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Brilliant Stories funding

Sweet Jane

Paul Bennett Producer / Writer

Paul Bennett is Head of Drama at CJZ. He began his career in film as a staff writer on the SBS strip drama Going Home. For two years he developed new television dramas for BBHTV including the 13-part children’s series Ocean Star, which he wrote for and script edited in 2002. After working as a script editor on McLeod’s Daughters, Paul was offered a position at Network Ten as deputy to Sue Masters, Head of Drama. In his capacity as Network Drama Executive he worked on The Secret Life of Us, Neighbours, Blackjack, Small Claims, The Cooks, The Incredible Journey Of Mary Bryant, The Surgeon, The Society Murders, Tripping Over, Bombali and Murder In The Outback – The Joanne Lees Story. He has been Head of Drama at CJZ since Nov 2008 where he wrote and produced the tele-movie The Great Mint Swindle (2012) and the mini-series House of Hancock (2015), both for the Nine Network. He is Executive Producing the sci-fi series Cul De Sac, currently in post-production and will air on TVNZ in 2016 – as well as producing the mini-series Bond about the life of entrepreneur Alan Bond for Channel Nine’s 2016 season.

Jennifer Leacey Director

Jennifer graduated from AFTRS in 2010 and was the recipient of the FOXTEL Scholarship in her year. Her graduating film Connection went on to screen at international film festivals including Palm Springs, Bristol and New York and her debut project Dodge was shortlisted at Tropfest in 2008.  Following graduation Jennifer directed and produced a web series in support of the W Channel / Southern Star produced series Spirited (season two). Previously she worked on series such as Lockie Leonard (Goalpost Pictures) and My Place (Matchbox Pictures) as first assistant director. Jennifer has also had an extensive career in assistant directing spanning an array of feature films. In the more specific roles of director of splinter and satellite units Jennifer was on board the Baz Luhrmann features The Great Gatsby and Australia. Recent television work includes multiple episodes of Wonderland (Series one and two), the ADG nominated telemovie Mary: The Making of A Princess and episodes of Wanted starring Rebecca Gibney. Jen is currently working on Playmaker’s new series The Wrong Girl for Network Ten.

Samantha Strauss Writer

Samantha Strauss co-created teen drama series Dance Academy, which screens in over 160 countries. It has been nominated for two International Emmys and won the Most Outstanding Children’s Series Logie awards in 2012 and 2013. Samantha was head writer across the 65 episodes, writing 25 episodes and script editing and storylining the others. Samantha has been individually nominated for five Australian Writer’s Guild Awards and won twice. She’s been nominated for two NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2011 and 2014. In 2015 Samantha wrote Mary: The Making of a Princess, a telemovie produced by Fremantle Media, which was the highest rating drama on Network Ten in over a year. In the past she has worked as a freelance scriptwriter on drama series including Wonderland and Offspring (also for Network Ten). As a feature film writer, Samantha has written Dance Academy: The Movie, directed by Jeffrey Walker and distributed by Studio Canal. She has been funded by Screen Australia to adapt B Model, a teen film produced by Louise Smith and Rachel Griffiths. She has also been commissioned to write Sheila, produced by Revlover and Goalpost Pictures, based on the bestselling book by Robert Wainwright.

Ally Burnham Writer

Ally Burnham first made her mark when in 2010 she was selected as a top 10 finalist for the Bell Shakespeare Stage for Life competition. The following year she was selected for the Sydney Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights Residency Programme. Her Play, I Killed Kennedy Vincent, was selected as one of the ten best from applicants across NSW in her age range. In 2013, Ally won the writer’s position in the Australian-wide young filmmakers competition, ‘The Shoot’, hosted by NIDA and Samsung. The project saw the creation of her short film The Pilgrim Report, under the mentorship of Baz Luhrmann, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House during its 40th Anniversary Celebrations. It was also during this time in which Ally, partnering with 18 Degrees Entertainment, received her first feature film credit for the comedy-gangster film Nice Package. In 2014 she wrote and direct the short film, 2.0. The film celebrated a fruitful festival run during 2015, appearing in competition at seven international film festivals including; The SoCal Creative and Innovative film festival, The Boston Sci-fi Film Festival and Phoenix film festival.  In 2016, Ally graduated from NIDA with a Masters in Fine Arts, Writing for Performance. During her Masters, Ally specifically studied writing for long-form and television, producing de Havilland Rose, a six-part television miniseries, as her major work. Since graduation, Ally has found work with a local Sydney television company, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder, and has begun learning the ins and outs of the writer’s room as she takes her first steps into the Australian television industry.

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