (WORKING TITLE)
UNF Pty Ltd
Genre
 Mythological
Writer/Director Violeta Ayala
Producers Violeta Ayala, Daniel Fallshaw
Synopsis Heavy doors open and you are swept into an infamous Bolivian jail, where you have to coexist with devils, saints, wicked characters, corrupt prison guards and even an Australian filmmaker. In Prison X you will live inside the dreams and nightmares of the Neo-Andean underworld.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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