EXCLUSIVE: Superstore star Ben Feldman will lead Australian comedy crime caper Population 11.
Lionsgate, streamer Stan and Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell from No Activity producer Jungle Entertainment have teamed for the 12-part series ahead of a March 14 launch in Australia.
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The series, which Jungle produces Entertainment in association with Factor 30 Films, has been quietly shooting in Western Australia’s Kimberley Region. We’ve now got full cast details, a trailer (see below) and first-look images.
Based on true events, the series is based around a man, Hugo, who goes missing from a tiny outback town of only 12 residents. His son, Andy Pruden (Feldman), a suburban Ohio bank teller, has journeyed across the world to visit and is alarmed when he discovers he is missing. Andy teams with another outsider Cassie (Perry Mooney) on a quest to find his father, and the pair find themselves in increasing danger as they delve into the secrets of this tiny outback town, where everyone is a suspect.
Also cast are Katrina Milosevic (Wentworth) as a cop and Darren Gilshenan (No Activity, The Moodys) as Pruden’s missing father Hugo Drivas.
The series also stars Chai Hansen (The Newsreader, The New Legends of Monkey), Stephen Curry (Ten Pound Poms, Thor: Love and Thunder), Tony Briggs (The Twelve, Cleverman), Genevieve Lemon (Christmas Ransom, The Tourist), Rick Donald (Australia’s Sexiest Tradie, Halifax: Retribution), Pippa Grandison (Frayed, Muriel’s Wedding), Steve Le Marquand (June Again, Rake), William Zappa (Grey Nomads, The Dry), Emily Taheny (Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell), Karis Oka (Erotic Stories), Fiona Choi (The Family Law), Sachin Joab (Lion, The Hunting) and Chris Kirby.
Feldman is known for fronting NBC workplace comedy Superstore between 2015 and 2021. He’s also had roles in Mad Men, Drop Dead Diva, Silicon Valley and The Perfect Man, and is represented by UTA, Impression Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller.
Population 11 marks the second co-commission from Stan and Lionsgate, following megachurch drama Prosper, which we first told you about in March last year. The directors include O’Donnell, whose credits include CBS comedy Ghosts and episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl, and the creator is Phil Lloyd. O’Donnell and Lloyd are partners of Jungle, the Australian indie behind the likes of No Activity and Mr Inbetween. This marks their first Australian series together since The Moodys, an ABC comedy starring Colin From Accounts‘ Patrick Brammall that was remade in the U.S. for Fox.
Lloyd is showrunner alongside, working with Sarinah Masukor, Julia Moriarty, Steve Toltz, Michael Bond and Zoe Pepper. Ben Young (The Twelve) and Helena Brooks (Gold Diggers) are also directors. Feldman and Jungle partners Lloyd, O’Donnell, Chloe Rickard and Jason Burrows (No Activity, Wakefield) are exec producers alongside Stan’s Cailah Scobie and Amanda Duthie, with Bridget Callow-Wright (No Activity: The Night Before Christmas) and Melissa Kelly (Upright) producing.
Jungle developed the show with the support of Stan, Lionsgate and Screen NSW, and produced it with major production investment from Screenwest, Lotterywest and the Western Australian Regional Screen Fund.
“Following the success of the Stan Original Series Prosper, Stan’s partnership with the prestigious Hollywood studio Lionsgate delivers yet another epic series as part of our ongoing strategy to deliver fresh and exceptional Originals for Australian and global audiences,” said Stan Chief Content Officer Cailah Scobie. “Population 11, starring Ben Feldman alongside a stand out Australian cast, is a comedy crime thriller with performances as captivating as the Western Australian landscape, and we can’t wait to share this series.”
Lionsgate will take international sales rights to the comedy. President of International Television and Digital Distribution Agapy Kapouranis added: “We’re excited to continue rolling out our slate with Stan with another unique and compelling property. Population 11 is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will resonate with audiences in Australia and around the globe.”
The series is also a boon for Western Australia, which is competing with the likes of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia to attract high-profile projects with international talent.
“We are so pleased to see WA producer Melissa Kelly collaborating with Jungle to produce Population 11 – one of the first Stan Original Series to film in WA, alongside the upcoming Invisible Boys, continuing the momentum of our biggest year of production to date,” said Screenwest CEO Rikki Lea Bestall.
Production expenditure on scripted screen production in Australia in 2022/23 was the second highest on record at $1.49BN (A$2.34BN) across 213 titles, according to Screen Australia’s annual drama report released in November last year.
Watch the trailer for Population 11 here (note, it may be geoblocked in your region), and followed by a selection of first-look images:
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