Highlighting the shortage of sales agents in Australia, local distributor Palace Films has put up an international distribution guarantee for Aussie rules football drama Deadly, Unna', despite the fact that Beyond Films is handling sales on the film.

The move is a first for Palace whose owner-managing director Antonio Zeccola will take an executive producer credit. The Australian Film Finance Corporation (FFC), pay-TV entity the Premium Movie Partnership and the South Australian Film Corporation will also cashflow the project.

Production gets underway in May 2001 with Paul Goldman directing and Mark Lazarus producing. The writers are Goldman and Phillip Gwynne, the author of the much-awarded book from which the script was adapted. All are feature first-timers in these roles.

Palace's action underlines the lack of sales agents willing to finance Australian films. Beyond is the only consistent local player, and is increasingly unwilling to put up cash. Meanwhile, offshore agents are not usually interested in Australian stories without stars. Yet, the commitment of a sales agent is necessary to trigger investment from dominant financier, the FFC.

Deadly, Unna' (working title) is one of a package of films funded under a joint venture between the Adelaide Festival of Arts and SBS Independent (SBSI), which are scheduled to premiere at the festival in March, 2002. Former SBSI general manager and festival associate director Bridge Ikin will also executive produce.

Deadly, Unna' is set in a shabby little fishing town in rural Australia. At the heart of the contemporary story is the local Australian Rules football team, the only thing that the Goonyas (the whites) have in common with the Nungas (the blacks).

  • Producer Glenys Rowe will succeed Bridget Ikin as general manager of SBSI, the production arm of broadcaster SBS. Her recent credits include Idiot Box, Feeling Sexy and the documentaries Bodywork and The Good Woman Of Bangkok.