Seven projects are receiving backing from Screen Australia, the Australian government’s main funding body for screen production, through two of its programs.
In total, Screen Australia will provide nearly AU$2 million (US$1.5 million) to the documentary projects through the Documentary Producer (AU$462,000) and Documentary Commissioned (AU$1.5 million) programs.
Projects anchoring the Documentary Commissioned category include a sophomore season run of ABC’s successful War on Waste, which focuses on the impact and solutions to material waste in Australia. The series has also attracted funding from Create NSW and will be directed by Jodi Boylan and Sandra Welkerling, with Leonie Lowe serving as executive producer alongside Boylan and David Galloway.
Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder’s Emmy-winning series Go Back to Where You Came From Live will return for a fourth season on SBS. The three-night series will provide an intimate look at the global refugee crisis, delivered in real time. It will be produced by Toni Malone and executive produced by Michael Cordell and Rick McPhee, and has also secured backing from Create NSW.
Finally, Fredbird Entertainment’s two-part television event The Royals Down Under for Australian pubcaster ABC will chart the political history of Australia’s relationship with the British Monarchy. Craig Graham is executive producer and Bernice Toni is director.
Four projects, meanwhile, are being funded via Documentary Producer grants and include Serendipity Productions’ Attention Wars, Ratner&Co’s Little Joe, White Spark Pictures’ The Antarctica Experience and Sue Thomson’s The Coming Back Out Ball: The Movie.
Presented by science-focused YouTube personality Vanessa Hill (pictured), the hour-long Attention Wars examines the claim that the big tech companies are capitalizing on the most centralized form of attention control in human history. Attention Wars will be distributed via SVOD and is produced by Margie Bryant and directed by Kirk Marcolina.
Directed by David Ratner, Little Joe (12 x 8 minutes) will feature true stories of a Lebanese debt collector in Sydney. Executive producers include Janine Hosking and Paul Watters.
The Antarctica Experience, meanwhile, will serve as a 25-minute online VR experience that will provide users with unprecedented access to Antarctica. Ray Predetti executive produces with Briege Whitehead and Phil Harper as producer and co-directors. The project has secured additional support from the Australian Antarctic Division, the West Australian Museum and Screenwest.
Sue Thomson’s feature documentary The Coming Back Out Ball: The Movie will explore the emotional stories of a group of elder LGBTQI+ people as they prepare to attend a ball celebrating their sexual identity. The film is executive produced by Michael McMahon, Shaun Miller and Tony Nagle. Adam Farrington-Williams is producer with co-producers Roger Monk and Tristan Meecham. It has acquired additional funding from Film Victoria, Melbourne International Film Festival and Documentary Australia Foundation, as well as a philanthropic donation from Fade to Black.
“We’re constantly on the lookout for thought-provoking documentaries that tackle powerful subject matter, engaging with audiences on all platforms,” said Liz Stevens, senior manager of documentary at Screen Australia, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to see innovative projects such as Vanessa Hill’s new series Attention Wars in the Producer program as our focus on online and interactive content builds. These new formats are an important complement to the marquee documentary series commissioned by our broadcasting partners, which have proven to be tremendous vehicles for meaningful, national conversation.”