by FilmInk Staff

It may not sound like a lot of money in the expensive and time consuming world of film and TV production, but almost $750k has been approved by our federal screen body, Screen Australia, to develop 6 features, 12 TV dramas and 3 online projects.

Among them is a television adaptation of Bruce Beresford’s 2018 film (and earlier book) Ladies in Black from Bunya Productions (Mystery Road, Sweet Country). Set in Sydney 6 months after the events of the film and novel, the series will be written by Sarah Bassiuoni (The Heights), Joan Sauers (Wakefield), Greg Waters (Riot) and Randa Sayed, produced by Greer Simpkin and Sophia Zachariou and executive produced by Sue Milliken and Allanah Zitserman.

Sticking to the historical Sydney setting is series Blood in the Sky, an 8 part drama set during the Depression and the building of the iconic Harbour Bridge. Alexa Wyatt (Janet King) and Karl Zwicky (Underbelly) have created the show with Jocelyn Moorhouse and Zwicky attached to direct, and the likes of Andrew Anastasios (Jack Irish), Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology), Michelle Law (Homecoming Queens) and Jess Paine (The Heights) attached to write.

TV series The Family Doctor takes a more contemporary milieu. Offspring co-creator Debra Oswald and Five Bedrooms‘ Michael Lucas will write the story of a GP who takes matters into her own hands after treating too many women and children victims of violent partners.

On the futuristic front is 12-part television series Rainbow Girls, ‘set in 2045, when the Australian Republic’s first President Rachel Radford, a Ngunnawal woman, is sworn in and 24-year-old Abigail Bread becomes the first woman to enter into the Freemasons. Feminism and white nationalism collide in this dark comedic drama about the spectacular ways women negotiate power.’ Writer/directors Willoh Weiland and Beck Cole (Redfern Now), writers Jane Allen (Janet King) and Jada Alberts (Cleverman), and producers Mat King (Pine Gap), Tam Nguyen and Elisa Argenzio (Lambs of God) are attached.

Also futuristic is online sci-fi comedy Dark Matter Don’t Matter. ‘Set in the near future when the world’s population have evacuated Earth, and a small Aboriginal community is left behind. The last to leave, they take matters into their own hands and launch themselves towards the stars in a homemade spaceship.’ The 5 part series is written by Tamara Whyte, Isaac Lindsay and country music artist Warren Milera, with writer/producer Philip Tarl Denson (Mining Boom).

Feature films with development funding include 1989 from Khoa Do (The Finished People, Better Man, Footy Legends). Set during the recession that Australia had to have, the film follows a Vietnamese refugee family who ‘lose everything’ and ‘make one last trip to Newcastle to seek refuge on the family’s struggling duck farm where they discover friendship, hope, and one giant turtle.’ Sounds Minari-esque even; and a new collaboration between actor/producer Bryan Brown and writer Joanna Murray-Smith, who worked together on Palm Beach. Dead Certain ‘centres on successful crime writer Harry King, who gives up on life after his adored wife Georgia is killed in an accident. When Harry unexpectedly falls for Maya, a self-help writer, the ghost of Georgia is a constant companion and Harry knows he must confront his own demons to embrace a new chance at life.’

“We are impressed by the rigorous creativity of Australian creators and are thrilled to support so many novel ideas coming through the pipeline as the industry continues to rebound from COVID-19,” said Screen Australia’s Head of Content Sally Caplan. “It’s great to see a number of engaging stories set around iconic milestones in Australian history, from the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the social change that took place in the ’60s or the recession in the ’80s, and I look forward to seeing these projects develop further.”

For a full list of films that have received development funding from Screen Australia, head here, TV series here, and Online content here.

Image: (clockwise from left) Bryan Brown, Willoh Weiland, Tam Nguyen, Debra Oswald, Sarah Bassiuoni, Khoa Do


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