Aurora script program goes national

[press release from TM Publicity]

The NSW Film and Television Office (FTO) has refocused Aurora, its intensive professional script development program, and is calling for applications for the new 2009 intake.

For the first time the program is opening up nationally. The FTO will work with other state agencies that wish to participate. Non NSW applicants should apply through their respective, participating, state funding bodies.

Closing Date for Applications is January 30, 2009. Four to six projects will be selected.

The FTO’s Director of Creative Partnerships, Ashley Luke, said that the FTO has drawn on the tremendous knowledge and experience of Aurora advisors and alumni in revamping the guidelines.

Aurora advisors to date have included US director Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting), UK screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, The Full Monty), UK director Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar), and US executives Jason Resnick (Focus Features) and Tony Safford (Twentieth Century Fox). Filmmakers who have brought projects to Aurora have included Fred Schepisi, Penny Chapman, Cate Shortland, Rowan Woods, Vincent Sheehan, Liz Watts and John Alsop.

“The consensus is that Aurora has been a tremendously valuable program, “ said Ashley Luke. “The success of films such as The Black Balloon, Somersault and Little Fish and the upcoming Prime Mover and Animal Kingdom, developed through Aurora, attest to that.

"But, after seven years, we are keen to take Aurora to another level. We’ll keep those elements that work best but we’re incorporating fresh ideas to make the program even more effective,” he said.

Under the new Aurora program, application requirements have been streamlined, and eligibility widened. Stand alone writers and writer/directors will be considered in addition to writer, director and producer teams.

Where there is no producer and/or director attached, Aurora will endeavour to partner with key creative talent to match the project with a compatible producer and/or director.

Aurora consists of two key high-level workshops with a funded script development period between them. And, under the new guidelines, there is opportunity for an additional script development period in the months following the second workshop to produce a further draft.

The first workshop is held at a residential retreat. This professional workshop offers focused discussions of the script in one-on-one sessions with at least four professional and experienced international and Australian advisors.

The emphasis is on creativity rather than technique, and addressing specific script issues in a non-formulaic manner, to assist the filmmakers in refining their vision for the next draft.

After the completion of this workshop projects are given development funding to write two drafts within the period leading up to the second main workshop. As part of this process, projects will continue to be mentored by advisors from the residential workshop. This period will also include intensive sessions working with marketing, sales and distribution practitioners.

The second key stage of Aurora takes place in Sydney in November. At this workshop participants will work with casting directors, editors, and other industry specialists, receiving international and local marketplace feedback.

There will also be a read-through of each script, as well as an opportunity for teams to work with some of Australia’s most eminent actors.

Following this second workshop, feedback generated from the reading will be incorporated in the development of a further draft, taking the Aurora process to a full twelve months. Targeted support and advice is also offered to assist the projects in financing, and Aurora-selected projects are eligible for production investment from the FTO.

For application forms and/or further information see the FTO website at or telephone Lloyd King, Aurora Coordinator, on (02) 9264 6400, or facsimile (02) 9264 4388, or by email at