Screen Australia: $6.9 million funding for 11 projects

Five feature films, one TV drama, one children's show and four online projects have received funding.

Screen Australia has announced that five feature films, one television drama, one children’s program and four online projects, including a virtual reality (VR) experience, will share in more than $6.9 million of production funding.

Among the projects greenlit for production is The Correspondent, the latest film from acclaimed director Kriv Stenders, known for his work on Red Dog and Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.

Other projects include the children’s program Spooky Files, which will return for Season 2; VR experience Heroes, which will shed light on the confronting realities faced by four children living in a war zone; and the second season of Last King of the Cross on Paramount+.

Screen Australia’s Director of Content Grainne Brunsdon said: ‘We’re delighted to unveil this latest slate of productions, with each project exemplifying the power of storytelling and brilliant filmmaking across a range of genres and platforms. From diverse voices to innovative visions, these narratives showcase the boundless creativity at the heart of our thriving screen industry, and we can’t wait for audiences to immerse themselves in these extraordinary tales.’

Funded films:

  • Kangaroo: A heart-warming family comedy about ex-tv personality, Chris Masterson, who becomes stranded in an outback town after a car accident on his way to Broome. There, he forms an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old Indigenous girl Charlie. In Kangaroo, Chris and Charlie work together to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned joeys in the remote but stunning outback community – an endeavour that proves to be life-changing for them both.
  • One More Shot: On New Year’s Eve 1999, Minnie discovers a bottle of time travelling tequila that takes her back to the start of the night in this time loop comedy. Armed with this mysterious bottle of tequila, she hopes to win the heart of on-again-off-again-old-flame Joe, but no matter what she does, she can’t escape herself.
  • Red Rock Run: This family feature film follows ten-year-old Lucy who is forbidden from attending the 1978 regional athletic trials as punishment for racing a delivery plane on a remote dirt airstrip. But with the help of her grandmother, she defies her Vietnam veteran father and enters the first kids’ team into the Red Rock Run, a gruelling 120km outback marathon race.
  • Spit: In the sequel to the award-winning crime comedy, Gettin’ Square, ex-junkie John Spitieri returns to Australia, only to find himself locked up in an Immigration Detention Centre with a massive target on his back. But as old enemies come looking for him, determined to settle old scores, he also makes new friends amongst the detainees, teaches them his version of mateship and what it means to be truly Australian
  • The Correspondent: December 2013, in the shadow of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Australian journalist Peter Greste is confronted with the brutal realities of reporting from one of the most dangerous cities on earth. Accused of terrorism, Greste becomes a pawn in the middle of a deadly game full of corrupt officials and ancient rivalries – with only his wits keeping him alive. 

Funded TV drama:

  • Last King of the Cross season 2: Following on from season 1, John Ibrahim sets his sights on capturing a new kingdom after returning to Sydney – the glittering prize of Oxford Street. With it comes new challenges and enemies, along with the relentless scrutiny of Liz Doyle and the full force of the Sydney police. Freshly released from jail, Sam builds the largest bikie chapter in Australian history, putting John on a collision course with the entire criminal world. 

Funded children’s project:

Spooky Files Season 1. Image supplied.

  • Spooky Files season 2: In this second iteration of the popular ABC and BBC series, the funny and spooky adventure continues. After closing a portal to a spooky dimension in season 1, the Spooky Crew has their work cut out for them when the portal reopens six months later in Season 2. They must regroup to save their town from Spooky mayhem yet again, whilst learning there’s a big difference between the fears that keep you safe and the ones that hold you back.

Funded online projects:

  • Cooking for Seamus: This 10-part documentary series for YouTube follows old time sing song man and animal lover Archer, who attracts celebrity chefs to a paddock in Central Victoria where their culinary creations are judged by Seamus, a six-year-old disabled Angus Bull whose passion is food. In Cooking for Seamus, Archer’s casual charm and astonishing singing ability with Seamus’s immense wobbly salivating enthusiasm for food disarms all – with unique personal stories and experiences emerging from each ‘chef’ encounter.
  • Descent: A five-part, genre-bending science fiction comedy series for YouTube following three self-described ‘scientists’ on a perilous mission to the bottom of the ocean, desperate to find a new home for humanity and save everyone from climate doom. As the crew of the UHM Hope submarine descends deeper into the uncharted abyss, they are forced to confront unforeseen dangers and encroaching madness in their search for the mysterious long-fabled Eel City.
  • Heroes: In this 20-minute virtual reality (VR) experience, four children from diverse backgrounds find refuge in an abandoned school building, in the middle of a war zone. Through sharing and listening to each other’s stories, taken from interviews conducted with survivors of war, they connect and find resilience to endure the horrors of global conflict.
  • Long Head: Based on a webcomic, this six-part comedy animation series for TikTok tracks the adventures of Long Head, a man with a long head, a big heart and nothing behind the eyes. Long Head may be an idiot, but he’s an unlovable idiot.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites