Content Initiatives

Robbie Hood with his trusty mates Georgia Blue and Little Johnny Source: SBS

SBS is committed to exploring the diversity of Australia on and off screen, and supporting the development of the next generation of diverse creative voices. Beyond our inherent focus on diversity through our network-wide content offering, in 2019-20 SBS invested in over 20 initiatives specifically to support career pathways and increase representation of diverse professionals in the sector, with further funding allocated for initiatives in the years ahead. Read more about how to get involved with our production teams or see your story on SBS.

Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator

The Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator is a nationwide initiative to support the development of diverse fiction writing talent in the Australian screen sector.

A three-year partnership launched in 2021 with Screen Australia and state and territory agencies, with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild, the Emerging Screenwriters’ Incubator will provide significant work experience in drama production for 18 emerging writers from backgrounds and with lived experiences currently underrepresented in the sector. 

Each year for three years, six successful candidates will be employed for 12 months in production companies around the country. During their placement, they will develop ideas into treatments, work across a production company’s fiction slate of programming, participate in writers’ rooms, and work closely with development producers and others to increase their knowledge and further develop their skills.

Each participating state and territory screen agency will reach out to local networks and from June, the selection process will begin, with placements at production companies from July 2021. Read more here.

Diversity Talent Escalator

SBS’s Diversity Talent Escalator initiative increases representation of Australia’s diverse communities within the production sector.

The national initiative seeks to create career development opportunities for emerging and mid-level screen practitioners from backgrounds under-represented within the Australian screen industry. SBS collaborates with content producers to secure flexible, on-the-job, paid learning and immersion opportunities across its commissioned content slate.

In four years, roles have been found for people from underrepresented backgrounds, across 28 commissioned shows. SBS has collaborated with every State and Territory in Australia, with Diversity Talent Escalator placements for filmmakers including roles within local SBS dramas The Hunting, Robbie Hood, New Gold Mountain and Hungry Ghosts, web-series The Tailings, and documentary series Go Back to Where You Came From - Live and Every Family Has a Secret. Participants have worked in roles such as: First Assistant Editor, Director’s Assistant, Production Coordinator and Extras Casting Assistant.

The Diversity Talent Escalator is a co-funded program in partnership with Film Victoria, Create NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Territory, ScreenWest, South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Tasmania.

To learn more, contact the SBS Commissioning team in the genre that is right for you.

Centralised Documentary Australia Foundation Indigenous Fellowship

In 2020 NITV partnered with the Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), Screen Territory, the South Australian Film Commission (SAFC), and the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) to launch the Centralised Documentary Australia Foundation’s Indigenous Fellowship.   

As part of the broader Centralised initiative, of which NITV is a partner, this Fellowship will run over three years, supporting the professional development of Indigenous documentary filmmakers who are resident in the Northern Territory or South Australia, providing up to $30,000 to a selected fellow each year with a bespoke program designed to meet their specific needs.

Tamara Whyte from Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory was selected as the Inaugural Fellow in 2020, with two more fellowships funded for 2021 and 2022.

For more information click here.

Australia Uncovered - single strand documentary initiative

Australia Uncovered is SBS’s strand of prime-time single documentaries exploring diversity and equality in contemporary Australia, developed in partnership with the Documentary Australia Foundation. SBS is now inviting proposals for projects to be broadcast in 2022.

This follows the success of the launch of the strand in 2020, with the first season of selected projects to be broadcast in 2021.   

Australia Uncovered will feature up to eight single documentaries ranging from one hour to feature-length. Shortlisted proposals seeking development funding will participate in a live pitching session as part of the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) 28 February – 3 March 2021, with successful teams receiving a share of development funding from SBS.

SBS is also once again welcoming proposals seeking production funding and post-production funding for the strand.
 
For more information about this initiative, click here.

Digital Originals

The Digital Originals initiative is a partnership with Screen Australia, providing opportunities and support to writers from backgrounds under-represented in the sector. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living with a disability, women, those who identify as LGBTIQ+ and gender diverse, and people living in rural and remote areas.  

