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  • Wedge-Tail Pictures

We've been spending a lot of time thinking about housing, and more specifically Australia's rental crisis, of late. We're in production on a pilot, hosted by satirist Mark Humphries, which skewers - in a 'funny and factual' way, a situation which is seeing rental prices soar out of control for many Australians - we hope to bring you The Renters soon.


So it was great to use some of that experience shooting a documentary for Bloomberg Originals on what exactly is driving the whole dang mess. I (Bill) filmed this on a Blackmagic Pro Cinema Camera 6k (and a little on the Mavic 3). Check it out at the link below and see why arguably the world's leading business news channel thinks our housing crisis worthy of special attention.




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We're delighted to say that a documentary series we have been bubbling away at since the new year has received its first significant piece of funding to go into development.


'One-Year Lease' is a funny and factual look at the renting crisis engulfing Australia, hosted by satirist Mark Humphries, known for his work at ABC 730 and SBS's The Feed.


The series will be directed and produced by Wedge-Tail's Bill Code, a former Al Jazeera and Guardian journalist, and co-produced by Melanie Garrick. Co-written by long-time Humphries collaborator Evan Williams, it will feature comedic 'break out' explainer sketches amidst the more traditional obs-doc treatment. One-Year Lease has received development funding from Create NSW to kick off properly after ticking along in pre-development since the new year.

We have approved support from champions of indie docs Documentary Australia Foundation - which means that all donations to help us get this thing alive and kicking and out into the world are eligible for DGR status. If you'd like to see a series with metal take on everything that is wrong with housing - with some solid filmmaking and a few laughs, please make a donation here - maybe even before the tax year is through!



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  • Wedge-Tail Pictures

Seen our campaign, want to connect? Read below for more on the documentary and its aims, then contact us via this form


The Renters/One year lease


Log Line: One-year lease: A funny and factual look at the disrupted lives – and communities – of the millions of renters who make our towns and cities tick.

1 x 90 min, 1 x 55 min (cutdown)





Wedge-Tail Pictures - hello@wedgetailpictures.com

SIZZLE Dec 2022 https://vimeo.com/782766390 (to be added: Key Workers)


In Australia’s towns and cities, people are in rental stress*. Not just the underclass in extreme poverty. But families, professionals, essential workers, students and creatives - millions of people - being forced from the hearts of our urban centres as rental prices - and rental conditions - spiral up, and down (respectively).


This impact documentary spends 6-12 months with key workers, artists, young families and students who all have one thing in common – they rent in parts of our towns often deemed the cultural hubs – making the towns what they are, and they are a key to a sense of community. In its hybridized style, it follows the threads of their stories while simultaneously allowing the host space to dive into the system that got Australia here. As our tenants’ rental stress bites, forcing some ever further from their places of work, we learn what rental insecurity looks like, what that means for renters wanting to act on climate change and live sustainably, and what alternative models of h


ousing might look like. We probe what the towns and communities they are forced from will end up looking like if we keep on this path. The film also features moments of uplift and joy, with both short and long-term solutions on the featured personal journeys, and national story.


Team (more info below): Bill Code (director/writer/producer), Melanie Garrick (producer/camera), Leeane Torpey (impact consultant), Louie Godbold (associate producer), Christian Pazzaglia (Executive Producer)


Projects of influence

Big Deal (ABC/Jungle Ent), That Sugar Film, Bowling For Columbine, (hosted/impact), Love on the Spectrum, Some Kind of Heaven, (observational)


This film is a quirky, factual, entertaining and bold take on renting and hou


sing in modern Australia. It’s an impact film building strong partnerships. It’s fresh; one part hosted doc, with our former journalist as director and host, and one part observational documentary, spending time with those on the frontlines. It uses compelling characters to tackle a social justice issue - how we’ve ended up with so many people, from so many walks of life, unable to attain secure housing and a


real place to call ‘home’ (31% of Australians rent: 2021) . It probes what it means to be forced to move house for years on end, asking why renters’ rights, when held up against comparable nations, are lacking. It asks for how much longer the people that really make our towns and cities tick – its essential workers included – can really be forced to either live in unstable, insecure and comparatively costly housing, or face ever-longer commute times. We dive into the climate movement, too - how can renters live sustainably, attain solar panels and batteries? We meet renters with physical disabilities - how can they modify their homes? Tracking the ups and downs of our characters - and their leases - over six months +, we ultimately ask why Australians see home ownership as something to aspire to. We speak to the ‘experts’ - the academics, the policy-makers - but with a twist. With half of inner Sydney renting, there’s no shortage of experts who are ‘still renting’ it’s the big ‘reveal’ for almost everyone we feature. ‘Renting? ‘Me too!’


