Screen Australia invests in six new Signature documentaries

Louise Duffy | 07-11-2013

Six new documentary projects have been greenlit through Screen Australia’s Signature Documentary programme. The investment of AUD$1 million in five one-off documentary films and one multi-platform documentary will generate more than AUD$2.1 million in production.

Approved projects include director George Gittoes’ (Love City, Jalalabad) new film Snow Monkey, which examines whether the ideals and dreams fostered in Afghanistan during the time of its foreign military occupation can continue once outside protection has gone. The film will be produced by Lizzette Atkins, with Piraya Film in Norway co-producing.

Producer/writer/director Robert Nugent’s (End of the Rainbow) new film Night Parrot Stories looks at the entanglements between a lost bird and the man-made world. Mitzi Goldman will also produce the film.

Driving My Mother Sane is a documentary from director/writer Paul Gallasch (Killing Anna) and producer Katrina Lucas, about a son who returns home to live with his mentally ill mother.

Gayby Baby looks at the contemporary debate around the legalisation of gay marriage, following four kids who are coming of age raised in same-sex families. The film is directed by Maya Newell and produced by Charlotte Mars.

Spanning a decade, producer/writer/director Nicole Ma’s documentary Putuparri explores Australia's entangled Indigenous and colonial history and one man’s struggle to fulfil his destiny. Set in the remote Kimberley region of Australia’s North West, the documentary is also produced by John Moore.

Screen Australia’s senior manager of documentary, Liz Stevens, said: “One-off documentaries continue to be an important medium. Screen Australia values diversity on our screens and continues to grow the support of one-off documentary through its Signature and Producer Equity funding programmes.”

The multi-platform documentary project One Slash Zero Conflict and the Digital Revolution from director/writer Patrick Clair and producer Andy Nehl was also approved for investment through the Signature programme. It is a transmedia journey through the critical flashpoints and conflicts of the digital revolution.

The Australian Government, through Screen Australia, contributes around AUD$18 million per year in direct support to documentary programme-making in Australia, generating production budgets in excess of AUD$50 million.

Due to the additional Australian Government funds delivered to support digital production, announced earlier in the year, interactive documentaries will now be supported through the Multi-platform Documentary Production program instead of the Signature Documentary Program. The Multi-platform Documentary Production program will continue to support interactive documentary storytelling that is bold in form and/or content, with a strong creative vision that pushes the boundaries on non-traditional platforms.

“The increase to interactive funding opened an opportunity to review applications to the Signature funding programme,” Stevens added.

“Screen Australia highly values the Signature programme and we’re aware of how strong the competition for funds is. Most filmmakers contribute a significant amount of resources in applying for Signature funding. To make it easier and more efficient to apply we’ve created a two-stage process, which means a more concise application to the first stage. Filmmakers will hear much faster if they make it onto the shortlist.”