Showcasing the distinct and diverse stories and voices of regional Australia, this year’s six finalists of AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes in partnership with Screenworks have been announced. The six teams will now receive training and mentorship from industry experts as they prepare additional real-world deliverables and refine their final pitch.
This year’s AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes in partnership with Screenworks top six finalists have submitted unique film ideas that span Australia’s iconic southern salty-aired town of Hobart, across to the lush farmland of Western Australia, and up to Queensland’s rugged mining towns. From adventure, coming-of-age comedies to sinister thrillers, the Round 1 finalists tell stories inspired by and emanating from Australia’s Regional Landscapes.
Congratulations to all finalists, with special mention to Screenworks members Vicki O’Neill, Brooke Collard, Gary Hamaguchi, along with Sebastian Chan and Joshua Koske who have come through our programs over the years.
Finalists will take part in an exclusive training session with film producer and educator Abigail Tabone, of the Compton School. The session will include a lecture on tips, tricks and story preparation for pitching, and guidance on the creation and refinement of their second round deliverables. Each finalist will also be given one-on-one training and mentorship from the judging panel, who will help them prepare an industry standard pitch, followed by another individual session with Abigail where they will have the opportunity to synthesize feedback from all of the judges and rehearse their pitch.
This year’s judging panel is comprised of Madman co-founder and CEO Paul Weigard, SBS Scripted Commissioning Editor (and previous recipient of AACTA Pitch development support) Loani Arman, and returning inaugural Regional Landscapes judge Deb Cox, who in 2020 took Regional Landscapes finalist A SUNBURNT CHRISTMAS through to production via her Every Cloud Productions, and release via STAN.
“Without AACTA Pitch Regional Landscapes in partnership with Screenworks we would never have met the amazing Deb Cox and the team at Every Cloud Productions who listened to our idea for an Australian Christmas Film,” said Timothy Walker, 2020 AACTA Regional Pitch Landscapes Finalist and co-writer of A SUNBURNT CHRISTMAS alongside Elliot and Gretel Vella.
AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes will culminate in a final presented as part of 2023 Screenworks Regional to Global Screen Forum, a hybrid event to run from Thursday March 30 to April 1, 2023. The forum will be held at Lennox Head Conference Centre and live-streamed online, and will feature workshops, presentations, one-on-one meetings and networking events.
The six AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes in Partnership with Screenworks finalists and their loglines are as follows:
Bridge – Caitlin Richardson & Michael Hili
Hobart, 1975: In the sticky darkness of a midsummer night, a bridge breaks in half. The stories of ten characters whose personal lives hover on the edge of disaster, endings and transformation become interwoven when their cars are brought to a stop on the mysteriously fractured bridge
Here If Ya Need – Vicki O’Neill & Joanne Watson
53 year old Ronnie takes her sisters and nieces on a ribald road trip to compete in a Masters netball tournament and haul her most wayward sibling, Vivian out of a post-divorce slump.
Lovin’ The Outback – Ella Qaisi, Sebastian Chan & Joshua Koske
When falling for her sister’s cowboy suitor, an imaginative mortician must team up with the larrikin to find and train a suitable replacement in the ways of outback droving before her sister arrives in the country.
Moonshot – Nicholas Clifford, Emma Roberts & Jules Duncan
In an attempt to avoid a court sentence, Joy, a curmudgeonly reprobate, takes in her space-obsessed nephew Daryl, who quickly blackmails her into helping to build an impossibly complicated, extremely dangerous, and probably illegal science fair project.
Our Golden Hour – Samuel Keene
Our Golden Hour is a coming-of-age comedy adventure that follows an aspiring filmmaker who sets out to make one final magnum opus with her best friend before she moves away from her small mining town at the end of the Summer, but when their ode to treasure hunting classics leads them towards a real and possibly cursed treasure, the friendship begins to fray as their ambitions pull them in opposite directions.
Reclamation – Brooke Collard & Gary Hamaguchi
It’s the 1970’s and a series of sinister accidents have pushed farmers out of their land. Their last resort is Terry, Noongar ranger, who discovers there is more to the accidents than the farmers have shared.
AACTA Awards and Industry Development Manager Ivan Vukusic said, “I’m very proud of how our Regional Landscapes initiative with Screenworks has grown over the last four years, and importantly how positively it’s being received by regional creatives looking for opportunity to profile their fantastic ideas. We’ve had great results so far and the support from the broader industry has been encouraging. This year we’ve added even more pitch training and mentorship that’ll benefit this year’s excellent short list beyond this initiative and I look forward to learning more about each of their unique film projects in the weeks and months ahead. I’m genuinely excited by their adventurous creativity and bold audience friendly ideas.”
Screenworks’ Industry Development and Programs Manager, Louise Hodgson said “Working with AACTA to produce the annual Regional Landscapes initiative means we can consistently expect to discover exciting new regional talent and ways of telling regional Australian stories. We’ll be watching closely to see how the 2023 finalists progress through this year’s process. I think it will provide an excellent opportunity for the participants to learn more about pitching competitively, as well as to further the development of their creative.”
More about this year’s judges
Loani Arman joined SBS in 2022 as Scripted Commissioning Editor. In the role, Loani works across the development and production of scripted content and oversees SBS’ short form drama slate and other talent development initiatives.
Prior to SBS, Loani was a Content Director at Screen Queensland where she led their development programs and initiatives. Earlier in her career, she was the Drama Associate for Showtime Australia, working across original drama commissions including Cloudstreet and Tangle.
As a screen creative, Loani has had a drama series developed through the Stan/Screen Queensland Premium Drama Fund. In 2020, her documentary series, My Body Says (ABC iView), won the inaugural AIDC Best Short Form Award, and in 2019, Loani was the winner of the AACTA Pitch Competition with her short film, Our Greatest Escape.
Loani celebrates her Indonesian-Australian heritage and champions equity and inclusion in the screen industry.
After establishing herself as a script editor and screenwriter at Crawford Productions and freelancing for a number of years, Deb became Head of Drama for Artist Services where she created, wrote and co-produced her first original series, Simone de Beauvoir’s Babies in 1997 for the ABC. As part of CoxKnight Productions with Andrew Knight, Deb co-created and co-wrote three series of the much-loved ABC series SeaChange, the drama series CrashBurn and developed the children’s series, Worst Best Friends.
In 2009, after moving to Byron Bay in Australia, Deb Co-Created East of Everything – the first prime time drama series shot in the region. She then formed Every Cloud Productions with Fiona Eagger – Co-Creating, Co-Producing and heading the writing team on three series of the international hit period drama Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
She has also worked as Executive Producer and Story Producer on Indigenous drama The Gods of Wheat Street, the youth short-form series, Deadlock and drama series Eden and two Christmas movies for Stan – Sunburnt Christmas and A Christmas Ransom.
Deb has been a mentor under the Natalie Miller Fellowship Brilliant Careers program, has been a speaker and teacher on various programs for Northern Rivers Screenworks, the Byron Writer’s Festival and Victorian College of the Arts.
After Deb and Fiona handed the reins of Every Cloud Productions to others in 2022, Deb returned to freelance screenwriting, story-producing and mentoring for the wider Australian and International Screen Industry.
Founder & CEO, Madman Entertainment a leading independent distributor in ANZ. Distributed more than 25 Oscar nominated / winning films in ANZ.
Executive Produced 20+ feature films & documentaries.
Established streaming platform DocPlay.
Current President of Australian Independent Distributors Association (AIDA), Co-Chair Australian Documentary Conference (AIDC), Board Member of Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).
For more information on AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes, click here.