TREATMENT/STATEMENT

We begin this series of films in Sydney. A place our politicians are happy to tell us is the greatest city in the world. But is it able to provide a home for its makers of culture, its nurses, police and doctors, near their places of work? (The answer, we learn, is increasingly ‘no’.) Before long we have met characters in other parts of the country facing similar issues: The Northern Rivers region of NSW, where tree-changers have headed in droves, Hobart, where locals have seen rents skyrocket, and (as yet unspecified) regional centres facing similar issues (likely Wangarattas/Shepparton in Vic).


The series showcases the difficult and sometimes farcical rental conditions that people - for the most part young, but not exclusively - find themselves in in our inner cities. We meet the teachers and nurses with unstable living conditions in the city, the researchers and academics looking into these issues - while still living in sharehouses, despite a desire to ‘move on in life’. We head to the outer suburbs of the big cities, following the key workers, uber eats drivers and cleaners who live on its fringe but work in its centre, travelling vast distances in the early hours. We attend the housing rallies with our ‘active’ tenants, watch sharehouse relationships fray, visit art shows and music gigs amid the hustle to make ends meet, and queue in lengthy lines to visit prospective rental properties as our characters must pack up and move on when their lease is up - something director Bill, who features, and his young family are also likely to face this year (sixth time in seven years). We are witness to the repeated shattering of community bonds, the futility of putting in another round of veggie seedlings, the - shock, horror - illegality of putting a nail in the wall for a favourite piece of art.

We bring a fair amount of cheek and will lay out the basics of the economic policy that got us here with our ‘experts’ below - chosen for clarity of communication - but won’t overly dwell on facts and figures. This show employs obs-doc techniques at times, with slow takes, room for breathing, strong characters and storylines which build up tension over months.


CHARACTERS/THEMES


ARRIETTY AND DAN will need to choose between their creative aspirations or having a family if they want to stay near their networks. The pressure is heavy - Dan has already taken on a better-paying job than his photography could ever offer. Arriety is about to start a teaching degree in order to feel more secure - but as someone who grew up in the inner city (as one of five kids) feels frustrated that she will never get to buy a house where she grew up, the place she wants to create her art in.


ALEKS is a ‘renter-researcher’ interested in climate change and how Australian rental stock is prepared to cope with high - and low - temperatures. He’s from out Western Sydney where his Macedonian dad built a home for a fraction of today’s costs. He and his Colombian wife feel insecure and unable to put down roots in their suburb of Ashfield; will they get to stay in the area or be forced ‘back’ West?


TEACHER (missing to date). Public Education Foundation will assist with us finding relevant talent.


NURSE/AMBULANCE DRIVER (missing to date - union assisting)


UBER EATS DRIVER/CLEANER


KATE (and kids) is a gardener who wants to create habitat for insects and local wildlife, grow food, secure solar panels and charge an E-vehicle - but as a renter she and her family are severely limited in the role they can play in the biggest challenges of our time. They bought a property in regional NSW they would love to move to. But

there is little work there, and she and her partner (both in 40s) are forced to stay in the city for now, moving between one-year rental contracts hoping their children can stay in the same school without too much disruption.


DUCK RABBIT GALLERY


Hugh Ramage is a stalwart of the Sydney art scene but we meet him just as a staggering increase in the rent on his Duck Rabbit gallery kicks in. He and wife Kat decide to move on, which means the closure of the Sydney art space used to mentor young artists, including daughter Stella. As luck


would have it, Stella decides she and her friends can give another art space a go - also


on a rental property.


DEVORAH WAINER - HUMAN RIGHTS ACADEMIC, AND RENTER!



Devorah Wainer is a human rights academic at the University of Sydney interested in renting and the ‘insecurity of personhood’. She has an illness which makes her choice of housing essential - and her reveal in this film - she is not just a talking head ‘expert’ but an older woman living in social housing in inner Sydney, facing insecurities akin to those in her research.


