An Obscure Reference to the Song “Simply Irresistible”

It’s the start of a new financial year, and we all know what that means: Australia’s various film and television funding bodies reveal where the money went!

Considering how often we’re told that funding is essential to the development and production of film and television in this country you’d figure these lists would be a rock-solid guide to the laughs we can expect to be getting in the months and year to come. And yet, year after year, at least 90% of these projects come to nothing – and we’re not just talking about the ones with Marieke Hardy’s name attached. It’s almost as if the funding system was akin to a giant rort funneling money to pushy chancers, people with the right contacts, everybody’s mates and The Usual Suspects rather than something designed to help the best ideas get in front of the most people.

Of course, we could just be being cynical [who, us? – ed]. So let’s just take a look through who’s been lucky enough to score a slice of government pie.

First we have Screen Australia’s most recent round of approvals:

Q-SCHOOL
One Stone Pictures Pty Ltd
Genre
Comedy, Crime
Producer Georgie Lewin
Executive Producer Nathan Earl
Writers Veronica Milsom, Nicholas McDougall, Nathan Earl
Synopsis Before you’re a golf sensation, you have to make it through Q-School. Every golfer has a Q-School story. This series is about the class of 2017 – a killer year.

THESE NEW SOUTH WHALES SEASON TWO
Born In The Sauce Pty Ltd
Genre
Comedy
Producers Todd Andrews, Ben Timony, Jamie Timony
Executive Producers Jeffery Walker, Laura Waters
Directors Ben Timony, Jamie Timony
Writers Todd Andrews, Ben Timony, Jamie Timony
Synopsis Four even cockier underdogs from Newcastle become the bonafide lords of the road they always aspired to be.

Z-BULB
Studio Moshi Productions Pty Ltd
Genre
Action adventure, Comedy
Producer Andrew Davies
Director Christien Clegg
Writer Scott Edgar
Synopsis Waking from a coma into a modern world of celebrity heroes and villains, Z-Bulb must regain his rightful place while putting history right to expose the truth of his former greatness.

HEAVEN INC
Crankyfish Pty Ltd, Monkeystack & Cameralla
Genre 
Animated Comedy
Producers Julian Vincent Costanzo, Jonathon Dutton, Justin Wight
Director Alex Brett Graham
Writer Carl J. Sorheim
Synopsis God is having a hell of a time. He hardly believes in himself anymore and has outsourced the afterlife to the celestial company DestaCorp, leaving him twiddling his thumbs and pondering the meaning of life. Meanwhile, outspoken atheist Michelle meets an oddly well-timed death – and the last place she expects to end up is Heaven.

RUPERT
Goalpost Pictures Australia Pty Ltd
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Producers Andrew Spaulding, Rosemary Blight, Doug Mankoff, Mike Marcus
Writer David Williamson
Synopsis Based on David Williamson’s bitingly satirical stage-play, Rupert will chart the rise of global media’s most powerful player: Rupert Murdoch, the arch-manipulator of public opinion, dynastic warlord and Mama’s boy.

And then under Gender Matters: Brilliant Stories funding recipients we found these guys:

THE ELEMENTALS
8 x 30 min
Snap Pants Productions
Genre
Action adventure, Comedy
Producers Diana Glenn, Katherine Stewart, Jane Harber, Andrew Walker
Director Sian Davies
Writers Diana Glenn, Katherine Stewart, Jane Harber
Synopsis Three washed up, co-dependent ex Superheroes living in a share house wrestle with their responsibilities to save the planet and their desire to do very little. Things heat up with the emergence of a new uber villain and news that they are about to lose their government super hero payouts.

HOLY COW
6 x 1 hr
See Pictures, Bliss Bomb, Jungle FTV
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Producers Ester Harding, Radha Mitchell, Chloe Rickard
Directors Alethea Jones, Daina Reid
Writers Liz Doran, Lally Katz, Greg Waters
Synopsis When media commentator Sarah runs to foreign correspondent Jonathan’s New Delhi doorstep, she keeps her reasons secret. A romantic adventure through India’s extremes is not what she expects, but it may turn out to be what she needs.

JUMPER
6 x 30 min
Porchlight Films
Genre
Comedy
Producers Tanya Phegan, Sylvia Warmer
Executive Producers Anita Sheehan, Vincent Sheehan, Liz Watts
Writer/Director Kacie Anning
Synopsis A big-hearted comedic underdog sports series where a working class university student forms a jump rope team to protest the repeal of free tertiary education in 1980’s Australia.

PUBLIC RELATIONS
6 x 30 min
Revlover Films
Genre
Comedy
Producer Martha Coleman
Director Sarah Bishop
Writers Claire Phillips, Sarah Bishop, Ainslie Clouston
Synopsis An outrageously funny and biting satirical ensemble comedy set in a PR firm that struggles to keep its clients out of the papers and their dick pics offline.

SEX IN THE WEST (SITW)
6 x 1 hr
Entertainment One Films
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Producers Troy Lum, Jude Troy
Executive Producer Fadia Abboud
Writers Fadia Abboud, Lina Kastoumis, Gillian Stein, Amal Awad
Synopsis A sharp, warm and celebratory story of three Arab, Muslim and Christian female friends living in contemporary Western Sydney. Their friendships and loyalties are tested as they balance community and family expectations with their own desires and ambitions.

SILVER LINING
8 x 30 min
Carver Films
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Producers Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw
Director Mirrah Foulkes
Writers Mirrah Foulkes, Luke Davies
Synopsis Rose returns from her life overseas to convince her eccentric ageing parents to move into assisted living. As they dig their heels in, she suddenly finds herself parenting them and having to face the dysfunctional family dynamics that bubble to the surface.

SWEET JANE
10 x 1 hr
Cordell Jigsaw Productions
Genre
Drama, Romantic comedy
Producer Paul Bennett
Director Jennifer Leacy
Writers Samantha Strauss, Ally Burnham, Paul Bennett
Synopsis A contemporary workplace comedy set against the dramatic highs and lows of the book publishing industry.

And we’re not going to go through all the online ones but these did stand out thanks to the people involved:

SHEILAS
Giant Dwarf
Genre
Comedy
Producer Nikita Agzarian
Executive Producer Julian Morrow
Writers/Directors Eliza Reilly, Hannah Reilly
Synopsis A playful celebration of the forgotten and most badass women in Australian History.

GOOD GRIEF
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Producer Amanda Reedy
Executive Producer Nicole Minchin
Director Amanda Jane
Writers Natalie Harris, Jess Harris
Synopsis A funny and touching series on grief. Whether it’s mourning a loved one, your youth, or last night’s bottle(s) of pinot, grief is inevitable and never convenient.

Anything there to get excited about? Anything there you can say with any confidence “sounds funny”? Is it merely enough to describe a project as “outrageously funny” or should there be traces of humour in the log line itself?

Pretty much the only pre-tested material seems to be the adaptation of the David Williamson play Rupert, which many reviews referred to as being somewhat “resume-like”. Considering Williamson’s last foray into television comedy was the astonishingly shithouse Dog’s Head Bay twenty years ago (“We suggest you don’t bother”, 2.8 out of 10 – IMDb), Rupert might have some vague car-crash fascination. Anyone else think they’ll try to cast Max Gillies? He’s still the go-to guy for shit “serious” satire of this ilk, right?

But otherwise… Okay, to be fair some of these are the kind of generic set-up you’d expect for a comedy where the laughs are going to come from performances and dialogue. And some – well, all the ones involving superheroes for starters – seem like the producers are trying to throw an otherwise bog standard comedy onto a bandwagon that left five years ago.

Still, there’s an awful lot of names here that we don’t recognise for good or ill. Have we missed anything? Is there anything here we should be optimistic about? Anything? C’mon guys, we’re drowning…

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3 Comments

  • EvilCommieDictator says:

    Surely the PR firm was done in Absolute Power, and the retirement home done better in Mother and Son, but let’s see how many of them turn out to be more than youtube fodder

  • Bernard says:

    The mind boggles as to how many golfing gags you can fit into one comedy.

    “…dramatic highs and lows of the book publishing industry.” Seriously, what sort of “dramatic highs” occur in the publishing industry?

    Just about all of them sound like unfunny hipster “comedy.” Let me guess, all the writers, producers, etc are twenty-somethings from Melbourne (apart from Kat Stewart, etc).

  • RicG says:

    Elementals intrigues me; firstly in doesn’t refer to itself as hilarious or biting. Secondly because I quite liked the idea when it was Aqua Teen Hunger Force or What We Did In The Shadows. Third that there’s always the possibilty that they’ll achieve something alongside the lines of sheer anarchy with such a broadly open concept.
    We can live in hope.