Ben Chessell - Director

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SUCKER is the debut feature for writer/director, BenChessell.

Ben graduated from Victorian College of the Arts in 2001. His acclaimed graduation film The Only Person In The World was released theatrically with Italian For Beginners by Palace Films. It was a finalist at the 2002 Dendy Awards, was nominated for an AFI award and won Best Short Film at the Australian Circle of Film Critics, as well as screening at over twenty film festivals.

Ben went on to make the Australian Film Commission funded short Heartworm, and spent six months in Germany where he made A Familiar Lullaby This Time In German.

Ben wrote and directed the SBS telemovie The Heartbreak Tour, with Toby Schmitz, Anthony Hayes, Caroline Craig, Nathaniel Dean and Alexandra Schepisi. The Heartbreak Tour was the first screenplay to be nominated for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. Ben was also involved as one of the directors in the Little Deaths project (Melbourne International Film Festival 2008).

Ben directed episodes of the first season of the children’s drama series, Dance Academy (ABC TV/ZDF Germany), episodes of Rush (Seasons 3 and 4) and Offspring (Seasons 3 and 4), as well as writing episodes of both those shows for Southern Star, Channel10. He directed episodes of the first season of Camp for Matchbox and NBC Universal.

Ben is developing a number of feature films and television dramas as writer/director, including Writing Rain with producer Louise Smith (Australian Writers Guild un-produced screenplay award in 2009), The Uncertainty Principle (with co-writer Rjurik Davidson and producer Lailaps Pictures) and History (completed as part of his Masters in Screenwriting). He is also the writer of epic historical romance Jerusalem (with Michael Offer attached to direct),and is developing The Century with Company Pictures in London, and The Department with Joanna Werner, for television.

Ben is represented by The Fleming Agency in Australia, United Agents in London, and by Gersh Agency in the US.

Lawrence Leung - Writer

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Lawrence Leung is an award-winning Australian comedian and writer. He’s known in comedy circles for his personal storytelling style, “social experiments”, quest-based solo shows and obsession with obscure or nerdy topics like puzzles, 80s childhood icons,con artists, psychology and ghosts.

Lawrence’s career is bound up with the original stage show Sucker, which launched him onto international stages in 2001. He is not the same as Lawrence Leung, the character in SUCKER. Or is he?

“I was 22, going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world, to perform Sucker. It was hard getting through customs. I didn’t want to say I’m doing a show about a conman, so I said I’m a magician, and they were like ‘OK, show us what you’ve got.’ I pulled out the cards and showed them some card cheating techniques. It blew their minds – they said you’re qualified, you’re not a liar, come into the country.”

But where did the story start? How much is reallyautobiographical?

“This whole story came about because I didn’t get the marks to become a doctor like my parents wanted me to be. I had this world of expectation to be a particular thing, and I knew I wasn’t that. I spent a lot of my life trying to pretend and hide from my parents the fact that I wanted to be a performer, a stand-up comedian, a writer, putting stories out into the world, not just cutting up people, stitching them up and saving lives.”

“I think SUCKER is a universal story in the sense that, in many ways, we fake our way through life. I don’t know a person who’s in a job that doesn’t think at some point ‘I’ve kind of blagged my way into this career.’”

Lawrence’s other one-man comedy shows include Skeptic (which toured Melbourne and Edinburgh), The Marvellous Misadventures of Puzzle Boy and The Somewhat Secret Secret Society Show (with Andrew McClelland).

In 2007, the stand up show Lawrence Leung Learns To Breakdance won the Age Critics’ Award for Best Australian Show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It enjoyed sold out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, London’s Soho Theatre, the Sydney Opera House and the Perth International Arts Festival.

A year later, ABC TV commissioned Lawrence to create, write and front a six part comedy series Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure, produced by Chaser Broadcasting. The series was nominated for a 2009 AFI Award in the category of Best Television Comedy.

In 2009 Lawrence reunited with Andrew McClelland for the slapstick-enhanced time- travel themed show Time Ninjas at the Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Sydney Comedy Festival. It won the Jury Prize at the Sydney Comedy festival. In 2010, Lawrence developed a TV project based on his 2003 stand up show Skeptic.

In 2011, his 6-part comedy/psychology documentary series Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable premiered on ABC1, and on the stage, Lawrence Leung Wants A Jetpack was critically acclaimed at the Melbourne and Sydney Comedy Festivals, followed by a season in London and a national tour of Australia.

In 2013, Lawrence appeared on Australian television series Offspring as Dr. Elvis Kwan, and in 2014 stars in the Matchbox/ABC comedy series Maximum Choppage, which he also co-wrote.

