$1m Screen Australia funding for drama, features and online

Development funding will go to 'a fantastic mix of originals and adaptations,' says Screen Australia.

A plethora of new and original screen works, including 15 TV shows, 11 films and five web series, will be developed thanks to over $1 million in funding from Screen Australia.

The upcoming projects include Immersion, a science fiction drama from Lion director Garth Davis; Jimpa, a queer family drama from writer/director Sophie Hyde; and successful online series Girl, Interpreted which will expand into television for the first time.

‘Screen Australia is delighted to be able to support such a fantastic mix of originals and adaptations from established and new talent,’ said Louise Gough, Screen Australia’s Head of Development. ‘We’re pleased to see a diversity of themes and genres, from coming-of-age to gripping thrillers, queer quests and absurdist comedy, that have the potential to connect with a wide range of audiences.’

‘Now five months into the job as the new Head of Development, it’s thrilling to see the stories that are being developed, the hands they are in, the formats being written for, and the audiences these stories seek to connect with. We look forward to continued engagement with talent and the content they are developing’.

Altogether there are 31 new projects being funded.

Read: Screen Australia launches HoD initiative for female practitioners

The new slate (so far)

  • Immersion: An eight-part television series from director Garth Davis (Lion) and writer Matt Vesely (Aftertaste). When an investigation into his daughter’s illness leads to signs of a shadowy government agency experimenting with the subconscious, a police detective becomes trapped in an immersive reality. This science fiction drama will be executive produced by Academy Award winning producer Emile Sherman (The King’s Speech) and director/producer Samantha Lang (It All Started with a Stale Sandwich).
  • Jimpa: An inter-generational queer family drama from award-winning writer, director and producer Sophie Hyde (Good Luck To You, Leo Grande52 Tuesdays). The film follows non-binary teenager Frances who joins their parents on a life-changing trip to Europe to visit their gay Grandpa Jim, or ‘Jimpa’. Hyde is joined by writer Matthew Cormack (52 Tuesdays), producer Liam Heyen (You and Me, Before and After) and executive producer Audrey Mason-Hyde.
  • The Hairy Marys: A six-part comedy online series set in the remote Northern Territory town of Nhulunbuy, where sassy and intelligent single mums Queen Nwa and Revolution roll through the punches of their chaotic lives as carers to their children on the spectrum. They are tired of caring and not being cared for, as well as tired of the chin hairs that come with middle age. Sisterhood and humour gets them through some heartbreaking moments. This series is created and written by Tamara Whyte (Wirridji) and Michelle Crozier and will be produced by Whyte and Serena Hunt (Phi and Me).
  • Agrippina: A feature film from writer/director Amanda Blue (Deep Water – The Real Story) and producers Darren Dale and Erin Bretherton (Total Control) of Blackfella Films. Set in the 1980s, this coming-of-age drama follows a teenage girl who escapes the restrictive confines of her migrant suburban community to discover love, her sexuality and acceptance in Kings Cross. Awakened by what she’s seen, she starts living a truer version of herself.
  • Girl, Interpreted: A six-part television series based on the AACTA Award-nominated online series of the same nameGirl, Interpreted centres on a Chinese graduate with an expiring visa who picks up work as a Mandarin interpreter to stay in Australia. Literally caught between two cultures, she finds herself ungracefully stomping on cultural landmines and confronting her definition of home and success. This comedy drama is written by Grace Feng Fang Juan, creator of the online series, and Nikki Tran.
  • BrunyA six-part series adapted from the best-selling novel by Heather Rose, Bruny is a political thriller about love, loyalty and the new world order. When the massive almost completed Bruny Island bridge is blown up, Astrid returns home to Tasmania after 20 years working as a UN negotiator to help damage control for her politician brother. Torn between loyalties to family, community and governments, she is forced to take covert action to save the remote island she has returned to. This series will be written for the screen by playwright Suzie Miller, and will be produced by Sue Maslin (The Dressmaker) and Charlotte Seymour (Other People’s Problems). Writers Adam Thompson (Little J & Big Cuzand Niki Aken (The Hunting) joined the creative team in the recent story room held in Hobart and funded with the assistance of Screen Tasmania.
  • Snack: A six-part online comedy about a depressed and socially anxious Banana who tries to win back their human ex-girlfriend by going to therapy with an unorthodox psychologist. The series sees the Banana accidentally confronting their fears, letting go of the relationship they thought made them whole, and acknowledging the uncomfortable truth that the best version of themselves might still be a bit shit and maybe that’s okay. Snack will be written by comedians Frankie McNair, Harris Stuckey and Scout Boxall, and directed by Natalie van den Dungen (The Listies Work for Peanuts). It is produced by Emma Sharp and Evan Munro-Smith, and executive produced by Max Miller (Glennridge Secondary College).
  • Sweet Milk Lake: A darkly comedic feature following 27-year-old Jake, a soft-spoken trans-man, who is mistaken by his estranged and dying father for his hyper-masc twin brother Sam, a cis-man, upon returning to the rural town where he spent his childhood summers. As Sam, Jake has his father’s approval and is “one of the boys” for the first time. This privilege proves intoxicating and, emboldened by the confidence it gives him, Jake begins to unravel his father’s secrets and embrace the anonymity the town provides. But when everything falls apart, Jake must decide which version of masculinity he wants to embody, and what he will stand for. This is the first feature film from writer/producer Harvey Zielinski, who has teamed up with producer Rosie Lourde (Skin Deep).

For the complete list of development funding approvals refer to televisiononline and feature film breakdowns on the Screen Australia website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports