Strong talent, experienced companies – strengthening the industry

Strong talent, experienced companies – strengthening the industry

Screen Australia announced funding of $1.3 million for the first 12 candidates of the Enterprise People program – a one to two year work placement program. Nine women and three men recognised in their field have been selected to advance their writing and creative production skills, through intense, full-time work placements with experienced and iconic industry leaders.

Screen Australia’s CEO, Graeme Mason, said, “Companies have matched promising talent with leading industry mentors to provide a rare opportunity to work constantly across a slate of titles rather than on a one-off project basis – this will expose them to vigorous, long-term, on-the-job development opportunities across the film, television and online sectors.

“We need to cultivate the next set of writers and creative producers to ensure original and dynamic Australian stories keep being told across all genres. It was especially satisfying to see such a strong representation of women benefiting from this program to work with companies that will provide substantial development opportunities.”

The recipients of 2014 Enterprise People funding are listed below.

Sole producer Liz Kearney (These Final Hours) will form part of Arenamedia’s creative team under the guidance of Robert Connolly (The Turning, Paper Planes, Balibo). Robert recognises the importance of developing promising talent and will provide Liz with a chance to work full-time across various projects in the business as well as gaining distribution experience through Cinema Plus.

Brian Cobb, creative producer of an award-winning web series with over 25 million YouTube views, will work at Beyond Screen Production. Brian will be mentored by accomplished writer and producer Peter Herbert, who has an extensive range of credits including The Flying Doctors and The Comedy Company, and was previously AFTRS Head of Production. Ron Saunders will also act as mentor to Brian and has over 30 years’ film and TV industry experience specialising in children’s programs, animation and factual programming. Brian will develop strategies across Beyond’s programs and take ideas from development to distribution.

Creative producer Bethany Bruce will team up with Felix Media to work on feature dramas, documentaries, installation work and distribution. Bethany will have an opportunity to collaborate with innovative filmmakers Bridget Ikin (EP of The Rocket and producer of Sarah Watt’s Look Both Ways, My Year Without Sex and TV series Art+Soul) and John Maynard (Coral Rekindling Venus, Fell). John and Bridget have each been instrumental in supporting and encouraging new talent over many years – including being mentors to Robert Connolly, Sylvia Wilczynski and Donna Chang.

Established writer/director Daniella Ortega will expand her skills as a creative producer of factual TV with Genepool Productions’ Emmy® Award–winning producer Sonya Pemberton (Immortal, Jabbed). Genepool are a renowned, leading factual company offering Daniella a placement to build her producer skills on a range of science/factual projects. Genepool Productions is a joint venture with Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder.

Hugh Sullivan, writer/director of SXSW favourite The Infinite Man, will be a staff writer with South Australian Hedone Productions. Award-winning writer Andrew Bovell, who adapted Strictly Ballroom and Lantana for the screen, will be engaged by Hedone to guide Hugh in his work on the company’s slate.

Short film producer Alex White (AACTA nominee for Florence Has Left the Building) will work with Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Jan Chapman (The Piano, Lantana) to develop her own feature film slate. Jan Chapman has mentored producers Nicole O’Donohue, Kristina Ceyton, Anthony Anderson, Leah Churchill-Brown and writer/directors Jennifer Kent and Ariel Kleiman.

TV, film and theatre actor Charlie Garber (Party Tricks) will nurture his demonstrated potential to move into writing and TV comedy. Leading comedy creators, directors and producers Jungleboys’ Trent O’Donnell and Phil Lloyd, known for their award-winning series The Moodys, identified Charlie as a budding talent to mentor. Trent also has directing credits on multiple comedy series including the US series New Girl. This internship will see Charlie work across Jungleboys’ projects and his own stories – to pitch to broadcasters. Charlie will have the opportunity to participate in writers’ rooms both in Australia and the US.

Shelley Birse will work closely with award-winning producers David Maher and David Taylor to create a slate of original drama projects. Both Maher and Taylor have extensive careers producing a diverse range of programs, including drama series, telemovies and sitcoms such as Love Child and Hiding. This producer placement will bring the Playmaker team and Shelley together again as she expands her creative producing experience on The Code series 2 and beyond.

Niamh Linnie will step into the role of Development Producer at Screentime and will team up with mentors possessing a collective experience of over 64 years across multiple genres in TV production. Her mentors will be Jennifer Collins, one of Australia’s leading entertainment and factual executives (Flying Miners, Felicity’s Mental Mission), Simon Steel, who has established a reputation as a leading creative producer with deep industry knowledge (Village Vets Australia, RBT), and Catherine Durr, who has developed highly successful mentoring programs across her career. Niamh has extensive associate producer TV credits, including some with leading factual production companies. This opportunity will have Niamh work across the company’s projects, develop her stories and work on markets, plus gain valuable insight into the workings of parent company Banijay.

Winner of the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival Emerging Filmmaker Award and current recipient of the Sundance Institute’s Global Filmmaking Award, writer/director Ashlee Page, will work with South Australian production company Southern Light Alliance. Producers Tim White, who has over 35 film credits including The Dark Horse, and Son of a Gun, and Anna Vincent, who recently produced a Jim Loach feature and is executive producer on Scott Hicks’ feature documentary, will develop Ashlee’s production skills. The placement will provide Ashlee with access to Southern Light’s contacts throughout Australia and internationally, including an opportunity to meet with executives and key creatives, plus a work placement with VFX house, Rising Sun Pictures. The placement will also provide Ashlee with support to develop her feature Archive.

Feature film and TVC producer Louise Smith (The Square) will expand her skills base into TV with Werner Film Productions. Louise will work alongside Joanna Werner, award-winning TV producer of the Dance Academy series, to deepen her knowledge and broaden her experience of creative production into television development and production, which will offer a potential new business direction for Louise.

Melissa Johnston has experience as a short film and TV creative producer and will team up WTFN to extend her skills to produce feature films and long-running television series. Well-known filmmaker Richard Keddie (Little Fish, Hawke) has previously mentored Trevor Blainey, Glen Dolman and Adam Dolman, in this placement he will share his craft expertise with Melissa. Also acting as mentors will be Sheila Hanahan Taylor (Oddball, the Final Destination franchise), who was mentored by Hollywood greats Gill Netter (Oscar® and BAFTA nominated Life of Pi, The Blind Side, Marley & Me), Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, Valentine’s Day) and Patty Whitcher (Thor, Memoirs of a Geisha, Dreamgirls), and WTFN Executive Chairman Frank Dunphy, a highly experienced financier and investment broker who will share his expertise in financing screen projects. Melissa will have first-hand experience working across all areas of the business and on a broad slate to sharpen her production craft.

The Enterprise Industry suite of programs – Enterprise People, Enterprise Growth and Enterprise Stories – was launched to address key factors affecting sector viability as identified by the industry: talent regeneration, story development and audience growth.
The candidates for the Enterprise Stories and Enterprise Growth programs will be announced in March 2015.

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