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Tropnest flies coop as Oz pic hatchery

Organizers fail to find funding

SYDNEY — The crisis in Australian feature film development claimed another victim with the closure of burgeoning feature film development center Tropnest this week after organizers failed to find enough funding.

Launched in 1998 as an offshoot of Sydney’s popular Tropfest short film festival, Tropnest provided development advice and facilities for emerging filmmakers, including scribe John Meadows, who just wrapped production on “Wise Girls” toplining Mariah Carey and Mira Sorvino. Pic is backed by Lions Gate and Intermedia.

At Tropnest, Mara Blazic developed “To Kill a Sunrise,” which won the romantic comedy script prize at the Houston Film Fest but is still looking for a production deal.

Development manager Nick Marchand says eight other projects are in their third or fourth draft, adding: “We’re going to see Nest projects in the next year or so come to fruition.”

Hungry for a hit

A report by the Australian Film Commission released last November said Oz scripts suffered impoverished budgets and protracted development. The industry has been waiting five years, since Scott Hicks’ “Shine,” for an international breakout hit.

Tropnest was backed by Premium Movie Partnership Showtime Australia, the New South Wales Film & Television Office and the Australian Film Commission and was housed rent-free in a cottage at Fox Studios Australia. Polygram Australia and Beyond had previously been major sponsors.

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