Behind The Scenes,  Project Updates,  Screenings & Festivals

Shakespeare Republic Season Two finishes its festival run, plus … our next project looms for 2020 …

Eva Torkkola with Sally McLean & Billy Smedley at the 2019 Sydney WebFest Awards Night

It has been a busy, crazy year for the Republic team and we have sadly neglected this blog as a result, for which we apologise! That said, if you are a subscriber to our newsletter, you will have been getting regular updates and if you have been following our social media, you’ll be pretty much fully in the loop.

But for those who aren’t doing those two things, then here’s a quick recap of the past six months to round out 2019 …


Above: Kate Whitbread, Mike Cowap, Ron Brown, Sally McLean and Clayton Jacobson – Panellists for the “Pathways To Success” Panel at Melbourne WebFest 2019

Sally had the great pleasure of attending this year’s MWF as a panellist and caught up with a few friends of the Republic in the process …

Sally was delighted to accept an invitation from Ron Brown (CEO of Ozflix) to appear on a panel during this year’s Melbourne WebFest to discuss how indies can find success in the screen industry, alongside awesome industry folk – Clayton Jacobson (KennyBrothers’ Nest), Mike Cowap (Screen AustraliaPrincess Pictures) and Kate Whitbread (Caterpillar WishSurviving GeorgiaThe Unlit).

Attending this year’s MWF was also the chance to catch up with some long-standing friends of Incognita, including the fabulous Warwick Holt (Writer for The Panel and creator of Bruce) and one of our favourite producers,  Melanie Brunt (Development Producer for our sister project, Champion), who was part of the producing team for the 2019 MWF Grand Jury Prize Winner: The Wrong Kind of Black (now screening on ABC iview and also nominated for an International Emmy Award for Best Short Form Series).

There were several conversations had which will lead to some exciting things down the track and we’ll tell  you about when we can. But for now, we’d like to say congrats to the whole MWF team on another fantastic festival – and we can’t wait for next year!

Above: The “Pathways To Success” panel in full swing, Sally McLean with Melanie Brunt & Sally McLean with Warwick Holt on the MWF Awards Gala red carpet.


Our short film, ‘Speaking Daggers’, returned to New York in August – screening in August as part of the iconic Strand Book Store’s “Lit On Film” Festival!

We were so thrilled to have Speaking Daggers, starring Nadine Garner, Michala Banas, Scott Major, Christopher Kirby, Sally McLean, Billy Smedley, Faran Martin and Jaron Natoli,screening in New York earlier in August as part of the Strand Book Store & Nitehawk Cinema ‘Lit On Film’ Festival – which also marks the end of the short film’s festival run.

As returning alumni of the festival, where Christopher Kirby won their “Best Actor” Award last year for his role as “Thomas More” in Shakespeare Republic, we were so delighted and honoured to be in their 2019 line up with our first stand-alone Shakespeare language short film as one of the 10 films selected out of the 360+ projects submitted to the fest this year from around the world!

Speaking Daggers has now been officially selected for over twenty international film festivals and won four awards, including two for Best Short Film, and we are so grateful to all the festival directors and juries for embracing the work so generously.

We are back in meetings about officially taking the film and a brand new Shakespeare education program based on Sally’s work with the Bard out to all Victorian high schools in 2020, so stay tuned for updates on that exciting development as they come to hand!

To find out more about the film, visit the official site:


Shakespeare Republic finally finishes it’s festival run at Sydney Web Fest 2019!

Sally McLean with Sydney WebFest Director, Courtney Powell

And so September rolled around, and with it our Sydney Premiere as a nominee at the 2019 Sydney WebFest, which we were delighted to be able to attend in person. The Sydney WebFest also marked the end of Shakespeare Republic (Season Two’s) festival run and we were so delighted to be able to see the second season out in style. We were even more thrilled to finish our festival run with another award – this time accepting the “Best Male Actor” Award on behalf of Christopher Kirby (“Sir Thomas More”), making this his FOURTH Best Actor award for Season Two!

We had such a wonderful time catching up with so many friends of the Republic in Sydney, including a lot of our Melbourne web series colleagues and congratulate Courtney and her team on putting together such a wonderful event. We can’t wait for next year!

Above: Sally on the Creators’ Panel, Sally with the fabulous Gary Daniels (Eating With Soula), Sally & Billy on the Pink Carpet, snapshot of the announcement of Christopher Kirby’s win for Best Male Actor, Sally accepting Christopher’s award with the fabulous Soula Marie (Eating With Soula), the awesome Enzo Tedeschi (Skinford, Event Zero) and Alex Hipwell (Director of Melbourne WebFest) with Sally McLean, members of the brilliant Camerella (BC Explained, Bible Writer’s Room) team – Carl J. Sorheim, Julian Vincent Costanzo and Dave Gannon with Sally McLean, Sally with Soula Marie, Carl J. Sorhein with Sally and Sally & Billy, nursing hangovers in front of the Sydney Opera House.


Above: Sally McLean and Christopher Kirby with Steve Bastoni as presenters at the inaugural Ozsnax Awards.

In October, Sally and Christopher Kirby were delighted to be invited to be Guest Presenters at the inaugural Ozsnax Awards, run by Ozflix, celebrating short form content. They were delighted to be presenting the awards for Best Short Film and Best Web Series and to be able to hand friends of the Republic, Steve Baker and Leanne Tonkes the latter award in person for their amazing series This Is Desmondo Ray! – such a well deserved win.

Sally was also on the steering committee for the Ozsnax Awards, along with Greg Kelly (Brisbane Backyard Film Festival, Simply Shorts Brisbane, Qld), Megan Pascoe (Peninsula Film Festival, Victoria), Sarah Halfpenny (Stellar Film Festival, Victoria), Alex Hipwell (Melbourne Web Fest, Victoria), Claudia Pickering (Fresh Flix at Vivid, Sydney NSW), Alison Alcock (Fleurieu Short Film Festival, South Australia) and Phoebe Williams (OzSnax Event Manager)

Speaking of Ozflix, Sally was also interviewed by Kristin Condon for their “Ozsnax” interview show, which will be up on the channel in early 2020.

Ron Brown, Sally McLean and Kristin Condon

And that’s about all we have time to share on this post, as it’s already an epically long one! We could tell you about the Sally & Christopher Kirby’s roles (playing cops opposite each other) in the cult US TV series Preacher, or about the chapter Sally was invited to write about Shakespeare Republic for the new academic collection Playfulness In Shakespeare Adaptations, being published by Routledge Press in mid-2020, or the amazing work being done by Sally’s students with Shakespeare in the Playing The Bard series of classes she runs as faculty at Howard Fine Acting Studio Australia … but there’s just no more room 😉 (although, you can read all about this over at Sally’s acting site & blog here – and see photos:

We will leave you with the information that we are in the process of putting together the final touches on the script for our next project from the Republic universe – the mini-series, Dark Arcadia. We are so excited to begin pre-production work on this next month and can’t wait to tell you more about it! We will potentially be running auditions in January for some of the roles, so sign up to our Newsletter, so you don’t miss any important updates!

And that, our friends, is that for 2019. It’s been a hectic year with a lot going on (including re-staging one of Sally’s original plays – she’s also a playwright herself), but we can’t wait to bring you more Shakespeare goodness in 2020!

So, without further ado, we wish all of you a safe, happy and wonderful Holiday Season and a fabulous New Year! And we’ll see you next decade!

Sally & Billy
Executive Producers
Shakespeare Republic
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia