Schepisi, Tass chosen to participate

SYDNEY — Helmers Fred Schepisi and Nadia Tass have been selected for the New South Wales Film and TV Office’s script intensive, Aurora, the 6-year-old workshop that previously produced “Little Fish” and “Somersault.”

March 14 launch by George Miller in Sydney was warmly welcomed at a time when the state of New South Wales is enduring a protracted production downturn.

“Once we were doing so well, and now we have to do a lot more with a lot less,” Miller said.

Aurora is a major initiative for the NSW film office, which filmmakers claim is vastly under-funded.

With a state election on tap March 24, some sections of the industry are campaigning for increased funding for local productions.

NSW hosted all three “Matrix” shoots, plus the last two “Star Wars” films, “Moulin Rouge!” and “Superman Returns.”

But since “Superman” wrapped at the end of 2005, the state has been bereft of a critical mass of production, and filmmakers have been going out of business or moving interstate to work in Victoria or Queensland.

Schepisi is attached to an adaptation of novel “Mr. Darwin’s Shooter,” a story of a friendship between a boy and a young Charles Darwin, adapted by John Alsop and produced by Penny Chapman. 

Tass will direct “Six Weeks of Heaven,” about a 9-year-old girl who seeks to fulfill the dying wish of her brother, from scribe Chris Philips; producer is Dennis Kiely. 

Also selected for Aurora: “Grace,” from scribe-helmer Jennifer Kent and producer Helen Bowden; and “Eleven Months,” from scribe-helmer Michael Joy and producer John L. Simpson.

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