The initiative ultimately brings more diverse stories to our screens, creating bold new drama projects for SBS On Demand and NITV with themes that resonate with all Australians. Online original projects funded over the years include critically acclaimed Homecoming Queens and Robbie Hood. In 2019, ten teams were selected to develop short-form scripted projects through mentoring workshops, with three of those online projects sharing in $65,000 of development funds. Comedy Iggy & Ace, the first project to receive production funding, will premiere in 2021.

In late 2020, SBS announced it would be extending its Digital Originals partnership with Screen Australia for another three years.

Submissions are open until 5pm AEDT Thursday 11 March, 2021. Read the guidelines here and learn more about the partnership here.

Pitch to Pilot drama initiative

Pitch to Pilot is a drama initiative with Film Victoria to develop pilot scripts from under-represented screen creatives. Open to both new voices and established content creators, Pitch to Pilot has a two-stage development process.

In April 2020, four television drama series were selected to be developed through the Pitch to Pilot initiative, aimed at bringing compelling stories from diverse voices to our screens. Both the stories and creative teams behind each of the successful projects are female-led, with emerging Victorian screen talent taking the opportunity to partner with experienced local screen practitioners.  

The teams each received $20,000 for further development before pitching the projects to SBS, with the successful team receiving an additional $20,000 to write a pilot script. Read more here and keep an eye out for future developments.

R.I.D.E Feature Film Fund

SBS, Screen Queensland and Madman, together with The Post Lounge and Media Super, launched the R.I.D.E (Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality) Feature Film Fund in June 2019. A career-making opportunity for Queensland talent from under-represented backgrounds, it is Australia’s largest feature film fund partnership.  

This major initiative guarantees a significant production budget of $1.5 million for one feature film to be created each year, for the next three years.

RIDE is now a rolling fund that will accept applications at any time. Projects selected will move into further intensive development and join the RIDE Slate, from which the partners aim to select a film for production each year.

Read the full RIDE guidelines for more information on how to prepare a pitch.

Our Stories – NITV short documentary initiative

Our Stories is a long-running, annual initiative from NITV, giving First Nations filmmakers the opportunity to produce factual stories for broadcast, from the diverse communities that make up Australia. Whilst a nation-wide initiative, NITV gives special emphasis to regional and remote stories, with emerging filmmakers creating digital song-lines to share stories of their communities, cultures, lives and histories.

The initiative involves support from the development stage through to the final delivery of the project. Completed films are broadcast on NITV and SBS On Demand, and together form a landmark series of mini-documentaries from the heart of Indigenous communities.

NITV does a call-out each year, so keep an eye on the website.

SBS Voices Writers' Initiatives & Partnerships 

SBS Voices is an online platform which provides a voice for, and champions, emerging writers from diverse backgrounds in Australia, particularly women. It has a mission of raising the voices of marginalised Australians with a focus on first person, memoir-style content and video, and has published more than 100 new writers, sharing their unique stories and perspectives with all Australians.  

SBS Voices has a successful ongoing partnership with Sweatshop, a diverse writers’ collective in western Sydney, which has been running since 2018, showcasing stories from diverse perspective. It also has a partnership with Western Sydney University for emerging writers.  

SBS Voices has developed an Asian-Australian Emerging Writers project edited by Candice Chung, a Muslim women writers’ series edited by Sarah Malik, a Filipino writers’ project, and an Indigenous writers’ project, amongst other curated collections.

Would you like to write for SBS Voices? Send an email to voices@sbs.com.au.

SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition

Run by SBS Voices, the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition was created to support the discovery and development of emerging talent. It invites aspiring writers from diverse backgrounds to share stories that reflect the diversity of contemporary Australia, in the form of a first-person memoir. Writers from all over the country responded and SBS received more than 2,000 entries in the inaugural competition in 2020, with Alana Hicks announced as the winner, and runners up also receiving prizes.  

Read more here and stay tuned for the launch of the 2021 SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition in July 2021.

SBS Short Film Festival

In 2019 SBS launched the inaugural SBS Short Film Festival, to commission fourteen scripted and unscripted short films from underrepresented film makers to air exclusively on SBS On Demand.

Coming out of SBS’s Short-Form Content Initiative, it aims to encourage and celebrate emerging local talent, representing Australia’s diversity in all its forms. The Festival showcases an array of formats, subjects, topics and talent.

SBS partnered with five Australian screen agencies to bring these short films to audiences – Film Victoria, Screen Queensland, Screenwest, South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Tasmania.

