Monthly Archives: June 2014

Screen Australia Invests Over $3.8 Million In 13 New Documentaries

In the final round of documentary funding for this financial year Screen Australia is pleased to announce 13 projects will receive over $3.8 million in support, generating production value of more than $13.2 million.

The projects selected under the National Documentary Program and General Documentary Program include eight one-off documentaries and five series. The documentaries will appeal to a diverse audience covering areas across science, arts, sports, history and religion, and will be accessible broadly through public, free-to-air and subscription broadcasters.

Screen Australia’s Senior Manager of Documentary, Liz Stevens, said, “We are excited about this final round of well-researched projects that will entertain and inform.

Appealing to a wide audience the projects should stimulate conversation about contemporary concerns such as parenting, poverty and identity.”

Three projects will be supported through the National Documentary Program.

From Blackfella Films comes DNA Nation, an epic story of genetic time travel, written/produced by Jacob Hickey and produced by Darren Dale for SBS. It is a story about our origins and how we are all related to one another.

Writer/director Paul Clarke’s Priscilla: Monster in a Party Frock is an observation of the history and development of celebrating gay culture. This one-off documentary from Jungleboys FTV will be produced by Jo-anne McGowan, Jason Burrows and Jen Peedom for the ABC.

Stop Laughing, This Is Serious is a three-part one-hour series exploring the history of Australian comedy, by writer/producer Paul Horan and Paul Clarke with Screentime for the ABC.

Ten projects will receive funding through the General Documentary Program.

Battlefields is an account of the ANZACs’ encounter with and defeat of the enemy on the Western Front. Written by Michael Cove, produced by Michael Tear and Harriet

Pike, and directed by Serge Ou, the six-part half-hour series by For Valour will broadcast on Foxtel’s History Channel.

A moving examination of the growing trend of broken families and fatherlessness, Call Me Dad, is about fathers that have come together through a men’s program to transform themselves with a focus on reconnecting with their children. Writer/director, Sophie Wiesner, producers Madeleine Hetherton, Rebecca Barry and Ester Harding with Media Stockade will make the one-off documentary for the ABC.

From Cordell Jigsaw Productions, Go Back to Where You Came From returns with a third series, by producer/director Rick McPhee. The three-part documentary for SBS, will challenge six Australians with strong views about the government policy on illegal immigration and boat arrivals.

360 Degree Films’ one-off documentary The Great Australian Fly, written/produced by Sally Ingleton and written/directed by Tosca Looby for the ABC, examines the annoying pest and the influence it has had on shaping Australia.

Harry is the story of a poor young Brazilian immigrant who rises to become an Australian AFL celebrity and struggles to understand a different culture and establish his identity along the way. Jotz Productions’ one-off documentary will be written and directed by Jeff Daniels and produced by Tom Zubrycki for SBS.

From writer/producer/directors Tosca Looby and Alex Tarney, and producer Sally Ingleton, comes Kids Unplugged, a life lesson from Carl Honore teaching three busy families techniques to turn their fast-paced lives into relaxed and happy existences in five weeks via the power of ‘slow’. The one-off documentary from 360 Degree Films will go to air on the ABC.

Licketty Split’s Missing Ingredient explores the ramifications of donor-conceived children and donor dads not being allowed to find each other because of existing laws.

The one-off documentary will be written/directed by Lucy Paplinska and produced by Lisa Horler for the ABC.

A documentary about a celebrated comedian and writer travelling to the East to discover the oldest religion in the world to help him better understand his own relationship with God, Artemis International’s SMGR will be written/directed byRussel Vines and produced by Celia Tait and Brian Beaton for SBS.

KEO Films’ three-part series, Struggle Street, observes the voices and stories of a cross-
section of the western Sydney community struggling to get by while facing overwhelming personal and social challenges. The three-part series by producers Leonie Lowe and David Galloway will be broadcast on SBS.

WKCR is a documentary about a murder investigation and trial that affected many in the community. Produced by Artemis International with writer/director Michael Muntz, writer/producer Celia Tait and producer Brian Beaton, it will be screened on the Seven Network.

Screen Australia’s documentary funding programs are currently under review to ensure that they continue to support the unique qualities of Australian documentary in an evolving ecosystem of screen production and consumption. Drawing on the submissions to the Discussion Paper, Stories that Matter, Screen Australia will be publishing draft guidelines shortly for industry feedback.


