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Four AFTRS National Talent Camp 2022 projects to receive $70k production funding

L-R: Alice Yang, Jason Christou, Sarah Glaoua, Chika Ikogwe,

Four emerging screen creatives from across Australia have been awarded production funding totalling $70,000AUD as part of AFTRS National Talent Camp.

AFTRS, Screen Australia, South Australian Film Corporation, VicScreen, Screen Queensland, Screen NSW and Screen Tasmania have announced the four projects to be funded as the culmination of the 2022 Talent Camp program. Talent Camp is a skills development program designed to support emerging creatives from regional locations, culturally diverse backgrounds, disability, socioeconomic status and those from the LGBTQI+ communities.

With a focus on building crucial screen skills across industry sectors, Talent Camp 2022, the third iteration of Talent Camp, was broken into two programs: one for Narrative storytelling and one for Documentary. Both intensives included training on Writing, Directing and Producing taught by industry leaders.

Four projects have been selected: two narrative projects and two documentaries.

The narrative projects are the comedy-horror proof of concept Dog Eats World by Nigerian/Australian writer and actor Chika Ikogwe (NSW) and writer/director Alice Yang’s (SA) short film Happy Bellies Happy Jia. The recipient documentary projects are Jason Christou’s (VIC) Proof of Concept Skinny and Sara Glaoua’s (TAS) short Mum’s The Word.

AFTRS has worked with these emerging screen creatives throughout 2021/22, first in their individual State Talent Camps, followed by their acceptance into National Talent Camp, a workshop where two participants from each state were selected to take part in week-long writers’ rooms. Through industry mentorships, workshop intensives and tailored support, Chika, Alice, Jason and Sara have been given the tools to make their projects production ready.

As an actor, Chika Ikogwe has worked extensively in the industry across theatre and television on shows such as Fangirls and, most recently, Netflix’s worldwide hit Heartbreak High. As a writer, she co-wrote the play The House at Boundary Road Liverpool and has a number of works in development, including the TV series Just Chidi Things which was the winner of the Screen Makers Conference Pitch-o-rama competition in 2020. She’s incredibly passionate about bringing authentic Afrocentric stories to the forefront of Australian stages and screens.

Chika’s selected project Dog Eats World is about a young, money-hungry Black woman and her co-worker who land the job of a lifetime working for a mega-celebrity and her dog, unaware they’ll be dedicating their lives to this new role.

Chika says: “Dog Eats World explores the idea of societal prioritisation of animal lives over the lives of Black people and other people from marginalised community groups. The 2022 National Talent Camp was a nourishing experience that allowed me to further explore what is quite an eccentric idea, with a group of inspiring emerging creatives. I’ll be using the production funding to create a proof of concept for Dog Eats World which will hopefully help us attract further funding to create the full-length film.”

Alice Yang has written, directed and produced several short films, which have been selected for multiple film festivals including the St Kilda Short Film Festival and Antenna. In 2021, her documentary, My Ba, won the AIDC Best Documentary Award at the South Australian Screen Awards and was also nominated for Best Editing, Best Student Production and the Carclew Young Filmmaker Award. In 2022, she won Best Directing at Fleurieu Film Festival. Alice also works at Beyond Content as a content producer.

In Happy Bellies Happy Jia, Alice will tell the story of an immigrant child who yearns for the type of life she sees on western TV.

Alice says: “Talent Camp 2022 has been an incredible experience and immensely invaluable to me as an emerging filmmaker. I’m stoked to continue this journey with the support of the production funding where I can put to practice all that I’ve learned and bring to life my vision for my short film.”

Jason Christou is a writer, director and teacher of Greek-Cypriot and Austrian/Slovenian descent. He studied screenwriting at RMIT and directing at VCA. He’s thrice been a finalist or shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, has been a finalist in the Francis Ford Coppola-judged American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest and selected to Warner Bros and The Blacklist’s “Aussie List”. His short films have played at Academy-accredited film festivals worldwide including Palm Springs. Jason was a writer and script editor on ABC/Matchbox Pictures’ Nowhere Boys and a director’s apprentice on Sony/AMC’s Preacher. He is also currently developing the feature Feud, as writer/director.

His selected project Skinny aims to break the silence on the eating disorder epidemic that is consuming the lives of boys and men. As a survivor, filmmaker and new dad, Jason is setting out to provide a platform for young multicultural male survivors, and all boys, to love the skin they’re in, before it’s too late.

Jason says: “Skinny seeks to break the silence on male eating disorders from a multicultural perspective. Talent Camp was invaluable in honing the project and we’re grateful this funding will support a proof of concept, taking another step to bringing this urgent and important story to the screen.”

Sara Glaoua grew up between France and Morocco before relocating to Australia in 2012. Sara has shot, directed and produced on various projects and is currently a full-time editor. She has an interest in impactful filmmaking for social change. Sara has made several short films to date, including Si and The Gift which have screened at film festivals worldwide including the International Film Awards in Berlin and the IGTV Film Festival as part of The Sydney Film Festival.

Her selected documentary Mum’s The Word is the story of a baby born in Morocco in 1967, from the forbidden love of a Jewish woman and a Muslim man. The baby, who was then adopted, is Sara’s mother.

Sara says: “My project Mum’s The Word is a documentary about illegal adoption practices in Morocco in the 1960’s and the search for my mother’s biological family. Attending the Documentary Talent Camp was an incredibly supportive and inspiring environment that helped me structure my ideas. The production funding will get me started on my journey of making my first feature documentary by developing a proof of concept.”

Dr. Romaine Moreton, Director of AFTRS’ First Nations & Outreach, said: “We are thrilled to announce these four talented filmmakers as the recipients of National Narrative and the inaugural Documentary Talent Camp Production Funding 2022. Each filmmaker has made important contributions to the Talent Camp program throughout the two-year process and, in their commitment and dedication to their craft and screen careers, showed great support of their fellow participants. We are proud to be championing their works and look forward to sharing their projects.”
Talent Camp, first established in 2017, was created to develop the skills of creatives from diverse backgrounds and is designed to provide opportunities for emerging storytellers to create new content and be employment ready for the screen sector.

The program recognises diversity as differences in gender, Indigenous identity, cultural and linguistic diversity (CALD), disability, sexual orientation, geographic location and socioeconomic status.

Read more about Talent Camp.