Teams selected for half-hour drama masterclass and Cli-Fi development

07 May, 2018 by Don Groves

Grainne Brunsdon.

Corrie Chen, Kris Wyld, Catriona McKenzie, Imogen Banks and Nicole Coventry are among the 10 NSW-based filmmaker teams which will participate in the next stage of a half-hour drama series development partnership between Create NSW and the ABC.


Meanwhile Blake Ayshford, Matthew Dabner, Damien Power and Alana Valentine are among the writers of eight projects which will be developed under the Cli-Fi (climate fiction) initiative by the ABC, Create NSW and Jungle Entertainment.

The 10 teams will attend a masterclass conducted by local and international showrunners in the middle of this year. After that, up to four projects will be selected to share $100,000 in funding to further develop their character-driven half-hour drama series.

There were more than 300 applications for the masterclass, the most ever for any Screen NSW/Create NSW initiative, and 80 for the Cli-Fi program, according to the agency’s acting executive director Grainne Brunsdon.

Create NSW and the ABC are seeking half-hour dramas with ‘heart and humour’ and which demonstrate diversity and/or focus on a younger audience.

Explaining how the half-hour drama development came about, Brunsdon said: “We were looking for ways to work with broadcasters and to share development. There is a lack of half-hour dramas and the ABC were very keen.

“The call for pitches received a phenomenal level of interest and it was extremely difficult in selecting our masterclass teams. Combined with our strong and creative final Cli-Fi projects, we are very excited about the fantastic mix of diverse stories we are taking forward for further development.

“It’s particularly thrilling that the projects announced today encompass experienced writers, directors and producers as well as new voices in our industry.”

ABC head of scripted Sally Riley said: “Distinctive Australian stories are core business for the ABC and these two partnerships with Create NSW present an exciting opportunity to unearth new talent and authentic voices. We are looking forward to working with the selected creators.”

The eight Cli-Fi projects span a variety of themes including mysteries, drama, thrillers and comedies.

The initiative kicked off with a forum at AFTRS last year which brought together national and international climate scientists and some of Australia’s leading screen creatives. The speakers included John Collee (Happy Feet, Walking with Dinosaurs, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and US climate scientist Professor Michael E. Mann.

Jungle chief operating officer Chloe Rickard said: “Investigating the topic of climate science from a position of fictional drama has been an extremely revealing way to get people thinking laterally about such a critical issue. We are extremely excited by the breadth of talented writers and range of genres we’ve been able to unite under our Cli-Fi theme.”

The half-hour drama masterclass projects/teams are:

  • Amy is a Liar

Writer: Monica Zanetti

Producer: Nicole Coventry

Director: Natalie van den Dungen

Synopsis: After a one night stand with her engaged best friend leaves her pregnant, a young woman with a history of compulsive lying panics and names his brother as the father of her unborn child.

  • Attempts

Writers/directors: Brooke Nora Goldfinch, Corrie Chen

Synopsis: Brie Lark has had a shit year. A shit decade. Maybe even a shit life. Little does she know that an attempt to end it all will lead to a new beginning.

  • The Disappearance

Writers: Paula Abood,  Randa Abdel-Fattah

Producer: Alissar Gazal

Synopsis: Saffiya, an idealistic thirty-something community advocate working in a multicultural women’s centre in the heart of Western Sydney is caught up in the aftermath of a violent local event that sees her sister go missing.

  • Double Identity

Writers: Charlotte McConaghy, Cyrus Bezyan

Producers: Kris Wyld, Antony Ginnane

Synopsis: When a shy librarian searching for love and an agnostic Turkish Australian man questioning the purpose of life receive a cutting-edge brain transplant that saves their lives they find the memories of the donor infiltrate their own. The ensuing complications transform their lives…for the bad…and the good.

  • Immortal

Producers: Lucy Rennick, Joel Hagen

Director/Writer: David Burrowes

Synopsis: When a brilliant PhD student gifted with immortality falls in with a group of reckless youths, she must hold on to her humanity or risk self-destructing.

  • Maelstrom

Writer: Stuart Page

Writer/producer: Jane Allen

Director: Catriona McKenzie

Synopsis: A single lesbian. A happily married father of three. Best friends. What could possibly go wrong when they all decide to live together?

  • Perfect

Co-creator/co-producer/writer: Alice Bell

Co-creator/co-producer: Imogen Banks

Synopsis: A buddy-comedy that charts the growing friendship between an unexpectedly-pregnant single woman who discovers her unborn baby has Down syndrome and a young man with Down syndrome that she encounters while trying to decide whether or not to keep her baby.

  • Positive

Writer: Romina Accurso

Synopsis: After being diagnosed with HIV, a disenchanted primary school teacher and her hedonistic younger sister navigate their way through the absurdity that is life, love, family and what it means to be a ‘positive’ woman in this day and age.

  • The S-word

Writers: Brooke Wilson, Hamilton Budd

Synopsis: A young woman struggles to come to terms with the onset of schizophrenia and the affect her misunderstood illness has on her friends, family, workmates and relationships.

  • You Fucking People

Writer: Rebekah Holt

Producer: Linda Micsko

Director: Jonathan Brough

Synopsis: A drama about some bad therapists and some good clients.


The Cli-Fi projects are:

  • Captain Barry – Space Explorer

Writers: Bjorn Stewart and Kodie Bedford

Anthology series (seven projects):

  • Equilibrium

Writer: Matthew Dabner

  • Exit the Dragon

Writer: Damien Power

  • Lepers

Writer: Dr Anita Campbell

  • Look for the Helpers

Writers: Anya Beyersdorf and Natasha Pincus

  • Offset

Writer: Alana Valentine

  • The Doomsday Machine or Haley’s Choice

Writers: Bryan Cockerill and Robert Adams

  • The World Without Us

Writers: Blake Ayshford and Mireille Juchau