Creative Industries

Australia Council fellowships announced

THE Australia Council for the Arts has announced the eight recipients of the 2017 Australia Council Fellowships, each worth $80,000 over two years.

This year’s recipients are Hetti Perkins of NSW for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts; Stephanie Lake of Victoria for dance; Simon Spain of Tasmania for community arts and cultural development; David Haines of NSW for visual arts; Paul Jackson of Victoria for theatre; Willoh S. Weiland of Tasmania for emerging and experimental arts; Arnold Zable of Victoria for literature; and Andrée Greenwell of NSW for music.

Contemporary choreographer Stephanie Lake, the recipient of the fellowship for dance, will use it to support the development of a large scale work involving more than 50 performers. 

“This fellowship really allows me to keep going, and to be even more ambitious in what I can achieve,” Ms Lake said.

Paul Jackson’s fellowship for theatre will allow him to expand his practice as a multi-award winning lighting designer.

“This really is a key program for providing support and encouragement for mid-career and established artists,” Mr Jackson said. “It enables you to do those things that simply aren’t possible when you're going from job to job trying to make a living.”

The recipient of the community arts and cultural development fellowship, Simon Spain, said the fellowship would support him to continue creating and connecting communities of young people through the arts.

“It will allow me to better advocate for arts and artists in Tasmania and, importantly, to give more of my time to that work,” Mr Spain said.

For composer Andrée Greenwell, the music fellowship will allow her to pursue a series of ambitious projects, including the development of a new work for Opera Queensland.

“I’m honoured and very excited to be undertaking collaborations with leading Australian artists and organisations through this award,” Ms Greenwell said.

Arnold Zable’s fellowship for literature follows more than three decades of storytelling and literary achievements.

“I think it’s important for our culture. To have an Australia Council, and to have support for the arts in this form is an acknowledgment that the arts matter,” Mr Zable said.

Australia Council Fellowships are offered once a year, with applications assessed and awarded by a peer panel made up of experts in the relevant art forms. Applications for the 2018 Fellowships are open until June 5t 2018.


Squared up to represent Australian creative industries

BRISBANE-based start-up Creatively Squared won this year's Creative3 Pitch competition – claiming Australia’s Creative Business Cup – presented at the opening of the recent Creative3 Conference.

Founders Ruth Stephensen and Scott Thomas took out the top prize for their custom visual digital marketing platform that pairs creatives with brands looking for more engaging content.

Hosted by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), Creatively Squared will now go on to represent Australia as part of the Creative Business Cup challenge in Denmark in November, as well as take part in the Virgin StartUp accelerator program, StepUp. 

“We’re so excited to have won the Creative3 Pitch today,” Creatively Squared co-founder and chief creative officer, Ruth Stephensen said.

“We’ve built our platform to be global from day one, so to be able to share our vision on the world stage at the Creative Business Cup is a great opportunity for us.

“We’re so thankful that CEA gives creative businesses like us the opportunity to challenge ourselves and present our businesses at this level. It’s really positive to see the creative industries in Australia continue to diversify and grow.” 

The Creative3 Pitch breakfast kicked off the beginning of the Creative3 Conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre on September 22.

Creative3 is Australia’s only conference for creative tech start-ups. The conference gives start-up founders the opportunity to hear from international and national speakers, as well as experts within the industry, including SOSV managing director William Bao Bean and Annie Parker from Fishburners and Code Club Australia. 

“We’re really pleased with the calibre of talent presenting at the CreativePitch this morning,” QUT Creative Enterprise Australia acting CEO Mark Gustowski.

“Starting a company from scratch and working it to scale is challenge enough in itself, let alone presenting that company to a room full of potential investors and experts in your industry.

“We’re really proud to be able to offer up Creatively Squared as the Australian representative for the Creative Business Cup, and look forward to being able to follow their growth in the years to come.”

Other finalists for the Creative3 Conference were start-ups Pluss, Postie and Folktale.  


Curvy clothing label debuts at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival

THE ONLY plus-size label to feature on the runway at the 2017 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival in Brisbane, Platinum Plus, is poised for a paradigm shift in how Australian fashion caters to women of all body types.

The label’s founder and designer, Angela Rose has been accustomed to breaking boundaries from a young age.

From struggling to fit clothes for her age and gender in a small, rural town, to overcoming immense personal battles including the loss of both her father and her marriage, Ms Rose turned her misery into perseverance and gained the courage to realise her dreams, forging Platinum Plus into a creative business reality. 

Inspired by a love for fashion, and a desire to make women of all sizes feel beautiful, she created a range of samples for herself and friends. They were a resounding hit – and Platinum Plus was born.

Countless hours, endless late nights and unexpected costs later, Ms Rose’s first ever line, the 2017 Spring/Summer collection, was picked up by the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in late August.

