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Screen Australia invests in Avery, Lance debuts

Screen Australia has invested in two debut features - Julius Avery’s Son Of A Gun and Stephen Lance’s My Mistress - and provided two years of working capital to four producers: Jessica Brentnall, Angie Fielder, Nicole O’Donohue and Nelson Woss.

Son Of A Gun is a psychological thriller about a young prisoner who becomes the apprentice to public enemy number one, to be played by Ewan McGregor. Another key investor is state agency ScreenWest’s drama production investment fund.

“Julius is currently in LA casting with Nikki Barrett our casting director,” producer Timothy White told Screendaily.

“These days if you want to cast an Australian film with local talent you have to travel abroad. If you go through the list of actors under 30 you only find them here if they’re between jobs. On one level it’s frustrating and expensive but on the other it’s exciting to have a sizeable pool of actors with that level of heat. And this wasn’t the case ten years ago.

The film goes into production in March in Western Australia, five years after Avery’s short film Jerrycan earned critical acknowledgements at Cannes, Berlin and Sundance. Avery also wrote this year’s Cannes competition short Yardbird.

Avery is Sydney-based but grew up in Western Australia, home to co-producer Janelle Landers, who produced the classy feature Wasted On The Young.

Hopscotch, Altitude Films and the United Talent Agency are Son Of A Gun’s distribution and sales partners.

French actress Emmanuelle Béart and Australia’s Harrison Gilbertson have been cast in My Mistress, about a teenager who seeks help from a local French mistress into sadomasochism, in order to escape the grief of losing his father from suicide.

While Lance and producer Leanne Tonkes are inexperienced in feature film production, executive producer Robyn Kershaw and Gerard Lee are not: Lee was Jane Campion’s collaborator on her first feature Sweetie – and her latest project, the television series Top Of The Lake – and Kershaw produced box office hits Bran Nue Dae and Looking For Alibrandi and the upcoming Save Your Legs!

The film goes into production in January and Transmission will release it locally. LevelK, which is becoming increasingly involved in Australian films, is the international sales agent.

Screen Australia never reveals the size of its individual investments upon approval but a total of $5.7m ($5.5m) will go into the two films plus a second series of TV drama Redfern Now, and the three projects have a production value of $21.9m ($21m).

Meanwhile, Screen Australia has also announced the inaugural round of recipients under its Feature Enterprise Program, which aims to “recognise new producers who have had recent substantial critical or financial success”.

Brentnall produced Cannes competition title Sleeping Beauty, Fielder produced Wish You Were Here, which this year opened Sundance, O’Donohue produced Griff The Invisible and Woss produced last year’s big local hit Red Dog.

“We need to acknowledge producers for their critical or financial success in the feature film marketplace and support their development slates in the pursuit of quality Australian feature films,” said chief executive Ruth Harley who chose the projects alongside other agency executives Tristram Miall, Martha Coleman and Chris Oliver.

Full details of the upcoming films are:

MY MISTRESS 


  • Production company: Mini Studios
  • Producer: Leanne Tonkes
  • Executive producer: Robyn Kershaw
  • Writer: Gerard Lee

  • Director: Stephen Lance

  • Australian distributor: Transmission Films with RKPix
  • International sales: LevelK

  • Synopsis: Suffering from grief after his father’s suicide, 16-year-old Charlie Boyd seeks out the help of a local French S&M mistress in an attempt to reconnect with his life.

SON OF A GUN


  • Production company: Southern Light Films
  • Producer: Timothy White

  • Co-producer: Janelle Landers

  • Executive producers: Aaron L Gilbert, John Collee, Bryce Menzies, Aidan O’Bryan
  • Writer/director: Julius Avery

  • Australian distributor: Hopscotch

  • International sales: Altitude Films, United Talent Agency (UTA)

  • Synopsis: A young man is sent to prison where he becomes the apprentice to public enemy number one.

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