Ruth Underwood.

Glasgow-based Synchronicity Films, which co-produced with December Media The Cry, the BBC/ABC psychological thriller directed by Glendyn Ivin, has opened an Australian arm.

Former BBC drama development exec Ruth Underwood is heading the Melbourne office with the remit to produce high-end drama for the domestic and international markets, including potential UK-Australian co-productions.

Its first project is an adaptation of The Cry author Helen FitzGerald’s latest novel Ash Mountain. Set in Australia, the tome follows Fran, a single mother who returns to her sleepy hometown to care for her dying father when a devastating bush fire breaks out.

NENT Studios UK represents the international distribution rights for Ash Mountain. The Times‘ reviewer Mark Sanderson hailed a “compassionate novel about the consequences of crime [which] bursts with black humour and features a bravura portrayal of a bush fire that eventually descends on the community like the wrath of God.”

Scripted by Jacquelin Perske and shot in Melbourne and Glasgow, The Cry starred Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie as a Scotish-based couple whose baby is abducted during a trip to Auistralia.

Claire Mundell, founder and creative director at Synchronicity Films, said: “A key goal for Synchronicity is to expand our production reach so we can focus on truly universal stories with global appeal.

“Having spent a considerable amount of time in Australia filming The Cry, we feel a real affinity with the country, so it’s a natural place for us to set up a new office to originate projects.”

At Synchronicity Underwood’s credits include The Cry, Clique and Stonemouth. Earlier in her career she was a story producer at Kudos Film & Television, a development executive at the BBC and script editor at Shed Media Group and STV.

Underwood said: “I am so pleased to have the opportunity to develop the creative relationships I’ve already established in Australia and further explore the great pool of talent here on Synchronicity’s behalf.

“I have a long-standing professional and personal relationship with Claire and I love Synchronicity’s ethos of positivity and inclusion, coupled with their editorially led approach to development.”