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Australia’s SPAAMart unveils line-up of seven projects

The Diary Of Jimmy Porterfrom veteran director Nadia Tass, Hard Option from Paul Goldman and supernatural thriller The Fear Of Darkness, which sees Chris Fitchett back in the directors’ chair after several decades, are among the seven features to be presented at SPAAMart.

SPAAMart is the financing market that runs alongside the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA), which takes place from November 12-15 in Melbourne.

Producer Gus Howard told Screendaily.com that the Tass film has an outback setting and is about the business of childhood and the confrontation that comes with leaving behind delusions by facing the truth.

“The audience is intended to be broad in the same way as films such as Stand By Me and The 400 Blows can reach all-age audiences,” he said.

Fitchett is a script advisor of considerable repute and he and producer Mark Overett have been on script assessment panels and have lectured together but have not teamed up on a project until now.

“The tagline for The Fear Of Darkness is ‘sometimes the monsters in your head do really exist’,” said Overett. “The script is both economical and genuinely chilling, albeit I do scare easily…Fitchett directed the mini-classic genre pics Blood Money and Desolation Angels (in the 1980s) and both recouped their budgets and I look forward to making The Fear Of Darkness and, henceforth, sleeping with the light on.”

Martin Fabinyi, who is producing under the Beyond Screen Production, describes Hard Option as an intriguing story of bent cops, corrupt politicians and divided loyalties. Moviehouse Entertainment is attached as sales agent and it will be the fourth feature to be directed by Paul Goldman (Australian Rules, Suburban Mayhem).

Music Of My Life is about a sassy young woman in London caught up in a love triangle as she secretly ghostwrites for a man who falls in love with her. The all-woman creative team has Tim White as executive producer.

Irish singer Ronan Keating, who is well-known in Australia from being a judge on the TV show The X Factor, is signed on to star in Straight On Til Morning (formerly Rockpool). He plays a charmingly volatile rockstar who heads to Australia to get over songwriters’ block and grief. Once there, a talented no-nonsense 12-year-old rocks his world. (Keating has already starred in the Australian film Goddess, which is due for release next year.)

Straight On Til Morning was in the Berlinale Co-production Market and will be a debut for Sonia Whiteman. Australian producer Karen Radzyner is setting up the film as an Irish co-production with Parallel Films.

CHA$ is a comedy feature film about a voice-enhanced, new-generation, bank-computer that starts betting on the greyhounds. This horrifies the proud community bank that is about to celebrate its 150th birthday and fight off a US takeover-bid.

It is the first feature for the creative team although all are highly regarded in the television space: director Tony Tilse has directed many episodes of the highly acclaimed Underbelly and a raft of television movies.

The SPAAMart projects are:

The Fear of Darkness: producer Mark Overett, director/writer Chris Fitchett

CHA$: producers David Taft, Michael Harvey, director Tony Tilse, writer Harvey.

The Diary of Jimmy Porter: producers Gus Howard, Lisa McCune, director Nadia Tass, writer Tony Morphett

Straight On Til Morning: producer Karen Radzyner, director Sonia Whiteman, writers Whiteman, Pip Carmel

Hard Option: producer Martin Fabinyi, director Paul Goldman, writer Henry Tefay.

Music of My Life: producer Sally Madgwick, director Jennifer Leacey, writer Emma Vuletic

Resistance: producer/director Stephen Johnson, writer Chris Anastassiades

Meanwhile, there are four finalists in the eight annual DigiSPAA feature film competition, which each year flushes out the best Australian low-budget films made without direct government finance:

The Astronaut: producers/writers Adam Lemmey, Meredith Calthorpe, director Lemmey

Kemi: producer/writer Daniel Okoduwa, director Michael Kang

The Sorrows: producers/directors/writers Phoebe Gittins, Arty Papageorgiou

Final Move: producer/director/writer JD Cohen

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