- The streamers continue their battle for Australian eyeballs. Apple TV+ entered on 1 November and Disney+ launched on 19 November. We can’t possibly subscribe to them all.
- In a move that looks like a direct response, Foxtel announced this week the arrival of the ABC iView app on iQ3 and iQ4 set top boxes, where it will now sit alongside Netflix.
- Stan staked its claim as the Australian drama leader with a summer holiday viewing schedule: the second series of Matt Okine’s The Other Guy (13 Dec); near-futuristic relationship drama The Commons (Christmas Day), crime-ghost drama The Gloaming (New Year’s Day), and The True Story of the Kelly Gang (Australia Day).
- Stan Originals also has a second series of Bloom (Playmaker Media) currently in production across Victoria.
- The ABC’s 2020 programming slate is out, with Stateless and Fallout the big new dramas. Returning series are The Heights, Mystery Road and Harrow, Rosehaven and Black Comedy. A second series of Blackfella Films’ Total Control is also in the works.
- On the ABC’s documentary slate, highlights include Bruce Pascoe’s two-parter Dark Emu adaptation, feature-length doc Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, and Adam Goodes story, The Australian Dream. Shaun Micallef’s 3×60 doc series On the Sauce (CJZ) will explore our national relationship with grog, while Revelation, a new series from journalist Sarah Ferguson, examines the shocking picture of clergy abuse in Australia.
- In other ABC-related news, as we head into the biggest, baddest bushfire season ever, former ABC journo and Walkley Award winner Quentin Dempster is spearheading a GetUp campaign around the Morrison Government’s budget cuts to Aunty, and their affect on emergency broadcasting.
- SBS also has its 2020 slate out, with two big dramas giving revisionist Australian history: Supernatural drama Hungry Ghosts (Matchbox), set in the Vietnamese Australian community, and New Gold Mountain (Goalpoast).
- New Gold Mountain is set in the 1850s gold rush, from the Chinese perspective and is created by Peter Cox with writers Benjamin Law and Yolanda Ramke, with Ana Kokkinos directing. More info on cast and creatives at Screen Australia.
- A new Channel Seven drama based on the Royal Flying Doctor Service sounds vaguely familiar, but that’s not to say it’s a bad idea. Going into production in 2020 the Seven/Endemol Shine, RFDS (working title) has announced a great cast, including Justine Clarke and this year’s most incandescent leading man, Rob Collins. Ian Meadows is the writer, and Imogen Banks the producer.
WATCHING THE BOX
- Our TV critics focus on Australian content. No easy rides. No cultural cringe either. Our stats tell us you want to know how it stands up.
- Here’s Anthony Morris, our comedy specialist, appreciating Hamish & Andy’s ‘Perfect’ Holiday (Nine), Fat Pizza: Back in Business (7Mate) and giving a nearly perfect score to Frayed (ABC).
- Chris Boyd reviewed Stan’s Bloom and said it deserved a mass audience. He also found Foxtel’s Lambs of God perversely life-affirming. Controversially, he had mixed feelings about the first two episodes of ABC’s Total Control. We disagree and think its astonishingly good.
PRODUCTIONS WE’D LIKE TO SET-VISIT
- Eight-part Netflix series Clickbait (TAP/Matchbox/Heyday) started production at Melbourne’s Dockland Studios this week. The thriller exploring ‘the ways in which our most dangerous and uncontrolled impulses are fuelled in the age of social media’ is co-created by Tony Ayres and novelist/screenwriter Christian White, who gave us his best writing tips recently.
- Also shooting at Docklands now is Apple’s ten-part adaptation of bestselling novel Shantaram (Paramount Television/Anonymous Content. Justin Kurzel will direct the first two eps, and Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) will star in the lead.
PEOPLE WE’RE INTRIGUED BY
- Tea Uglow, the director of Google’s Creative Labs, talked to us about doubt, technology and the joy of a good failure.
- Lisa Hamilton-Daly, Netflix’s Director of Original Series (Drama) was at Screen Forever, talking about the commissioning process, what they’re looking for, and what they expect from Australian producers. Our report on the session is worth a read.
- Taryne Laffar is an emerging producer from WA. We happened to sit next to her at the SPA Awards, where she was one of the Ones to Watch, and won the SBS First Look grant. She’s also in Screen Australia’s 2019 Developing the Developer initiative. She has bright pink hair, which we mention because her production company is also called Pink Pepper Productions, and this stuck in our minds. No overnight newcomer, she said she’d been working hard for 20 years. Her previous work includes documentaries Who Paintin’ dis Wandjina? (2007) and Rainforest Warriorz (2013). On Country Kitchen (2016) and produced five short docs for NITV. She’s also the head of the Women in Film and Television (WIFT WA) diversity taskforce and we hope to chat to her more soon.
