Australian Distributor Transmission Moves Into Production (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Transmission
Andrew Mackie

The new company, Utopia, is a joint venture with former Northern Pictures founder Sue Clothier.

Australian independent distribution company Transmission Films is moving into production, teaming up with longtime factual producer Sue Clothier, founder of Northern Pictures, to form Utopia the new partners said Thursday.

The joint venture will produce quality factual and scripted features, TV and short-form content for all platforms, with several scripted projects in development. No details were provided on potential projects.

Transmission, led by Richard Payten and Andrew Mackie, is highly regarded as the leading independent feature distributor in Australia and New Zealand, having generated over $240 million at the box office over the last decade and released such films as Lion, The King's Speech and The Railway Man. It is ramping up for the release of titles that include Helen Reddy biopic I Am Woman, Justin Kurzel's True History of the Kelly Gang and See-Saw's Ammonite this year. Mackie and Payten have served as executive producers on features such as Tracks, Warwick Thornton's Sweet Country and On Chesil Beach.

Mackie told The Hollywood Reporter that Utopia is a "natural next step in the growth of Transmission's brand."

"We're excited about mixing our respective experience and generating original IP across old and new platforms. We have a very outward-looking philosophy, particularly in the era of digital global content platforms. International partnerships are a key strategic pillar for Utopia," he added.

Payten and Mackie were also founding partners in See-Saw Films, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman's Australian-U.K. production shingle.

Canning and Sherman remain partners in Transmission Films and supply titles for Transmission to distribute in Australia and New Zealand. Transmission also has an output deal with Amazon Studios, handling all Amazon Studios feature production and acquisitions in the territory.

Clothier founded Northern Pictures in 2010 and has produced factual TV and features, including the AACTA-awarded Employable Me, Life on the Reef, Changing Minds, Emmy-nominated Kakadu and environmental impact film Blue, invited by the United Nations to screen in New York as part of the 2017 World Oceans conference.

Northern Pictures was sold to Toronto-based Blue Ant Media in 2017.