Screen Australia, the Australian federal government’s key funding body for screen production, has provided AU$3.5 million (US$2.5 million) in production investment funding to 18 documentaries.
The funding will provide backing to films through Screen Australia’s Documentary Producer and Commissioned programs.
The organization’s final round of funding for the financial year saw AU$1,385,000 in production funding distributed through its Producer program, and $2,165,000 through its Commissioned program. An additional $140,000 was provided in development funding to 10 documentaries.
“We continue to be blown away by the ability of Australian documentary makers to connect and move audiences with complex human stories and issues of the moment,” said Bernadine Lim, head of documentary at Screen Australia. “What’s in development gives us a sense of pipeline, and in the most recent round we had more than double the normal amount of applications, and the caliber of projects was very strong.
“I’m also pleased to see Australian documentary makers continue to tackle international stories, sharing our perspective on the world around us,” she added.
Anchoring the list of projects in the Producer program is the Rush Films feature-length documentary Under the Volcano (pictured), which documents the seminal role in which Air Studios Montserrat, the acclaimed Caribbean recording studio built by Beatles producer Sir George Martin, played in the world of music. The archive-driven film is produced by Cody Greenwood and Richard Harris, and directed by Gracie Otto. Screenwest also provided development funding for the project.
Also included in the Producer category are feature-length documentaries from acclaimed directors Amanda Blue and Emma Macey-Storch.
Blue’s Jelena: Unbreakable (Cordell Jigsaw Productions), chronicles the life and career of former Australian tennis star Jelena Dokic. The doc is produced by Andrew Farrell.
Macey-Storch’s Geeta (Colour Films), meanwhile, details the story of an Indian acid attack survivor who goes on to campaign for change in her community. Adam Farrington-Williams is producer. Geoffrey Smith is executive producer. Film Victoria provided development funding.
Elsewhere, the Commissioned tract has provided investment funding to Mint Pictures’ The Pool, a two-part docuseries for Australian pubcaster ABC, directed by Sally Aitkin and produced by Dan Goldberg, which dives into the social, historical and political role the swimming pool plays within Australian society and psyche; ABC’s tentatively titled two-part docuseries Silent No More from Southern Pictures, which sets out to reveal the story of Australia’s hidden epidemic of workplace sexual harassment, directed by Anita Brown and exec produced by Laurie Critchley; and the hour-long obs doc The Artful Dissident (working title) from Identity Films for the ABC. Details about the film will be revealed at a later date. The film is being directed and co-produced by Danny Ben-Moshe, with financing support from Film Victoria.
To find more information about this round of successful projects, click here.
A selection of funded documentary producer and commissioned projects appear below, with descriptions provided by Screen Australia.
Funded Documentary Producer Projects
- Milkman: The story of Luke Davies – poet, author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter – whose semi-autobiographical novel Candy and its big screen adaptation placed him at the intersection of fiction and his own reality. Milkman tells the story of a life still being written. Davies is now one of Hollywood’s most in demand writers and is working on the TV series adaptation of Catch 22 starring George Clooney. His film credits include award-winning Australian feature Lion, and Beautiful Boy. Eddie Martin (Have You Seen the Listers) and Davies are co-directing the project with Sarah Shaw (Snowtown) producing. Executive producers are Anna McLeish (Sunshine), Richard Payten (Sweet Country), Andrew Mackie (Candy) and Davies.
- My Big Fat Italian Kitchen: A delicious feel good story from Yarra Bank Films. Written and directed by Trevor Graham (Monsieur Mayonnaise) this feature documentary follows Antonio de Benedetto an Italian chef on a quest to change the world with food. His apprentices are aspiring chefs with Down syndrome who travel from across Italy to train and work in hospitality and take their place at the table of life and find their pathway to freedom and independence.
- No Time for Quiet: A feature documentary from Film Camp which follows a group of teenagers who find their voice through a unique rock ‘n’ roll community. Written and directed by Hylton Shaw and Samantha Dinning (Guardians of the Strait) and produced by Philippa Campey (Galore), it looks at three participants of the inaugural Girls Rock! Melbourne camp and how they find their sense of belonging and identity through music. Film Victoria provided development funding for this project.
- The Burnside Conversations: A 10-part short documentary series from Rymer Childs Productions featuring Julian Burnside in conversation with some of the world’s leading defenders of human rights in the West. With asylum as their focus, they share their future predictions, frustrations and fears about where the world is heading. The series will be produced and directed by Judy Rymer who recently made the feature documentary Border Politics.
Funded Documentary Commissioned Projects
- Body Hack 3.0: An eight-part series from Essential Media for Network 10 following Todd Sampson on a mission to investigate the most extraordinary people on the planet to see what we can learn from their lives. The series is co-written by Jeff Siberry and Todd Sampson who worked together previously on Body Hack series one and two. Jeff Siberry will direct the series, while Chris Hilton (The Go-Betweens: Right Here) and David Alrich (The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook, With Sam Neil) will work alongside Sampson as executive producers.
- Employable Me Season Two: A new three-part series of the critically acclaimed Employable Me from Northern Pictures will return to the ABC in 2019. The series will follow the stories of nine people with disabilities as they battle to find work. The series will be directed by Cian O’Clery and produced by Jenni Wilks, with Karina Holden on board as executive producer.
- Love on the Spectrum: A four-part series for the ABC from Northern Pictures that looks at relationships and dating for those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The uplifting series draws on relationship coaching to help young people with neuro-diverse conditions find love and shift the public perception of disability. The series is being produced by the team behind the acclaimed ABC series Employable Me including Cian O’Clery, Karina Holden, and Jenni Wilks.