DNA NATION (working title)

3 x 52 mins

Blackfella Films Pty Ltd

Producers Darren Dale, Jacob Hickey

Writer Jacob Hickey

Broadcaster SBS

Sales SBS Distribution

Synopsis This is an epic story of genetic time travel. A story about who we are, where we

came from and how we are all related to one another.


1 x 57 mins

Jungleboys FTV Pty Ltd

Producers Jo-anne McGowan, Jason Burrows, Jen Peedom

Director Paul Clarke

Writers Paul Clarke, Alex Barry

Broadcaster ABC

Sales ABC Commercial

Synopsis Monster in a Party Frock is the story of how an unlikely film changed the

course of history and brought a celebration of gay culture to the world.


3 x 57 mins

Screentime Pty Ltd

Executive Producers Jennifer Collins, Bob Campbell

Producers/Writers Paul Horan, Paul Clarke

Broadcaster ABC

Sales ABC Commercial

Synopsis Stop Laughing:This Is Serious is a documentary series exploring the history of

Australian comedy for ABC1.



6 x 24 mins

For Valour Pty Ltd.

Producers Michael Tear, Harriet Pike

Director Serge Ou

Writer Michael Cove

Broadcaster FOXTEL History Channel

Synopsis How the ANZACs met and defeated the main force of the enemy on the

Western Front.


1 x 57 mins

Media Stockade Pty Ltd.

Producers Madeleine Hetherton, Rebecca Barry, Ester Harding

Director/Writer Sophie Wiesner

Broadcaster ABC

Synopsis In the midst of a silent yet devastating epidemic of fatherlessness, this is a film

about fathers at risk of or struggling with broken families whose children are vulnerable.

Now, through a men’s program, they each have the chance to regain what’s lost, to

transform himself and earn another shot at the title, ‘Dad’.


3 x 52 mins

Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd

Executive Producers Nick Murray, Michael Cordell

Producer/Director Rick McPhee

Broadcaster SBS

Sales Cordell Jigsaw Distribution

Synopsis With major changes to government policy on boat arrivals, six Australians with

strong views on the issue, embark on a life changing journey which will challenge their

opinions to the very core.


1 x 57 mins

360 Degree Films Pty Ltd

Producer Sally Ingleton

Director Tosca Looby

Writers Tosca Looby, Sally Ingleton

Broadcaster ABC

Sales ZED Sales

Synopsis How a national nuisance helped shape Australia.


1 x 52 mins

Jotz Productions Pty Ltd

Producer Tom Zubrycki

Director/Writer Jeff Daniels

Broadcaster SBS

Synopsis The story of an immigrant boy from Brazil who becomes an AFL star. A black

man in a white world, Harry searches for his own identity in a country and culture that

he feels never really accepts him. From the slums of Rio de Janeiro to the dizzying

heights of Australian celebrity this is the story of a boy who becomes a man by forging

his own perilous path through other’s expectations.


1 x 57 mins

360 Degree Films Pty Ltd

Executive Producer Sally Ingleton

Producers Sally Ingleton, Alex Tarney, Tosca Looby

Directors/Writers Tosca Looby, Alex Tarney

Broadcaster ABC

Synopsis ‘Slow coach’ Carl Honore has five weeks to turn three busy families from

stressed and hectic, to happy and unhurried – via the power of ‘slow’.


1 x 57 mins

Licketty Split Pty Ltd

Executive Producer John Moore

Producer Lisa Horler

Director/Writer Lucy Paplinska

Broadcaster ABC

Synopsis Missing Ingredient is an intimate and cautionary tale about secrets

surrounding sperm donation … and the donor conceived adults – and donors – who are

demanding some answers.


1 x 52 mins

Artemis International

Producers Celia Tait, Brian Beaton

Director/Writer Russel Vines

Broadcaster SBS

Synopsis Celebrated comedian and writer journeys to the East to discover the oldest

religion in the world to help him better understand his own relationship with God.


3 x 52 mins

KEO Films Australia Pty Ltd

Producers Leonie Lowe, David Galloway

Broadcaster SBS

Sales Hat Trick International

Synopsis A three-part observational documentary series that will feature the voices and

stories of a cross-section of struggling western Sydney residents and families as they try

to get by, despite overwhelming personal and social challenges.


1 x 55 mins

Artemis International Pty Ltd

Producers Brian Beaton, Celia Tait

Director Michael Muntz

Writer Michael Muntz, Celia Tait

Broadcaster Channel 7

Synopsis A murder investigation and trial divides a city, and the legal fraternity.

Screen Australia Media Release = Friday 6 June 2014

Film streaming and downloads to overtake box office in 2017

The growing popularity of downloads and streaming services like Netflix means that Blu-ray and DVD sales are declining

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has declared that the market for DVDs and Blu-ray is quickly declining, with the slack taken up by increasingly popular on-demand streaming services like Netflix – which will also overtake cinema box office revenues in the coming years.

The study says that revenue from electronic home video (ie streaming and downloading films) will outstrip physical media in 2016, and that the market for physical media will drop from $12.2bn now to $8.7bn in 2018. They also predict that in 2017 electronic home video will overtake the traditional cinema as the biggest contributor to total film revenue in the US, reaching a total of $17bn the following year – double the $8.5bn the sector currently generates.

That’s not to say the multiplex is under threat – PwC predict a 16% increase in ticket sales over the next five years. “People still want to go to the movies, especially the big tentpole films,” said Cindy McKenzie, managing director of PwC’s entertainment, media and communications arm. She also pointed to the cheap and easy distribution allowed by digital media as being a major cost saving: “The amount of money that you’re making per transaction may not be the same, but it is cheaper to distribute things digitally.”

Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and the popular US streaming service Hulu are funnelling their growth into ambitious production projects: all have quickly made the jump from mere middlemen to creators of original content, with hits like House of Cards and Arrested Development. Netflix’s revenue rose an astonishing 24% in the first quarter of 2014.

In the music market, streaming is eating into downloads to the point where Spotify’s streaming revenue is beginning to outpace iTunes’ download revenue in certain parts of Europe – perhaps a catalyst for Apple’s recent purchase of streaming service Beats Music. But downloads of films are still growing (albeit at a much lower pace than streaming) and topped $1bn in revenue for the first time last year, driven in part by high-quality downloads becoming available before physical and streamed versions.

PwC also announced that ebooks would overtake printed books as the UK’s most popular reading format by 2018, with revenue to triple to nearly £1bn over the next four years.

Ben Beaumont-Thomas –, Wednesday 4 June 2014

John Truby’s Breakdown of “Godzilla”

Spoiler alert: this breakdown divulges information about the plot of the film.

John Truby is Hollywood’s premiere screenwriting instructor and story consultant. Called “the best script doctor in the movie industry,” Truby serves as a story consultant for major studios and production companies worldwide, and has been a script doctor on more than 1,800 movies, sitcoms and television dramas for the likes of Disney, Universal, Sony Pictures, FOX, HBO, Alliance Atlantis, Paramount, BBC, MTV and more – – June 1 2014

It’s easy to make fun of Godzilla. Laughable franchise. Dinosaur that looks like a chicken. Really big scales that make it impossible for him to sleep on his back. But making fun doesn’t get us anywhere. This film has been huge at the box office and is a lot better than I thought it would be (which is a pretty low bar, I admit). But for mastering the craft of screenwriting, especially for summer blockbuster movies, the question to ask ourselves is: what would I do if I were given this assignment? More specifically, what were the story challenges in this film and what would I do to solve them?

Let’s begin with the basic opposition on which any story is based. The normal approach to a horror-disaster film is monster against humans. But that’s a grossly unfair fight. Millions of humans are just foot fodder for the big guy. Even the strongest military on earth is helpless in the face of such power. Which means that, like virtually all disaster movies, the normal Godzilla movie has no plot. Talk about hitting the same beat. Nameless humans are trampled ad infinitum. That brings up the challenge of character. Obviously, you won’t be getting into the psychological and moral needs of Godzilla. And if you tell this story in the normal way, you won’t be getting any character definition from the nameless humans he kills either. You’re left with the military commanders staring helplessly at the destruction, which is as one note as it sounds.

