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13 05 2015 - Media release

Simon Baker back in Australia to make Tim Winton’s Breath

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Screen Australia will invest $13.4 million in 12 new feature film and television projects which will instigate production to the value of $64.3 million. This round will see Simon Baker (The Mentalist, Margin Call) return to Australia to make his directorial feature film debut. Baker will reimagine and star in the screen adaptation of Tim Winton’s bestselling novel, Breath.

Making the announcement from Cannes, France, Simon Baker said, “When I first read Breath, I knew I had to somehow make the film. The gathering storm of the story, detailed and intimate against the power and scope of the rugged setting, struck me as incredibly cinematic. I’m beyond excited to be back in Australia realising this dream.”

Baker has been living and working in Los Angeles for 18 years, and is known most recently for his starring role in The Mentalist. From 2009 to 2014, Baker directed numerous episodes of The Mentalist and was also a producer on the show. Baker’s many film roles have seen him work with the likes of Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese and George Romero.

Award-winning author Tim Winton is notorious for his remarkable ability to tell exhilarating stories with courage. The screen version of the well-known Australian novel will bring to life teenagers, Pikelet and Loonie, hungry for discovery, who form an unlikely bond with a reclusive surfer and his mysterious wife. The film will transport audiences back to coastal Australian life in the 1970s.

See Pictures and Gran Via Productions will team up with Baker, who will also produce the film. Hollywood luminary and Oscar® and Emmy® Award–winning producer Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad, The Notebook, Rain Man) and Jamie Hilton (Backtrack, The Little Death, The Waiting City) will also produce. Top of the Lake writer, Gerard Lee, will adapt the script for screen. Arclight Films will run international sales.

The latest Screen Australia Production Investment program round will see support given to two intense thrillers that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats. Berlin Syndrome, the eagerly anticipated third film from multi-award winning filmmaker Cate Shortland (Somersault), is about a holiday romance that turns sinister. And Damien Power’s feature debut, Killing Ground, sees a young couple’s camping trip turn into a violent ordeal.

Two comedies that will have audiences in stitches will receive support. Doug Anthony All Star, Tim Ferguson, and Marc Gracie (producer of The Craic) will make comedy Circle Work (working title), which sees the shenanigans of two friends, Lucy and Billy, unfold at a wild Bachelors & Spinsters Ball.

Anupam Sharma’s cross-cultural romantic comedy starring Brett Lee, unINDIAN, will exemplify the heart of multicultural Australia, with Lee’s character falling for an Australian Indian woman with strict parents.

The program will support seven television projects – five adult and two children’s.

From the makers of The Slap TV series comes the screen adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel, Barracuda. The four-part series follows young Olympic hopeful Danny Kelly as he deals with the pressure of obsession.

Crime drama Deep Water is a gripping story that explores a world in which the threat of violence or death is only one encounter away.

Two biopics will receive support – nourishing Australian audiences’ healthy appetite and interest in real-life stories. Peter Brock is a two-part series about the loved and admired racing identity, who was a hero to a generation of Australians.

From the makers of Better Man, telemovie Mary: Making of a Princess will tell the celebrated love story of Mary Donaldson’s transformation from ordinary Australian working woman into the Crown Princess of Denmark.

John Edwards’ latest drama, Tips for Married Life, is a six-part series about a woman’s journey of survival from housewife to taking over her husband’s criminal empire.

Two popular live action children’s drama series will receive support. Top-rating television series Nowhere Boys: The Rise of Bear will be made into a telemovie that see the boys drawn together for one last spell. And Tomorrow When the War Began, based on the extremely popular book series, will be made into a six-part TV series. The story will see a group of teenagers fight for their family and homeland, when a large hostile force invades their country. In 2010, the film version of the same name was the number one Australian film at the local box office.

Screen Australia’s Head of Production, Sally Caplan, said, “It is exciting to announce this round out of Cannes, where there is a huge market response to Simon. It is especially gratifying that he is choosing to come back home to make this symbolic Australian story. We are equally delighted to support an excellent and diverse range of films from new and proven directors and more impressive stories for the small screen for both adult and younger audiences.”

FEATURE FILMS: PRODUCTION FUNDING

BERLIN SYNDROME
Aquarius Films Pty Ltd

Producer Polly Staniford
Executive Producers Angie Fielder, Troy Lum, David Whealy
Director Cate Shortland
Writer Shaun Grant
Australian Distributor eOne
International Sales Memento Films International
Cast Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt
Synopsis A passionate holiday romance takes an unexpected and sinister turn when an Australian photographer wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

BREATH
See Pictures Pty Ltd, Gran Via Productions, Breath Productions Pty Ltd

Producers Mark Johnson, Simon Baker, Jamie Hilton
Director Simon Baker
Writer Gerard Lee
Australian Distributor Palace Films
International Sales Arclight Films
Synopsis Based on Tim Winton’s award-winning novel set in mid-70s coastal Australia. Two teenage boys, hungry for discovery, form an unlikely bond with a reclusive surfer and his mysterious wife. The boys are driven to take risks that will have a profound and lasting impact on their lives.

