Australia has created its own version of development "hothousing" on the back of four feature scripts and their creative teams. The New South Wales Film and Television Office (NSWFTO) examined overseas models including Sundance, Moondance and Equinoxe before putting together its own A$500,000 Aurora programme, which has filmmaker Jane Campion as its patron.
The script advisers include In The Bedroom co-writer Rob Festinger, Geoff Stier, writer of Iris and The Talented Mr Ripley, Jan Chapman, producer of The Piano and Lantana, and local scriptwriter and script adviser Alison Tilson. The artistic director for the project is Duncan Thompson, a former Equinoxe consultant now living in Australia. He replaced Stephen Cleary, co-director of the UK-based Arista story editing workshop, who withdrew at the last moment.
NSW Premier Bob Carr said at last week's (March 21) launch that spending on script development amounted to only about 1% of the budget of most Australian films, compared to about 20% on US studio pictures.
Aurora will include residential workshops, development funding for a further draft, and readings by actors, he said. "This is a first for Australia and what I hope it leads to is better scripts," said Carr. " And more people are being tempted to part with their money at the box office to see our stories."
The projects were chosen from 40 applications. The projects are More Than Scarlet, by writer/director Cate Shortland and producer Anthony Anderson; Tracy Heart a Rowan Woods/ Vincent Sheehan project written by Jacquelin Perske, Neil Mansfield's Axe-Fall, written by Lynne Vincent McCarthy and produced by Sally Regan, and Fables, written by Richard Lindsell, produced by Megan Harding and directed by Gavin Barbey.