Applications open for second edition of feature lab Attagirl

(L-R): Script consultant Robin Mukherjee; producer Leanne Tonkes, director Emma Freeman and production mentor Diana Elbaum.

Entries are now open for the second round of For Film’s Sake’s global feature film development lab, Attagirl, which supports female and non-binary filmmaking teams.

Created by FFS executive director Sophie Mathisen, the lab is designed to help creatives navigate development of features in the digitally disrupted age.

Course content centres on three major pillars – story, market and audience – with support provided by international screen agencies and leading international film festival.

Among the program’s backers are Screen Australia via its Enterprise program, Telefilm Canada, the British Film Institute and the Swedish Film Institute in conjunction with philanthropic supporters.

Six Australian projects and one from New Zealand were among the 13 from around the world selected to take part in last year’s lab.

Initially designed as a travel-based initiative to market-driven festivals, Attagirl pivoted to digital delivery in 2020 subsequent to the COVID-19 pandemic. In its second year, Attagirl will also be delivered virtually with some further amendments to content and structure. 

The lab will now be formally split into two stages, with the first focused on development of creative production skills, or story and audience, and the second in selected teams producing market ready feature film packages.

Following completion of stage one, teams will be assessed by Attagirl mentors with an uncapped number of “market-ready” projects invited to participate in Stage Two. Films not invited will be eligible to apply for stage two within any future lab cycles.

Both stages will contain up to two workshop intensives, delivered digitally, as well as digital accreditations being supplied by the lab via its festival partners.

“COVID closures and changes – whilst no doubt disruptive – actually created a host of unintended benefits to the program and participants. With travel suspended, mentors and experts were more available to dedicate time and support to the selected teams which has resulted in greater depth and distinction in the developing films,” Mathisen said.

“The primary goal of Attagirl is to provide globally relevant support and structure to the development pipeline for new, emerging and historically marginalised talent and considering the number and quality of projects that has resulted from this model – even under the stress of lockdowns – FFS and our stakeholders are excited to continue down the digital road for the time being.”

Director Emma Freeman and producer Leanne Tonkes’ film The Circus was one of the projects selected for last year’s lab.

Set in rural 1950s Australia, the narrative follows a beautiful, feisty circus performer who meets a lonely and determined female farmer, forcing them to decide to conform or follow their hearts.

The duo state the program was of great benefit for the project.

“We began Attagirl at a crisis point for us and the world. Working with the Attagirl team challenged us to think deeply and discover the most brave and distinctive version which we had been wanting to tell for some time. We were encouraged to work hard, think big, aim high and we look forward to further support as we move towards production,” they said.

“If you have a story you must tell, Attagirl will help you discover the universality and power within it and how best to position and engage with your audience.” 

To apply, teams must have at least 50 per cent participation of female/non-binary filmmakers in above-the-line roles.

Subsidised places are available for teams from official partner territories of Australia, Britain, Canada and Sweden. Teams from other territories are warmly invited to apply however it is recommended they engage their relevant funding body with their intention to apply.

If no funding is available within a territory FFS will seek partial or full funding via philanthropic support where possible for selected projects.

Documentary films, television or web series are not eligible formats. Entry is free. 

Applications are being accepted via Attagirl’s website and will close August 22.