First participants unveiled in Screenability NSW internship program

Tim Ferguson and the Screenability NSW interns.

The first eight participants in the Screenability NSW internship program, each receiving a paid placement across film and television, have been unveiled.

Screenability NSW, launched by Screen NSW in September, is a program to create opportunities in the screen industries for people with disabilities. Screen NSW has partnered with Ai-Media, AFTRS, Carriageworks, Bus Stop Films and Toozly on the initiative.

On top of the internships, the program promises to deliver an annual film festival at Carriageworks, a short film-making initiative and a long-term job placement scheme.  

Yesterday at AFTRS each of the interns met representatives from the companies who will be employing them; they include Matchbox Pictures, Screentime and Animal Logic.

Each intern will be provided with bespoke training through AFTRS, developed in consultation with Bus Stop Films. An online network will be created for all the interns to share their production experiences, and participants will be supported by Toozly during the internship. Toozly provide employment support services for people with disabilities.

Writer, director and performer Tim Ferguson, who is taking a lead role in Screenability NSW, said it was exciting to see the program come to fruition and to introduce the interns to their senior industry colleagues.  

“Screenability NSW is about encouraging and enabling new thinking and the announcement of the internships is an important first step,” he said.

Matchbox Pictures' head of production Helen Pankhurst said: "It's wonderful to be a part of this initiative that will allow us to bring another layer of authenticity to the stories we tell."

The eight participants are:

Daniel Monks, who will join a writing room at Goalpost Pictures. Monks is an actor, filmmaker and dancer. In 2015, he received the Arts and Fashion Award at the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards, and was awarded the Young Filmmaker of the Year at the WA Screen Awards in 2014. 

Audrey O’Connor joins production company Giant Dwarf as a camera assistant. O’Connor is an actor and filmmaker who has previously studied with Bus Stop Films. She has made short films and documentaries, including a film about her experience with a performing arts group in Cambodia.

Dieter Knierim will work as an assistant editor and camera assistant on ABC Entertainment’s You Can’t Ask That, and will then join the SBS Eurovision telecast. Knierim is a photographic and video artist who has worked with various peak bodies and government departments. His work has been broadcast on NITV and SBS.

* Emily Dash will be a writer and researcher in a writers room at Matchbox Pictures. Dash is a writer, actor and motivational speaker with several film and theatre credits. Her debut short film I Am Not A Work of Art was part of Metro Screen’s 2015 Screenability program.

* Maria Erica Tamayo will join Animal Logic as an editor’s assistant. Tamayo, who is experienced in post-production, is a graduate of AFTRS and has completed a Bachelor of Communications and Media, majoring in Film and Screen Production at the University of Notre Dame Australia. 

* Ashley Meeraiya will join Nine’s The Footy Show as a production assistant. A writer for various outlets, his ambition is to become a director.

* Megan Rowe, an experienced writer across a variety of mediums, will join a writing room at Screentime on a new drama series. 

* Joni Campbell will be a production assistant on Play School. Campbell discovered filmmaking through a course with Bus Stop Films.

Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson said the agency appreciated the enthusiasm with which the industry is embracing the opportunity to work with the interns.

“The Screenability NSW Internship Program is the first step in a program of initiatives that will deliver on an open-ended policy commitment by Screen NSW to work with industry to grow participation in the screen sector by Australians with disabilities,” she said. 

Toozly CEO Jeff Baron Levi said Australia was sitting on a goldmine of untapped resources in people with disability. 

“A disability does not necessarily become a handicap in the work force if the jobseeker is able to receive appropriate support and adjustments to build on their strengths and compensate for any deficits they may have”. 

Following the internship program, Screen NSW will convene a forum at Carriageworks, hosted by Ferguson. Along with the interns, participating companies, partners, government, the wider industry and media will come together to discuss the project and its outcomes.