Film Victoria, SBS and Robert Connolly’s Arenamedia launch Originate

Still from Vesna – a Film Victoria supported fiction feature.

In search of Victoria’s most diverse and inspired writers and directors, Film Victoria, SBS and Arenamedia’s new initiative will fast-track the skills and stories of under-represented voices to finance low budget feature films, backed by some of the screen industry’s biggest names.

Launched today, Originate is designed to accelerate the development of a slate of creative-led fiction features, turning early draft scripts into production-ready screenplays through a three-part process delivered by internationally renowned UK-based story developer Angeli McFarlane.

At the end of the development phase, three projects will be considered for production finance and one will go into production in 2022 with a $1.5m (approx.) total budget of which the majority will be financed by Film Victoria, SBS, Arenamedia and local distributor North South East West. North South East West will provide an Australian cinema release before a premiere on the SBS Network.

The emerging filmmakers will be professionally supported every step of the way by powerhouse mentors including Arenamedia’s prolific producers Liz Kearney and Robert Connolly (The Dry, Acute Misfortune, Paper Planes) and Donna Chang, Acting Commissioning Editor, SBS Scripted.

“A diversity of voices and perspectives is vital to the strength and future of our screen industry. The Victorian Government is proud to back this initiative which will help local creatives from a range of backgrounds and experiences to take the next step in their careers. I look forward to seeing local writers and teams honing their skills and more local content hitting the screen,” said Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson.

“The recent boost in screen sector support from the Victorian Government has allowed us to initiate more programs that will make a tangible difference for Indigenous and traditionally under-represented Victorian storytellers,” said Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher.

“We know that the all-important first or second screen credit can be difficult to attain and even more so for diverse writers and directors. With scaffolded development support and a market safety net, this accelerator initiative will benefit the talent participating in the development phase, in addition to the team ultimately selected to produce and release their feature film,” said Pitcher.

Originate starts in May 2021 with a series of online writers’ seminars. Up to six teams will then be selected to take part in a week-long writers’ lab in August. The third stage is a three-month writers’ intensive with up to three teams, with one project selected for production investment.

Robert Connolly, Founder and Director of Arenamedia and North South East West, said: “We are excited to be working with Film Victoria on this innovative initiative which aligns perfectly with Arenamedia’s long term commitment to working with new and diverse voices in Australian cinema. Supporting and nurturing emerging talent is critical to the success of our industry.”

Marshall Heald, SBS Director of TV and Online Content, said: “SBS is committed to exploring more ways to elevate underrepresented voices in our sector through partnerships like Originate, which make a meaningful contribution to more diverse and inclusive Australian storytelling on our screens. We’re excited about the opportunities to support emerging creatives in bringing their uniquely Australian perspectives and experiences to life through feature film, and sharing those stories with audiences across our network, through this initiative.”

Applications for Originate are now open and close 11pm Thursday 15 April 2021. Visit film.vic.gov.au to find out more.

SBS Scripted Acting Commissioning Editor, Donna Chang, will join Film Victoria’s Production Investment Manager Alicia Brown and Fiction Development Manager Katherine Slattery for a live Q&A to talk about Originate and share advice to diverse Victorian directors and writers who are interested in applying. Visit Film Victoria’s Facebook page to register for the Facebook Live Q&A on Friday 19 March at 12:30pm.

PRESS RELEASE

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