News in Brief: a Christmas movie for Stan, Gender still Matters and Wild West roundup

Our fortnightly mash-up of production news, policy analysis, festivals and reviews. Also some excitement about Chris Hemsworth and George Miller making a Mad Max prequel.

Plans are very shaky for Christmas this year, but not for Stan, who announced this week that production is currently underway in Adelaide on a new Stan Original comedy film A Sunburnt Christmas, to premiere in time for the big day.

Directed by Christiaan Van Vuuren, and created and written by Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella and Timothy Walker, the film is described as ‘a wild, hilarious and heartfelt story about a single mum and her kids doing it tough on their outback farm until a runaway criminal dressed as Santa Claus (Daniel Henshall) crashes into their property and their lives.’ Other stars include Ling Cooper Tang (The Secrets She Keeps), Sullivan Stapleton, and new talents Lena Nankivell, Eaden McGuiness and Tatiana Goode as the kids. Producers are Lisa Scott for Highview Productions, with executive producers Fiona Eagger and Deb Cox for Every Cloud Productions and Mike Jones co-producing. 

Screen Australia on track to meet Gender Matters KPI but more work to be done

  • The agency announced today that it’s on track to meet its new Gender Matters KPI at the end of 2021/22, with 57% of key creative roles (producer, writer and director) across approved development and production funding held by women and female-identifying people in 2019/20. 
  • This is the first year of the new KPI reporting. It’s not all great news when you dig down though, and as producer Joanna Werner, Screen Australia Board Member, chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce said: ‘While we are encouraged by the result overall, the KPI has been lifted by high levels of participation by women in development applications, and these high levels are not yet carrying through to some areas of production.’
  • Werner also said that industry-wide data tracking participation over an eight-year period showed that men continue to dominate all key creative roles in feature production, and writer and director roles in television drama, online drama and documentary.

Budget and changes to Australian Content Regulation

Australian Directors’ Guild Awards

ACMI prepares for comeback

  • ACMI renews digital promise in virtual launch. Is the Australian Centre of the Moving Image a place? A Zone? A Cultural Accumulation Machine to defy COVID-19? First hints are released in a digital launch of the online component.
  • ACMI’s Cinema 3 is an on demand option for renting and streaming its selections at home. It launches on Wednesday 11 November with a digital restoration of Claire Denis’ classic film, Beau Travail (1999), following the story of soldiers in the French Foreign Legion.

West Australian Roundup

With WA-shot Dirt Music in cinemas now, and Rams and Never Too Late coming out on the 29th, there’s a boom in news from the wild and COVID-free West, as outlined by the latest ScreenWest update:

  • ABC television series ITCH produced by Komixx Entertainment recommenced production for its second season this week, with filming taking place in the Peel and Great Southern regions.
  • Pre-production for Arenamedia’s Blueback is in full swing. Principal photography is expected to commence in early 2021.
  • With funding greenlight from Screenwest and Screen Australia, Jub Clerc’s debut feature film as writer director, Sweet As, is currently slated for production in mid-2021.
  • Feature film The Furnace, written and directed by Roderick MacKay and produced by The Koop was the only Australian feature film to screen at the Venice Film Festival in August.
  • 100% Wolf which Siamese post-produced in Western Australia released to premium-on-demand, and was in the top ten highest grossing films in Spain as it opened in its first week across 136 cinemas in September.
  • Revelation International Film Festival pivoted to deliver it’s Couched program entirely online, while CinefestOZ took advantage of brilliant timing to showcase Western Australian features Dirt Music and Rams showcase some brilliant Western Australian short films. Screenwest and Lotterywest supported films Doug the Human and Carmentis were both recognised with awards.
  • Eight female Indigenous writer-directors selected for RED Anthology. WA Indigenous production companies PiNK PEPPER and Ramu are teaming up with the NZ powerhouse behind successful portmanteau feature films Vai and Waru to make one with an Aboriginal focus.

Games & Podcasts

Film Festivals

  • Adelaide Film Festival (14 – 25 October) is currently underway. Opening night film was Seth Larney’s sci fi thriller 2067. Watch out for Adrian Martin’s review in tomorrow’s Screenhub bulletin.
  • Byron Bay Film Festival (23 October – 1 November) will open with Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, and will feature a mix of virtual and real screenings, including a VR event at the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse under a full moon.
  • Sit Down Shut Up & Watch! (SDSW) is South Australia’s own, international, learning disability led short film festival, running concurrently with Adelaide Film Festival (14-25 Oct) and a ‘Best Of’ screening at AFF.

Mental Health 

Mental health webinars announced for screen industry. Following on from the documentary ‘The Show Must Go On’ comes Screen Well, a series of webinars tailored for crews, creators, performers and heads of department in film and TV.


Most exciting news for Mad Max fans…

Finally, the internet went a bit silly yesterday over the news that Warner Bros is definitely developing ‘Furiosa’, a prequel story for the Mad Max franchise, going back into the youth of the Charlize Theron character. She’s to be played by Anaya Taylor-Joy, with Chris Hemsworth confirmed to star in the movie that George Miller will  direct, co-write and produce with his longtime producing partner Doug Mitchell. Miller’s own Australian-based Kennedy Miller Mitchell banner will produce, but there’s not a lot of other detail available yet.

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