Playmaker Media: going back-to-back with The Code in 2013

The announcement on Monday that Playmaker Media's six part drama, The Code, will be produced for ABC1 means that the three-year-old company – with its writer-centric approach - will be in back-to-back
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The announcement on Monday that Playmaker Media’s six part drama, The Code, will be produced for ABC1 means that the three-year-old company – with its writer-centric approach – will be in back-to-back production during 2013. Better still, the company also has “a handful of projects in network development”.

Playmaker co-founder, David Maher, told ScreenHub that the second series of House Husbands (Nine Network) will commence production in Melbourne in mid-February, with production on The Code beginning mid-year. He would not be drawn on the locations for The Code, preferring to allow state agencies to make the announcement.

Unlike the warm, domestic drama of House Husbands, The Code is a political thriller in the mold of Edge of Darkness and State of Play, Maher said.

What the two have in common is that they are both products of Playmaker’s “Scribe” development and production process. The Scribe process, which gives writers “several months to stare at the blank walls” under the mentorship of Shane Brennan (creator of NCIS), is intended to create ” more original and authored drama,” Maher said.

Once a project is greenlit, Maher and his partner, David Taylor, function as executive producers , and “build the writing team around the head writers [the project’s creator] who become the creative producers. Unbroken authorships is about what we’re all about,” he said.

The pair create the production scaffolding around the writer. “The way we work at Playmaker is trying to create a speace around really talented writers and give them the production support, rather than David and I imposing our creative vision. Writers and creative producers who embrace the practical aspects [of production] get the best on screen. None of the writers are ever hung out and worrying about the elements of the production.”

The Code, which was created by Shelley Birse (Lockie Leonard, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), is the second project from the first Scribe development process to go into production, Maher said.

In addition to House Husbands and The Code, he said that Playmaker had “a fantastic slate from first and last group in network development. We’re riting scripts for a handful of really exciting shows.” Was a handful five? A few mor than that. “Yair, we’ve got a slate that extends a bit beyond that.”

Political thrillers are a difficult genre in Australia, where government is a bit player in world terms, and it’s hard to overcome the “credibility gap”.

Maher said that they had overcome that problem by scaling the story to the Australian environment. “I think that its finding a story that doesn’t have you trying to emulate American and British dramas. We’ve got the story to do that. I think the stakes in the code are incredibly high. It’s a fictional story that has a ripped from the headlines project that will give the audience real impact. [It] is an ambitious, genuine grown-up thriller, with a fantastic ‘what happens next quality’. You’ve got the ambitions , the story and the premise of the show, it’s really got a strong sense of itself, a completely plausible Australian story happening.”

Shawn Seet (The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Underbelly) will direct all six episodes, and the project is yet to be cast.
And the future for a three-year old company? “We’re completely over the moon to be making anything to be honest,” Maher said.

Alex Prior
About the Author
Alex Prior is a digital marketing consultant, the founder of ScreenHub, and a former editor-in-chief of ArtsHub.