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Sixteen creatives from across Australia have been selected to come to Sydney for the three-day intensive workshop.
‘Seeing Ourselves: Developing the Developer’ workshop has been designed to give professionals from diverse backgrounds greater access to the screen sector, reports Screen Australia.
Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia says that “We know people from non-Anglo Celtic backgrounds, and those who identify as being LGBTQI or having a disability are all chronically under represented on our screens.”
Screen Australia’s 2016 study Seeing Ourselves: Reflections on Diversity in TV Drama analysed 199 Australian TV dramas (fiction excluding animation) that aired between 2011 and 2015.
It found 18% of main characters in the period were from non-Anglo Celtic backgrounds, compared to 32% of the population.
“We want to work with the 16 successful Developing the Developer applicants to help them in enhancing their story development skills and to be equipped to work on projects page to screen. We want to empower these creatives with the knowledge of how to leverage the funding and networking opportunities available to them, so they can inject new ideas, perspectives and authentic stories into an industry that is ready for change, but needs new voices in story development to be able to drive this change,” Ms Caplan adds.
Louise Gough, Development Executive at Screen Australia says “When we first announced Developing the Developer, our hope was to have 10-12 solid workshop participants. We ended up receiving 89 applications and the standard was so high, we have extended the program to take 16 creatives.”
“To see creatives joining us from all over the country, and from such incredibly different life experiences, gives me a quiet confidence that we can engineer some real change in the development of works that more accurately reflect the Australia of today,” she adds.
The list of successful applicants includes four Indian-origin creatives - Mithila Gupta, Bali Padda, Mala Sujan, and Ana Tiwary.
Mithila Gupta (NSW) is an Indian-born screenwriter. She graduated from the Bachelor of Communication at RMIT in 2006 and in 2009 completed an Advanced Diploma in Screenwriting at RMIT. She then joined the Story Department of iconic Australian drama, Neighbours. She spent two years plotting the show and was heavily involved in introducing an Indian family to the regular cast of Ramsay Street. Since Neighbours Mithila has written for Home and Away, Winners and Losers and Trip For Biscuits. She most recently worked as assistant script editor on Cleverman, and is currently writing pilots for various production companies. Mithila’s career aim is to bridge the gap between Australia and India by creating a slate of co-productions.
Bali Padda (NSW) is an actor, producer and consultant, and a passionate advocate for diversity in the Australian arts and cultural sector. He is Chair of MEAA’s Equity Diversity Committee, and in that role works with key industry organisations and producers leading the conversation on issues of diversity and inclusion in Australian performing arts. As a producer, Bali's theatrical work focuses on showcasing emerging diverse artists. He is currently developing a new, inclusive children's TV drama and is creating a slate of diverse and engaging TV, film and theatre projects. Bali is a proud first-generation Australian, raised in Western Sydney by migrant parents from the Punjab region of India. Bali is firmly committed to ensuring that our Australian stories are a true representation of contemporary Australia, in all its diversity.
Mala Sujan (WA) has worked in the screen industry over the past 20 years in project development and production. Productions she has worked on include Shark Net, Red Dog and Cloudstreet. She has worked at Screenwest in the Production funding team, at Beyond West as development coordinator, and is currently working as development for the production company Factor 30. Mala has also worked in development with writer Eoin O’Briain and producer Melissa Kelly on Grooming the Bride, and has had several projects in development including a factual entertainment series with Indian-Australian themes. Born in India, Mala emigrated to Australia as a child and identifies strongly with both cultures. Mala believes screen stories play an important role as a highly influential medium, and that we have the capacity to bring about stories with greater representations of diversity.
Ana Tiwary (NSW) is a producer/director who nurtures diverse talent and multicultural projects through her company indiVisual films. Ana has worked on Bollywood films (India), at National Geographic Channels (Washington DC), and has produced for ABC TV (Australia). Born in India, Ana has also lived/worked in Germany, Canada, West-Africa and the US, and for the past ten years has called Sydney home. She served on the Women in Film & TV NSW committee for six years and founded their Mentorship program. In 2015, she was selected for Screen Producers Australia’s “Ones to Watch” program. Ana is passionate about telling rich untold Australian stories that bring gender, racial and cultural diversity to our screens.
Sally Caplan notes that “It’s going to take the whole screen sector to work together to get to a place where the Australia we all experience in our day to day lives is actually represented on screen."
"For our part, Screen Australia is focussing on the early stages of creating a screen project – development,” she adds further.
The workshop will begin on 31 March 2017.
After the three-day intensive is complete, each creative will plan their next career steps with Screen Australia staff.