Robyn Kershaw – Producer

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Robyn Kershaw is a producer and company director of RKP, a film and television production company, and RKPix, which is focused on multi-platform production. RKP and RKPix have strong, distinct production slates which include feature films, diverse television projects, games and webisodes. Robyn’s most recent feature films include My Mistress, directed by Stephen Lance starring Harrison Gilberton and Emmanuelle Béart which premiered at the 2014 Melbourne International Film Festival, the Indian-Australian co-production Save Your Legs! directed by Boyd Hicklin and starring Stephen Curry, Brendan Cowell and Damon Gameau which premiered at the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival and screened at the BFI London Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival.

In 2009 Robyn produced the award winning box office hit Bran Nue Dae, directed by Rachel Perkins and starring Geoffrey Rush, Jessica Mauboy and Magda Szubanski. The film screened at over 20 film festivals worldwide including the Toronto International Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Cinephiles at the Festival de Cannes, as well as winning Audience Awards at the Melbourne International Film Festival and the London Australian Film Festival.

Robyn’s first feature film, the adaptation of best selling novel Looking For Alibrandi, was directed by Kate Woods and starred Anthony LaPaglia, Greta Scacchi and Pia Miranda. It was a box office hit in Australia and won five AFI Awards, including Best Film and Best Actress.

As Head of Drama and Narrative Comedy for the ABC, Robyn commissioned and executive produced over 150 hours of award winning drama and comedy series including the International Emmy-nominated MDA (the first Drama nomination for the ABC) and Kath & Kim (Series I, II & III), the highest rating sitcom in Australian history and the highest rating show on ABC TV in 2002, 2003 and 2004. For SBS, Robyn produced the award winning Bondi Banquet and Effie: JustQuietly.

Robyn studied at Murdoch University and at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and has served on the Boards of the Australian Film Finance Corporation (now Screen Australia) and ScreenWest. She is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (PGA) and Ateliers du Cinema European (ACE).

Jason Byrne - Producer

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Melbourne established award-winning Producer Jason Byrne stands tall in the prime producers’ arena nationally and internationally. Byrne’s range of experience has embodied puppetry, animation, hi-end television commercials, experiential media, award winning short films, documentaries and feature films.

Byrne joined forces with Rohan Timlock and launched the highly-regarded Melbourne-based production company ‘Guilty’ which represents select luminaries such as Tony Rogers, Clayton Jacobson, Edwin McGill, Germaine McMicking and a host of other talent. Guilty, within its short history, has produced a long list of successful Television Commercials and Commercial Online Content with a winning formula that suits the expectations of leading national and international advertising agencies. Guilty continues to grow its success and foremost reputation.

In 2014, Byrne completed the humorous web series called How to Talk Australians (dir. Tony Rogers), which to date, has attracted well over 3 million YouTube viewers. With outstanding success the web series is being developed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to become a television series.

Byrne, with his distinctive signature, is in varying production phases with several stirring projects including; the feature film Drone (dir. Edwin McGill), The Girls (dir. Clayton Jacobson), The Bones (dir. Sandra Sciberras), No Prisoners (dir. Paul Middleditch) and the satirical television projects Bruce and FUNT (dir. Tony Rogers). Furthermore, Byrne is currently in post-production with various documentaries, including Flight of the Black Cockatoo, a biography of AFL legend Tom Wills for Foxtel; Butterfly Song with international music icon David Bridie; Child Soldiers with Ebony Butler and The Lost Hotel.

With award-winning, legendary Director and Actress Rachel Griffiths, Byrne co-produced Roundabout (dir. Rachel Griffiths, 2003) and won Best Australian Short Film (MIFF), Best Short (FCCA) and the prized film screened at the Dendy Awards, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Telluride Film Festivals to great acclamation. Further successful short films include Booth Story (dir. Edwin McGill), I Luv U (dir. Clayton Jacobson) and Fish (dir. Eron Sheehan).

In 2003, Byrne co-produced the feature film One Perfect Day which received a multitude of nominations at the AFI and IF Awards and secured the Best Sound Design Award. Byrne’s feature portfolio includes, The Heartbreak Tour (2005); the ABC TV documentary Beyond the Backyard (2006) and the feature film Rats and Cats (dir. Tony Rogers, 2007), which premiered at MIFF and screened at SXSW. Moreover, Byrne produced the feature film Little Deaths (2007), which premiered at MIFF and later was released as a stage production. Little Deaths acquired the SPARTEN Award for Best Feature Film at the Screen Producers Association Awards in 2008. Additionally, in 2008 Byrne completed the feature documentary Shadowplay a biopic about Anton Corbijin (dir. Josh Whiteman, 2009) for the ABC.