‘It has been a huge demystification’: Alberto Di Troia TAPs into new skills

Alberto Di Troia.

Take every opportunity to be involved at all levels in each project and trust yourself.

That’s the advice from inaugural SBS Emerging Writers Incubator participant Alberto Di Troia to the newly announced cohort for the initiative.

The filmmaker and director is nearing the end of his VicScreen-supported placement at Tony Ayres Productions, where he has had the opportunity to write a script for Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes’ upcoming children’s series The Spooky Files, and also manage aspects of the development process from an admin perspective while collaborating on concept and pitch documents.

With the next crop of creatives set to start their 12-month employments, Di Troia encouraged them to speak up with ideas, no matter who they were in the room with.

“When you are in these environments with people who are really experienced, it can sometimes seem daunting to value your own opinions,” he said.

“But the experience I’ve had is that my opinion has always been really valued and the more confident I’ve been in being able to put myself up for opportunities or express my thoughts, the more rewarding it’s been for me.”

Originally from Adelaide, Di Troia came to Melbourne 10 years ago to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film & Television) and the Master of Writing For Performance at the VCA, after which he turned his attention to theatre and community arts.

As the co-founder of performance company Stage Mom, his work has included plays Love You Bitch  and Truly Madly Britney , as well as immersive theatre experiences, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Cooking For  and Love Me (Bar)Tender .

He has previously collaborated with TAP as a script coordinator on ABC anthology Fires, an opportunity that was also funded by VicScreen.

Di Troia said while a “pretty diverse set of skills” led him to TAP, his ideal career would be one in which he could move between TV and theatre and have different creative experiences that “feed into and inform each other”.

“The placement has been a huge demystification of the TV production process”.

“I had some experience on Fires but I didn’t really have any experience working in development at all, so really what it’s been is an introduction and a grounding in every step of the development process, from the initial concept to what it takes to get a team together around a concept and eventually take it to production.

“In that sense, it’s been incredibly valuable to get a window into what that process is, which I think is quite difficult when you are an emerging writer.

“It’s been great to transfer some of my playwriting and theatre writing skills into this environment and know those skills are transferrable, but at the same time being able to learn the new skills that TV requires has been career-changing.”

Aside from receiving feedback on his script for The Spooky Files, which is about to be sent off ahead of production commencing in December, Di Troia is also hoping to consult with TAP on his TV concepts following the end of his placement, having begun work on a mystery dramedy set in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, as well as a dark comedy taking place against the background of radical left-wing activism.

More theatre may also be on the horizon, although he admits he isn’t sure what the next move is, following a year spent learning from his “TV heroes”, including Ayres, producer Andrea Denholm, and development coordinator Marisa Brown.

“Knowing that you’re not just on your own; you’re working with a team of script editors and script producers, as well as incorporating feedback from broadcasters. Being able to manage that process has been really eye-opening,” he said.

“At the same time, TAP is really supportive of everyone’s individual projects and we’re going to have opportunities this year to share our work with the team and get their feedback.”