Warp Films and Madman plan to make Australia’s notorious “Bodies In The Barrels” case into a feature; Australian arts minister launches review of production industry.

Warp Films Australia is to make its first feature since managing director Anna McLeish licensed the brand two years ago from the UK’s Warp Films.

The story is based on Australia’s notorious Snowtown murders, and is told from the point of view of a teenager who got caught up with the perpetrators. The project will receive funding from federal agency Screen Australia and the state agencies Film Victoria and the South Australian Film Corporation.

The film is being produced by McLeish and Sarah Shaw. It will be the debut feature from director Justin Kurzel, whose short film Blue Tongue screened in Cannes in 2005. The script has been written by Shaun Grant. Protagonist is handling sales and Madman will release the film locally.

The Snowtown murders or the Bodies In the Barrels case, as it is also known, refers to the murders of 12 people between 1992 and 1999 by a gang. Eight of the bodies were found in barrels of acid in an abandoned building in Snowtown, giving the case its grisly name.

Screen Australia is also investing in a film about a jaded call girl, a fledgling streetwalker and one night from hell, titled simply X. It will be directed by Acolytes’ Jon Hewitt from a script by his partner Belinda McClory.  It is being produced by Lizzette Atkins through her and Beth Frey’s Circe Films.

  • Meanwhile, Australian arts minister Peter Garrett (pictured) has released the terms of a reference for a review of the country’s film and TV production industry. The review, originally promised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2007, will assess the ongoing viability of the independent production sector.

It will also look at how it is supported by the Federal government, particularly the tax credits, and the impact of its free-trade agreements on Australian content levels.

The discussion paper, published on March 22, acknowledged that the country is no longer a competitive alternative for the big US blockbusters. It also noted that the 40% producer offset had yet to replace Screen Australia as the industry’s primary funding mechanism, as intended when it was launched in 2007.  

Submissions are due by April 29 and a report will be delivered to the minister at the end of the year.