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First Nations Horror Film Concept Receives Top Prize In AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes 2023

AACTA and Screenworks have announced Brooke Collard and Gary Hamaguchi as the recipients of this year’s AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes for their pitch RECLAMATION at the 2023 Regional to Global Screen Forum.

 AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes in Partnership with Screenworks, is a national feature film development initiative in its fourth year, that provides an opportunity for regionally based creatives to receive fast-tracked industry support for films geared around stories and settings informed by the diversity and uniqueness of regional Australia. 

Last month six finalists were selected and have since received feedback and valuable advice in individual sessions with each of the initiative’s judges, in addition to a pitching masterclass from film producer and lecturer Abigail Tabone, leading up to their final pitch. The judging panel comprised of Madman co-founder and CEO Paul Wiegard, SBS Scripted Commissioning Editor (and previous recipient of AACTA Pitch development support) Loani Arman and returning inaugural Regional Landscapes judge acclaimed screenwriter and producer Deb Cox.

Announced at Screenwork’s Regional To Global Forum, Brooke Collard and Gary Hamaguchi’s winning concept RECLAMATION is a horror set in 1970’s Western Australia, that explores the impacts of colonisation through the eyes of Terry, a Noongar ranger. With a unique connection to the story, their pitch proved to be outstanding amongst a year of incredibly unique finalist ideas.

They will now receive a cash prize to assist in further developing their concept, as well as ongoing mentoring, script consultation sessions, AWG pathways, and various industry connection opportunities.

 And in a first for the Regional Landscapes initiative, a second-place winner was also announced for Nicholas Clifford, Emma Roberts and Jules Duncan’s concept MOONSHOT. The judges stated that the competition was tight in this year’s program and MOONSHOT deserved recognition for its strong screenplay and outstanding commercial potential.

 “The quality of the submissions for this year’s Regional Landscapes initiative made choosing the winner incredibly difficult for the judging panel,” said Deb Cox. “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 –  like a refreshingly sophisticated and engaging way to approach this rich territory.”

 “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 1950’s – 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 Pitch: Regional Landscapes culminated in a final presentation as part of the 2023 Screenworks Regional to Global Screen Forum, a hybrid event to run from March 30 to April 1, 2023. The forum was held at Lennox Head Conference Centre and live-streamed online, and featured workshops, presentations, one-on-one meetings and networking events.

AACTA Awards and Industry Development Manager Ivan Vukusic said, “It was another incredible year of outstanding original concepts, and the two prize winners represent big thinking with audience engagement squarely in mind. We’re very much looking forward to helping these teams bring their ideas to screen. We can confidently say that audiences will love them.”

Screenworks CEO Lisa O’Meara said, “We’ve been very impressed by the high calibre of stories submitted to the AACTA Pitch Regional Landscapes. Congratulations to Brooke and Gary for their winning pitch in such a competitive environment. Their First Nations 'genre redefining' horror story feels like something we’ve never seen before on screen, and we look forward to seeing how this strong story develops from the opportunities that they receive through the AACTA Pitch Regional Landscapes stories. Congratulations also to the runners up Nicholas Clifford, Emma Roberts and Jules Duncan for delivering such an impressive pitch. Our thanks to AACTA for their ongoing support. Screenworks’ partnership with AACTA provides an extraordinary opportunity for regional practitioners to engage with industry professionals to enhance their projects and their careers.”

Brooke Collard and Gary Hamaguchi said of the experience, “Regional Landscapes has provided us with a unique platform to propel our love letter to Ballardong Boodjar (country) forward. Reclamation is an Indigenous feminist lens on colonisation and is firmly based in country being a character. 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.”

Nicholas Clifford said of the experience, “I would like to thank Ivan and the whole team at AACTA and Screenworks. It’s through programs like these, that projects can find a way forward, against the odds. 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 and I look forward to seeing the other projects progress. Moonshot is a story I hold dear to my heart and after developing the script with my co-writer Jules Duncan, I am excited to see our project take a step forward.”

The remaining 4 finalists, who will also continue to be supported by AACTA and the judges were:

Bridge – Caitlin Richardson & Michael Hili

Hobart, 1975: In the sticky darkness of a midsummer night, a bridge breaks in half. The stories of ten characters whose personal lives hover on the edge of disaster, endings and transformation become interwoven when their cars are brought to a stop on the mysteriously fractured bridge.

Here If Ya Need –Vicki O’Neill & Joanne Watson

53 year old Ronnie takes her sisters and nieces on a ribald road trip to compete in a Masters netball tournament and haul her most wayward sibling, Vivian out of a post-divorce slump.

Lovin’ The Outback – Ella Qaisi, Sebastian Chan & Joshua Koske

When falling for her sister’s cowboy suitor, an imaginative mortician must team up with the larrikin to find and train a suitable replacement in the ways of outback droving before her sister arrives in the country.

Our Golden Hour – Samuel Keene

Our Golden Hour is a coming-of-age comedy adventure that follows an aspiring filmmaker who sets out to make one final magnum opus with her best friend before she moves away from her small mining town at the end of the Summer, but when their ode to treasure hunting classics leads them towards a real and possibly cursed treasure, the friendship begins to fray as their ambitions pull them in opposite directions.

For more information on AACTA Pitch: Regional Landscapes, click here.


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