Step forward for Step Thirteen

19 November, 2014 by Don Groves

Producers Alicia Brown and Melanie Coombs have been awarded €50,000 ($A73,000) to complete development of  Step Thirteen, an oddball comedy which will mark the feature debut of English writer-director Tessa Sheridan.

Their UK/Australian company Optimism Film will co-produce with Denmark’s Morten Kaufmann (The Hunt).


Sheridan won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her short Is it the Design on the Wrapper?, which followed a woman dressed garishly in bubble-gum colours who conducts an opinion survey about bubble gum consumer habits at a street market, where she encounters a girl aged six or seven.

The BFI has been funding Step Thirteen and now the MEDIA/Creative Europe program has come up with the final stage development funding.

“It’s a highly competitive process and we were the only UK drama to receive the funding,” Brown tells IF. “Aardman, Red Star 3D and Blue Zoo Productions were the other recipients for animation projects.”

The plot follows Brad, Dawn and Giselle, an aimless recovering-alcoholic trio who share a house, a bed and a surreal take on the world. They live with their husky Slash on the deserted backwater of the Isle of Grain in Kent.

Brad, a philosopher, trumpeter and self-appointed visionary has completed the AA’s 12-step program but is dumped by his shrink, who suggests fatherhood as an alternative career path to alcoholism.

Dawn spends her days hanging out with the nurses at the local hospital as it’s a great way to access the catering supplies.

Giselle, a whippet-thin waster, watches life through a haze of cigarettes and daytime TV. She met Brad at AA, moved in with him and Dawn that night and has rarely left the sofa since.

Brown, Coombs and Mish Armstrong launched Optimism in 2011.