Screen Australia has announced $1 million of development funding for seven features, 16 television dramas and five online projects.
The projects include Drum Wave, a new thriller from the team behind Relic; Mid Life, a follow up to Luke Eve’s drama High Life; and an online comedy about Dungeons and Dragons called Dragon Friends: Dream Killers.
Screen Australia’s Head of Development Nerida Moore said, “It’s great to see producers thinking globally and developing unique stories for Australian audiences and the world. We’re excited to support these original story ideas, many with distinct storyworlds and fantastic comedic imaginations that I’m confident will resonate. We’re also proud to fund children’s programs that will entertain and help navigate life’s big lessons with the likes of Andrew the Big BIG Unicorn.”
THE LATEST PROJECTS FUNDED FOR DEVELOPMENT INCLUDE:
- Andrew the Big BIG Unicorn: A children’s television series about a sweet-hearted purple rhino called Andrew. Living with his adoptive parents in a world full of unicorns, Andrew grapples with growing up a bit different to his peers. This animated series from Pirate Size productions sees writer Dan Nixon team up with storyboard artist Alyssa Smedley. It will be produced by Bryony McLachlan and executive produced by Avrill Stark (The Deep).
- Dragon Friends: Dream Killers: A six-part online animation/live action hybrid which follows friends Gabe, Ally, Mike and Eddie who get banned from their local trivia night. In need of a new activity to keep the splintering friendship group together, they leave their real life behind and enter the world of Dungeons and Dragons. This adventure comedy is created by the team behind The Dragon Friends podcast, with writer/director David Harmon and writers Edan Lacey, Alexandra Lee, Michael Hing, Ben Jenkins and Simon Greiner. It will be produced by Lacey, Jenkins, Shakeera Khan and Grace Rein.
- Drum Wave: A feature film from the team behind Relic which debuted at Sundance 2020, with writer/director Natalie Erika James, producers Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw of Carver Films and writer Christian White. Based on James’ short film of the same name, this thriller follows young pianist Yumi who marries her fiancé, Hiroshi, on the remote island he grew up on. There she discovers a community with bizarre and increasingly threatening fertility rituals, and is forced to confront her fear of motherhood.
- Mid Life: A six-part online drama from director Luke Eve, whose series Cancelled won the The Grand Jury Prize at Marseille Web Fest in 2020, and writer Anna Lindner. In a follow up to Eve’s series High Life and Low Life, Mid Life centres on Claire, a highly acclaimed artist who appears to have achieved the perfect life balance as mother, wife and creative. But when everyone suddenly leaves her for better offers, a new acquaintance – acute anxiety – is more than happy to fill every role available. This project will be produced by Eve and Gina Carter (High Life).
- Over My Dead Body: A six-part television series about a Muslim woman named Rana who is haunted by her recently deceased, conservative mother Hayat. With Hayat’s spirit mysteriously earthbound, Rana’s freshly-independent lifestyle is exposed, forcing mother and daughter to connect in unexpected ways – but thank goodness Hayat is already dead, otherwise they’d kill each other. This comedy drama will be written by Amal Awad, who is joined in the writers room by Jane Allen (Janet King), Kacie Anning (The Other Guy) and Adele Vuko (Over and Out).
- We Ate Jeff: A dark television comedy about a group of four strangers who survive a plane crash in the desert and reluctantly eat the dead pilot on day one. To their surprise they are rescued later that afternoon and they resolve to cover up their terrible secret. Developing the series will be writers Nick Musgrove (How to Stay Married), Nicolette Minster (The Legend of Burnout Barry) and Anna Barnes (Retrograde), creative producer Nick Russell (Let’s Break ‘Em Up!) and executive producer Damian Davis (Mr Black). The set-up director is Catriona McKenzie (Tidelands).
- Went Up The Hill: A feature film from writer/director Samuel Van Grinsven and writer Jory Anast who previously teamed up on their debut feature Sequin in a Blue Room, winner of Audience Award: Best Narrative Feature at Sydney Film Festival. This psychological thriller centres on Jack, who ventures to remote New Zealand to attend the funeral of his estranged birth mother and meets her grieving widow. But his search for answers becomes dangerous when his mother’s ghost returns to inhabit both her son and widow, instigating a life-threatening nocturnal dance between the three of them. The creative team also features producers Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films (The Babadook, Cargo), and New Zealand producer Vicky
FUNDING APPROVALS 2020-2021 TELEVISION DEVELOPMENT
Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre Drama, Crime
Writer Sarah Bassiouni
Producer Sheila Jayadev
Executive Producer Debbie Lee
Synopsis When a civilian bystander dies during a police pursuit, the lives of the pursued and the pursuer are thrown into turmoil.
Cheeky Little Media Pty Ltd
Genre Action adventure, Comedy, Science fiction
Creator Darren Keating
Writer Ray Boseley
Producer Celine Goetz
Executive Producers Patrick Egerton, David Webster
Synopsis The most important duck in history, yanked into the future by time-travelling rebels on a mad scramble to the ends of the Earth… And the beginnings of something big!