MIKAELA is a performer forced out of her rental due to persistent mould; but can she stay in the inner-city? She grew up in the inner-west after her father migrated from Lebanon - now she and her musician partner are moving back into a share-house after going it alone; Now 30, h


ow will they go with this financially necessary step ‘backwards’? Is this the only way they can afford to stay in a more central and creative part of town?





BILL (DIRECTOR) Bill is a 41 year old filmmaker working in Sydney between creative projects and those which pay the bills, and a former Al Jazeera and Guardian journalist. He lives with his partner and his toddler all of the time and his two older children around half the time. In seven


years Bill has had 6 rental properties, dragging the children across the city, seeing the end of vegetable gardens, racking up tens of thousands in removal fees and new utilities contracts. Bill has a reveal - he and his partner also bought a property in regional NSW last year but are unable to move because of the situation with his older kids (mum lives in Sydney). But that tension between being a tenant low on rights - and a landlord too, making him a ‘rentvestor’ - is explored. What sort of bizarre system is this? This household, too, is one in rental stress, with Bill’s partner a full-time student. Half way through filming, the lease on the family home in Redfern is up and he (we) must decide if we pay the increase in rent, or move on


yet again.


ADDITIONAL CHARACTERS

What this series will also do differently is bring its ‘expert’ ‘talking heads’ in as people like you.

Take for instance housing expert, Dr Ben Spies-Butcher (inclusion confirmed). Dr Spies-Butcher will give us breakdown on the needed macro-economic policy that got us here. But he will also have a ‘reveal’ which helps him slide into the narrative- he bought a house with his partner AND best friend just in order to live near his university teaching job. The same goes for each person brought into this series, too; we will always hear their own rental tales (also confirmed for activists from the Tenants Union pledging to interview with us). Each has skin in the game and is relatable.

First Nations renters: First Nations people are statistically more likely to be renters, including in the inner city where this film is shot. We will be engaging with community to find renters who fit the bill of this series of being in the creative industries and/or working as key workers.


Renters with disabi


lity: the production team is keen on hearing the experiences of renters in the inner city with disability, too. How do young people spending income on carers or medical care even hope to rent near our city centres?


CREATIVE TEAM


Bill Code (Director, producer and writer)


Bill is a former journalist with The Guardian, Al Jazeera and SBS, someone who worked in front of and behind the camera before making short docs with BBC Online and NITV. He produced and directing the critically-acclaimed 2022 reconciliation-themed feature documentary The Lake of Scars, which received Screen Australia support, four stars from reviewer David Stratton, and a festival and theatrical release acros


s Australia, before moving to SBS On Demand. This is his second feature film.


Melanie Garrick (producer and camera)


Melanie has worked as a hands-on shooter-producer for some of Australia’s leading factual productions, including Inside Sydney Opera House, Dancing with the Stars, ABC Compass, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, and Bondi Rescue. She has produced and directed films commissioned by both the ABC (The Jade Buddha - Compass) and the Screen-Australia supported East of Arnhem for SBS.


Christian Pazzaglia (executive producer)


Christian is a producer who, since arriving in Australia from the Netherlands, has had a hand in producing The Lake of Scars, Those Left Waiting, Little Tornadoes, and Miraculous Trajectories. He has extensive experience as a festival director and


curator in Europe and is the founder of the Bangalow Film Festival.


Louie Godbold (associate producer)

Louie is a talented all-round graduate with a wide-range of camera and production experience in a short career, including DOP work with Kawal Pictures. They identify as a descendant of the Darug nation.


Leeanne Torpey (impact consultant)


Leeanne Torpey is a film and TV impact producer who got involved in the muck of money and politics with Big Deal (ABC, Madman, Dir,. Craig Ruecassel), she’s worked on the mess of Australia’s health system with Magda’s Big National Health Check (ABC, Dir. Nick Evans), she collaborated closely with Julian Assange’s family on Ithaka (ABC, Bonsai Films, Dir. Ben Lawrence) and amplified the mental health campaign around 8-part drama series Wakefield (ABC, Showtime, Dir. Jocelyn Moorhouse).



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