UK-based sales agent Portman Entertainment and Australia's REP Film Distribution have boarded three low-budget features to be shot in Queensland with Chris Brown and Chris Fitchett producing.
State government agency, the Pacific Film and Television Commission (PFTC), has provided development funding and will be a significant equity investor.
The first into production will be Blurred, to be directed by Evan Clarry from a script by Stephen Davis and Keir Shorey. Now that he has locked down the deals with REP and Portman, Brown is in negotiation for the remainder of the A$2m budget.
The film is about a group of teenagers trying to get to Queensland's Gold Coast for "schoolies week" along with 70,000 other school leavers celebrating the start of their adult life with alcohol, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Brown said the film would be typical in that it was a bold Australian story by new talent, but also suitable for international audiences.
It is hoped the venture will lead to a stream of product and six projects are already being developed from 250 submitted to the PFTC in the last two years. They include Itch To Bitch, writer-director Michelle Warner's comedy about a shoe shop manager and nightclub scene queen's journey into maturity, and East Coast Breakers, written by Steve Pratt and described as Rain Man meets Easy Rider. Melbourne-based Fitchett, who is acting as script editor on all the projects, is likely to direct.
PFTC is planning a second scheme for higher budget pictures with REP and local sales agent Beyond Films. More than 200 people have signalled their intention to attend an industry briefing on December 18 and scripts will be called for in the new year. Jim McElroy and Jock Blair are attached as producers.
The schemes have many similarities to New Zealand's successful ScreenVisioNZ films which has delivered Via Satellite, Savage Honeymoon, Scarfies and, most recently, Stickmen.