Focus on the Television Nominees: Part 1 – Best Television Drama Series & Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series

Did you know that the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards marks the 25th year in which the AFI | AACTA has awarded excellence in television categories? Television Awards were first given out in 1986. No nominees were annouced that year, but winners were announced in ten categories around Mini Series and Telefeatures.

Fast forward to 2011/2012, and we have nominees in 13 television categories. These include Children’s Television Series, Comedy Series, Light Entertainment and of course Television Drama and Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series.

You can see full listings of the nominees over on the AACTA website, but in the lead up to the AACTA Awards in January, we’re writing a two-part piece to provide you with insights and further reading on the high quality of our television drama nominees. In this post, we look at the nominees in the Best Television Drama Series and Best Telefeature, Mini Series and Short Run Series, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s been a great year for Australian drama on the small screen.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES

And the nominees are:

East West 101, Season 3The Heroes’ Journey. Steve Knapman, Kris Wyld. SBS
Offspring, Season 2. John Edwards, Imogen Banks. Network Ten
Rake. Ian Collie, Peter Duncan, Richard Roxburgh. ABC1
Spirited, Season 2. Claudia Karvan, Jacquelin Perske. FOXTEL – W

In this category, for which the producers accept the Award, we have four strong contenders. East West 101, the tense SBS cop drama set in multicultural Sydney, won this Award back in 2009. Producers Steve Knapman and Kris Wyld have had great success in the crime and cop genres over the years, beginning their work as a writing/producing team with their acclaimed ABC drama series Wildside (1997-99). You can read more at the Knapman Wyld Television website.

Offspring, Season 2, the Network Ten romantic drama which has become appointment viewing has in the opinions of many, proved to be even stronger in its second season. Last year, Deborah Mailman won an AFI Award  for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama for her role as the bubbly Cherie, while John Waters was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama for his part as the lothario Proudman patriarch. This year, the series itself is nominated with producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks up for the Award. John Edwards, of Southern Star Entertainment, has been responsible for numerous AFI Award winning television dramas including The Secret Life of Us, Marking Time, Love My Way, Tangle, Rush and many more. Read more about Edwards here. Imogen Banks has been twice nominated for AFI Awards alongside Edwards:  for her work on Tangle (2010) and Dangerous (2007).

Rake, the witty and hilarious ABC1 series about a rascally and rogueish criminal barrister (played by Richard Roxburgh), is a strong contender, with its fearless lead character and wicked plotlines. The series was created by Roxburgh, Charles Waterstreet and Peter Duncan (Children of the Revolution, Unfinished Sky)  – and Duncan was also co-producer with Ian Collie, co-writer with Andrew Knight, and director of two episodes. You can read Encore’s on-set interview with Collie and Duncan here.

Spirited, a supernatural romantic comedy, screened on Foxtel’s W channel, sees leading lady and producer Claudia Karvan, along with co-writer and producer Jacquelin Perske up for the Award for this second series. They’re two women quite familiar with winning AFI Awards, having collected a swathe of them for their acclaimed drama series Love My Way (a show that was nominated for 18 AFI Awards and won eight over its three series). News that Spirited has just been renewed for a third series has the show’s ardent fans cheering. Visit the show’s official website here.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE, MINI SERIES OR SHORT RUN SERIES


And the nominees are:

Cloudstreet. Greg Haddrick, Brenda Pam. FOXTEL – Showcase
Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. John Edwards, Karen Radzyner. ABC1
Sisters Of War. Andrew Wiseman. ABC1
The Slap. Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon. ABC1

Cloudstreet, Foxtel’s beautiful three-part mini series based on Tim Winton’s beloved book, is up against three ABC productions in this category. Producers Greg Haddrick (Head of Drama for Screentime) and Brenda Pam have previously collaborated on Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, and Haddrick is a three-time AFI Award winner and an accomplished screenwriter (MDA, Underbelly). With a talented and cohesive ensemble cast (wonderful casting by Mullinars), and superb production values, Cloudstreet is nominated for a total of eight AACTA Awards and is destined for a long life on DVD and blu-ray and will be in many a Christmas stocking this year. Check out the official website here.