It was also featured at the Sunshine Coast Women’s Lifestyle Expo in early September.

Platinum Plus will exhibit at RAW Brisbane on November 16 and Ultimate Women’s Weekend Lifestyle and Wellbeing Expo in 2018.

For Angela Rose, her line represents everything that ‘traditional’ plus size clothing does not – bright colours, daring cuts and, most importantly, personality.

“Much of the line was made using dreamy Ankara fabric, which we use to keep women comfortable throughout the day and night,” Ms Rose said. “The 100 percent cotton fabric is tightly woven and hugs and drapes every womanly curve.”

The collection, which includes dresses, skirts, tops, shorts and pants, features figure-flattering waistlines which make the garments completely wearable in all situations, she said, “from the boardroom to the bar and everywhere in between”.

“Whether it’s a job interview or date night, Platinum Plus has women feeling fabulous and perfectly themselves,” Ms Rose said.

Platinum Plus’ Spring/Summer line is available in sizes 14-28, and by request in sizes 8-12.

Platinum Plus is using the fashion events for promotion and a range of online stores for distribution, as well as its own website.




New Aust-China co-production rolling

SCREEN Australia has announced a new Australian-Chinese co-production feature At Last, making it the eighth official co-production to receive approval.

The announcement was made at a screen industry networking event in Beijing recently, in partnership with Ausfilm and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The event was designed to further energise Australian-Chinese working relationships and identify co-production opportunities with Chinese producers and production companies. 

In attendance were Ausfilm members including Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screen Queensland, Screenwest, City of Gold Coast, Soundfirm, Spectrum Films, Show Group, Stage & Screen and The Appointment Group.

Stand-alone private enterprises were also present, including production house Sydney Films which intends to identify 20 existing or potential co-production films with a total investment budget of A$400 million (¥2 billion*).

Screen Australia manages the official co-production program on behalf of the Australian Federal Government.

“We have seen increased interest in Australian-Chinese co-productions with At Last being the fourth feature announced since late 2015,” Screen Australia’s head of business and audience, Richard Harris said.

“This upswing in activity is the result of seven years of engagement with the Chinese screen industry and the sustained support of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television in China.

“China is currently the world’s second-largest movie-going market and co-productions are an essential growth stream for the Australian industry, this is over and above the existing appetite for Chinese television and film productions being shot in Australia.”

Ausfilm CEO Debra Richards said, “We have been building the Australia China Film Industry Exchange in partnership with Screen Australia and the Australian Embassy in Beijing for the last seven years. And more recently Ausfilm and its members, with the support of the Embassy have brought an annual delegation of Chinese filmmakers to Australia to see the locations; the state-of-the-art facilities, studios and services; and to meet with Australia’s world renowned technicians, crew and talent - essentially to experience all that Australia has to offer.

Bleeding Steel, which filmed in Sydney and starring Jackie Chan, is one such outcome of this ongoing relationship.”

The latest co-production At Last is the story of a couple from Beijing who find themselves caught in a complex art heist while on holiday in Australia. The feature will be written and directed by Yiwei Liu and produced by Jackie Jiao, Todd Fellman, Charles Fan and Vanessa Wu, from China's Monumental Films, Australia’s Roadman Films and Story Bridge Films.

Casting is currently underway with production expected to commence in Australia from mid-July. Financing will be provided by Orient Image Entertainment, Gravity Films, Shineland Media, China Lion and Screen Queensland. 

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira said At Last would shoot in Queensland, providing approximately 200 jobs and injecting $10.8 million into the local economy.

At Last has come to Queensland as a direct result of the Queensland Government’s $30 million screen industry funding injection over four years,” Ms Vieira said.

“The film will showcase a range of Queensland locations and will be the setting for this film which has the potential to grow tourism from China into our state,” Ms Vieira said. “Queensland producers have been working extensively to build relationships with Chinese producers and it is fantastic to see another official co-production in our State.”

At Last is the eighth Australian-Chinese co-production announced since the official treaty was put in place in 2008, and joins a growing list which includes Guardians of the Tomb starring Li Bingbing from writer/director Kimble Rendall (Bait 3D) currently in post-production; and two additional features My Extraordinary Wedding and Tying the Knot which are yet to commence production.

A further feature Dog Fight wrapped production last year, with 33 PostcardsThe Dragon Pearl and Children of the Silk Road also produced to date.

Beyond co-productions, several Australian films have enjoyed Chinese box office success, most recently Hacksaw Ridge which grossed A$80 million (¥419 million) and was granted an extended theatrical release, rare for foreign films usually limited to a 30-day run.

This follows the success of cult hit Bait 3D which grossed A$24.4 million (¥127 million).

