Outgoing Screen Australia exec to join producers of The Sapphires.

Martha Coleman is to produce features and television for Goalpost Pictures Australia, producers of The Sapphires, when she steps down as head of development at Screen Australia in December.

“My personal challenge is finding movies with big emotional reach,” she told ScreenDaily, “particularly intelligent movies for women over 45 years because they still go to movies, are a reliable and engaged audience and we do not make enough films for them.”

Coleman has been telling friends and colleagues for months that she did not intend to renew her contract but says her job has been so “fully immersive” that she will not start developing a slate until she walks out in December.

“Nowhere in the world has as much support for film as Australia and there is strong potential to make commercial art house films,” she said. “You have to look after your own market first, to give them an emotionally impactful experience, then international interest will follow.”

Coleman returned to Australia from the UK to take up her job at Screen Australia, after working at Icon Entertainment International and Material Entertainment. Her credits as producer include Australian film Praise and UK comedy Run Fat Boy, Run (as executive producer).

With chief executive Ruth Harley being replaced by Graeme Mason and head of production investment Ross Matthews leaving – his and Coleman’s roles are being combined – considerable change is expected at Screen Australia.

One of Goalpost’s principals, Rosemary Blight – the two have known each other for 20 years – said Coleman would increase the capacity of the production company.

Although reluctant to say much about what films are in development, Blight said she was confident that another of the principals, Kylie du Fresne, would be going into production next year on Holding The Man, based on the book by Tim Conigrave. Neil Armfield will be directing playwright Tommy Murphy’s script.

“It is a gay love story that is both uplifting and sad and set in the 1980s – but with all the discussion around gay marriage and equality, it is just as relevant now,” said Blight.

“It is substantially financed by a committed private investor who has been attached for at least five years.”

Goalpost UK, which has a small shareholding in the Australian company and visa versa, has international rights and Transmission will distribute locally.

Blight, and also Michael Benaroya and Joel Edgerton, produced Goalpost’s crime thriller Felony, which will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Edgerton also wrote the script for director Matthew Saville and plays the police officer at the heart of the film, alongside Tom Wilkinson, Melissa George and Jai Courtney.

The film has been sold to Germany (Wild Bunch), China (DDDream), Israel (Forum) and half a dozen other territories.

 “At least we wont need as many hairdressers as we did when The Sapphires was in Toronto and Cannes,” she quipped.