To see how the writers solved these challenges, and the process we might work through on a similar project, we begin by going back to the genres, or story forms, on which Godzilla is based. This is epic horror, technically a story in which the fate of the nation is determined by the actions of a single individual fighting a monster. This basic principle governs all major character and plot decisions the writers make.

The Titanic was the best disaster film ever made. The key technique James Cameron used to elevate it above one of the lowest of all genres was to begin with a love story. This allowed the audience to get to know two people extremely well, and to invest deeply in their love. Then when the disaster hit, it wasn’t just mass destruction of a number of characters we never got to know. This disaster really hurt.

Here, writers Dave Callaham (story) and Max Borenstein (screenplay) establish a single human character, Ford Brody, who will be the fulcrum of the epic. Some have criticized the film for its slow start. But this time is crucial to show Ford’s ghost and his intense emotional need to solve the problem no matter the cost. It also connects him and his family to the audience, so that the later mega-battles will mean more to the audience than amazing special effects.

So how does the genre of epic horror help the writers set up the character opposition? They go back to the single most important technique in horror, first used in Frankenstein, where they flip the human and inhuman. In other words, at some point in the story the monster becomes the hero. This technique was also used in Terminator II, where the relentless monster of Terminator I turns into the good guy and an apparently normal-looking human is an even-deadlier terminator.

Of course the writers don’t take this technique as far as Frankenstein or King Kong. Godzilla doesn’t become a psychologically deep character capable of falling in love with some pretty human. But we get a nice plot beat, and it sets up the real battle of the story.

The decision on how to set up the character opposition gives us another benefit. Since humans are apparently impotent in the face of Godzilla’s power, why not create a second and third monster that can give Godzilla real trouble? This opposition may lack the emotional power of a fight between Godzilla and humans, but real emotion requires a fair fight, so that wasn’t going to happen anyway. And since this is both a horror and an epic action story, the fight between mega-monsters is guaranteed to generate much better action set pieces.

The epic horror genre dictates a third major decision for the writers, having to do with the story structure. Adding epic to horror means the action story beats will track the plot. And the most important beat in any action story is the vortex point.

A good action story always converges to a single point known to the audience fairly early in the story. This allows the writers to begin the story on an epic, often worldwide, scale without paying a heavy price. The big danger to the epic action story is that the grand scale can destroy narrative drive as the story meanders from place to place. But by setting up a vortex point, the writers create a cyclone effect where all characters and action lines converge at progressively greater speed.

Sure enough, the vortex point here is San Francisco. All monsters and humans, including our everyman hero, Brody, drive relentlessly to this point in space and time. The storyline speeds up and the battle they fight there is a whopper.

Most writers forget that horror is consistently the most popular story form in worldwide storytelling. But it’s also a very narrow form. Combining it with a genre like action magnifies its power tremendously, especially in the film medium. The trick for writers is learning how to combine the forms so that you get the best of both.

This particular mix of genres won’t get you any respect. You won’t win any awards. But you will get the pleasure of laughing all the way to the bank.

The Australians who set 60s Britain swinging

Brilliant Creatures: Rebels of Oz tells how Clive James, Germaine Greer, Barry

Humphries and Robert Hughes helped spawn Britain’s counter-culture

The England of the 1960s was in the vanguard of cultural change. In music, fashion,

art and satire, it seemed to set the pace and, even today, the “swinging” status of that

era is seldom challenged. But according to a new documentary presented by the

novelist Howard Jacobson, it was the Aussies what swung it.
Without four key arrivals from Australia: the writer and critic Clive James, the

academic and feminist Germaine Greer, the satirist Barry Humphries and the

cultural historian Robert Hughes, the 60s wouldn’t have been the same.