The two-part Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo was a surprise hit on the ABC when it screened in April this year. The true tale of a brave young editor, Ita Buttrose (Asher Keddie) at the helm of Australia’s sexual revolution with Cleo, the magazine that reflected new freedom for women also featured a pitch perfect performance by Rob Carlton as a youthful Kerry Packer. (Both Keddie and Carlton are nominated for their performances in this production). Prolific producer John Edwards (see Offspring above) has a hand in this one too. To explore the show more, visit the official website here.

Sisters of War, the 97-minute telefeature first screened on ABC1 in November 2010, is based on the true story and war diaries of a nurse and a nun held prisoner of war by the Japanese in Papua New Guinea in 1942. Starring Sarah Snook, Claire van der Boom and Susie Porter, this is a story about women in extreme circumstances, and their extraordinary courage and will to prevail. (Snook and Porter are nominated for their work here, but more on that in a future blog post.) Sisters of War was written by John Misto (Days of the Roses, The Damnation of Harvey McHugh), directed by Brendan Maher (The Road From Coorain, After The Deluge) and produced by Andrew Wiseman. Wiseman, up for this AACTA Award, has previously been nominated for a number of AFI Awards, and has won twice (My Brother Jack, After the Deluge). Screenhub‘s interview with Wiseman can be found here.

The eight-part short run series The Slap, up for a total of  eight AACTA Awards, managed to be ‘watercooler television’, in the same way that the original novel by Christos Tsiolkas was a ‘BBQ stopper’ and book club favourite. In this Award category, the nominees are producers Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden and Michael McMahon, who are partners in the prolific local production company Matchbox Pictures (along with fellow producers Penny Chapman and Helen Pankhurst). Michael McMahon has won an AFI Award previously, for Best Documentary (Wildness, 2003) and was nominated for Best Film for The Home Song Stories, in 2007. Helen Bowden has also been nominated twice before, for Best Film (Soft Fruit, 1999) and Best Documentary (Girl in a Mirror, 2005). Tony Ayres is a writer and director as well as a producer (he directed two episodes of The Slap – ‘Richie’ and ‘Manolis’) and won two AFI Awards in 2007 for his semi autobiographical feature film The Home Song Stories. Find out more about Matchbox Pictures at their website.

The winners of the AACTA Awards for Best Television Drama Series and Best Telefeature, Mini Series or Short Run Series will be announced at the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 31 January 2012 and broadcast on the Nine Network. Stay tuned for our post next week covering the nominees for Best Direction in Television, Best Screenplay in Television, Best Lead Actor and Actress in Television Drama, and Best Guest or Supporting Actor and Actress in Television Drama.

AFI Quick Quiz: Geoff Morrell

Geoff Morrell

Geoff Morrell

After having cut his acting teeth on the stages of Theatre South, Geoff Morrell has gone on to establish himself as one of Australia’s most versatile and prolific local film and television actors. He has starred in everything from Blackrock, Oscar and Lucinda, Ten Empty and Rogue to Blue Heelers, The Secret Life of Us, Grass Roots, Changi and Marking Time. Though diverse in selection, there is a remarkable consistency and integrity to Morrell’s performances no matter whether he is playing a bumbling baffoon, concerned father or malnourished prisoner of war. This is evident from his multi AFI Award nominations and win, in 2000, for his humorous and headstrong portrayal of the councilor Col Dunkley in the ABC’s outrageously sly and funny series about local government politics, Grass Roots.

Geoff Morrell as Lester Lamb

Geoff Morrell as Lester Lamb

Most recently, he turns his hand to playing Lester Lamb in the tele-movie adaptation of Tim Winton’s highly acclaimed novel, Cloudstreet. Lester is a hopeless farmer but a kind father and despite unfortunate circumstances he remains the eternal optimist. Morrell imbues this character with ample affection and credibility.

Geoff Morrell answers our AFI Quick Quiz*, shedding light on the man behind his public persona. Morrell’s laconic charm and keen wit exceeds most first impressions – despite a not-so-secret love of Jerry Springer!

