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17 12 2012 - Media release

Screen Australia investment triggers over $64 million in production

Screen Australia today announced over $11.4 million investment in five feature projects, five adult television drama series and one children’s series, triggering over $64 million in production.

The feature projects include The Darkside, a new film from writer/director Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah), which will give a black perspective on the afterlife. The film is to be produced by Kath Shelper and is supported through Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department. Kriv Stenders (Red Dog) will direct Kill Me Three Times, a black comedic thriller set in an Australian surf town written by James McFarland and produced by Tania Chambers, Laurence Malkin and Share Stallings. Rising talent Kasimir Burgess, whose short Lily won the 2011 Berlinale’s Crystal Bear, will direct his debut feature Fell, a fable of revenge, redemption and renewal. The film is written by Natasha Pincus and produced by John Maynard and Mary Minas with executive producer Bridget Ikin.

Other films to receive production investment are the gritty true crime-thriller Cut Snake from director Tony Ayres (Home Song Stories), writer Blake Ayshford and producers Michael McMahon and Trevor Blainey; and Now Add Honey (p: Wayne Hope, Robyn Butler, Louisa Kors, ep: Greg Sitch, Geoff Porz, Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope, w: Robyn Butler, d: Wayne Hope), a contemporary comedy from the successful television comedy team Wayne Hope and Robyn Butler (The Librarians).

Screen Australia’s Chief Executive Ruth Harley said, “It’s great to end the year investing in such a dynamic range of feature films from a good mix of experienced practitioners and emerging talent.

“I’m thrilled to announce Warwick Thornton’s highly creative and resonant Indigenous story, The Darkside. The smart and stylish thriller Cut Snake comes from a talented and experienced team and Kill Me Three Times is a well-told tale that knows its genre and audience from one of Australia’s most renowned and respected film directors, Kriv Stenders.

Now Add Honey’s laugh-out-loud comedy moments and razor-sharp dialogue will appeal to mainstream audiences of all ages and Fell is a highly original and ambitious film that will be a talent escalator for the director, producer and writer, who have teamed up with one of Australia’s most experienced producers.”

Adult television drama investments include Never Tear Us Apart, a four-hour television event for Channel Seven that tells the true story of Australia’s most successful 80s rock band, INXS. The mini-series is directed by Daina Reid, written by Justin Monjo and Dave Warner and produced by Rory Callaghan and Mark Fennessy.

The Code directed by Shawn Sheet is a six-part fictional thriller series for ABC1 from writers Shelley Birse, Blake Ayshford and Justin Monjo which will be produced by David Maher, David Taylor and Shelley Birse. Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story (p: John Edwards, Mimi Butler, w: David Caesar, Samantha Winston, d: David Caesar) is a two-part mini-series for the Nine Network based on Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer’s power struggle to control newspapers and television. Return to the Devil’s Playground (p: Helen Bowden, Blake Ayshford, ep: Penny Chapman, Simon Burke, Penny Win, w: Blake Ayshford, Cate Shortland, Alice Addison, Tommy Murphy, d: Rachel Ward, Tony Krawitz) is a six-part series for FOXTEL set 35 years after Fred Schepisi’s classic film, The Devil’s Playground. Secrets and Lies: The Track is a six-part crime thriller series for Network Ten from writer Stephen Irwin and producers Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield and Leigh McGrath.

“The five adult TV projects announced today are an eclectic mix of genres, styles and content with a diverse range of talented teams,” said Dr Harley. “These are all high-quality compelling productions, with some iconic Australian stories in there that are sure to resonate broadly with Australian audiences.”

In children’s television, Tashi (p: Jim Ballantine, Barbara Stephen, w: Fin Edquist, David Evans, Cleon Prineas, d: Serg Delfino, Marc Wasik), an animated adaptation of a popular series of books, will be produced for the Seven Network with shared runs on the ABC.

Screen Australia’s investment in television in the 2011/12 financial year has supported the creation of 105 hours of quality broadcast television, generating budgets in excess of $114 million.

FEATURES

CUT SNAKE
Matchbox Pictures
Producers Michael McMahon, Trevor Blainey
Writer Blake Ayshford
Director Tony Ayres
International Sales eOne Entertainment
Australian Distributor Hopscotch eOne Films
Synopsis ‘Sparra’ Farrell has left his secret prison past behind, with a new fiancée and a new life. But he finds it’s a door that is never closed when his newly released cell mate turns up with other ideas.

FELL
Felix Media Pty Ltd
Producers John Maynard, Mary Minas
Executive Producer Bridget Ikin
Story by Kasimir Burgess, Natasha Pincus
Writer Natasha Pincus
Director Kasimir Burgess
International Sales Maze Film Sales, The Yellow Affair
Australian Distributor Footprint Films
Synopsis Set in the primal darkness of the forest, Fell is a fable of revenge, redemption and renewal.

