Australia's April Films has announced a slate of seven films, two and a half years after it launched on the back of a first look deal with Universal Pictures. The most developed project is The Campaign, a contemporary screwball comedy written by Tony McNamara and with Praise director John Curran and Two Hands producer Marion Macgowan attached.
The company has also partnered with Sarah Radclyffe Productions in the UK on Toad Rage, a big budget CGI adaptation of the best-selling children's book by Australian author Morris Gleitzman, and with Bingham Ray in the US on an adaptation of James Robert Baker's US novel Boy Wonder. It also has the rights to UK novelist Barbara Trapido's The Travelling Hornplayer.
Parent company April Entertainment is one of the few, if not the only Australian-owned private company that has accessed significant investment to develop a significant slate of features without government support. April Television also today revealed a slate of 15 TV projects and the appointment of Mitchell Block as its US representative.
"When we set out, the deal with Universal was for films in the $5-15m range and we had to develop the material pretty much from scratch," said head of creative development Philippa Bateman, who aims to expand the scope of what an Australian project can be through budget, casting and locations. "I put my head down and focussed on the work and the relationships and we now have a solid slate of good projects and good people."
Bateman's ambition for April is for it to become a development powerhouse. The company is also currently developing Barefoot In Polambara, a Billy MacKinnon script to be directed by Kriv Stenders, Mounting Oliver, written by Luke Davies, and Alter Ego, written by Helen Bandis and Adrian Martin.
Bateman, Klaus Selinger, Garry Charny and a number of private Australian investors own April Entertainment.
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