Matt Okine headlines $2m Screen Australia Enterprise funds

Highlights of the latest support from Screen Australia include Matt Okine and the feature documentary sector.

In its latest announcement, Screen Australia has revealed details of the $2m it has allocated to particular people and companies to evolve beyond their present capacity.

The taxpayers may notice this most through Matt Okine, the massively multi-talented actor, comedian, radio host, cooking show loon and novelist who is pushing to build his own shows. He will be supported to work with Wooden Horse, which is an alliance between Jude Troy, known as the development and acquisitions expert at Hopscotch/eOne for fifteen years and Richard Finlayson, the former sports journalism maven turned ABC Director of Television between 2013-2017. First off the block is a screen version of Okine’s first novel, ‘Being Black ‘n Chicken and Chips’. 

They are benefitting from the most substantial of the current Enterprise strands, The Business and Ideas Program, which is also supporting the Doc Society to run two Global Story and Impact Labs. This is a new version of a familiar program called GoodPitch Australia which supported documentary producers to create philanthropic alliances to fund a dazzling range of films. Between 2015-2019 it enabled That Sugar Film, Gayby Baby, Blue, Prison Song, In My Blood it Runs and The Leadership, just to name a few. 

The slate was based on an inspiring program called BritDoc, funded by foundations and involving Channel Four to support over 270 films since 2005. GoodPitch reached a natural end and was suspended. 

Now it is back. Doc Society is the new name for BritDoc. The program will support another 10-12 films over two years to find the proverbial new paths to finance through two intensive workshops and a pile of valuable mentorships.

The strand will also support

  • Indigenous-owned Victorian-based production company Typecast Entertainment led by writer, director and actor Tony Briggs (The Sapphires) and producer Damienne Pradier (Elders) will build on their strategic and innovative mixed business model.
  • White Spark Pictures, the team behind the award-winning documentary The Antarctica Experience and upcoming project Beyond the Stars, will develop a new distribution model for virtual reality (VR) content called Surround Sync. The innovative venture will provide a pathway for theatrical VR distribution, and is designed to synchronize hundreds of VR headsets at once.
  • A2K Media will launch Disability Justice Lens, an online disability equity and inclusion training program focusing on solutions to the intersectional experience of disability within the screen industry

Alice Burgin’s placement at Sweetshop and Green enables her to move a wealth of documentary and cultural knowledge into a company specialising strongly in culturally specific work intended for the global market, and stay closely attached to her home sector. 

Read more: New appointments add edge to global push from production house Sweetshop and Green

The career placement side of the program is a solid way of bringing freelancers into nests which are busting for the extra energy and skills. Ashley Gibb will work with Wild Pacific Media, Molly O’Connor joins Film Camp, Casey Ventura joins FINCH as a development and impact producer, Stephanie Westwood joins Orange Entertainment Co, while Georgia Woodward becomes a development producer at Southern Pictures. 

This is a cast of companies ripe to expand. 

  • Sweetshop and Green is a new company between highly experienced international producers
  • Wooden Horse is a recent creation 
  • Wild Pacific Media is expanding into very high end giant screen natural history,
  • Philippa Campey’s Film Camp has been a business for 17 years and specialised in arthouse auteur low budget projects,
  • FINCH is breaking beyond TVCs into substantial TV after nearly a decade,
  • Orange Entertainment is actually the sibling of The Post Lounge and is focused on next generation talent,
  • while Southern Pictures has been solidly in business for twelve years, with an affinity for public broadcasters.  

The Professional Development Opportunities program is a reminder that the opportunity is way of enriching a cosmopolitan perspective. As the release says, it supports 

  • Filmmaker and multimedia artist Emma Rozanski (Papagajka) was funded to participate in Torino Film Lab’s online script development workshop in September 2020 to develop her second feature film and build international relationships.
  • Producer Alice Willison (The Other Guy) will be mentored by Amal Baggar (Vice President, Original Movies & Limited Series at ViacomCBS) for six months.

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.