Danny Philippou, Alice Bell, Noora Niasari, Sabir Pirzada announced as speakers for Untapped

Sabir Pirzada, Alice Bell, Noora Niasari, and Danny Philippou.

Danny Philippou, Alice Bell, Noora Niasari and Sabir Pirzada are the speakers for Australians in Film (AiF) and Screen Australia’s 2024 Untapped initiative, now open for applications.

Launched in 2021, Untapped is a development program for undiscovered and historically excluded Australian writers and directors to create career pathways into the LA market.

Philippou, Bell, Niasari and Pirzada will front a series of masterclasses from March until June, after which up to six recipients will be selected to participate in an online development lab between August and November, with each receiving individualised mentorship, story consultation, creative feedback, and professional development support.

Writer/directors Phillippou and Niasari have enjoyed success both at home and abroad in the past 12 months, with the former co-writing and co-directing horror Talk To Me, winner of eight AACTA Awards, while the latter won the audience award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 with her narrative feature debut Shayda. Of the other speakers, Bell is the writer and executive producer of Amazon series Expats, starring Nicole Kidman, and Pirzada is known for his work as a writer on Star Wars: The Bad Batch and Person of Interest.

AiF executive director Peter Ritchie said the experience of the speakers was aligned with what the initiative hoped to instill in its applicants.

“Craft and skill are the very foundation of telling a successful story, and each of our Masterclass speakers will bring a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to Australian artists wanting to tell their unique stories to the world,” he said.

Screen Australia CEO Deirdre Brennan said the agency was “incredibly excited” with the speaker line-up.

“We’re looking forward to finding another talented cohort of emerging and diverse Australian storytellers for Untapped,” she said.

“This unique program ensures they will have the skills, project direction, and global insights needed to navigate the US market. Danny, Alice, Noora and Sabir will each play a pivotal role in guiding participants – offering their wealth of experience and expertise. We’re incredibly excited to have them on board.”

Applications for Untapped 2024 close 11.59pm AEST on March 15. First Nations Australians, as well as people who are culturally and linguistically diverse, living with disability, LGBTQIA+, and/or who are living in regional and remote locations are encouraged to apply. Find out more information about the program here.

Supporting partners for Untapped include Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, South Australian Film Corporation, and VicScreen, while industry Partners include the Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers Guild, Screen Canberra, Screen Producers Australia, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest and Screenworks.