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SYDNEY – Robert Pattinson-starrer Life was one of four features, four adult TV dramas and one children’s TV series to receive a total of AUS$11 million ($9.9 million) in funding from Screen Australia, the agency announced Friday.
The investments by the agency, the first under newly installed CEO Graeme Mason, will trigger around $63.3 million worth of production.
Life, the latest feature from director Anton Corbijn and See Saw Films, tells the story of a freelance photographer, Dennis Stock, on assignment for Life Magazine, and his unlikely friendship with the actor James Dean. Co-starring Dane DeHaan, Life is a German/Canadian/Australian co-production from Australian writer Luke Davies. Producers are Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Christina Piovesan, Benito Mueller and Wolfgang Mueller. Transmission Films is the Australian-New Zealand distributor while Film Nation is handling international sales.
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Pattinson recently finished filming David Michod’s The Rover in Australia.
Also receiving financing is Oddball, a comedy that will reunite Shane and Clayton Jacobson in their first feature since their 2007 breakout hit Kenny. Clayton will direct and Shane will star in the tale of an eccentric chicken farmer who saves a colony of penguins by putting his sheepdog on their island. Roadshow Films will be the local distributor.
Former CNN and Time correspondent Michael Ware has teamed up with Oscar-winning director Bill Guttentag on Only The Dead, an autobiographical feature documentary on Ware’s career as a war corespondent and his time in Iraq. Ware has written the film with Patrick McDonald, who is also producing. Cinetic Media LLc will sell the film in North America while Transmission will distribute in Australia and New Zealand.
Jennifer Peedom, who directed the Discovery series Everest: Beyond The Limit, is returning to the Himalayas to make Sherpa: In the Shadow Of the Mountain, looking at the tensions and drama of an Everest expedition from the point of view of the Sherpas. John Smithson, who produced 127 Hours and Touching The Void, is producing alongside John Maynard and Brigid Ikin. Maynard’s Footprint Films is distributing locally.
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The slate is the first to be financed under new Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. Mason said the films were “a strong line up of character driven projects coming form an incredibly talented mix of film makers”.
On the television side, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruders, producers of the International Emmy-winning Go Back To Where You Came From, are teaming with actor producer Claudia Karvan to make mini-series Gina, the controversial story of mining heiress Gina Rinehart, for the Nine Network. Paul Bennet and Katherine Thomsen have written the miniseries. Nine will air it in 2014.
Producer Vincent Sheehan will make the high end crime drama The Kettering Incident in Tasmania for Foxtel, with Penny Win executive producing and BBC Worldwide handling international sales. It tells the story of Doctor Anna Macy who tries to clear her name after being linked to the disappearance of two girls, 15 years apart in the Tasmanian wilderness.
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Kate Grenville’s iconic Australian novel, The Secret River, is being turned into a mini-series for ABCTV by Daina Reid from a screenplay by Jan Sardi and Mac Gudgeon. Stephen Luby is producing with ABC Commercial handling international sales. The novel tells the story of emancipated English convict William Thornhill as he stakes a claim for land on the Hawkesbury River in 1801.
And Playmaker Media is to produce Hiding, the story of a Gold Coast criminal who enters witness protection with his dysfunctional family and takes on a new job in a university psychology department. ABC TV is the broadcaster here with Universal Television (Australasia) handling domestic sale and ITV Global Entertainment on international sales.
Creator-director-producer Luke Jurevicius’s animated series, The New Adventures of Figaro Pho will return for a second series on ABCTV produced by Frank Verheggen, Dan Fill and Michael Boughen with Matthew Street and Christopher Mapp executive producing through Omnilab Media’s Ambience Entertainment.
Mason said the five TV drama’s will “deliver outstanding and iconic Australian stories to local audiences and Screen Australia is proud to be an investor in them.”
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