Screen News in Brief – funding, fests and flicks – the whole cycle

Tight, inspiring initiatives in comedy, series and mobile. And Queer Screen's Mardi Gras, Transitions, Women in Film and a sadly treated film about happiness.


  • Mentorships, masterclasses and some very interesting placements here. Screen Australia has announced funding for 15 Enterprise People talent opportunities and one Enterprise Business & Ideas project which share in over $480,000. Recipients include Media Stockade, producer Katia Nizic, writer-director Annika Glac, multidisciplinary artist Jessica Surendorff, animator Amara Gantz and puppeteer Jhess Knight.
  • Screen Australia has also announced that five online projects will share in over $500,000 of funding. They include Cooked, an animated satire about the ghost of Captain Cook; 2121, a science fiction drama; and Sex & Death, a romantic comedy told from the perspective of someone on the Autism spectrum.

Production & Development

  • Production is underway in New Zealand on Jane Campion’s Netflix feature, The Power of the Dog, a Western adapted from Thomas Savage’s novel of the same name about a man’s mission to destroy his brother’s wife. The film is produced by See-Saw’s Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, with a cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jojo Rabbit’s Thomasin McKenzie. Transmission will release the film locally in 2021.
  • Filming is underway in Sydney and the Blue Mountains on Wakefield, a new 8-part psychological drama set in a psychiatric hospital. Made by Jungle Entertainment and BBC Studios for the ABC, the showrunners are Kristen Dunphy and Sam Meikle, who are writing with Joan Sauers and Cathy Strickland. Stars include British actor Rudi Dharmalingam, Mandy McElhinney and Geraldine Hakewill and the directors are Jocelyn Moorhouse and Kim Morduant (The Rocket). 
  • Miles Franklin Award-winning novelist Melissa Lucashenko is adapting her book Too Much Lip for the screen.

Events & Conferences


  • The Stan and Film Victoria Comedy Fund is now open for applications. The joint initiative aims to support Victorian writers and producers to develop Australian comedy, and is seeking ‘stories that respond to Stan’s Creative Brief (PDF) and feature relatable characters with unique dilemmas fuelling the comedy for a multi-season run.’ The successful applicants will receive up to $30,000 to develop a 30-minute pilot episode and series outline. Deadline is 19 March 2020.
  • Small Screen Scripted Development Investment Fund offers new, emerging and experienced Western Australian storytellers the opportunity to get their scripted series ready for market. Designed as a precursor to Screenwest’s Matched Development fund, the initiative is part of the agency’s overall strategic objective to increase the number of dramas and comedy series commissioned from WA for the small screen (television, streaming service or web content). Applications close Monday, 24 Feb.
  • Screen Australia and Snapchat have teamed up with an initiative aimed at developing premium short-form mobile series. They’re looking for experienced creatives and offering up to $15,000 per team. Applications close 5 March.

Film Festivals

  • Queer Screen’s 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival is screening from 13 – 27 February 2020 in Sydney’s inner west before spreading its wings to Lismore, Newcastle and more. The theme is ‘Evolve, Emerge, Fly’ and the international program boasts 57 features. One of the Australian highlights is Cloudy River, a modern romantic drama about an open relationship, co-written and co-directed by author Sophie Hardcastle (Breathing Under Water) and Charlie Ford. The will premiere as part of the festival on Feb 19 before launching on SBS On Demand as a drama series.
  • The 9th Transitions Film Festival, focusing on films that inspire and challenge, will screen in Melbourne from 20th Feb – 6 March. Festival director Daniel Simons gave us his picks from a program that focuses on ‘Resilience’.
  • ‘Stories in Colour’ is the theme of the fourth Melbourne Women in Film Festival (MWFF, 20 – 23 Feb) and the lineup takes us far beyond Australian shores. Read our story on the Pacific focus this year.

In Cinemas Now

  • H is for Happiness is delightful and surprising, according to our reviewer, Mel Campbell, but the new family film could use some box office love right about now.
  • Controversial cartoonist Michael Leunig is the subject of the new documentary, Fragments of Leunig, from director Kasimir Burgess and producer Philippa Campey. Our reviewer, Anthony Morris, finds it very revealing.


About the Author
ScreenHub​ is the online home for emerging and experienced Australian screen professionals.