Three emerging screenwriters from across Australia have been awarded production funding of $25,000 each as part of AFTRS’ National Talent Camp – a skills development program for rising screen creatives from diverse backgrounds.
AFTRS, Screen Australia, Australian Writers’ Guild, Scripted Ink and the state screen agencies have announced the production funding as the culmination of Talent Camp 2019/20. The funding is to produce a pilot or proof of concept for a web or TV episodic narrative work.
The recipient projects are Mother Tongue by Katrina Irawati Graham from Queensland, Melbourne Vice by Kim Ho from Victoria and Rules to being a Fuckgurl by Nelya Valamanesh from South Australia.
AFTRS has worked with these emerging screen creatives since 2019, first in their individual State Talent Camps, followed by their acceptance into National Talent Camp 2020, where 2 participants from each state and one from each territory took part in developing their projects and screenwriting skills. Through industry mentorships, workshop intensives and tailored support, Katrina, Nelya and Kim have been given the tools to further finesse their storytelling and screenwriting techniques and to create scripts that are now production-ready.
Katrina Irawati Graham is a writer and director, as well as an emerging playwright. She writes in many genres, but her true love is feminist horror. She celebrates her Indonesian-Australian heritage and champions gender equality and representations of diversity.
Her project Mother Tongue is an 8 x 10min web-series that weaves her passions around birth advocacy, diverse cultural representation and healing storytelling. It tells the story of two migrant women, a struggling radical midwife and a gregarious musician, who join forces to transform the lives of new mothers and their babies in Logan (Yugambeh and Yuggera Country), Australia’s most multicultural city.
Katrina said: “My producer Ana Tiwary and I are thrilled to receive further support from AFTRS and the wonderful National Talent Camp program. Being of migrant backgrounds ourselves, we know the importance of representation in telling the stories of migrant women and families of colour. We have assembled an all Indigenous and woman of colour team to bring this pilot to life. We will do our best to create characters and images that people can fall in love with, and which honour the women whose brown hands held us as children and whose legacy lives in our hearts.”
Nelya Valamanesh is an Adelaide (Kaurna Country)-based narrative artist who has developed and produced works on a range of different platforms, including radio programming, DJing, co-facilitating theatre workshops and freelancing in the film industry.
Nelya’s project Rules to being a Fuckgurl is a 6 x 15-minute comedy/satire web series about the political and social struggles of being an independent woman in her late 20s.
Nelya said: “I am so overwhelmed with joy to be awarded this funding. Rules to being a Fuckgurl has been in the works for over two years and now it finally feels like it has feet and it will also help me cement myself as a writer and creative in the film and television industry. Being a queer woman of colour having financial support for a show like Rules to being a Fuckgurl is huge and hopefully, this will be the start of many hilarious and creatively unique shows I can bring to life in the future.”
Kim Ho is a playwright, screenwriter and script coordinator based in Naarm (Melbourne). His short film The Language of Love screened at over 30 film festivals worldwide, including Sundance and his play Mirror’s Edge won Sydney Theatre Company’s 2018 Patrick White Playwrights Award. Most recently, he co-wrote an episode of the upcoming ABC drama series The Newsreader with creator Michael Lucas. Kim is enamoured with stories of cross-cultural encounter, magic realism and genre subversion. He is a passionate advocate for the marginalised voices in the Arts.
Melbourne Vice is a 6 x 30 crime-comedy web series that imagines university students as detectives. It aims to merge the crime and coming-of-age genres to dramatise young adults exploring right from wrong.
“It’s a giddy honour to be awarded production funding from AFTRS for a proof of concept on my show Melbourne Vice. The idea for the project has rattled around in my brain since 2015, but it was only through AFTRS’ support that the possibility of realising the project came within reach. National Talent Camp gave me the opportunity to meet with a number of incredible mentors, all of whom helped shape the project in different and surprising ways, as well as tailored workshops to upskill in key areas of the development process,” Kim said.
“This particular kind of heightened-reality, hybrid-genre piece isn’t too common in Australia, so I’ve felt very strongly that making a proof of concept would be crucial in pitching the project to production companies and to networks.”
Dr. Romaine Moreton, Director of AFTRS’ First Nations & Outreach, said: “We are thrilled to announce these three emerging screenwriters as the recipients of National Talent Camp Production Funding. Katrina, Kim and Nelya demonstrated unwavering commitment to their projects and screen careers throughout the two-year Talent Camp process. We are proud to see how far their projects have come since starting this process as State Talent Campers in 2019, and we have no doubt that these screen creatives have bright futures in film and television ahead of them.”
ABOUT TALENT CAMP:
Talent Camp is a skills development program for creatives from diverse backgrounds, designed to provide opportunities for emerging storytellers to create new content and be employment ready for the screen sector.
Talent Camp happens in two stages. First, the State Camps, a five-day workshop in each capital city, with 12-15 participants, which focuses on story development, scripting, producing considerations and career pathways for short-form web series production. A National Workshop takes place several months later, bringing together two emerging creatives from each state and one from each territory to fine-tune their work.
AFTRS Talent Camp is a multi-partner screen industry initiative made possible with the generous support of AWG & Scripted Ink, Screen Australia, Screen Queensland, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screen Tasmania, South Australian Film Corporation, ScreenWest, Screen Territory and Screen Canberra.