Screen Australia announces $1 million to develop 28 projects

Screen Australia has announced $1 million of development funding for seven features, 16 television dramas and five online projects.

The projects include Drum Wave, a new thriller from the team behind Relic; Mid Life, a follow up to Luke Eve’s drama High Life; and an online comedy about Dungeons and Dragons called Dragon Friends: Dream Killers.

Screen Australia’s Head of Development Nerida Moore said, “It’s great to see producers thinking globally and developing unique stories for Australian audiences and the world. We’re excited to support these original story ideas, many with distinct storyworlds and fantastic comedic imaginations that I’m confident will resonate. We’re also proud to fund children’s programs that will entertain and help navigate life’s big lessons with the likes of Andrew the Big BIG Unicorn.”

The latest projects funded for development include:

  • Andrew the Big BIG Unicorn: A children’s television series about a sweet-hearted purple rhino called Andrew. Living with his adoptive parents in a world full of unicorns, Andrew grapples with growing up a bit different to his peers. This animated series from Pirate Size productions sees writer Dan Nixon team up with storyboard artist Alyssa Smedley. It will be produced by Bryony McLachlan and executive produced by Avrill Stark (The Deep).
  • Dragon Friends: Dream Killers: A six-part online animation/live action hybrid which follows friends Gabe, Ally, Mike and Eddie who get banned from their local trivia night. In need of a new activity to keep the splintering friendship group together, they leave their real life behind and enter the world of Dungeons and Dragons. This adventure comedy is created by the team behind The Dragon Friends podcast, with writer/director David Harmon and writers Edan Lacey, Alexandra Lee, Michael Hing, Ben Jenkins and Simon Greiner. It will be produced by Lacey, Jenkins, Shakeera Khan and Grace Rein.
  • Drum Wave: A feature film from the team behind Relic which debuted at Sundance 2020, with writer/director Natalie Erika James, producers Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw of Carver Films and writer Christian White. Based on James’ short film of the same name, this thriller follows young pianist Yumi who marries her fiancé, Hiroshi, on the remote island he grew up on. There she discovers a community with bizarre and increasingly threatening fertility rituals, and is forced to confront her fear of motherhood.
  • Mid Life: A six-part online drama from director Luke Eve, whose series Cancelled won the The Grand Jury Prize at Marseille Web Fest in 2020, and writer Anna Lindner. In a follow up to Eve’s series High Life and Low Life, Mid Life centres on Claire, a highly acclaimed artist who appears to have achieved the perfect life balance as mother, wife and creative. But when everyone suddenly leaves her for better offers, a new acquaintance – acute anxiety – is more than happy to fill every role available. This project will be produced by Eve and Gina Carter (High Life).
  • Over My Dead Body: A six-part television series about a Muslim woman named Rana who is haunted by her recently deceased, conservative mother Hayat. With Hayat’s spirit mysteriously earthbound, Rana’s freshly-independent lifestyle is exposed, forcing mother and daughter to connect in unexpected ways – but thank goodness Hayat is already dead, otherwise they’d kill each other. This comedy drama will be written by Amal Awad, who is joined in the writers room by Jane Allen (Janet King), Kacie Anning (The Other Guy) and Adele Vuko (Over and Out).
  • We Ate Jeff: A dark television comedy about a group of four strangers who survive a plane crash in the desert and reluctantly eat the dead pilot on day one. To their surprise they are rescued later that afternoon and they resolve to cover up their terrible secret. Developing the series will be writers Nick Musgrove (How to Stay Married), Nicolette Minster (The Legend of Burnout Barry) and Anna Barnes (Retrograde), creative producer Nick Russell (Let’s Break ‘Em Up!) and executive producer Damian Davis (Mr Black). The set-up director is Catriona McKenzie (Tidelands).
  • Went Up The Hill: A feature film from writer/director Samuel Van Grinsven and writer Jory Anast who previously teamed up on their debut feature Sequin in a Blue Room, winner of Audience Award: Best Narrative Feature at Sydney Film Festival. This psychological thriller centres on Jack, who ventures to remote New Zealand to attend the funeral of his estranged birth mother and meets her grieving widow. But his search for answers becomes dangerous when his mother’s ghost returns to inhabit both her son and widow, instigating a life-threatening nocturnal dance between the three of them. The creative team also features producers Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films (The Babadook, Cargo), and New Zealand producer Vicky Pope (Savage).

For the complete list of development funding approvals refer to television, online and feature film breakdowns.

Headshot of Natalie Erika JamesNatalie Erika James on Drum Wave


Teams with projects for any platform including TV, film and online, can apply for development funding from two program strands – the Generate Fund and the Premium Fund.

The Generate Fund is for lower budget projects with an emphasis on new and emerging talent, or experienced talent wanting to take creative risks. The Premium Fund is for higher budget projects of ambition and scale from successful screen content makers.

Development funding decisions are made on an ongoing basis rather than rounds, so slate announcements include projects funded at different times. For a guide to understanding funding announcements, see here

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