Fresh faces in TV, film and music make breakout moves Down Under

From filmmakers and musicians nabbing international attention to a TV exec whose passion is promoting local programming and a young thesp poised for breakout, Australia is deep with talent.

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Alister Grierson
Grierson has been hand-picked by James Cameron to bring the Cameron/Pace Fusion 3D camera system technology Down Under after the Oscar-winner saw Grierson’s war pic “Kokoda.”
As helmer of the A$30 million ($27 million) 3D adventure “Sanctum” — being shot at the Warner Bros. studios on the Gold Coast — Grierson will also take the technology underwater.
Pic centers on a group of people trapped in a cave system beneath Oz’s remote Nullarbor Plain, and is based on the real-life experiences of “Sanctum” producer Andrew Wight, who was trapped when a cave he was exploring collapsed.
Pic stars Richard Roxburgh and Rhys Wakefield from sudser “Home and Away.”

FILM
Sean Byrne
Tyro helmer Byrne’s small-budget horror pic “The Loved Ones” won the Midnight Madness audience award at Toronto last year and is getting some serious buzz ahead of its Down Under release in August.
Pic tells the story of a girl’s obsessive crush and culminates in a macabre prom-like scenario in which the object of her desires is the unwilling guest of honor.
But Byrne says he was keen to avoid the well-worn torture porn cliches.
“It’s about finding your way home, which has been the cornerstone of filmmaking from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to ‘E.T.’ It’s just that it is dressed up in pop-horror clothing,” he says.
Byrnes’ next two projects are genre pics but with what he hopes will become a trademark twist. “If I was to have a style, it would be having one foot firmly in commercial territory and the other one dangling off a cliff,” he says.

FILM
Caitlin Stasey
Melbourne-born Stasey has spent the past five years on sudser “Neighbours,” which has churned out such stars as Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue and Alan Dale, and she may be the next show alum to make a career on the bigscreen after landing the lead in “Tomorrow, When the War Began.” Story is about a group of teenagers who form a guerrilla group when Australia is invaded. Stasey impressed helmer Stuart Beattie, who picked her from 1,000 potential candidiates.
“She brings so much heart and soul to the movie,” Beattie says. “The story is told from her character’s perspective, so I needed someone that an audience could immediately relate to, to immediately be on her side and care about her and fall in love with her.”
The film, based on a series of novels by John Marsden, is pitched as a young-adult actioner and might have big international potential.
“She’s going to do great things,” Beattie says. “We feel very lucky to have got her now before she is an international movie star.”

TV
Sally Riley
Aboriginal TV programming gets a much-needed boost when former Screen Australia exec Riley takes over as topper of the newly formed Indigenous TV unit at pubcaster ABC this month. Riley, who headed up Screen Australia’s indigenous unit and who is an experienced filmmaker, says the move would allow her to create new indigenous programming.
“A concerted push into TV has been on my mind for a while now, and the commitment from ABC TV is both forward-thinking and inspired,” she says. Riley is tasked with expanding primetime drama and documentary; she inherits the long-running indigenous skein “Message Stick.”

MUSIC
Nick Littlemore
Fast becoming a pop and electro go-to guy for the world’s most high-profile acts, Littlemore’s first album “Again” with his dance outfit Pnau brought some attention and moderate success, but breakout single “Wild Strawberries” catapulted them to the forefront of a wave of hot new dance acts Down Under such as the Presets and Midnight Juggernauts.
Later he teamed with Luke Steele on the fantasy pop duo Empire of the Sun that dominated last year’s Oz music honors, the Aria Awards.
The group scored four kudos including album of the year, best group, single of the year and best pop release for its boffo debut album “Walking on a Dream.”
But by the time the awards ceremony had come around, Littlemore had moved on. After hearing “Strawberries,” Elton John suggested he decamp to Blighty, where Littlemore has been working with acts such as Groove Armada. A new Pnau album is in the works that includes collaborations with John.

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