Australian films are also regularly selected for Chinese film festivals, including The Death and Life of Otto Bloom, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Tiantan Award at the 2017 Beijing International Film Festival in April.

In addition there are a growing number of Chinese productions being filmed in Australia, including Bleeding Steel starring Jackie Chan, which was the largest budget Chinese production ever to shoot in Australia and for which a new teaser was unveiled at the Beijing event.

The upcoming production Butterflies Across the Sea will be one of the biggest budget Chinese television series to ever have been filmed outside of China and joins Speed which recently wrapped filming in South Australia.

The number of Chinese films released in Australian cinemas is also increasing. There were  30 releases in 2015 compared to 13 releases in 2014. The 2016 hit The Mermaid  achieved A$1.3 Million (¥6.7 million) at the Australian box office.

Australia’s Ambassador to China Jan Adams  said, “The Australian Embassy proudly supports Screen Australia, Ausfilm and the Australian screen industry. Our work together delivers public diplomacy and economic diplomacy benefits by highlighting Australian creative excellence, deepening cultural understanding and delivering business opportunities in a fast growing market. 2017 is the Australia China Year of Tourism and marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations. It is a great time to be making co-productions.”



ABC drama Harrow films in Qld for global distribution

THE ABC – in partnership with Hoodlum Entertainment, ABC Studios International and Screen Queensland – will film a major new television drama series, Harrow, in Brisbane and South east Queensland later this year and will be seen by audiences across the globe.

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira congratulated Brisbane-based production house Hoodlum on “the development of another successful series”.

“This is a tribute to the talents of Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning Hoodlum, which continues to build an international reputation for creating groundbreaking film and television,” Ms Vieira said.              

“The development and filming of Harrow in Queensland is a great coup for our state and will drive Queensland’s ongoing momentum for making and attracting quality local and international productions.”

The unorthodox hero of the series, Dr Daniel Harrow is no ordinary forensic pathologist. Dr Harrow’s total disregard for authority and his unfailing empathy for the dead help him solve even the most bizarre of cases. He is driven to give victims a voice, and will bend every rule to get to the truth of what happened to them. But when a terrible secret from his own past threatens his family, his career, and himself, Dr Harrow needs all his wit, wile, and forensic genius not to solve a crime, but to keep it buried.

ABC head of scripted production, Sally Riley described Harrow as “Darkly funny, totally irreverent, and always surprising – Harrow is an addictive new crime show”.

“The ABC is thrilled to be working with the award-winning team at Hoodlum to bring the complex and compelling Harrow to life,” Ms Riley said.

“Trying to unravel the mystery and understand just what makes Harrow tick will keep audiences guessing right to the end of this exciting new drama series.”

ABC Studios International managing director for international content and talent, Keli Lee said,  “As our first foray into series production, we’re so excited to produce Harrow for worldwide distribution. A compelling story and great characters resonate all over the world.” 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “The Queensland Government investment in the home-grown thriller Harrow, through Screen Queensland, will deliver job opportunities and skills development for the local screen industry, with broader economic benefits for Queensland.

“The filming of the series will result in direct expenditure of more than $15 million into Queensland jobs, goods and services … and will also showcase Queensland locations globally, opening the doors to tourists considering where next to visit.”

Filming for Harrow is due to begin in August.



Enterprising people and industry through Screen

SCREEN AUSTRALIA’s Enterprise Program for Industry and People funded some fascinating initiatives to develop emerging production and screenwriting talent, to the tune of $2.5 million in 2016.

Announced in late 2016 – and with more opportunities to come in 2017 for local companies to explore new ideas and business models, develop innovative projects and cultivate the careers of emerging talent – the Enterprise program alumni include the likes of CJZ (Go Back To Where You Came From), Jungle (Here Come The Habibs), Ludo Studio (Doodles#7 Days Later) and Werner Film Productions (Dance Academy). 

In the most recent round of Enterprise funding, six companies and five individuals shared in $2.5 million from across the Industry and People strands.

The successful proposals in 2016 included a screenwriting development initiative by Scripted Ink. in partnership with the Australian Writers’ Guild; giant screen cinema projects from Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) and Jo-anne McGowan (Art + Soul); targeted content development; and placements with leading industry producers such as Vicki Madden (The Kettering Incident) and Angie Fielder (Lion).

“I would like to offer my congratulations to those who were successful – in an extremely competitive round of Enterprise funding – for presenting us with such distinctive and compelling business ideas,” Screen Australia head of business and audience, Richard Harris said.

One of the six successful Enterprise Industry applicants’ proposals will see the Australian Writers' Guild  create an extension of Scripted Ink.The Writers Room Project, offering an opportunity for up to 20 experienced and emerging writers from their acclaimed Pathways Program to develop their skills and maximise the market potential of their TV drama projects.

