Screen Oz unveils first funding slate

25 projects will receive total of $72 mil

SYDNEY -- New film superagency Screen Australia will fund a slate of 25 projects worth AUS$83 million ($72 million) -- its first approvals since opening for business July 1 -- interim CEO Lynne Maddock said Tuesday.

The inaugural slate includes four features films, one TV drama series, four children's TV dramas and 13 documentaries. The projects are being funded through the same financing arrangements used by the former Film Finance Corp., which remain in place until Dec. 31. The producers' offset will operate alongside Screen Australia's direct-funding program until then.

Since its inception last year, SA has provisionally approved 142 projects to receive the producers' offset. It is designed to become the principle financing mechanism for the production sector.

Village Roadshow will distribute one of the four features, Simon Wincer's "The Cup," which tells the story of the 2002 Melbourne Cup horse race and its winning jockey, Damien Oliver. Omnilab Media is co-producing.

Also on the slate is indigenous-themed feature "Mad Bastards," to be produced by Martin Fabinyi from first-time helmer Brendan Fletcher; Nadia Tass' "Love and Mortar," with Fox signing for local distribution and ContentFilm handling the rest of the world; and writer-director Dean Murphy's "Charlie and Boots," fromInstinct Entertainment.

SA's Maddock said the agency is "setting in place a framework we believe will streamline the process of funding projects for the industry while also focusing on the development and marketing sides of the business."