Back to Back Theatre expands into screen production

Back to Back Theatre photo by Rhian HinkleyDriven by an ensemble of actors with intellectual disabilities, Geelong’s Back to Back Theatre is considered one of Australia’s most important cultural exporters of contemporary theatre.

Venturing into new territory and in partnership with Matchbox Pictures, Back to Back Theatre is moving to extend its long-term impact and reach to more global audiences producing its first screen production, Bunghole (working title), scheduled to be filmed in and around Geelong in May 2017.

“We jumped at the chance having long been admirers of Back to Back Theatre’s groundbreaking theatre work which is recognised in Australia and internationally,” says Matchbox Pictures’ Executive Producer, Debbie Lee (Glitch, Twentysomething, Please Like Me). “I first saw their incredible show small metal objects in Sydney many years ago and had my mind blown – so the idea of working with them was thrilling. It’s been a fantastic process so far and we’re looking to shoot next May in Geelong.”

Back to Back Theatre’s philosophy, process and cultural capital have application for expansion into related industries, specifically digital arenas, and this screen project will combine artistic excellence with long-term social impact and cultural change.

Through this partnership with Matchbox Pictures, one of the most dynamic production houses in Australia, Back to Back Theatre seeks to change national and international screen landscapes to present actors of difference in high profile contexts with wide audience appeal.

Alice Nash, Back to Back Theatre’s Executive Producer, explains that actors without disabilities are very often cast in the role of characters with disabilities.

“Our new screen project acknowledges some of the current lack of diversity on television in Australia and highlights how important it is to represent the full breadth of all communities. It will affirm that people with disabilities can work as professional artists that engage a large audience base,” said Nash.

Directed by Bruce Gladwin in his first role directing for screen, Bunghole tells the darkly humorous story of a team of people who embark in the clean up of a strange toxic wasteland, but when they find what could be the last living survivor, their day proves to be anything but normal. 

In April of this year, Back to Back Theatre received production investment from the HIVE Fund, an Adelaide Film Festival initiative in collaboration with the Australia Council for the Arts, Screen Australia and ABC Arts. The HIVE Fund is a disruptive initiative uniquely designed to bring together Australian artists and filmmakers to cross-pollinate their creative ideas, develop screen-based projects and support bright talent to take the next step.

As a recipient of the HIVE Fund, Bunghole has a confirmed world premiere at the 2017 Adelaide Film Festival and will be scheduled for broadcast on ABC TV in 2017 or in 2018. Back to Back Theatre has since received a second astounding endorsement for this leap into screen production with Film Victoria announcing their investment in the project through the Assigned Production Investment Fund for Film & Television and its Regional Location Assistance Fund.

The Company is fortunate to have secured the bulk of the investment required to complete the production’s financial plan, and now according to plan, is ready to approach the community to help raise $60,000 to develop the project through to completion.

“We are hoping to partner with other like-minded supporters to find the final portion of funds required to make this intrepid screen debut to be shot in Geelong with actors with intellectual disabilities at its centre,” said Nash.

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Image: Back to Back Theatre expands into screen production – photo by Rhian Hinkley