Brisbane-based kids' content specialists Like A Photon Creative are being funded for a series of writers rooms designed to develop content for their slate – targeting the particularly challenging tween market, create a long-term marketing strategy, and enhance their team. 

Highly experienced content producers at Lingo PicturesHelen Bowden and Jason Stephens, will use the funding to create Australian IP from the ground up with a focus on attracting international pre-sales, enabling co-productions and non-traditional equity investment. 

Independent distributor Madman Entertainment is launching VoD service ‘Docplay’ in December 2016, a destination hub for Australian and International documentary content with a revenue-share model for filmmakers. They will use this funding to acquire and curate quality independent Australian documentaries for the platform.

Film and television production company Revolver will capitalise on their relationship with sister company, internationally award-winning TV commercials production company Revolver, to explore the acknowledged opportunity for brand association at the development stage of content creation.

And documentary specialists Stranger Than Fiction Films (STFF) headed up by Jennifer Peedom and Jo-anne McGowan will use this funding to investigate the international market potential of immersive giant screen films, using the release of their film Mountain in June 2017 as a launch pad.

“We are so pleased to have received this support from Screen Australia, which will enable us to expand and explore international partnerships across our slate including feature documentaries and the growing giant screen market,” STFF’s Jennifer Peedom said.

The five successful Enterprise People placements include comedy writer Tristram Baumber who will expand on his credits at Aquarius Films where he will be mentored by creative partners Angie FielderCecilia Ritchie and Polly Staniford (LionBerlin SyndromeWish You Were Here), and highly-respected script executive Greg Waters (Dance AcademySecret City).

Penny Harrold will join Vicki Madden at Tasmanian-based company Sweet Potato Films (SPF) in the role of creative producer, giving her exposure to the industry and the opportunity to assist SPF to capitalise on the phenomenal success of The Kettering Incident.

Producer Lisa Hoppe will be mentored on all aspects of producing by leading children’s animation content maker Avrill Stark (The DeepSanta’s Apprentice) at A Stark Production with a view to seeing her achieve broadcast producing credits;

Producer Melissa Johnston will undergo a placement at film and TV production house Ruby Entertainment where she will be mentored by principal Stephen Luby (The Secret RiverCrackerjack), focusing on the company’s development slate, online content and her own projects;

And producer Jessica Mitchell will be mentored by Western Australia-based film and TV production company WBMC’s Janelle Landers (Son of a Gunwhere she will work across the company’s development slate and attend domestic and international festivals and markets.

“I am so thrilled to have been given this opportunity to acquire on-the-job experience, gain credits and further develop my career working with Vicki Madden at Sweet Potato Films,” Penny Harrold said.

SPF’s Vicki Madden said: “Enterprise People funding will allow me to employ talented upcoming producer Penny Harrold with whom Sweet Potato Films has a long association. This is invaluable at a time when the company has seen recent success and will allow us the opportunity to produce a slate that is sustainable and internationally focused. A win for SPF and the Tasmanian screen sector.”

A further two Enterprise Industry projects have received conditional funding and will be announced at a later stage pending approval.

Enterprise Industry and People has come to the end of the intended three year cycle and will now be reviewed with the aid of industry consultation. A new program and focus will be revealed in 2017.



Aquaman draws heroic govt support

YOU KNOW there is money in a movie when it gets the backing of both the Federal and Queensland Governments.

And you know it is on the economic radar when announcements of support come from no less than the Australian Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Federal Arts Minister and the Queensland Premier.

Such is the case with a new movie franchise in Disney’s Marvel comic superhero stable, Aquaman, which is set to be filmed in Australia this year.

“The Turnbull Government has announced $22 million to secure Australia as the filming location for the blockbuster feature film Aquaman, the next DC superhero movie by Warner Bros Pictures,” Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

“The funding secures a major investment in Australia that will create more than 1000 jobs and inject over $150 million into the economy. It will also give thousands of Australian businesses the opportunity to provide the specialised goods and services required for the filming of Aquaman.

Mr Morrison made the announcement with Arts Minister Mitch Fifield, based on the UIS production’s economic credentials – which are significant given that others in the franchise may also soon be enticed.

So far, Mr Morrison noted, similarly supported movies such as Thor: Ragnarok, Alien: Covenant and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales have injected “more than half a billion dollars into the country with long-term benefits in innovation and international collaboration”

The Federal Government appears to be getting its wish that large budget international production continues to be an important part of the Australian film and television production sector.

“It strengthens Australia’s capacity to produce high-quality content and provides valuable skills development opportunities for our talented crews,” Mr Morrison said.

An added bonus for filming Aquaman in Queensland is the return of Australia’s multi-award winning director, producer and screenwriter James Wan – well-known for his work on Saw and Furious 7 – who will be returning home to direct an all-star cast including Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) in the title role.



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