Tiger hunt to be captured on TV
THE search for the Tasmanian tiger will be ramped up when filming begins on a documentary exploring new reported evidence and a growing movement challenging the long-held belief that thylacines are extinct.
Screen Australia and youth broadcaster Vice on Thursday announced documentary concept Searching for the Tassie Tiger as the 2020 winner of Pitch Australiana - a national pitching competition for independent filmmakers.
The production team will receive $50,000 funding from Screen Australia to develop the documentary before it is aired on SBS Viceland.
Searching for the Tassie Tiger will follow the endeavours of middle-aged gardener Neil Waters, in North-East Tasmania, as he quits his day job and commits his life's savings to searching for the thylacine.
Mr Waters is the founder of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia Facebook page, which is leading a nationwide effort to rediscover the tiger.
Victorian director Naomi Ball said winning the pitching competition - the biggest breakthrough in her five-year filmmaking career - would allow Mr Waters' search to be documented in real time.
"What we're focusing on is the search as it ramps up," she said. "It is more sophisticated than ever before, and Mr Waters has been able to fund a fleet of trail cameras.
"He's also fielding lots of reports of evidence. The story will really follow that journey."
When asked if she thought there were thylacines in Tasmania, Ms Ball said she was "in the maybe camp".
"There have been so many reported sightings so it's hard to ignore," she said.
"If we were able to catch the Tasmanian tiger on film the evidence would be indisputable and I would lose my mind. I'm sure the rest of Mr Waters' Facebook awareness group would too."
Screen Australia Head of Documentary Bernadine Lim said Ms Ball and producer David Elliot-Jones' pitch at this year's competition was a standout.
"Whilst the mystery around the Tassie tiger knows no bounds, their promise of a special insight into the grassroots community of Tassie tiger believers with great characters was very compelling. I look forward to seeing this project on Vice," she said.
Ms Ball said she expected the documentary to be released within 12 months.
Originally published as Tiger hunt to be captured on TV