Book adaptations, comedies and another musical are in the works for Australian filmmakers.
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19 Oct 2011 - 10:25 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:09 PM

The Choir of Hard Knocks, which has wowed audiences across the country on stage and on television, could end up on the big screen.

This news came to light because the Federal Government film agency Screen Australia announced it would provide funding for 17 filmmaking teams to develop projects to a state where potential financiers could be approached.

Choir of Hard Knocks was one of the scripts and is based on the true story of the homeless, disadvantaged people from Melbourne who found self-esteem with the help of a choirmaster and went on to entertain the general public. The key drivers are producer Marian Macgowan, who has more than half a dozen films to her name including Death Defying Acts and Two Hands; Better Than Sex director Jonathan Teplitzky (pictured), whose new film Burning Man will soon be in cinemas; and writer Pip Karmel.

Karmel directed Me Myself I and has edited many of Scott Hicks' films including Shine. She is connected to two more films on the list: as writer/director on the drama Dog Training for Beginners, and as a writer alongside director Sonia Whiteman on a film titled Rockpool. Macgowan is also one of the executive producers on Rockpool.

Robyn Kershaw is the only other producer connected to more than one project: she is producer on Elvis In Bollywood and executive producer on a romance titled My Mistress. The two films produced by Kershaw to date, Looking for Alibrandi and Bran Nue Dae, were big hits in Australia.

Screen Australia is also supporting the adaptation of several novels for the big screen including Tim Winton's Breath, which is being written by Peter Duncan, the director of Unfinished Sky. He is working with three producers: Jamie Hilton, whose debut film was The Waiting City; actor Simon Baker of The Mentalist fame; and Hollywood producer Mark Johnson whose extensive credit list includes, most recently, The Chronicle of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, both of which were filmed in Australia.

Author Tracey Chevalier's novel Remarkable Creatures, about two women whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles shakes the scientific community, is also heading for the big screen. Jan Sardi, who wrote Shine, is writing the adaptation. Chevalier also wrote the novel on which the film Girl with a Pearl Earring was based.

A third novel in development as a film is Sarah Turnbull's romantic comedy Almost French, one of four comedies among the projects. Another of the comedies is Prince Leonard, based on the true story of how a little Aussie wheat farmer established the Principality of Hutt River.

Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, who won the Academy Award for The King's Speech, also scored development funding for Life, which is being written by Candy novel and film scribe Luke Davies. And, with the big success of Bran Nue Dae in 2010 and the anticipation surrounding the upcoming Goddess, it is worth noting that a third musical Bdazl is in the works.

More than half a million dollars has gone to the 17 features.