Cinespace launches production-in-residence program

Filmmakers (left to right) Sher Li Tan, Matt Burns, Diane Vu, Kauthar Abdulalim, Natalia Bornay and Eva Torkkola with Member for Footscray Katie Hall MP (centre, fourth from left and right).

With the support of the Victorian Government, Cinespace will offer a quarterly production-in-residence program out of studio space in Melbourne’s Footscray.

Over three month periods, the not-for-profit screen diversity organisation will give productions access to the studio and equipment, including a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K camera and Blackmagic Davinci Resolve post production facilities.

There are also a range of other in-kind supports for residencies from industry partners including Media Mentors, Post Lab IO, VA Digital hire, The Backlot Studios, Shaun Miller Lawyers, safety supervisor Lana Williams, The Prop Store and Jane Norris Casting. The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) is also supporting the program.

The first project to take advantage of the residency is Salma’s Season, a Screen Australia-funded YouTube comedy web series by Cinespace alumni writer-director Kauthar Abdulalim (#Matched, The Ninth Tower) and producer Sher Li Tan.

Salma’s Season chronicles the adventures of Salma, a 45-year-old Australian-Pakistani woman whose traditional world is turned upside-down when she rebels against her roles as a dutiful wife and doting mother to chase her dream of playing at the Australian Open grand slam tennis championship.

Upcoming residency projects include female-led comedy pilot Lady Priest by writer/producers Natalia Bornay and Emily Davis, director Eva Torkkola and DOP Vanessa Cox. Lady Priest is a about how to survive bonkers Lebanese-Australian family dynamics, inspired by Davis’s personal story. It aims to speak to women caught between two worlds, trying to respect and honour where they came from while being able to live an authentic life.

This will be followed in the summer by Pairing, an absurdist comedy short written by/starring Diane Vu, written/directed by Matt Burns and produced by Pius Kung and Sarah Lewis. Pairing follows a young woman who goes on a date with her childhood idol, the last remaining original member of the children’s music group, The Giggles.

The studio was officially launched this week by state member for Footscray, Katie Hall.

Cinespace acting president Steve RE Pereira said the residency program would offer vital space for emerging screen practitioners from culturally diverse, POC, and First Nations communities to develop skills, networks and move into professional careers.

“The facility will help ensure Australia’s cultural diversity is represented on screen and behind the scenes. It also builds on the vibrant and dynamic creative arts precinct that is Footscray, and Melbourne’s West,” Pereira said.

Hall said Cinespace would support the arts of Footscray.

“Melbourne’s inner west is bustling with creative talent and we’re proud to have supported this initiative which will give our budding filmmakers access to resources they need to pursue their dreams and forge connections with other artists across the state.”

The program will offer residencies each season, and people can apply via The next call out later this year will be for the autumn 2023 residency.