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South Australian dramedy series chosen for SBS and Screen Australia Digital Originals

25 August 2021
South Australian writer Anna Lindner, A Beginner's Guide to Grief, supplied SBS
South Australian Anna Lindner has written and stars in new drama comedy series A Beginner’s Guide to Grief, image supplied.

New SAFC supported South Australian drama comedy series A Beginner’s Guide to Grief has received production funding from SBS and Screen Australia as the next successful project from the Digital Originals initiative, the two agencies have announced today.

Digital Originals is a joint initiative of Screen Australia and SBS created to develop exciting and innovative scripted short form projects to premiere on SBS On Demand, providing opportunities for screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector.

A Beginner’s Guide to Grief is a drama comedy series exploring themes of death, grief and identity. Written by and starring South Australian Anna Lindner, directed by Renee Mao, executive and creative produced by Linda Ujuk and produced by South Australian Kate Butler, both of KOJO Studios, and also produced by South Australian Julie Byrne, the story follows 31-year-old Harriet Wylde as she returns to her hometown in remote South Australia to care for two terminally ill parents. When both pass away within weeks of each other, she’s forced to face her ultimate fear: absolute aloneness. After reconnecting with her dysfunctional childhood friend Daisy, Harriet discovers that grief doesn’t play by any rules and soon, neither will she.

Principal funding is being provided by Screen Australia in association with SBS, and it is financed with support from the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

The series emerged from the Digital Originals initiative in 2019, which also included the outrageous and heartfelt drama comedy series, Iggy & Ace, exploring friendship, addiction and recovery through a queer lens and premiering on SBS On Demand on 9 September.

Commissioning Editor SBS Scripted Donna Chang said: “We’re thrilled to see more incredible talent and surprising stories unearthed through the Digital Originals initiative. It’s fantastic to be taking A Beginner’s Guide to Grief into production and we can’t wait to bring it to screens on SBS On Demand next year.”

Screen Australia Senior Online Investment Manager Lee Naimo said: “From the moment we heard the pitch for A Beginner’s Guide to Grief from creator Anna Lindner, we knew we wanted to see this project through, and we’re delighted to support Lindner and the talented creative team bring it to life.”

SAFC CEO Kate Croser said: “The SAFC is really pleased to support writer Anna Lindner, and producers Kate Butler and Linda Ujuk from KOJO Studios with Julie Byrne to take their series to the screen. The SAFC has long been committed to supporting greater participation by women and female-identifying practitioners in the screen industry as part of our mission to boost diversity and inclusion across the entire sector, and it is wonderful to see that come to light in this fully South Australian produced and post-produced series.”

An evolution of SBS’s Short-Form Content Initiative, Digital Originals aims to support practitioners and projects that reflect gender equity and/or the diversity of people and experiences from around Australia. This includes those who identify as First Nations Australians; are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; those who are living with a disability; are female or trans/gender diverse; identify as LGBTQIA+; and those who are located in regional and remote areas.

Six new series have also been chosen for further development from a shortlist of 12 projects from the 2020 Digital Originals initiative candidates. All 12 teams took part in exclusive development workshops held virtually in May, run by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV, which included international and local guest speakers, as well as developing the projects to align with the SBS Charter and SBS platforms, including NITV, and culminated in a pitch.

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