Cloudstreet the mini series screened on Showtime on 22nd May, 2011, and is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The AFI Quick Quiz:

Q. What is your favorite word?    Sweet

Q. What is your least favorite word?    Suite

Q. What turns you on?    Colonial Australia

Q. What turns you off?    Conservative Politicians

Q. What sound or noise do you love?    The Sound of my whippet dreaming

Q. What sound or noise do you hate?    Microwave Beep

Q. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?    Astronaut

Q. What profession would you not like to do?    Historian

Q. The last film or DVD you watched?    The Switch

Q. The film that changed you, and why?    First Australians. SBS TV. Amazing eye opener

Q. Your guilty television pleasure?    Baggage. Jerry Springer

Q. Complete this sentence:  The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is…that suddenly your life is made easy by being defined and controlled by a yellow call sheet. Takes the guesswork out of life.

Q. Three key mentors who’ve inspired or helped you?  

  • Edward Morrell, My father.
  •  Peter Carroll, actor.
  •  John Hargreaves, actor.

*The AFI Quick Quiz is a version of the Bernard Pivot Questionnaire. Bernard Pivot is a journalist, interviewer and host of French cultural television programs. He developed a list of questions based on Proust’s famous questionnaire. This then formed the basis of James Lipton’s questions to actors on American cable television program Inside the Actors Studio. Now the AFI has its own version. We hope you enjoy it!

Quick Quiz: Stephen Curry



With a credit list as long as your arm,  Stephen Curry remains that rare creature among performers – a seriously talented actor with a sense of humour and a genuinely affable presence. In fact, according to one recent profile, he’s commonly known among colleagues as ‘Australia’s nicest guy in showbiz.’ From his iconic Aussie appearance as the young suburban narrator of The Castle (‘Dad, I dug another hole!’)  to his AFI Award-winning performance as television host extraordinaire Graham Kennedy in The King (2007), Curry has been friendly and familiar part of the Australian screen landscape for some time. Of course we have to mention his wonderful appearance as host at the AFI Awards in 2008, when he helped us celebrate our 50th Anniversary.

Stephen Curry as jockey Damian Oliver in The Cup.

Riding to victory. Stephen Curry as jockey Damien Oliver in The Cup.

Most recently, Curry been seen on television in a variety of comic and serious roles. It was a treat to catch him playing an unfortunate cockatoo in SBS’s blackly comic Wilfred. Then there was his turn as the lovable ne’er-do-well Sam Pickles in mini-series adaptation of Cloudstreet; and as McBaney in the advertising satire :30 Seconds. In recent year’s, Curry has also become well known for his continually shrinking and expanding frame – having to diet down to jockey weight seven times in the stop-and-start lead up to playing the Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver, whose dramatic win in 2002 is the subject of the feature film The Cup.

Here Stephen Curry answers our Quick Quiz with good humour and a touch of silliness – but notice he’s serious when it comes to naming and praising his mentors.

  1. What is your favorite word? Gruntled. The opposite of disgruntled. i.e: Worked at a soup kitchen today and boy did it add to my general feeling of gruntlement.
  2. What is your least favorite word? Panties
  3. What turns you on? Dexter from Perfect Match.
  4. What turns you off? Being stabbed repeatedly in the chest with a large hunting knife.
  5. What sound or noise do you love? The sweet warbling of doves.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? The voices in my head.
  7. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I think I’d make an astonishing flautist.
  8. What profession would you not like to do? Being the guy that has to gather all the information every time I do a google search.
  9. The last film or DVD you watched? Snowtown.
  10. The film that changed you, and why? Gigli. I decided then and there that I never want to be in a film like Gigli.
  11. Your guilty television pleasure? Jerseylicious. Frankie is a genius. I love him and his enormous head.
  12. Complete this sentence:  The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is…That it stops me from working at a drive-thru.
  13. Three key mentors who’ve inspired or helped you? Matthew Saville (Australia’s best director), Katherine Dodd (Australia’s best agent), Lachie Daddo (Australia’s best Daddo).

The Cup is in general release from 13 October, 2011. The Cup is one of the Feature Films in Competition for the inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards.

*Bernard Pivot is a journalist, interviewer and host of French cultural television programs. He developed a list of questions based on Proust’s famous questionnaire. This then formed the basis of James Lipton’s questions to actors on American cable television program Inside the Actors Studio.

Now the AFI has its own Australian version. We hope you enjoy it!

