Australians in Film and Screen Australia announce Untapped participants

Top row (from left) are Travis Akbar, AP Pobjoy, Alex Wu. Bottom row from left are Natasha Henry, Michael Hudson and Gina Song.

Australians in Film (AiF) and Screen Australia have revealed the six participants for this year’s Untapped development lab, drawing from nearly 400 entries.

Starting this month, Travis Akbar, Natasha Henry, Michael Hudson, AP Pobjoy, Gina Song, and Alex Wu will be supported by Hollywood professionals to develop their projects, pitching and communication skills, and general career strategy.

Executives from US companies including Atomic Monster, Big Swing Productions, Blossom Films, Hello Sunshine, NBCUniversal, Ojalá Productions, and Topple Productions will be joining the lab as mentors, along with script consultant Pat Verducci and pitching consultant Ellen Shanman.

It follows a masterclass series for all applicants earlier this year, featuring filmmakers Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi), Marta Cunningham (Transparent), Silas Howard (Dickinson), and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out).

AiF executive director Peter Ritchie said his organisation was honoured to be able to open doors in Hollywood, not only for the participants but all those who attended the masterclasses.

“This new generation of Australian storytellers is so exciting, and we wish to congratulate them all for their applications,” he said.

“Designed by US Industry Development Consultant Jennifer Kushner, this program offers a comprehensive and structured overview of how the US Industry operates.”

Launched in 2021, Untapped is one of three professional development programs that Australians in Film and Screen Australia present, alongside Talent Gateway and Global Producers Exchange.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the agency couldn’t wait to see the selected projects come to fruition.

“Screen Australia is committed to helping Australian creatives take their distinct stories to the world and Untapped has proved powerful in supporting impressive new voices to make important connections in the US and be mentored by incredible talent,” he said.

Untapped is presented with support from Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Screen NSW, Scripted Ink, South Australian Film Corporation, and VicScreen, as well as industry partners Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers Guild, Screen Canberra, Screen Producers Australia, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screen West, and Screenworks.

The 2022 participants are as follows:

Travis Akbar

A Waljen man from the Wongutha First Nation of the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, who was raised on Wirangu country near Ceduna, South Australia.

Revelations (horror feature): Paranoia and religious superstition grow rampant in this psychological horror story set in the 1700s about a group of contrarian strangers that are trapped in a church by a brutal storm with a pregnant woman they believe to be carrying the anti-christ.

Natasha Henry

An Australian-born Papua New Guinean screenwriter who is based in Sydney.

Custodians (comedy series): PEARL (Pasifika) lucks her way into a high-stakes PR role at an art museum, just as the state government threatens to shut it down to make way for a sports stadium. To keep her job and the museum open, she must transform their eccentric director into a woke media darling, and push her moral and cultural compass to its limits.

Michael Hudson

A proud Bangarang and Yorta Yorta man from northeast Victoria.

Unravel (horror feature): The worlds of two Australian families living across the street from each other collide after the disappearance of a teenage girl. In the wake of tragedy, they’ll discover that it’s not chance that has brought them together… but something far more sinister – a parasitic supernatural entity that feeds off family trauma.

AP Pobjoy

A trans and queer ADG nominated writer, director and documentary-maker based on unceded Gadigal Land.

The Kin (drama feature): In the midst of writing their second novel to pay for their transition, non-binary author Bly’s world is upended when they become the legal guardian of a fourteen-year-old boy after their estranged sister dies. With one transitioning gender and the other becoming a teenager, the two unknowingly enter a transformative adolescence together.

Gina Song

A screenwriter, journalist, and developer based in Naarm.

Faye: An aimless Korean American pageant queen must juggle the horrors of monster fighting, young adulthood, and college after a demon summoning leaves her with supernatural powers.

Alex Wu

An award-winning Australian director and screenwriter, based in Melbourne (Naarm)

Playtime (drama feature): A psychology graduate in China starts a new job at a treatment facility for internet-addicted teenagers. Her desire to help leads to unintended consequences.