Screen Australia, the Australian Federal Government’s key funding body for screen production, has provided AUS$4.15 million (US$3.3 million) in production investment funding to 15 documentaries.
The funding will provide backing to films through Screen Australia’s Documentary Producer and Commissioned programs.
Anchoring the list of projects included in the organization’s final round of funding for the financial year is Beyond Entertainment, Blink TV and Village Roadshow’s Backburning, a theatrical documentary slated to chronicle the life cycle of iconic Australian band Midnight Oil (pictured). The film is produced by Martin Fabinyi and Carolina Sorensen, exec produced by Ron Saunders and Mikael Borglund, and written and directed by Paul Clarke.
Also included are Joined Up Films’ Apex Gang: Behind The Headlines, a companion piece to upcoming SBS drama Sunshine, which examines what it takes to make a multicultural society viable; Foxtel’s Uncharted with Sam Neill from Essential Media & Entertainment and Frame Up Films, which retraces the impact of Captain James Cook’s travels through the Pacific; and Bunya Productions’ Beautiful Minds: The Agents of Change, which documents the expedition of 76 female scientists across Antarctica to interrogate the gender imbalance in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
“Over the past year we have supported 48 documentary titles through our Commissioned and Producer programs, distributing $12 million to the sector,” said Liz Stevens, senior manager of documentary at Screen Australia, in a statement. “Audiences will be able to watch around 98 hours of documentary content funded by Screen Australia on TV, online, at cinemas, film festivals and community screenings.”
To find more information about this round of successful projects, click here.
A handful of funded documentary producer and commissioned projects appear below, with descriptions provided by Screen Australia.
Funded Documentary Producer Projects
- Theatrical documentary Backburning about one of Australia’s most iconic bands, Midnight Oil, from Beyond Entertainment, Blink TV and Village Roadshow. From 1975 until today, this film will look at a changing nation through the eyes of the rock band. It will tell the story of Midnight Oil who, with their uncompromising attitudes, brought political awareness to their music and influenced a whole generation, making them one of the most revered, hated and storied musical acts in Australian history. Produced by Martin Fabinyi and Carolina Sorensen, executive produced by Ron Saunders and Mikael Borglund, and written and directed by Paul Clarke.
- The Backtrack Boys from Infinity Pictures, a character-driven observational documentary about the challenges faced by youth at risk in rural Australia. The feature will follow three teenage boys on the fast track towards juvenile detention before they are taken in by jackaroo Bernie Shakeshaft and his unconventional youth program in Armidale – training working dogs for jumping competitions around rural NSW. Written and directed by Catherine Scott, executive produced by Mitzi Goldman and the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF).
- Feature documentary Beautiful Minds: The Agents of Change from Bunya Productions, which will follow 76 female scientists on board an Antarctic expedition, and interrogate the gender imbalance in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). Produced by Greer Simpkin, executive produced by David Jowsey and directed by Ili Baré, the feature has also secured funding from Create NSW, Good Pitch Australia, the Shark Island Institute and DAF.
- Observational feature documentary White Light – producer/director George Gittoes’ follow up to his 2005 film Rampage, which screened at Berlin, Sydney, Melbourne and Chicago film festivals in 2006. Also produced by Hellen Rose, the film will look at ‘child soldiers’ – teenagers embroiled in the drug wars that pervade the predominantly African-American projects of Miami.
Funded Documentary Commissioned Projects
- Apex Gang: Behind The Headlines from Joined Up Films for SBS – a companion piece to upcoming crime drama series Sunshine. Set in Melbourne’s South Sudanese community it will examine what it takes to make a multicultural society viable. The documentary will be programmed in a similar fashion to the successful double billing of Deep Water and Deep Water: The Real Story in 2016. Produced by Darren Hutchinson, executive produced by Anthony Willinge, Jacqueline Willinge and Daniel Brown, and directed by Nick McInerney.
- Science documentary Can We Save The Reef, which is an exploration of the ground-breaking scientific techniques used by three leading female scientists who hope to provide a solution in the urgent race to save the Great Barrier Reef. The one-hour program produced by Colette Beaudry and directed by Adam Geiger will form a part of the ABC’s new Catalyst program.
- Three-part series Don’t Stop The Music from Artemis Media for the ABC, which will examine the transformational role music can play in educating children by observing the introduction of a music program in a severely disadvantaged school in Western Australia. Executive produced by Celia Tait and Joan Peters, written by Katrina Tudor, and directed by Steve Westh and Ruth Cullen.
- Historical documentary Hawke from Southern Pictures for the ABC, about enigmatic politician Bob Hawke – the beer-swilling larrikin battler who came to power as the most popular Prime Minister of all time and pioneered a defining chapter in Australian politics. Producers Susan Spencer (Four Corners) and Geraldine McKenna (Catalyst), executive producer Laurie Critchley and director Bruce Permezel will use unprecedented access to the former PM to explore the paradoxes of his leadership and his legacy over a two-part television event.
- Newly announced Foxtel series Uncharted with Sam Neill, a co-production between Essential Media & Entertainment (AU) and Frame Up Films (NZ), which will mark the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Australia. Renowned actor Sam Neill will retrace Cook’s travels – from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Tahiti to New Zealand and Australia – to meet the people and places transformed by the master navigator’s multiple expeditions throughout the Pacific. From writer/ producer Owen Hughes, producer Aline Jacques, executive producers Chris Hilton, David Alrich and Sam Neill, writer/director Sally Aitken, and director Kriv Stenders.