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Screen Australia backs dramas from All3Media, Red Arrow, ITV Studios

ABC drama series Total Control

Dramas distributed internationally by the likes of All3Media, Red Arrow and ITV Studios are among the projects receiving A$12m (US$8m) of production funding from Screen Australia.

The programmes include the six-part third season of Total Control, the ABC drama starring Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths. Distributed by All3Media International, the show is receiving funding from Screen Australia’s First Nations department.

Elsewhere, While the Men are Away (8×30′) is a queer, revisionist historical dramedy from SBS Scripted Originals. Set in 1940s rural Australia, it is being financed with support from Screen Australia as well as Screen NSW, with Red Arrow Studios International managing international sales.

North Shore, meanwhile, is a six-part crime thriller for Paramount in Australia and New Zealand. It has been created by Mike Bullen (Cold Feet) and is directed by Gregor Jordan, with Marcia Gardner writing.

Set on and around Sydney Harbour, the series centres on a clash of cultures between British and Australian detectives as they team up to solve a complex murder mystery and uncover a conspiracy with international political consequences. It is produced by Beach Road Pictures and financed with support from Screen Australia and Screen NSW. It is also produced in association with ITV Studios, which handles international distribution.

Among the children’s projects receiving funding is the 20-episode second season of Rock Island Mysteries for Network 10, which focuses on an irrepressible Aussie teen and her gang of friends. It is produced by Timothy Powell and Jonah Klein of Fremantle Australia and is financed with support from Screen Australia and Screen Queensland, with international sales by Paramount Global.

Also being funded is the 26-part third season of ABC’s The Strange Chores, which comes from Bluey producer Ludo Studio and Media World Pictures. It follows two teenage wannabe monster warrior heroes and a spirited ghost girl who master their skills from an ageing monster hunter by doing his strange supernatural chores.

The series is financed in association with Screen Australia and VicScreen, with support from Screen Queensland, and is distributed globally by Boat Rocker.

Also tapping into the funding are four feature films: psychological horror The Moogai, romantic comedy Addition, psychological thriller Went Up the Hill and romantic comedy Little Bird, which is the first feature from Northern Pictures.

In 2021/22 Screen Australia supplied more than A$44m of production funding for feature films, television dramas and children’s TV. Through the First Nations Department, the agency provided another A$6m to drama productions.

Tony Burke, Australia’s minister for the arts, said: “Showcasing Australian stories – particularly First Nations stories – is a central part of what I want to do as arts minister. Shining a spotlight on Australian stories is so important, not just for those in the arts sector, but all of us as Australians.

“These stories contribute to our national identity and I know these projects will showcase the incredible talent and creativity of our actors, writers, producers, directors and post-production workers – here in Australia and right around the world.”

Screen Australia head of content Grainne Brunsdon added: “We know there is an appetite for fun, joyful drama content in the international market right now and we’re pleased to announce a number of distinct Australian dramedies and romantic comedies that will engage global audiences as part of this mix.

“We are also proud to support Australian creatives expanding their skillset, including Northern Pictures producing their first feature film, Little Bird, and Arcadia bringing to life their first episodic drama with While the Men Are Away for SBS.

“We have a solid pipeline of impressive applications coming through this financial year. In our first round alone, we received applications that exceed our total budget for the entire year, and the remarkable calibre of projects means it’s incredibly competitive.”

Screen Australia’s head of First Nations, Angela Bates, said: “We are proud to announce two premium dramas today, including a new season of Total Control, which continues to not only captivate viewers but also provide important opportunities for emerging filmmakers above and below the line.

“Jon Bell’s short film The Moogai won the Midnight Shorts Jury Prize at SXSW 2021 and now we’re thrilled that he is expanding it as a feature film. These compelling projects explore important themes of intergenerational trauma, colonisation and power.”

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