Why I Adore: Adaptations

by Popzilla

Cloudstreet Poster

The eagerly awaited 6-part adaptation of 'Cloudstreet' premieres on Foxtel's Showcase this Sunday, 22 May, at 8.30pm.

As much as I’m a film nut, I’m also a book nut. So when both media are awesomely combined – I’m as happy as a ham in mud.

I have to admit, I probably discovered books before I discovered film. But some of my most vivid child and teen memories arise from not only the musky damp comfort of books, but also the thrill of seeing them come to life on screen – through film adaptations.

Theatre works, comic books, games, pop-fiction novels, classical adaptations – I’m there. I might love it, I might hate it , but I appreciate the efforts involved in every little detail, to bring much loved, pop-culture adventures, or undiscovered tales to big or small screens.

Through  written stories, we discover (quite often in GREAT detail), heart rending family sagas (Cloudstreet; The Slap, Our Father Who Art in the Tree), quirky coming of age kerfuffles, seedy criminal underworlds (Truth), and even classic  poems  (The Man from Snowy River).

Great stories are already awash with all the colours and sounds of ‘the big screen’. So what happens when novels are translated onto big or small screens? There is a moment where you’re about to take a gamble –  into the cinema, or say, reserving a quiet weekend to open the first page of a novel just watched on the big screen… when some of us take a big pensive breath and say… “um, should I really be doing this?”

Will we love the film version just as much if characters are removed; plots changed and (gasp!) endings completely re-written? In speaking with friends, family, filmmakers, and some cranky librarians, I have found that not everyone immediately jumps for joy at the mention of an adaptation. No – quite the opposite.

There are literary purists who immediately promise to stay ‘true’ to the author’, to never forsake the written word for the big screen version. Not even choc-tops can lure them away from their musty pages. There are others who are bitterly disappointed in ‘crude adaptations’, and the impact the screen sometimes takes on a good story. And then there are those (just like me) who love the opportunity to see a story brought to the big screen. To revel in the backdrops, the little details, and even the changes that are evident in adaptations.

It’s kind of ridiculous I guess, but sometimes I also wonder about the correct order – whether I should be seeing a film before I read it the book it’s based on, or afterwards! Many a book has no doubt been improved by its film adaptation, not to mention the sudden increase in book sales. Film adaptations can quite often bring hidden novel gems to mainstream masses – something that has been hiding on dusty shelves just waiting for the chance to come to life.

And, yes, some books have been ruined by screen adaptation. Whether it’s overzealous screenwriters, directors, bossy-pants authors or badly cast actors – who knows who is to blame? Converting a book into film is a tricky business. Firstly – you have to secure the rights to the novel – and the cost ranges for script and development can be much higher than those associated with filming an original screenplay.

However, it must be said that adaptations can also raise books, games and comics to new heights – creating brand new interpretations (and new BRAND interpretations), even adding further value to a story… or film.

There’s also the question of what happens to the screenwriter after all the writing is  completed. Have they written themselves off the page and out of the film? (An interesting interview with screenwriter John Collee  (Happy Feet, Master and Commander) sheds some light on Collee’s screenwriting experiences in the biz.)

In honor of writers, screenwriters, and filmmakers everywhere, and to illustrate how wonderful they can be – here are (in no particular order) my ‘adored’ Australian film adaptations:

Puberty Blues

“You wanna go down the dunnies for a smoke?”

I love the teen awkwardness that is captured in this film, and the snapshot of 80s Cronulla. Based on the book by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette – not all of the book made it to the screen, but it is an absolute screen gem. And who could forget the theme song?

Picnic At Hanging Rock

It’s spooky, it’s kooky –just like the book, if not better! The BAFTA award-winning Peter Weir adaptation of the book by Joan Lindsay is still loved today. Just go to Hanging  Rock to hear Swedish backpackers yell ‘Miranda!!’ from the haunted peaks…

Oscar and Lucinda

A glass church. A GLASS CHURCH! I still can’t believe Gillian Armstrong mastered this complex and imaginary tale whilst auditioning Cate Blanchett for the world screen. And the chemistry between Ralph Finnes and Blanchett set the pages of this Peter Carey novel on FIRE!

