Schepisi ‘Hitches’ back Down Under

Cast, start date, budget contingent on coin raised

SYDNEY — Fred Schepisi is set to make his first Australian film in 15 years, if the latest fundraising effort from the Macquarie Bank and Kerry Packer’s Nine Network succeeds.

Schepisi penned “Hitches,” a $A11 million ($6.6 million) dramady about two brothers on a summer hitchhiking vacation to Queensland’s Gold Coast. The Melbourne native will helm and produce, with the cast, start date and budget contingent on the success of public fundraising, aiming to raise over $12 million by end June.

The fundraising, launched in Sydney Monday , is the second partnership between the two shingles. The companies intend to bring in other partners for each project on the upcoming slate, which has a total production tab estimated at $31 million.

Other projects on the prospectus, allocated 40% to films and 60% to TV, are a third series of TV drama “McLeod’s Daughters” plus “Bachelor Kisses,” a telepic based on Nick Earls’ novel to be produced by Penny Chapman.

Other pics are;

  • “You and Your Stupid Mate,” a comedy about two friends who find their lives turned upside down when they learn they have to work for benefits, from producer Marc Gracie (“The Craic”).

  • “The Extra,” a romantic comedy about an average Joe who envies movie stars getting money and girls and says, ‘Why not me?’. Produced by comedy vets Bruno Charlesworth, Stephen Luby, and Mark Ruse it was written by and will star popular Irish comedian Jimeoin.

  • Mondo,” a black comedy from scribe Ian David, produced by Mushroom Pictures and directed by Jonathan Teplitzky.

  • Mozart Maulers,” a comedy, based on the true story of a bunch of music students who tackle life head on and win. It will be directed by “Swimfan” helmer John Polson and produced by Martin Brown (“Moulin Rouge.” )

The first partnership between Macquarie Bank and Nine was the John Goodman comedy “Dirty Deeds” released July last year. That film was produced by Macquarie’s film investment company, Macquarie Film Corporation and co-released by Nine and Packer’s Hoyts Distribution.

The inaugural Nine-Macquarie joint-fundraising in 2002 bank-rolled pics “Gettin’ Square” and “Under the Radar,” telepic “The Postcard Bandit” and TV skeins “McLeod’s Daughters” and “Young Lions,” which was canned after one series. It raised $13 million.

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