3 April 2023
Brooke Collard and Gary Hamaguchi have taken out this year’s AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes initiative with their horror concept Reclamation.
Set in 1970s Western Australia, the story explores the impacts of colonisation through the eyes of Terry, a Noongar ranger.
The duo will receive $4,000 to develop the idea, along with ongoing mentoring, script consultation sessions, as well as support via AWG Pathways and various other industry connection opportunities.
Reclamation was one of six finalists selected in March, with each of the teams receiving feedback and advice in individual sessions, as well as a pitching masterclass from film producer and lecturer Abigail Tabone, ahead of their final pitch.
A judging panel comprising Madman co-founder and CEO Paul Wiegard, SBS scripted commissioning editor Loani Arman, and screenwriter and producer Deb Cox decided the winner at the Regional to Global Screen Forum on Saturday.
In a statement, Collard and Hamaguchi said Regional Landscapes had provided them with a “unique platform” with which to propel their love letter to Ballardong Boodjar country forward.
“Reclamation is an Indigenous feminist lens on colonisation and is firmly based in country being a character,” they said.
“With the workshops, we were able to get to the core of why we wanted to tell this story and invite audiences in to have a curiosity about Ballardong culture.”
In a first for the initiative, a second-place winner was also announced, with Nicholas Clifford, Emma Roberts, and Jules Duncan’s Moonshot, about a reprobate who takes in her space-obsessed nephew to avoid a court sentence but winds up helping him build a potentially illegal science fair project, recognised by the judges for its “strong screenplay and outstanding commercial potential”.
Clifford, who will share a $1,000 cash prize with Roberts and Duncan, said he was excited to see the concept take the next steps through the initiative.
“It’s through programs like these, that projects can find a way forward, against the odds,” he said.
“Thank you to my producers Emma Roberts and Jim Wright, and a big congrats to Brooke and the winning team. I enjoyed the process of pitching our film and it was also great to hear the other pitches. I look forward to seeing the other projects progress.”
Speaking about this year’s finalists, Cox said the quality of submissions made choosing the winner “incredibly difficult”.
“Reclamation was a pitch from a strong creative partnership and their proposal – to explore the complex space between First Nations culture and the waves of settlement that follow through the lens of the horror genre – was a refreshingly sophisticated and engaging way to approach this rich territory,” she said.
“Moonshot is a well-developed project from an enthusiastic team proposing a gender flip on the familiar relationship established in Australian storytelling since The Shiralee in the 1950s – of the curmudgeonly ‘parent figure’ and the needy child – which tells a story of hope that rises against the odds and literally shoots for the stars. It seems a critically important message for young and older audiences alike facing real-world challenges, but delivered in an entertaining and heartfelt package.”
AACTA awards and industry development manager Ivan Vukusic said had been another “incredible year of outstanding original concepts”, while Screenworks CEO Lisa O’Meara said her organisation had been “very impressed by the high calibre of stories”.
The other four finalists – Caitlin Richardson and Michael Hili’s Bridge; Vicki O’Neill and Joanne Watson’s Here If Ya Need; Ella Qaisi, Sebastian Chan and Joshua Koske’s Lovin’ The Outback; and Samuel Keene’s Our Golden Hour – will continue to receive support from AACTA.