- Exhibitors are understandably in a flap about short theatrical release windows for feature films funded by streamers, and they’re determined to protect the traditional 90-day window. Scorsese’s The Irishman (cinemas now, Netflix 27 Nov) is the eye of the storm.
- We’re watching this trend building: Amazon Prime will host investigative drama feature film The Report (starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening) on 29 Nov, just weeks after its 14 Nov cinema release; Netflix will have The Irishman on 27 Nov, weeks after the 7 Nov cinema release; and Stan will have Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang on 25 Jan, shortly after its big screen outing on the 9th. Watch this space.
- Speaking of The Irishman, our reviewer, Adrian Martin, examines it in precise detail.
- Australian films currently showing in cinemas include The Emu Runner, which Mel Campbell found gentle and moving; documentary Suzi Q, reviewed by Glenn Dunks, and Judy & Punch, which Sarah Ward found impish and anarchic.
ASIAN CINEMA IN AUSTRALIA
- Last night in Brisbane the 13th Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) winners were announced. Here are all the winners.
- Nobody should be surprised or upset that Bong Joon-ho’s international hit Parasite won Best Feature. The Grand Jury Prize went to Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven, which is also Palestine’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards. Suleiman won the APSA award in 2009 for The Time that Remains.
- Australian film, Rodd Rathjen’s Buoyancy, won Best Youth Feature. We’re big fans of this quietly powerful film. Here’s our review, and our interview with Rathjen.
- Here are some numbers that give a sense of scope re APSA: 289 films in competition from 70 countries and areas. 37 films from 22 countries got nominations.
GUILDS & HONOURS
- Australian Screen Composers feel pressured by the international streamers to reduce quality and they don’t like it. We talked to Australian Screen Composers guild (ASC) President Caitlin Yeo about the issues.
- A lesser-known guild, the Casting Guild of Australia runs the annual Casting Guild Awards, recognising the essential art of finding right talent for stage and screen productions. The 2019 CGA Awards will be held in Melbourne on 29 November. The full list of nominees is over here, including Kirsty McGregor & Stevie Ray (Diary of an Uber Driver), Annie Murtagh-Monks (The Heights Series 1), Anousha Zarkesh (Total Control) and Nathan Lloyd (Wentworth Series 7).
- The 2019 Ellie Awards are the annual awards of the Australian Screen Editors Guild, which was formed in 1996 and is the professional body for screen editors and assistants working in everything from feature films and TV to docos, corporates and multimedia. Winners will be announced on Saturday, 7 December in Sydney. Here’s the full list of nominees, including Sean Lahiff (I Am Mother), Dany Cooper ASE (Judy & Punch), Mark Warner ASE (Ladies in Black), and Tim Guthrie (Sequin in a Blue Room).
- We attended the annual Screen Producers’ Awards last week, closing the 2019 Screen Forever Conference. Read our rundown of the night and the winners, including lifetime achievement award winner Anni Browning, an Ludo Studios.
- The 2019 Screen Music Awards were announced on Wednesday night. Screenhub’s David Tiley Tweeted up a storm and wrote this piece. Presented by APRA AMCOS and the Australian Guild of Screen Composers, winners included Dan Luscombe and Antony Partos (Best Feature Film Score of the Year, I Am Mother); Piers Burbrook (Best Soundtrack Album, Little Monsters); and David Bridie (Best Music for a Documentary, Australia’s Lost Impressionist).
- The Australian International Documentary Conference (1-4 March, 2020, State Library Victoria) is rolling out program announcements, speakers and initatives. Here’s one for the podcasters: AIDC and Audible.com are again offering the $10,000 Sound It Out audio documentary initiative. Factual storytellers are invited to submit an idea in any factual genre for a three-to-six-hour original audio doc. Eight will be selected to pitch at the conference. Applications and information can be found here.
- The Bunya Talent Indigenous Hub Los Angeles is open for applications from mid-career Indigenous screen creatives with a big idea for a TV series or feature. Up to 8 Indigenous screen practitioners will be selected to travel to a five-day talent incubator in LA in March 2020. Deadline is 6 December. Applications via Screen Australia.
- Film Vic have partnered with SBS on Pitch to Pilot, a new TV drama development initiative offering up to $40,000 for Victorian writers and producers. Deadline 9 January. Applications via Film Victoria. They say they want ‘bold and noisy’ ideas.
- Filming on the run as a solo shooter, you need to be lean and fast like a panther, versatile like a chameleon, and have lots of arms like an octopus. This know-how piece has a sense of humour: Travelling Light: a solo shooter’s gear guide.
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