Brilliant Creatures: Rebels of Oz, which premieres at the Sheffield Documentary

Festival next week, makes the case that the impact of these four Australian

immigrants has never been properly acknowledged. Before their arrival in the early

60s, Jacobson argues, Britain was still hamstrung by caution and sorely in need of

bold interventions from down under.
“In postwar England, and that was still the mood in the 1960s, we were very

reverential,” said Jacobson this weekend. “England was peculiarly receptive to the

ideas of these people, perhaps because it badly needed to change.” Jacobson went out

to Australia just as Humphries, Greer, Hughes and James were each travelling the

other way and so he examines the reasons the foursome felt, one after the other, that

they had to journey to the northern hemisphere to pursue their careers.
“They had been quite deferential to traditional British culture, but they got here and

found they had to teach the supposedly cultured British how to do it,” he said. “In

some ways it was up to them to bring some of the European sense of intellectual life

back here.”
James, who along with Greer and Hughes had been part of an innovative cultural

movement in Sydney known as “the Push”, was disappointed to find less going on in

London. “So Clive came over here and created the salon life he had expected to

discover,” said Jacobson. “He had his famous lunches with Martin Amis and

Christopher Hitchens. He made it happen.”
In the documentary, screened in two parts on BBC Four this summer, Jacobson

places the foursome at the centre of an enduring moment of change for Britain. He

also talks to the surviving three as they approach the end of their creative lives –

Hughes died in 2012. It is a valedictory homage, Jacobson admits, and he asks them

how they will face their own ends. “There is a certain elegiac quality to the film,” he

said, “because one of them is dead already of course and Clive is very ill. Germaine

and Clive are 75 and Barry is 80, so there is a sense of something passing, although

Barry says he will be doing farewell performances for some time to come.”
James, Jacobson said, does not seem frightened, although he is suffering from both

emphysema and leukaemia. “He is very evasive, but brave. He feels it would be bad

manners not to be like that after such a good life. He is strong on manners,” said

In the documentary the writer asks Greer where she would like to be buried, but the

feminist, who wrote the groundbreaking bestseller The Female Eunuch, in 1970, and

who now crusades to preserve a section of the Queensland rainforest that she owns,

told Jacobson she might decide not be buried. “She told me she might prefer to be

eaten by the goannas [lizards] on her land – because they would eat up everything,

even the rings on her fingers.”
Jacobson first met Greer just before he graduated from Cambridge in 1964. He was

about to leave for Australia to take up an academic post in Sydney that Greer had just

vacated. “I was just going and she was just arriving. I thought immediately: ‘This

woman is going to take the country by storm’. We had never seen anyone like that,

although there wasn’t time to ascertain whether she had good ideas. She was fearless

and she had cheek. She sat on the ground and unfolded herself like a long snake. I

had not seen anything like it. If you had a woman round in those days, then they sat

on a chair and you offered her crumpets and tea. They didn’t unfold themselves on

the floor.”
After the screening of the first part of Jacobson’s film in Sheffield this month, Greer

will recount her own part in the story. Jacobson, a long-time fan of Australia, said

that when he arrived in Sydney he found other women who shared Greer’s combative

spirit. “She was tough because she had survived in Australia where it was still

common for blokes to jeer at girls. However remarkable Germaine is, and she

certainly is, when I got to Australia I found there were other women just as fearless.

You see more women like her there. They really had to fight for their chances and so

they became acerbic.”
Humphries created a subversive role for himself in British culture, before going on to

create aliases as the monstrous Australian superstar housewife, Dame Edna Everage,

and the spoof Australian cultural attaché, Sir Les Patterson. “Barry, like the others,

had longed for British sophistication,” said Jacobson. “Yet he had to come over and

beat us at our own game. He became a European dandy.”

Once they had arrived, their native Australian sense of having been culturally

deprived disappeared. “They brought with them many of the European ideas of

intellectualism and sophistication. They were very well read, all four of them. I

always say, if you want to know which gallery a famous picture hangs in, ask an

Australian. They studied them. They knew them, although they had not seen the real

Hughes, who like James once wrote for the Observer, is best known for his book The

Fatal Shore, which tells the story of the white man’s conquering of Australia, and for

his landmark TV series about modern art, The Shock of the New.
Jacobson said all four of his subjects enjoyed going back to Australia, but felt that

they could never go back for good. “For a start, there was a hostility to them there, a

feeling they were the ‘tall poppies’ who would return only if their careers were

flagging. They were attacked for their success. So at that point they cut their ties.

“Germaine, I think, feels an obligation to Australia now, at least to the land. Robert

Hughes also used to go back to fish. They each felt they belonged here, although they

have flirted with Italy. They never felt they had used it all in Britain. Once here, there

was no sense they were anywhere but where they should be.”
Vanessa Thorpe – The Observer, Sunday 1 June 2014