Screen Australia announced development funding of over $620,000 for 16 feature films and professional development opportunities for two emerging filmmakers. This round will see some talented Australian writers, directors and producers heading home for a while.

Hollywood is awash with Australians doing great things behind the camera. Less visible but in high regard, they represent some stellar creative talent, which was nurtured in the local industry before hitting the big time. Many are now splitting their careers between Australia and the U.S., making time to return and develop new projects on home ground.

Below are some exceptional Australian talent doing just that.

Bruna Papandrea (Wild and Milk) will produce Addition with Cristina Pozzan (Return Home). Papandrea is the executive producer of Gone Girl and co-founder of production company, Pacific Standard, with Reese Witherspoon. Harry Cripps will write and Kate Dennis (Offspring and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) will direct the romantic comedy.

Academy Award nominee/winner Ben Lewin (The Sessions) is developing a biopic about notorious Australian composer and pianist, Percy Grainger, titled Blue Rose. In addition to directing, Lewin will write the film with Wain Fimeri, and Chryssy Tintner, Jan Eymann, Judi Levine (The Sessions), Mark Lazarus and Gary Hamilton (Bait 3D) will produce.

Jeffrey Walker (Banished – four episodes) will return to Australia to direct Dance Academy: The Comeback. Walker was working on Amy Poehler’s new comedy, Difficult People, for Hulu in the U.S. International Emmy nominee, producer Joanna Werner(Dance Academy), will adapt the popular ABC family TV series into film. Young ballerina, Tara, will return to screens pursuing her dream to be a star. AWGIE winner for Best Children’s TV, Sam Strauss (Dance Academy), will write.

Other exciting development grants include:

Support for the Academy Award–winning producers of The King’s Speech and Emmy nominees for Top of the Lake, Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, who will work on a political thriller with producer Rachel Gardner (Slow West). Los Alamos, set in the 1940s, follows a disgraced intelligence operative, thrown into a world of political espionage when he investigates a murder at Los Alamos – a high-security military base. Joining the team again is Lion writer Luke Davies. The same production team will also develop The North Wind with Alice Addison, one of the writers on feature film The Hunter and TV mini-series Devil’s Playground.

Venice Film Festival winner, Amiel Courtin-Wilson (Ruin and Hail), will write, produce and direct thriller drama, Hawkwood. The visceral story, set in the backwaters of Africa, tells the tale of an ageing mercenary’s transcendental journey from chaos to grace.

Australian novelists and playwrights will also get a chance to shine in this new slate of feature films. Works by Joanna Murray-Smith, Peter Robb and Peter Carey will all be adapted for the silver screen.

Dirty Deeds producers, Bryan Brown (Gods of EgyptDeadline Gallipoli) and Deb Balderstone, will continue to develop Joanna Murray-Smith’s dramatic comedy, Palm Beach.

Peter Robb’s novella is the basis of Pig’s Blood, about a young man from Naples sent to Australia to settle an old family score. When he arrives, a young, fun suburban girl distracts him and his original plan with a scheme of her own – to kill her stepfather. Jannine Barnes will produce the film and Grant Scicluna, winner of two Berlin International Film Festival awards for his short, The Wildling, will write and direct.

Top of the Lake writer, Gerard Lee, will adapt Peter Carey’s novel, Theft: A Love Story, in which a man leaves jail and tries to revive his former life as a famous artist. He faces the challenge of changing times, which drives him to swindle and forge. Alicia Brown,Melanie Coombs and Mish Armstrong will produce Theft.

The Talent Escalator programme will offer emerging directors Corrie Chen and Billie Pleffer an opportunity to work with industry experts to gain firsthand practical experience. Corrie will work as a director’s attachment to Shawn Seet on the Channel 7 mini-series Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door. Billie will be attached to director Glendyn Ivin(GallipoliPuberty BluesLast Ride) on the six-part miniseries The Beautiful Lie.

“Today’s funding announcement sees internationally based, award-winning Australian talent returning home to develop bold and original local stories. It’s an exciting range of films that will draw interest from all ages, celebrate Australian icons and tell unique Australian stories. It is also fabulous to have two very talented emerging directors placed with leading productions and experts in the industry, allowing them the opportunity to nurture their professional development,” said Nerida Moore, Screen Australia’s Senior Development Executive.

Below is the full funding list and further information about each project and placement.


Genre Drama, Romantic Comedy 
Producers Bruna Papandrea, Cristina Pozzan 
Director Kate Dennis 
Writer Harry Cripps 
Synopsis A romantic comedy about an extraordinary woman and an ordinary man.

Genre Drama 
Producers Chryssy Tintner, Jan Eymann, Judi Levine, Mark Lazarus, Gary Hamilton 
Executive Producer Mike Gabrawy 
Director Ben Lewin 
Writers Ben Lewin, Wain Fimeri 
Synopsis Once regarded as the world’s greatest pianist, an elderly Percy Grainger reflects on his youth, when his young heart yearned for freedom and his Swedish love, Ella, while it was bound to his fragile mother, Rose.

Genre Family 
Producer Joanna Werner 
Director Jeffrey Walker 
Writer Sam Strauss 
Synopsis Former ballet student Tara Webster needs to find the courage to return from a crippling injury in order to fulfil her destiny as a star ballerina.