A new project from the producer of Whale Rider, an adaptation of a US book and a Chinese-Australian co-production are to be pitched in the UK after being selected by Melbourne’s 37º South Market.

The three films will be pitched at the UK’s Production Finance Market (PFM) in October following a positive response at the seventh edition of 37º South, which runs as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival.

New Zealand producer Tim Sanders is to pitch The Guinea Pig Club at PFM and received $1,850 (A$2,000) from sponsor Film Finances to help cover expenses.

After learning he would be heading to London for PFM (Oct 16-17), Sanders told ScreenDaily: “It is the story of a Kiwi surgeon called Archie McIndoe who restored the bodies of badly injured fighter pilots in World War II and also gave them the will to live and hope for the future.

The producer of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and Whale Rider is setting the film up as a co-production with the UK.

Sanders has yet to attach a director to Mike Riddell’s (The Insatiable Moon) script, based on a true story.

‘Secret Lives of Dresses’ adaptation

David Parker and Leanne Tonkes, two other producers who pitched some of the many features presented at the seventh 37º South Market, have also won spots at PFM – but without the cash.

Tonkes said: “The Secret Lives of Dresses is a romantic drama about a girl who comes to discover who she is through the dresses in her grandmother’s vintage store.”

Tonkes is working with Stephen Lance on this adaptation of a US book of the same name written by Erin McKean and set in Massachusetts.

Earlier this year the pair went into production on My Mistress, which is scheduled to have its world premiere at MIFF 2014 and is a debut for them both. The intention is to film their second film in both Australia and the US.

“This is a very commercial film and a big step up for me and I need strong partners,” said Tonkes.

Chinese/Australian co-pro

Tying The Knot, the third project going to PFM as a result of its exclusive relationship with 37º South, is a Chinese/Australian co-production to be directed by Nadia Tass.

The comedy is about a young Australian man who is thrown in jail three days before he is due to marry a young Chinese woman.

Tass and Parker are long-time collaborators. Parker has written the script and will act as cinematographer. The story he tells is based on a wedding he attended as a stills photographer in the 1970s at which a prison warden got so drunk he had to be driven home by the bridegroom/prisoner.

Representatives from A24, Altitude, Atlas, Bankside, eOne, Exchange, Exclusive, Global Screen, HanWay, Highpoint, Inception, MovieHouse, Level K, Picture Tree, Protagonist, Relativity, Senator, Shoreline, Voltage and XYZ were flown half way around the world to meet with 95 Australian and New Zealand producers during 37º South.

Australian publishers and producers are also pushed together and films screened at the multi-faceted market.

Organisers report that 2,156 meetings were held.

This weekend 37º South continues with Accelerator, a skills and craft development initiative for Australia and NZ’s hottest directing talent.

MIFF runs until August 11.