CIRCLE WORK (working title)
Stella Rose Productions with Redman Entertainment
Producers
Marc Gracie, David Redman
Executive Producers Stephen Basil-Jones, Bryce Menzies
Directors Tim Ferguson, Marc Gracie
Writers Edwina Exton, Tim Ferguson
Australian Distributor Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions
International Sales Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions
Synopsis At a wild Bachelors & Spinsters Ball two best mates, Lucy and Billy, have one night to discover their love for each other… Love is a Cattlefield.

KILLING GROUND
Hypergiant Films Pty Ltd

Producer Joe Weatherstone
Executive Producer Lisa Shaunessy
Writer/Director Damien Power
Australian Distributor Mushroom Distribution
International Sales Films Distribution
Synopsis A young couple’s camping trip turns into a violent ordeal when they stumble across the scene of a shocking crime.

unINDIAN
Producers
Anupam Sharma, Lisa Duff
Executive Producers Mr Devendra Gupta, Mr Chandru Tolani
Director Anupam Sharma
Writer Thushy Sathi
Australian Distributor Friends India Entertaainment
Cast Tannishtha Chatterjee, Brett Lee, Supriya Pathak Kapur, John Howard, Adam Dunn, Arka Das, Tiriel Mora
Synopsis When beautiful divorcee Meera meets Will, she finds it hard to resist the tall blonde man with a charming smile… But her family has other ideas in mind, as falling in love with an Australian is not only scandalous – it’s unINDIAN! A cross-cultural comedy with heart and spice.

TELEVISION: ADULT DRAMA

BARRACUDA
Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd

Producer Amanda Higgs, Tony Ayres
Writers Belinda Chayko, Blake Ayshford
Broadcaster ABC
Domestic/International Sales Universal Media Studios International Limited
Synopsis Based on the book of the same name by Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda follows young Olympic hopeful, Danny Kelly, as he deals with the pressure of obsession.

DEEP WATER
Blackfella Films

Producers Miranda Dear, Darren Dale
Writers Kris Wyld, Kym Goldsworthy
Broadcaster SBS
International Sales DCD Rights
Synopsis A gripping crime drama that explores a world in which the threat of violence or death is only one encounter away.

MARY: MAKING OF A PRINCESS
FremantleMedia Australia Pty Ltd

Producer Antonia Barnard
Executive Producers Jo Porter, Anthony Ellis
Director Jennifer Leacey
Writer Samantha Strauss
Broadcaster Network Ten
Domestic/International Sales FremantleMedia International Ltd
Synopsis Twenty-eight-year-old Mary Donaldson has all but given up on love when one night she goes to the pub and meets a prince. But falling in love is the easy part, compared to what it takes for an Australian girl to become the future Crown Princess of Denmark.

PETER BROCK (working title)
Shine (Aust) Pty Ltd

Producer Kerrie Mainwaring
Executive Producer Rory Callaghan
Director Geoff Bennett
Writers Justin Monjo, Adam Todd
Broadcaster Network Ten
Domestic/International Sales Endemol Shine International
Synopsis This is the true story of a man who was a hero to a generation of Australians. Loved and admired by many, but few knew the real Peter Brock – what made him tick?

TIPS FOR MARRIED LIFE
Endemol Australia Pty Ltd

Producer Mimi Butler
Executive Producers Janeen Faithfull, John Edwards
Writer Justin Monjo
Broadcaster Nine Network
Domestic/International Sales Endemol Shine International
Synopsis A grieving career wife has to wise up and fight for survival when she finds herself responsible for her dead husband’s criminal debts and wrongdoings.

TELEVISION: CHILDREN’S DRAMA

NOWHERE BOYS: THE RISE OF BEAR
Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd

Producer Beth Frey
Executive Producers Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon
Writers Tony Ayres, Rhys Graham, Craig Irvin
Broadcaster ABC TV
Domestic Sales Australian Children’s Television Foundation
International Sales Universal Pictures (Australasia), NBCUniversal Television Distribution
Cast Dougie Baldwin, Joel Lok, Rahart Adams, Matt Testro
Synopsis As a devastating magical being threatens to destroy the multiverse, the Nowhere Boys discover that to save everything and everyone that they love, they must make the ultimate sacrifice… themselves.

TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN
Ambience Entertainment Pty Ltd

Producers Michael Boughen, Tony Winley
Executive Producers Matthew Street, Kim Vecera, Christopher Mapp
Director Brendan Maher
Writers Blake Ayshford, Alice Addison, Justin Monjo, Josh Mapleston
Broadcaster ABC3
Australian Distributor ABC Commercial
International Sales Annapurna Pictures
Synopsis When their country is invaded by a large hostile force, a group of teenagers fight for their family and homeland. Based on the era-defining novels by John Marsden.

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