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Australian Shakespeare web series wins top screen award in USA

BY Incognita Enterprises | 04-Sep-2017
Henry V as a laser strike player, Juliet as one half of a same sex couple - multi award-winning Australian web series Shakespeare Republic, created and directed by Melbourne actor, Sally McLean, is breathing new life into the Bard on small screens all over the world and just won Best Digital Series at the prestigious 60th CINE Golden Eagle Awards in the USA #awardwinning #shakespeare #webseries #lovethebard @ShakesRepublic
Multi award-winning and critically acclaimed Australian web series Shakespeare Republic, created by Melbourne actor/writer/director, Sally McLean and produced by Incognita Enterprises, works on the idea that Shakespeare is for everyone. And with the success of the series on the international film festival circuit, it seems he just might be.

Starring Michala Banas (Upper Middle Bogan), Nadine Garner (The Doctor Blake Mysteries), Alan Fletcher (Neighbours), Dean Haglund (The X-Files), Christopher Kirby (Predestination), Sally McLean (Utopia) and Billy Smedley (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries), to name only a few of the thirteen strong cast, Season Two of Shakespeare Republic has been announced as the winner of the BEST DIGITAL SERIES Award at the 60th CINE Golden Eagle Awards in the USA, as well as taking home the BEST MALE LEAD Award for Christopher Kirby at Austin WebFest, BEST HAIR & MAKE UP Award at Tuscany WebFest and the BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Award for DOP Shaun Herbertson at Sicily Web Fest.

On top of the wins at Austin, Tuscany and Sicily, the CINE Award is a notable achievement for a low-budget Australian production. Originally founded in 1957 to promote American films to the international market, CINE evolved to become an international award for film and television content-makers, ‘awarding the very best and most original productions each year from around the world’.

As Creator, Producer and Director of Shakespeare Republic, Sally McLean now joins the CINE Alumni ranks, which includes Mel Brooks, Jim Henson, Mike Nichols, Barry Levinson, Robert Altman, Spike Lee, Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack and Forest Whitaker, among others. For some, such as Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Robert Zemeckis & Pixar, the CINE Award was their first major industry accolade, as it is McLean’s.

“The CINE Award was truly a shock!” says McLean. “I was hoping that we would maybe make Finalist level, but to win was astonishing! What began as a passion project on small budgets, with no screen agency or broadcaster funding, has taken on a life of its own - and the entire team are just so delighted with the response so far.”

McLean, along with fellow Incognita Enterprises’ producers Billy Smedley and Christopher Kirby, will be travelling to the USA for the official CINE Celebrates Award ceremony later this year. They are currently running a crowdfunding campaign via the Australian Cultural Fund to assist with the creation of teasers for their next two projects to take to meetings, as well as cover additional travel expenses.

Currently ranked in the Top 20 web series in the world out of 500 contenders, and in the Top 5 series in Australia (source: Web Series World Cup), with Seasons 1 & 2 being officially selected for over 40 international film festivals, nominated for a total of 18 awards and winning 13 awards for the work to date, Shakespeare Republic is not something you'd necessarily see on a traditional television network. But McLean, whose production background includes time working at the BBC in London, believes that digital web series is the future for narrative content in general.

“When I first worked in the web series world back in 2009, writing and directing a comedy series pilot for a company in Sydney, nobody really knew what this new medium was. Nearly a decade on, we’re still working that out, but due to the risks that are able to be taken with story structure, as well as the stories being told, web series are forcefully emerging as the future of television. It is truly exciting to be riding this wave with so many talented creators both here and overseas.”

With official selection and nomination screenings at the recent Melbourne Web Fest, as well as being featured at this year’s St Kilda Film Festival in the “Australia’s Favourite Web Series” showcase, and further official selection screenings yet to come at Miami Web Fest, Minnesota WebFest, Bilbao Seriesland, Festival Internacional de Cine de Fuengirola and the Portugal International Film Festival, this local team of filmmakers is definitely putting their own Australian take on Shakespeare fully on the world stage.

“The response from audiences to the work has been amazing,” says McLean. “Interestingly, our largest fan bases are in the USA, UK and Germany, with a growing audience back here in Australia, so we are very excited about what the future holds for our projects and for Australian web series in general.”

To find out more about Shakespeare Republic, head to the official website: http://shakespearerepublic.com/

To find out about Incognita Enterprises’ current crowdfunding campaign: https://australianculturalfund.org.au/projects/shakespeare-republic-the-next-stage/

ABOUT INCOGNITA ENTERPRISES

Incognita Enterprises is a Melbourne-based, independent production business, helmed by Sally McLean and founded under the Honorary Patronage of Oscar® nominated British actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne. To find out more about the company and our previous work, visit: http://www.incognitaenterprises.com

Shakespeare Republic: #LoveTheBard (Season Two) has been made possible through the support of The Courthouse Hotel, North Melbourne and Mr Moto, as well as Creative Partnerships Australia’s MATCH Program, the Australian Cultural Fund, Auspicious Arts Projects Inc. and Location Sponsors Lord Somers Camp, St Catherine’s School and Toorak College. To date the series has been officially selected for over 40 international film festivals and won 13 awards across the two seasons. To see all the official selections and awards for both Season One and Two, click here: http://shakespearerepublic.com/awards-screenings/

SEASON TWO ENSEMBLE MEMBERS: Michala Banas, Stephen Costan, Alan Fletcher, Nadine Garner, Dean Haglund, Christopher Kirby, Sally McLean, Tariro Mavondo, Wahibe Moussa, Falon Ryan, Shane Savage, Billy Smedley and Phoebe Anne Taylor