Creators and shapers for Impact Australia accelerator program named

Milla Bell-Hart and Phil Tarl Denson in Impact 2.

Shaun Grant, Jason Smilovic, Kai Wu, Stuart Beattie and Sarah Heyward are mentoring 14 emerging creators in Impact Australia, the offshoot of US Imagine Impact founded by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Tyler Mitchell.

Supported by Gentle Giant Media Group and Screen Australia, the inaugural eight-week accelerator program for creative storytellers from across Australia was originally slated to be held in Melbourne.

Due to COVID-19 it is now being held as a virtual program, with a twice-weekly speaker series. It will culminate in Pitch Day, hoped to take place in Melbourne in late 2020, with the ultimate goal of the creators selling their projects.

The 14 creators from across Australia are working on 10 projects:

Carrie Anderson (NSW) – Bound (TV hour)
Luke Goodall (VIC) and Marc Gallagher (VIC) – Robots Inc. (TV half hour)
Sukhjit Khalsa (WA) and Perun Bonser (WA) – One of the Good Ones (TV half hour)
Catherine Kelleher (NSW) – Iron Mountain (TV hour)
Megan Palinkas (VIC) and Sam Barrett (VIC) – Terminus (TV hour)
Emma Dockery (VIC) – The Party Line (TV half hour)
Lucy Coleman (NSW) – Exposure (TV half hour)
Henry Boffin (VIC) – Before The Dying Light (Feature)
Jess Harris (VIC) – The Bloomers (TV half hour)
Brendan Fletcher (NSW) and Devi Telfer (QLD) – Taronga (Feature)

Tyler Mitchell, head of Imagine Impact, said: “Our proprietary system has curated an amazingly talented group of creatives with compelling scripts.

“Through collaboration and guidance provided by our experienced group of ‘Shapers,’ we expect some incredible film and television projects to be ready for Pitch Day. Australia is revealing quite a high calibre of writers.”

Gentle Giant Media Group chairman and CEO Greg Basser said: “Impact Australia has brought to light the rich cache of diverse and talented writers we always knew were part of the Australian creative community.

“The Impact accelerator program is an enormous step up for our creative industry, bringing a global focus to original Australian IP and our talented storytellers.”

Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher added: “Imagine Impact is a story development lab that pioneers new and innovative ground and we are thrilled to have successfully negotiated this invaluable opportunity for the benefit of our screen industry, and in partnership with Screen Australia, the City of Melbourne and our fellow state screen agencies.

“We know that our creators will seize this moment and go on to create screen stories that will captivate the growing demand of screen audiences around the world.”

Impact Australia is financed by Screen Australia with principal partner Film Victoria, supported by Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screenwest, South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Territory, Screen Canberra and Screen Tasmania.

Shaper biographies:

Shaun Grant is an acclaimed screenwriter in film and television. Most recently, his film True History of the Kelly Gang premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, for which he won his fourth AWGIE Award for its screenplay. His other credits include Snowtown, for which he received the AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (2012), and Jasper Jones and Berlin Syndrome gave him two AWGIE nominations and a win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

On television, Grant has written several Australian drama series including Killing Time, the critically acclaimed mini-series Deadline Gallipoli, and the season two finale of Mindhunter for David Fincher and Charlize Theron (Netflix), for which he received a WGA nomination. Grant’s upcoming feature Penguin Bloom will be released by Roadshow Films.

Kai Wu most recently co-executive produced Amazon’s Paper Girls. Prior to that she was a co-executive producer on Amazon’s Carnival Row and the creator and head writer of The Ghost Bride, an International Original series at Netflix. Wu’s other credits include ABC’s (US) Deception (Producer), Time After Time (Co-Producer), the CW’s The Flash (Executive Story Editor) and NBC’s Hannibal (Writer).

Jason Smilovic began his career as the creator of the ABC (US) series Karen Sisco and the Steven Soderbergh film Out of Sight. He went on to develop three dramas for NBC: Kidnapped, Bionic Woman and My Own Worst Enemy. He is also the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Condor, which recently completed its second season, and also directed several episodes of the series. Smilovic’s first screenplay Lucky Number Slevin was directed by Paul McGuigan and starred Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and Lucy Liu. Smilovic co-wrote War Dogs with director Todd Phillips, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. He and partner Todd Katzberg are currently adapting Robert Littell’s best-seller The Sisters for Smilovic’s directorial debut.

Stuart Beattie is an accomplished Australian director, screenwriter and producer who began his career writing screenplays for Australian independent films then branched out into major tentpole projects such as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the Tom Cruise thriller Collateral. Beattie’s other credits include Derailed, starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston; 30 Days of Night, starring Josh Hartnett and Melissa George; 3:10 To Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale; and Stephen Sommer’s action film GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

He also wrote the original screenplay for Baz Lurhmann’s Australia starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. He also wrote and directed Tomorrow, When The War Began; I, Frankenstein, starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski; and he wrote and produced Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.

Sarah Heyward is a writer and producer whose TV credits include the HBO series Girls, SKAM Austin on Facebook Watch, and Amazon’s Modern Love. She has sold feature screenplays to Universal, Good Universe and Netflix.