 Romulus, My Father


Everyone is heartbreakingly beautiful in this AFI Award winning film adaptation of the book by Raimond Gaita. With the screen adaptation written by British poet Nick Drake, stunningly filmed by Shine cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson, and an impressive directorial debut by Richard Roxburgh, even the author himself saw the film more than 20 times…

Playing Beatie Bow

Australia’s version of Labyrinth with kids instead of goblins. Adapted from the Ruth Park novel of the same name, I’m just hanging out for a film on Park to come out one of these days…

Praise

I just love it. The performances, mood and feel of John Curran’s 1999 movie completely match that of the book by Andrew McGahan.

http://www.traileraddict.com/trailer/praise/trailer

He Died With A Falafel In His Hand


I know a lot of people who have yet to warm to this early 2000 flick. But for me, it captures so many true-to-life tales of share-house living, and has one hell of a kick-ass soundtrack. Noah Taylor is the bees-knees as a depressed and down and out writer living on the dole.

My Brother Jack

Some heartbreaking moments in this AFI Award Winning production starring Matt Day, Claudia Karvan, William McInnes and Jack Thompson. A 2001 made-for-television adaptation of George Johnson’s classic novel.

ADAPTATION AUSSIE!

Here are some upcoming adaptations to watch out for:

 Cloudstreet


I’m already taken in by the trailer! Written for the small screen by the author himself, alongside co-screenwriter Ellen Fontana.

Cloudstreet premieres on the Foxtel channel Showcase on Sunday, May 22 2011, 8.30pm.

The Slap

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1823011/

An eight part ABC television series adaptation of the bestseller by Christos Tsiolkas is to star a stellar lineup including Brendan Cowell, , Melissa George, Alex Dimitriades, Sophie Lowe, Jonathan LaPaglia and more.

Red Dog

The story of Red Dog is a well-known WA legend but it was popularised by English author Louis de Bernieres in his book of the same name.

The film adaptation directed by Kriv Stenders is based on the legendary true story of the Red Dog who united a disparate local mining community while roaming the Australian outback in search of his long-lost master

.Starring Josh LucasRachael TaylorNoah Taylor, Luke Ford and Bill Hunter with release set for August 2011.

Oranges and Sunshine


Based on the true story by UK social worker Margaret Humphreys about her expose of the scandal of Britain’s forgotten and abused child migrants (previously published as Empty Cradles), Oranges and Sunshine stars Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and Emily Watson. Set for release in Australia in June 2011.

LBF

http://www.lbfthefilm.com/

LBF is a ‘pop art film’ based on the novel Living Between F***ks by Cry Bloxsome from which it draws much of its wry narration. Paris-based writer Goodchild (Toby Schmitz) returns to Sydney for the funeral of his ex-girlfriend l and steadily veers off the rails. Starring Gracie Otto, Septimus Caton and Australian model April Rose Pengilly, the film also has a very cool little soundtrack featuring aussie bands Boy & Bear and Operator Please. Premiering at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival.

The Telegram Man

 http://www.thetelegramman.com/

Based on a short story by John Boyne, the award-winning author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Set in Australia, The Telegram Man is short film with a mega cast including Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton,and will be actor Jack Thompson’s first short film acting debut. Currently in post production and coming soon to a Film Festival near you in 2011.

Adaptation Websites

More? The story doesn’t end here folks…

Australian Adaptations

http://www.middlemiss.org/matilda/film-adaptations/

50 Upcoming Book-to-Movie Adaptations

http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/upcoming-book-adaptations/

Film of the Book: Top 50 Adaptations

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/apr/19/film.books

UK paper The Guardian provides a list of Top 50  usual suspects.

Top Grossing Film Adaptations

As declared by Forbes – there’s billions in the books!

http://au.pfinance.yahoo.com/special-features/top-gross-film-adaptations/index.html

From Page to Screen

Four part article written on worldwide adaptations – successful, unsuccessful and upcoming.

http://www.digitalfie.com/1466-from-page-to-screen-part-4-books-yet-to-be-filmed

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Do you know of any upcoming adaptations with Aussies in them?

Be sure to post below!

Also keen to know your own top 5 Australian adaptations…