Screen Australia has agreed to finance Andrew Traucki’s thriller The Reef, about four friends being stalked by a Great White shark, and Swerve from writer-director Craig Lahiff.

Traucki and his producer Michael Robertson previously made Black Water, about a group of holiday-makers stalked by a crocodile, which was sold to 76 countries. The Reef, made under Robertson’s Prodigy Movies banner, takes place on the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, hence the name.

US-based Lightning Entertainment is handling international sales while Richard Sheffield’s Polyphony Entertainment has taken Australian and New Zealand distribution rights.

However Robertson first goes into production on supernatural action thriller Road Train, another film for Lightning and Polyphony, on May 11. Cameras are expected to roll on The Reef in August. Screen Australia is also an investor in Road Train along with the South Australian Film Corporation and CPF Films. Commercials director Dean Francis is making his feature debut on the film.

Swerve, a fast-paced noir-style film set in the South Australian outback, is being produced by Lahiff, his regular producing partner and former South Australian Film Corporation chief executive Helen Leake, and Kent Smith from Kojo, which has local rights. Moviehouse Entertainment is handling sales.

Screen Australia agreed to part-finance five projects worth a total of $12.7m (A$17m), the others being a children’s television series and two documentaries.