Screen Australia Commits $13.7 Million to Film, TV Projects

Sam Worthington - "The Debt" Premiere - 2010
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The national agency greenlights projects from Sam Worthington, Robert Connolly and emerging director Ariel Kleiman, among others.

Screen Australia has approved $13.71 million (AUS $15.5 million) in funding for three new feature films and five adult TV drama series, one telemovie and three children’s series, the national film agency announced on Wednesday, marking a return to direct investment after a six-month hiatus after it had committed all its annual direct funding for projects in those genres by February.

The agency said the funding will trigger nearly $74.3 million worth of production.

Feature films given the greenlight by the agency include writer/director/producer Robert Connolly’s kids-focused feature, Paper Planes; Ruin, a low-budget drama set in Cambodia from Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody and emerging director Ariel Kleiman’s arthouse drama Partisan.

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Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley said, “It’s great to support a feature film for child audiences from such an experienced director as Robert -- exciting new distinctive films from rising Australian talents.”

Paper Planes is about a young boy from a small outback town who dreams of competing in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan. The writers are Connolly and Steve Worland, and the producers are Maggie Miles and Liz Kearney. Connolly and John Maynard’s company, Footprint Films, will distribute the film in Australia and Arclight will handle international sales. The film will shoot in Western Australia later this year.

Ruin, a fable of violence and love in modern-day Cambodia has been written, directed and is being produced by Courtin-Wilson and Cody, who collaborated on Hail. XYZ is handling international sales and Madman Entertainment will distribute in Australia.

Partisan, a confronting tale about a vengeful man raising his children to attack the world that wronged him, is the debut feature from Kleiman and will star Oscar Isaac, who was recently seen in the Coen BrothersInside Llewyn Davis.

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Penned by Kleiman and Sarah Cyngler, Partisan is being produced by Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw at Warp Films Australia. Madman Entertainment has signed on as local distributor and Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales.

TV dramas receiving direct funding include the previously announced The Gallipoli Story, a four-part mini-series produced for Foxtel, being produced by Matchbox Pictures and Sam Worthington’s FullClip Productions, about three journalists sent with Australian and British troops to Gallipoli in 1915, and how their quest for the truth helped change the war’s course. The mini-series is produced by Penny Chapman, John Schwartz and Jacquelin Perske and is written by Perske. Shaun Grant, Cate Shortland and Stuart Beattie. Worthington, Penny Win, Michael McMahon, Michael Schwarz and Luca Scalisi are executive producers on the project.

An eight-part series for Network Nine, Love Child, is a character drama set in 1969 in Kings Cross. The series is produced by Playmaker Media’s David Maher, David Taylor, Sarah Lambert and Sue Seeary, written by Tim Pye, Liz Doran and Sarah Lambert and will be directed by Shawn Seet, Shirley Barrett, Geoff Bennett and Ian Barry.

Southern Stars’ John Edwards and Imogen Banks meanwhile will produce Party Tricks, a new six-part series for Network Ten written by Michael Lucas, about a woman’s campaign to be the next State Premier and the complications that arise when her ex-lover is announced as the new leader of the opposition.

The Seven Network meanwhile has commissioned a telemovie from Screentime based on the true story of the investigation that led to the arrest of serial killer Ivan Milat, Catching Milat, while ABC will air an eight-part series, Anzac Girls, and SBS cult comedy series, Danger 5, will receive investment for a second season.

Children’s TV drama investments include series two of the 26-part live-action adventure, In Your Dreams, produced for the Seven Network by Noel Price; a mockumentary children’s comedy series about what happens at snack time in the primary school playground, Little Lunch, produced and written by Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope and directed by Hope; and the second series of live action kids drama Mako: Island of Secrets from Jonathan M. Shiff for Network Ten and ZDF Germany.

With Australian broadcasters and TV drama producers clamoring for funds as local dramas continue to rate exceptionally well, the agency said it will run just two funding rounds this financial year.