Richard Frankland's road movie To Hell and Back finished its six-week shoot in Western Australia last week. Financed by Film Finance Corporation Australia and the local state agency ScreenWest, it has been dubbed the Australian version of a Cheech and Chong movie. Ross Hutchens is producing the film for Media World Pictures and it will be distributed by Palace Films.
Separately, the indigenous branch of the Australian Film Commission has just agreed to finance the production of Warwick Thornton's first feature, the teen love story Samson and Delilah. Producer Kath Shelper is preparing to shoot the film in and around Alice Springs, in central Australia, early next year. Thornton won many accolades for his half-hour drama Green Bush, including the short film award in the Berlinale Panorama anorama.
The film is being made in association with the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association, where Thornton started his career nearly 20 years ago, and the NSW Film and Television Office is also an investor.
These two films will only be the fourth and fifth films by Australian indigenous writer-directors after Jindalee Lady (Brian Syron), Bedevil (Tracey Moffatt) and Beneath Clouds (Ivan Sent). Rachel Perkins's drama Radiance was written by Louis Nowra, who is not indigenous.
The indigenous branch has been investing about $1.7m (A$2m) per year into developing indigenous filmmakers, shorts and documentaries but has not backed the production of a feature until Samson and Delilah. Its work is responsible for the significant group of indigenous filmmakers being in advance development on a number of feature films.