No Ordinary Black - NITV short film initiative (scripted)

No Ordinary Black is a short film initiative from NITV, inviting emerging First Nations filmmakers to submit short story ideas for projects, with a maximum of two characters and up to two locations.

A partnership with Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Screen NSW, Film Victoria, Screen Territory, South Australian Film Corporation and Screenwest, No Ordinary Black is designed to bring to the screen thought-provoking First Nation stories, authored and crafted by First Nations people.

Stories in First Nations languages are encouraged and projects need to have First Nations people in key creative roles of writer, director and producer. Up to ten projects are selected for development funding and attendance at a four-day workshop. Following the workshop, up to six projects will be selected for production funding. The selected teams will be provided with opportunities to develop and produce a short film.  

Red Ochre - NITV documentary initiative

A partnership with Screen Territory, Red Ochre is an initiative for emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen practitioners based in the Northern Territory, to develop factual content for NITV.

Teams are invited to submit ideas for a half hour documentary, a short form documentary series or an entire 3 x 30 minutes documentary series. Content can be a mix of web series and half hour documentaries for broadcast on NITV and SBS on Demand. Successful applicants are selected on the strength and distinctiveness of their stories, their vision and ability to bring these stories to the screen and to create a program that would appeal to an NITV audience.  

In 2019 three filmmakers - Shirlene Campbell, Charmaine Ingram and Viviana Petyarre - were successful applicants, with documentaries broadcast on NITV under Karla Grant Presents and on SBS On Demand.

Screen Queensland Origins

In 2019, NITV launched Origins, an initiative in partnership with Screen Queensland (SQ) that aims to break new ground through the development and production of format-based factual series by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers.

The Origins initiative is open to all Queensland-based Indigenous writers, directors and producers and aims to create opportunities to build careers within the Australia media sector, with up to three projects receiving funding to produce a pilot episode intended for broadcast on NITV.

In 2019/20 the successful applicants were Angelina Hurley, Caden Pearson and Ben Southwell.

ScreenWest First Voices – Indigenous in-language documentary initiative

First Voices is an exciting partnership between NITV and ScreenWest, for emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen practitioners to tell in-language Indigenous stories that are uniquely Western Australian.

Launched in 2019, the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages, the First Voices initiative seeks in-language documentary ideas, with the aim to promote a greater understanding of West Australian Indigenous culture and to highlight the importance of saving millennia-old languages from extinction.

Candidates develop a 30-minute documentary for broadcast on NITV. The initiative further develops the skills and increases the broadcast credits of emerging to mid-level WA Indigenous writers, directors and producers, while sharing their stories with a national audience.

In 2019/20 the successful applicants were Taryne Laffar, and Luke and Dan Riches.

Internships, placements and mentoring opportunities

MediaRing and NITV Fellowship

An initiative providing career opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the screen industry, through placement and attachment opportunities with MediaRING members.

NITV Spirit Award

A practical work placement with NITV for an emerging Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person working within the film and TV industry from remote or regional Australia. The recipient travels to Sydney and works with NITV staff in different areas while being mentored with practical experience in broadcasting.

AusSMC Indigenous Media Mentoring Program

An annual media mentoring program supporting 12 Indigenous scientists across the country to hone their media and interview skills. This initiative involves mentoring across several departments at SBS, including Corporate Affairs, News and Current Affairs and NITV.

AFTRS Graduate Scheme

An 11-week internship opportunity for a third year AFTRS student from an underrepresented background. In 2020/21, the internship involved working on two shows being shot in the SBS studios – The Cook Up presented by Adam Liaw, and the third season of Mastermind.

Career Trackers

A twelve-week placement every summer for three years, for an Indigenous university student. There are seven placements in total across SBS, including with NITV and SBS On Demand programming.

NITV Indigenous Journalist Cadetship

Outside of SBS’s TV and Online Content division, SBS also offers an annual 12-month journalism cadetship program, designed to develop skills and experience in journalism, with an identified position available each year for an emerging Indigenous journalist. During the year, cadets are based in Sydney’s cross-platform newsroom, with placements in SBS newsrooms in Melbourne and Canberra, and with the current affairs programs Dateline, Insight, The Feed, as well as NITV programs.