Nikki Tran and Davey Thompson.

When it comes to pitching and packaging a project, an understanding of what broadcasters and screen agencies are looking for, and familiarity with what else is being shopped in the market, is invaluable.

For Nikki Tran, the chance to glean these insights was one of the key benefits of her recent 12-month, paid internship across Film Victoria, the ABC and Matchbox Pictures.

The writer-producer, whose web series Girl, Interpreted recently scored an AACTA nod, found the program not only gave her confidence in her own creative ability, but helped demystify some of the dark art of development, in terms of both scripting and budgeting.

“Having that knowledge and insight into how the rest of the industry works, how different bodies look at content and make decisions is quite important for me when I’m considering how to pitch a project – who to talk to, when should I talk to them and what things they’re thinking about when they’re looking at a project,” she tells IF.

Further, the internship wasn’t a “cookie cutter” program, in that it was tailored to Tran’s own interests and skills. It’s also led to further opportunities. In addition to continuing to work on her own projects, Tran is about to start working on a project with 2Jons, and in the scripted department at Fremantle.

Film Victoria has reopened applications for the Victorian Screen Development Internship program today, with the aim of forging career pathways for Indigenous and other traditionally underrepresented Victorian creative talent.

Designed to give experience with the full scope of screen content development, 2021 participants will spend up to four months with Fremantle or Princess Pictures, four months at the ABC, and four months at Film Vic.

The internships are open to diverse creatives with a passion for storytelling, whether they be playwrights, performers or producers from across the arts sector – providing they have some experience developing, producing or writing creative content, projects or productions.

The other intern from this year’s iteration, Davey Thompson, worked at Princess Pictures, helping on the set of How to Stay Married season 2, in addition to his stints at Film Vic and the ABC.

Princess Pictures founder Laura Waters said Davey was a “revelation”, stating: “We hope to continue our relationship with him as he made an incredible contribution during his time at Princess, and are excited to be part of this very successful program again.”

Thompson came to the internship from a theatre and circus background, having worked in programming roles at Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Circus Oz, and as an associate producer on Guesswork Television’s Dirty Feet and at ILBIJERRI Theatre Company.

The program helped him to determine where his passion and strengths lay in screen, and to overcome that all too common challenge for creatives: impostor syndrome. Ultimately, it pushed him to apply for and win a new gig as a development executive in the Indigenous department at Screen Australia.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to look at three different layers of the industry: on the ground, at a network and then at the state government funding body. They’re all incredibly different. Personally, it was through this I found that I’m really good at development. That’s what led me to applying for the job with Screen Australia,” he tells IF.

Thompson was encouraged to apply for the Film Vic program by a friend, who told him: “Not applying is the same as a ‘no’.” It’s something wants to pass on to anyone considering the next round.

“Do not doubt yourself and just do it. Just absolutely do it, because you really do have nothing to lose. If you want experience in this industry to help find where you fit and to get yourself started on this journey: do it.”

Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher said: “Having seen firsthand the fresh ideas and insights that Nikki and Davey bring to the table, I couldn’t be more excited for them to take the next steps in their careers. Their success demonstrates the value of in-depth programs like these and I am thrilled that we’re now supporting two more diverse storytellers, in partnership with the ABC, Princess Pictures and Fremantle.”

Fremantle Asia-Pacific CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor said: “35 years of producing Neighbours in Melbourne has meant that Fremantle has benefitted from significant emerging talent in Victoria. It is part of the Fremantle DNA that it continues to play a part in the next generation of creative talent. We’re thrilled to partner with Film Victoria and the ABC on this vital pathway to employment.”

Applications for the Victorian Screen Development Internships are now open and close January 14. More info here.

Nikki Tran and Davey Thompson will also talk about their internship experiences during a live Q&A on Film Victoria’s Facebook page on December 15, 11am AEDT. Register now.

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