ABC, Doc Society, state agencies partner on short-form climate change initiative

Flooded streets in Lismore, NSW, Australia. (Photo: iStock)

With the ABC looking to ramp up its natural history slate from next year, it has partnered with Doc Society to support early career filmmakers to create short-form documentaries focusing on solutions to climate and environmental challenges.

Delivered in partnership with Screenwest, Screen Tasmania, Screen Queensland, VicScreen and Screen Territory, the Environment and Climate Solutions Short Form Initiative will see the shorts distributed across ABC TV, ABC TV Plus and ABC iview.

It comes as the public broadcaster makes broader programming plans to shine a spotlight on Australia’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity and start a national conversation about solutions to protect them.

The initiative calls out for works 5-10 minutes in length that are character-driven and aimed an audience 18-49 years old. The tone is to be “enriching, purposeful and inspiring”. To apply, producers or directors must have some factual program making skills, that is, to have created at least one film with demonstrated audience reach.

Up to two applicants from each participating state or territory will be selected to develop and produce their idea, receiving up to $18,000.

They will then participate in a series of online lab workshops led by Doc Society’s Malinda Wink, global director of Good Pitch and director of Australian programs Hollie Fifer. Teri Calder, ABC factual impact and partnerships executive producer, and other key executives from the ABC Factual commissioning team will then provide ongoing mentoring.

ABC acting head of factual and culture Richard Huddleston the initiative was an opportunity for emerging talent hone their documentary craft and have their work seen by a wide audience.

“They will also build invaluable relationships with the ABC Factual commissioning team who will mentor them through all stages of the filmmaking process as well as grow connections with a global network of change makers,” he said.

Wink added: “Doc Society’s Climate Story Unit is proud to support a diversity of documentary filmmakers across the world.

“We commend the leadership and collaboration of the ABC and partner screen agencies to uplift emerging Australian screen talent as they grapple with scale of the climate challenge and imagine a pathway for communities and the natural world to thrive.

“We look forward to working with this cohort to elevate their storytelling and impact through festivals, broadcast and beyond.”

Screen NSW, South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Canberra are not part of the initiative.

Applications close August 21.