KILL ME THREE TIMES
KM3T Pty Ltd
Producers Tania Chambers, Laurence Malkin, Share Stallings
Executive Producer Jack Drewe
Writer James McFarland
Director Kriv Stenders
International Sales Cargo Entertainment Ltd, William Morris Endeavor (WME)
Australian Distributor Hopscotch eOne Films
Synopsis In a sun-drenched Australian surfing town, a young woman is the thread that binds three tales of murder, blackmail and revenge.

NOW ADD HONEY
Gristmill Pty Ltd
Producers Wayne Hope, Robyn Butler, Louisa Kors
Executive Producers Greg Sitch, Geoff Porz, Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope
Writer Robyn Butler
Director Wayne Hope
International Sales Lightning Entertainment Group
Australian Distributor Roadshow Films
Synopsis Normal life implodes for a suburban family when their popstar cousin comes to stay.

INDIGENOUS FEATURE

THE DARKSIDE
Scarlett Pictures
Producer
 Kath Shelper
Writer/Director Warwick Thornton
Australian Distributor Transmission Films
International Sales TBC
Broadcaster ABC1
Synopsis Aboriginal people live on the threshold of two worlds – one of everyday reality and the other of spirits, demons and entities. Although they might seem stoic and complacent, with the clash of these two worlds the reality is we should all be scared shitless. Director Warwick Thornton has assembled a collection of poignant, sad, funny and absurd ghost tales from across the country and will bring them to life with some of Australia’s most iconic actors being the storytellers. The Darkside gives a black perspective on the afterlife.

ADULT TELEVISION DRAMA

THE CODE
6 x 60 mins
Playmaker Media Pty Ltd
Producers David Maher, David Taylor, Shelley Birse
Writers Shelley Birse, Blake Ayshford, Justin Monjo
Director Shawn Seet
International Sales FremantleMedia Limited
Broadcaster ABC1
Synopsis The Code is a fictional thriller set between the remote Australian desert and the corridors of power in Canberra. A murder in the Outback thrusts two unlikely brothers into an international political conspiracy.

NEVER TEAR US APART
Shine Australia
2 x 120 mins
Producers Rory Callaghan, Mark Fennessy
Director Daina Reid
Writers Justin Monjo, Dave Warner
International Sales Shine International
Broadcaster Seven Network
Synopsis Never Tear Us Apart tells the uncensored story of Australia’s most successful band, INXS. This big, brash and colourful TV drama will chart the rise of six Sydney boys who became the biggest band in the world. A story of mateship, a story of success and excess, talent and sheer bloody will, set to a pulsating soundtrack including all of INXS’s greatest hits.

POWER GAMES: THE PACKER-MURDOCH STORY
Southern Star Entertainment
2 x 120 mins
Producers John Edwards, Mimi Butler
Writers David Caesar, Samantha Winston
Director David Caesar
International Sales Endemol Worldwide Distribution
Broadcaster Nine Network Australia
Synopsis Boy publisher Rupert Murdoch comes to Sydney to take on the Packers in a war for control of newspapers and television.

RETURN TO THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND
Matchbox Pictures
6 x 47 mins
Producers Helen Bowden, Blake Ayshford
Executive Producers Penny Chapman, Simon Burke, Penny Win
Writers Blake Ayshford, Cate Shortland, Alice Addison, Tommy Murphy
Directors Rachel Ward, Tony Krawitz
International Sales NBCUniversal
Broadcaster FOXTEL
Synopsis 1988. Thirty-five years after Fred Schepisi’s film The Devil’s Playground, Tom Allen, now a psychiatrist, becomes a secular confessor to the Catholic clergy, and is soon embroiled in political and theological intrigue.

SECRETS AND LIES: THE TRACK
Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd
6 x 43 mins
Producers Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield, Leigh McGrath
Writer Stephen Irwin
Director TBA
International Sales Cineflix
Broadcaster Network Ten
Synopsis Ben is an innocent man who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a four-year-old boy. As his world falls apart, he desperately tries to find the real killer… at stake is his marriage, his kids, his reputation and his sanity.

CHILDREN’S TELEVISION DRAMA

TASHI
Buzz Studios
52 x 11 mins
Producers Jim Ballantine, Barbara Stephen
Writers Fin Edquist, David Evans, Cleon Prineas
Directors Serg Delfino, Marc Wasik
International Sales Wavery Productions BV
Broadcasters Seven Network (first run), ABC (shared runs)
Synopsis When young Jack is bundled off and sent to stay with distant relatives in a far off land, he has no idea quite how much his life is about to change.

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