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SAFC and SBS partner on Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator initiative

17 February 2021
Generic writing image, Pexels

SBS, in partnership with Screen Australia and state and territory agencies the South Australian Film Corporation, Film Victoria, Screen Canberra, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland and Screenwest, and with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild, are launching the Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator: a new, nationwide initiative to support the development of diverse fiction writing talent in the Australian screen sector.

Working with some of Australia’s leading production companies, the Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator will bring the industry together to contribute to greater diversity among Australian screenwriting talent, by providing significant work experience in drama production for 18 emerging writers from backgrounds and with lived experiences currently underrepresented in the sector. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; people who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; those who are living with a disability; are female or trans/gender diverse; identify as LGBTQIA+; and people located in regional and remote areas.

Each year for the next three years, six successful candidates will be employed for 12 months in production companies around the country acclaimed for their delivery of Australian drama. During their placement, they will develop ideas into treatments, work across a production company’s fiction slate of programming, participate in writers’ rooms, and work closely with development producers and others to increase their knowledge and further develop their skills.

Co-funded by SBS, Screen Australia with participating state and territory screen agencies, the national initiative will launch with its first round of placements in July this year.

SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said: “SBS is proud to be working with our partners across the industry, who share our commitment to diversity, to make an important contribution to the future of Australian storytelling through the Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator. Not only is this initiative an important investment in the next generation of screenwriting talent, it will help to ensure the unique perspectives and experiences of those who reflect contemporary Australia, are explored on our screens.

“I want to acknowledge those in our sector like director, screenwriter and showrunner, Tony Ayres, who have long demonstrated their passion for the benefits a more inclusive industry and have inspired so many. It’s through conversations with Tony that this initiative came to be, and it’s now incredibly exciting to see the momentum we have across the industry to come together to do more. Our storytelling will be all the better for it.”

Director, screenwriter, showrunner Tony Ayres, who is also an SAFC Board Member, added: “Marshall and I have been having a great and ongoing discussion about the best ways to make long lasting and meaningful change to our industry, and to genuinely shift the needle towards a wider, truer representation of Australia. This initiative is a brilliant start and will broaden the talent pool of writers from underrepresented parts of our society. Writing is where it all starts.” 

Screen Australia’s Head of Content, Sally Caplan, said: “This initiative is testament to our industry’s commitment to working together to make the sector more inclusive, and accessible for emerging talent. We are excited to be collaborating with SBS, AWG, and state and territory screen agencies on uncovering and developing the next generation of screenwriting talent through this program.”

Susie Hamilton, Professional Development Manager, Australian Writers’ Guild, said: “The Australian Writers’ Guild is delighted to be part of the Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator, an initiative designed to not only create opportunities but to break down the barriers standing in the way of meaningful representation in the screen industry. It will provide participants with significant opportunities to develop their craft and networks, and will undoubtedly change their career trajectories. We look forward to seeing the talent of the writers and the stories that emerge from this experience.”

CEO of the South Australian Film Corporation, Kate Croser, said: “The SAFC is pleased to support this initiative as part of our ongoing commitment to grow and diversify the pool of credited South Australian key creatives.”

Details on applying for the Emerging Screenwriter’s Incubator will be released in the coming weeks.

Each participating state and territory screen agency will reach out to local networks and from June, the selection process will begin, with placements at production companies from July 2021.

Read the full announcement on the SBS website.

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