sci-fi thriller Monolith is set to become the first feature film to emerge from a new initiative to build South Australian cinematic capacity and diversity.
The production was given the green light after nearly a year of development under the Film Lab: New Voices program – an intensive, low-budget skills program designed to support the next generation of filmmaking talent in the Australian state.
A budget of $288,000 (AU$400,000) will be provided by the state agency South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and the Adelaide Film Festival, where the film is set to premiere in October.
Casting and scouting on Monolith is underway and filming is expected to begin in May.
Matt Vesely will direct Lucy Campbell’s screenplay about a headstrong journalist whose investigative podcast uncovers a strange artifact, an alien conspiracy, and the lies at the heart of her own story. The producer is Bettina Hamilton.
Three projects were selected for development among the 63 proposed by 49 teams for the first Film Lab: New Voices.
The other two continue to develop. In Matiwhich writer/director Peter Ninos is producing with Georgia Humphreys, a young Greek gay man must contend with an evil superstition to escape a prison of his own making.
In Stormby writer/director Madeleine Parry and producer Peta Astbury Bulsara, the siblings discover on the anniversary of their mother’s death that their father is planning to sell the family home, revealing secrets that threaten to split the family.
If lit, these will also receive a budget of AU$400,000 from the SAFC and the Adelaide Film Festival, while federal agency Screen Australia is helping to pay for the overall initiative and the organization local Mercury CX training and resource center provides in-kind support.
At least one member of all lab projects must have a key creative who is female, First Nations, culturally or linguistically diverse, Deaf or disabled, LGBTQUIA+, or from a regional or remote area.
Seven of the 26 films submitted by 23 teams for the lab’s second round are already in development. It is expected that three will be chosen for further development in the coming weeks.