FIVE BEDROOMS SEASON 3
Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Christine Bartlett, Michael Lucas, Mithila Gupta
Producers Nathan Mayfield, Tracey Robertson
Executive Producers Nathan Mayfield, Tracey Robertson
Synopsis In season three the weight of the world bears down on the house, triggering both painful betrayal, and powerful new shows of strength and commitment— but will they prevail as a collective?
PRINCESS PRIME MINISTER
Writers Tim Bain, Charlotte Rose Hamlyn
Synopsis In a fabulous mythological medieval realm, a democratically-elected princess solves fairytale-style crises, as she blossoms into a strong, wise and empathetic leader.
Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd
Writers Matt Cameron, Liz Doran
Producer Jason Stephens
Executive Producer Helen Bowden
Synopsis Devotion. is a drama about a high-profile family, as they grapple with morality, money, and family loyalty.
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Hannah Carroll Chapman, Romina Accurso, Briar Grace-Smith
Producer Warren Clarke
Executive Producer Penny Chapman
Synopsis Inspired by the hit ABC podcast Snowball, this is the story of how a swank Yankee con-artist scammed a naïve New Zealand family and what happened when they went in pursuit.
THE RICH MAN’S HOUSE
Genre Thriller, Mystery, Science fiction
Writer Alexei Mizin, Ryan van Dijk
Executive Producer Nat Lindwall
Synopsis When an avalanche traps Rita in an eccentric billionaire’s mountaintop mansion, she must confront the ghosts of her past to escape a powerful supernatural foe. Fusing Agatha Christie with Stephen King, and based on Andrew McGahan’s final novel, The Rich Man’s House is a series about wealth, ego and mankind’s fractured relationship with the natural world.
Princess Pictures Pty Ltd
Writer/Director Michael Shanks
Producers Laura Waters, Mike Cowap
Executive Producer Emma Fitzsimons
Synopsis After trading their social lives for a mortgage, a not-so-young-anymore couple move to the country to begin the next step of their strained relationship. Whilst settling into their new home, they contract an unexplainable illness – an infection that causes intense physical horrors the further apart they are. Now to survive they must separate before they become a single, new being – unable to determine where one of their bodies ends and the other’s begins.
Rainfall Entertainment Pty Ltd
Genre Action adventure, Drama
Writers Maryam Master, Felicity Packard, Greg Haddrick
Producer Louisa Kors
Executive Producer Greg Haddrick
Synopsis In 1948 Dick Helms and Eloise Page joined the CIA as young idealists, determined to collect the Intelligence needed to plan targeted operations that would soon see the entire world filled with enlightened, peaceful, American-led democracies. So what happened?
ANDREW THE BIG BIG UNICORN
Pirate Size Productions Australia Pty Ltd
Writer Dan Nixon
Producer Bryony McLachlan
Executive Producer Avrill Stark
Synopsis A creative and sweet hearted rhinoceros named Andrew grapples with growing up a bit different to his peers.
SEEN (formerly BROWN SKIN GIRL)
Roadshow Rough Diamond
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea, Angela Nica Sullen, Sopa Enari, Jessica Tuckwell
Producers Dan Edwards, John Edwards
Synopsis It’s hard being mixed race in white spaces; especially when you (unintentionally) get mixed up in all sorts of drama. Follow Ayeesha, Emily and Angela as they glide (and sometimes elbow) their way through life in Sydney, as they struggle to maintain their hair and their sisterhood, dodging toxic relationships and trying not to let ‘where are you from?’ ruin their days.
OVER MY DEAD BODY
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Amal Awad, Jane Allen, Kacie Anning, Adele Vuko
Synopsis A Muslim woman’s newly-independent life is disrupted by the ghost of her recently-deceased, conservative mother, whose supernatural presence is a mystery to both.
SICK TO DEATH
Everyone We Know, Rhapsody Films
Genre Comedy, Drama
Creator / Writer Thomas Wilson-White
Producers Lizzie Cater, Alice Willison
Executive Producer Justine Flynn
Script Editor Jean Tong
Synopsis When both of his mothers are diagnosed with terminal cancer, Chance, a self-involved queer playwright is forced to abandon his burgeoning career and return to his childhood home to become their full-time carer.
SORRY ABOUT THE MESS
Princess Pictures Animation Pty Ltd
Genre Comedy, Fantasy, Animation
Writer Cassie Workman
Producers Mike Cowap, Sarah Lang
Synopsis Lilly Peril, a cynical transgender punk-rocker, begins to lose her grip on reality when she is rejected by her mother. In this mind-bending animated comedy series, Lilly navigates heartbreak, new love, transition and a boss in the witness protection program in pursuit of her most honest life.
Genre Comedy, Drama
Writers Vanessa Bates, Ross Mueller
Synopsis Three suburban middle-aged women reform their teenage rock band, Troubled Youth, to rage against the dying of the light.
WE ATE JEFF
Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd in association with Tandem Media
Creators Nick Musgrove, Nick Russell
Director Catriona McKenzie
Writers Nick Musgrove, Nicolette Minster, Anna Barnes
Executive Producer Damian Davis
Synopsis A group of strangers survive a plane crash in the desert and reluctantly eat the dead pilot. To their surprise, they are rescued later that afternoon. They resolve to cover up their terrible secret.