AACTA announces return of $50K Reg Grundy Award, adds under 25 prize

Reg Grundy.

When US-based producer Eden Gaha meets Australians working in unscripted that have made their way over to Los Angeles, he usually tries to hire them.

The former TV host and now president of unscripted at Shine USA told IF his two decades of experience across both countries had shown him the value of skills from Down Under.

“There is a lot more reality in mainstream broadcast reality TV here than there is in the US on a ratio basis,” he said.

“Otherwise, the landscapes are relatively similar but I would say Australians do a lot more with a lot less; they’re very talented and very good.

“Whenever I meet Australians who have made their way to the US, I make the point of trying to buy them lunch because to have come up in the ranks in this business in that territory, you’ve pretty much done it all and you’ve got great experience and a good work ethic.”

Gaha will have the opportunity assist the next wave of unscripted talent via his role as a judge for the AACTA Reg Grundy Award, which returns this year following its 2020 launch.

Established in partnership with Grundy’s wife, RG Capital chairman Joy Chambers-Grundy, the award is designed to grow Australia’s unscripted entertainment through helping fund new formats.

The prize honours the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of the late media icon, whose legacy includes the local production of formats such as Sale of the CenturyBlankety BlanksWheel of Fortune, Family Feud, The Price Is Right and Perfect Match, as well as the creation of drama series Sons & Daughters, Prisoner and Neighbours.

In addition to last year’s prize of $20,000 in cash and $30,000 in development funding, this year AACTA will offer a prize of $10,000 to the best idea from someone under 25.

Steve Bedwell, Bryan Cockerill and Geraldine Coy were the inaugural recipients of the award, with the funds going towards their winning entertainment concept, Seven Pups.

Gaha, who has been in Sydney for the production of game show Frogger, will be joined on the panel by Banijay Rights CEO Cathy Payne, senior entertainment executive Sharon Wheeler, producer Marion Farrelly, and media CEO Ian Hogg.

He said the under 25 component would help to bring in ideas from “a generation raised by unscripted television”.

“It’s a generation of people that for the past 13 years have grown up with a video camera in their pocket, so for them, the process of making TV is very much demystified and I think it is a good thing,” he said.

“It’s important for the industry to continue to evolve to look at the way in which they tell stories and the speed with which they do it because they can teach us.”

Entries for the 2021 AACTA Reg Grundy Award close Monday, October 11. Find information on the eligibility requirements here.