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Screen Australia bolsters content department, invests in online projects

YouTube series No Ordinary Love

Australian funding agency Screen Australia is adding Andrea Ulbrick, a former commissioning editor at ABC’s factual unit, to its content department, shortly after hiring producer Kristen Hodges.

Ulbrick joins the agency as an investment and development manager on May 30 from her role as screen investment manager at Screen NSW, where she has managed projects including The Stranger, Carmen, Mystery Road, Girls Can’t Surf and Playing with Sharks.

Andrea Ulbrick

Ulbrick previously worked as a commissioning editor at ABC Factual and she has also produced and directed a range of international science and history coproductions for ABC TV, SBS, CBC, Arte France, BBC, Channel 4, WNET, National Geographic and Discovery.

It comes after Screen Australia last month added Kristen Hodges as an investment and development manager. Hodges and Ulbrick will work alongside fellow investment and development manager Seph McKenna.

Hodges is a producer whose credits include First Day, In Vitro, Ticketyboo, Australia Beyond 2020, Mother Mountain and Bent 101. She has also worked as production and development producer for Seven West Media and in development management at Elevate Entertainment in LA.

Kristen Hodges

Hodges, Ulbrick and McKenna report to Screen Australia’s head of scripted Christopher Sharp in the agency’s content department.

In related news, Screen Australia is putting A$5.5m (US$3.8m) towards projects including comedy series Cool Mum and hybrid scripted-documentary series It’s A Jungle Out Here!.

The 12-part series Cool Mum follows a non-binary teen who comes out to their excitable mother, all captured on TikTok. It stars Aiden Hawke, Roz Hammond and popular Australian TikTok performer Samantha Andrew. The series is co-written and co-directed by Jakob Grasa and Naoimh Healy, and is produced by Stephanie Cole.

It’s A Jungle Out Here!, meanwhile, is a seven-part series from WildBear Entertainment for ABC iview and ABC Me’s YouTube channel that weaves a funny live-action narrative with quirky wildlife footage.

It follows 14-year-old aspiring filmmakers behind the scenes of their fictional documentary series Australian Wild, as they try to find the best wildlife footage. It is financed with support from the ABC and VicScreen.

Other online projects to receive part of the A$5.5m round of funding are No Ordinary Love, a five-part YouTube series that follows an ex-couple who broke up seven months ago but are thrust back together at a wedding.

Described as a love letter to K-dramas, this romance drama is written by Esther Fwati, Mina Kang and Helen Kim, and directed by Chase Lee and Kang. Producers are Joanna Beveridge, Fwati and Kim.

Salma’s Season is a six-part series for YouTube from Blacksand Pictures about a 45-year-old Pakistani-Australian wife and mother who is determined to achieve her dream of playing at the Australian Open. The project received Screen Australia development funding through the Generate Fund.

Children’s series Little J & Big Cuz, an animated show for NITV and the ABC about a couple of lively First Nations Australian kids, has received funding for its fourth season, while Screen Australia is also supporting the second season of ABC drama The PM’s Daughter.

Screen Australia’s head of content Grainne Brunsdon said: “We’re delighted to announce these projects including some stellar children’s content, which demonstrates the ability of Australian creators to produce high calibre, original IP that connects with young viewers. It’s very special that Little J & Big Cuz is engaging children around the country in-language and we are proud to support another series of this ground-breaking production.

“It’s also encouraging to see new, smart online storytellers finding their niche. These creators know their audiences and how to reach them on the right platforms, and we are confident these series will captivate viewers.”

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