Filming is underway in Melbourne and regional Victoria on the six-part anthology drama Fires, inspired by extraordinary accounts from people who survived the catastrophic bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020.
Produced by Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), and due to screen on the ABC later this year, the production announced a top notch and very experienced cast including Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth), Sam Worthington, Richard Roxburgh, Sullivan Stapleton, Miranda Otto, Hunter Page-Lochard, Anna Torv, Kate Box, Helana Sawires, Daniel Henshall and Noni Hazlehurst. They are joined by newcomers Ameshol Ajang, Stacy Clausen and Nyawuda Chuol.
The writing team, led by showrunner/writer Belinda Chayko includes Jacquelin Perske, Mirrah Foulkes, Steven McGregor and Anya Beyersdorf. Producers are Elisa Argenzio and executive producer Tony Ayres, Andrea Denholm and Liz Watts, and Sally Riley and Brett Sleigh for the ABC. Directors are Michael Rymer, Ana Kokkinos and Kim Mordaunt.
- Multicultural comedy series announced by ABC and Screen Australia. Parent Up will be a ten-part children’s show, following a Sydney-based Korean family who happen to be international spies.
- Netflix and Eureka Productions making Byron Baes. Corrupted paradise Byron Bay will host an influencer-fest Netflix docu-soap called Byron Baes. The town is already divided.
- Australian Children’s Television Foundation breaks into Japanese market. Kids’ series First Day continues to hook international TV networks, with NHK joining Taiwanese MOMOKIDS in the Asian market.
- Despite defeat, mainstream exhibitors confident of government support. Michael Hawkins, the face of peak cinema operator body NACO, is confident that the big exhibitors will get a piece of the pie.
- Box office: Peter Rabbit 2 doing okay as holidays start. Any dreams that audiences would flood back into cinemas over Easter were deflated by good weather and a lack of blockbuster choice.
- Antaine Furlong’s debut thriller Ascendant has released this week in Australia and NZ on 160 screens through Maslow Entertainment. Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired worldwide rights (International title is Rising Wolf) and will release in the US on 16 July. Filmed at Fox Studios and Sydney’s northern beaches during the pandemic, it’s set in Shanghai and follows Aria Wolf (Charlotte Best), a young woman who wakes, trapped, kidnapped in an elevator of a high rise building at the mercy of her tormentors. The film is written by Kieron Holland and Furlong, who produced alongside Kristy Vernon, James Vernon, and Drew Bailey, with Liz Furlong and Bec Kemp as executive producers. Watch out for our review next Tuesday!
- Indigenous actors call out racism on Neighbours set: ‘Lonely, triggering, and traumatising’. Actors Shareena Clanton and Meyne Wyatt have alleged they experienced and witnessed racism, sexism and homophobia while working on the set of Neighbours.
- Same, same but different – ABC announces new arts program. ABC has announced that Namila Benson will host a new arts program, Art Works, kicking off in May, but the news is plagued with questions around the rebrand.
- Writing the fine line between sanity and madness: Wakefield’s Kristen Dunphy. Drawing on her own mental health struggles, the award-winning Australian TV writer talks about creating characters who are more than their diagnoses.
- Go remote for stronger stories, says Tailings director Stevie Cruz-Martin. The director of new SBS series talks about filmmaking on the remote West Coast of Tasmania, the resilience of local communities and the complexity of tough female characters.
- Award-winning South Australian PDV studio Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) has been acquired by international visual effects company FuseFX. FuseFX provides full-service visual effects for television, feature films, commercials, virtual and VR productions and has studios in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Vancouver, Montréal, Toronto, and Bogotá. RSP Co-Founder Tony Clark will continue to lead the studio and operate under the Rising Sun Pictures brand.
- The Australian Directors Guild (ADG) is running 40 short sharp Zoom mentoring sessions for members. Next up on Thursday 15 April is a 60-minute session with Corrie Chen.
- Matt Okine headlines $2m Screen Australia Enterprise funds. Highlights of the latest support from Screen Australia include Matt Okine and the feature documentary sector.
- Meet the new CEO of the Australian International Documentary Conference. AIDC has promoted Natasha Gadd, its own Partnerships and Industries Development Manager, as its new CEO and Creative Director.
- New appointments add edge to global push from production house Sweetshop & Green. Sweetshop & Green add to its roster of unique influences with Ester Harding and Alice Burgin who is supported by Screen Australia.
- Oscars nomination for Adelaide VFX artists. Mr X, a SA Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) studio, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for its work on Love and Monsters.
VALE BRENDAN HARKIN
Brendan Harkin, founder and director of X Media Lab, passed away suddenly on Monday 15 March, 2021. Born in Melbourne, he was a pioneering figure in digital innovation and media and leaves an extraordinary legacy, and his loss is felt across the globe. You can read Brendan’s obituaries here or RSVP for a global virtual ceremony in celebration of his life (23/24 April) here.
GAMES & TECH
- Game developers reveal their best in-game easter eggs. In a thread started by ex-Vlambeer developer Jan-Willem Nijman, game designers have revealed the best kept secrets in their games. Turns out Pac-Man is in basically everything.
- Microsoft to make US$22 billion worth of augmented reality headsets for US Army. With this new contract, Microsoft is set to fortify its position as one of the highest value US defence contractors alongside Amazon, write Ben Egliston and Marcus Carter.
- Apple Arcade expands to 180 games with original and classic titles. The subscription gaming service is adding over 30 games to its roster of Arcade Originals, as well as classic games across two brand new categories for iPhone and iPad.
- Award Submissions Open For Long-Running Indie Game Festival, Freeplay. Entries for the Freeplay awards close on April 25, and all Australian indie game developers and artists are encouraged to apply.
- E3 2021 videogame convention announced following 2020 cancellation and controversy. The storied international videogame trade event returns in an online-only format after its 2020 outing was cancelled.
- Getting real with your career: the power of a breakthrough moment. Before that first opportunity, there is often a moment when you realise the shape of your life. This is how it can happen.
- Ask the Mentor: What are ‘taste clusters’ and how do they relate to my show? Despite sounding like nutty treats, this term relates to the measurement of SVOD audiences. Media Mentor Esther Coleman-Hawkins explains how they help you to pitch and sell your show.
- How to keep creative while working from home.
- TV Review: Wakefield succeeds with equal opportunity compassion. A drama where everybody hurts, Wakefield’s equal opportunity compassion holds it all together.
- TV Review: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay S2 is a safe space. Fuzzy, comfy and cosy, Josh Thomas’s US series is more about mood than story or character development and that’s alright, says Anthony Morris.
- TV Review: The Tailings is fierce and intimate. A relationship drama plays out with a touch of mystery in the new SBS shortform series set on the wild west coast of Tasmania, says Raveena Grover.
- TV Review: Fisk is sharp, funny and demands your full attention. If you long for the days when sitcoms were just plain funny, then Kitty Flanagan’s local series is for you.
- Film Review: Disclosure is a taut and mature debut. Gathering momentum after a string of glowing international reviews, this fully independent Australian film has big impact.
- Film Review: Peter Rabbit 2 is a confused, self-conscious tale of fluffy franchise management.