Screen Australia development approvals pump up future possibilities

Screen Australia is supporting creatives with Babyteeth, Here Out West, Franswa Sharl, Jungle Entertainment, and A Sunburnt Christmas in their CVs. That's only scratching the surface.
pensive girl by pool

It is possible that Screen Australia’s Head of Development Nerida Moore will feel that the latest tranche of development support is a poignant moment. She is about to leave after nine years, to be replaced by Louise Gough on 15 November.

There is a solid lump of possibility here, with over $600,000 spread around 14 feature films, six TV dramas and a single online project. There has been a flurry of social media as writers and producers remind us these commitments are both financially valuable and also make visions feel a lot realler. These reflect the emergency transfer of energy from production to development to help the sector survive Covid, so there are plenty of new projects jostling for finance, and perhaps some livelier combos of experienced and aspirational than usual.

Screen Australia emphasises these projects:

  • Beth (working title): A spin-off from the HBO series High Maintenance. Beth will follow the feisty,
    freewheeling thirty-something dog walker (played by Yael Stone), who has just returned to Sydney
    after 10 wild years in New York. This comedy is created by Alex White (Babyteeth), Eden Falk,
    Charlie Garber (Sando), Lexi Freiman (author of novel Inappropriation) and actor Yael Stone (Orange
    is the New Black).
    It will be directed by Falk, written by Garber and Freiman, produced by White and
    executive produced by the original creators of High Maintenance, Katja Blichfeld, Ben Sinclair and
    Russell Gregory.
  • Khana: The debut feature film written by Arka Das, one of the writers of anthology feature film Here
    Out West,
    which is set to open Sydney Film Festival 2021. Khana follows young migrant worker Ronny
    who clocks long hours as a dish-pig at an Indian restaurant in Sydney’s Western suburbs. When the
    opportunity arises to achieve his dream of becoming a chef, he feels his life is about to change.
    However, Ronny quickly finds his dream has become a prison and he is drawn into the dark
    underworld of indentured labour where freedom comes at a hefty price. Blake Ayshford will work
    with Das as a script consultant during development and the film will be produced by Co-Curious (Here
    Out West
    ).

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  • Mimesis: A science-fiction feature film about gifted computer scientist Beth Francis, who resurrects
    her dead sister in the form of an Artificial Consciousness. Once brought to life, Beth’s virtual sister
    struggles with her new identity and draws Beth and her mother into an exploration of the days
    leading up to her unexplained death, changing their relationship forever. Mimesis is the debut
    feature film from writer/director Hannah Hilliard, whose 2010 short film Franswa Sharl won the
    prestigious Crystal Bear for Best Short Film at Berlin Film Festival. Hilliard is joined by writer Ian
    Shadwell (Under the Volcano) and producer Kristian Moliere (The Babadook).
  • The Pastor’s Wife: An eight-part television series from Jungle Entertainment, the producers of
    Wakefield and Mr Inbetween, and international boutique distributor and producer APC Studios. This
    comedic crime series follows a usually meek and mild-mannered pastor’s wife and a rat-bag teen who
    together go down a rabbit-hole of some seriously ungodly behaviour, in order to get away with
    murder. The creative team features creator/writer Romina Accurso (Spreadsheet), producer Bridget Callow-Wright (Over and Out) and executive producers Romina Accurso, Shay Spencer and Laurent Boissel.
  • The Sweet Above: A feature film about the true story of an aeroplane race from Melbourne to
    London in 1932, and how locals from the New South Wales town of Albury defied the odds to become
    aviation heroes. This adventure drama is created by the team behind A Sunburnt Christmas, with
    writers Elliot Vella, Gretel Vella and Timothy Walker and executive producers Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox,
    Mike Jones, Drew Grove and Michael Smith.

The full lists are here: television, online and feature film approvals for 2021-22.

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.