Masterclasses announced for AiF and Screen Australia’s Untapped

Top (from left) are Amy Wang, Aïda Mashaka Croal, and Andrew Ahn. Bottom (from left) are Cherien Dabis, Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo.

The creatives behind Marvel’s Luke Cage, Crazy Rich Asians 2 and Only Murders in the Building will deliver masterclasses as part of this year’s Untapped initiative, which commences next month.

Presented by Screen Australia and Australian in Film (AiF), the talent development program targets undiscovered and historically excluded Australian screenwriters and directors with four open-access online masterclasses available to anyone who applies with a feature film or television project in development. Five to six participants are then handpicked to participate in a four-month development lab, which runs from July to November.

While in previous years, mentors for the lab have been announced prior to the masterclasses, those guiding the 2023 cohort will be chosen based on their compatibility with the creative and professional goals of the individual participants.

Fronting this year’s sessions are writer Aïda Mashaka Croal (Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage), writer/director Amy Wang (Crazy Rich Asians 2), writer/director Andrew Ahn (Fire Island), Emmy-nominated writer/director Cherien Dabis (Only Murders in the Building), and Sort Of co-creators Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo.

AiF executive director Peter Ritchie said his organisation was, as always, “very proud” to be working with Screen Australia and the supporting partners to bring the initiative to life.

“Untapped is designed to uncover and elevate Australia’s newest and most original screenwriters and directors who are bursting to tell their stories to the world,” he said.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason agreed, adding he was looking forward to seeing the next crop of “new voices and bold stories”.

“Untapped has advanced the careers of incredibly talented storytellers and we’re thrilled to bring it back for its third year together with AiF,” he said.

“We’re proud to support Australian creators in gaining world-class mentorship and development, and the chance to build meaningful connections in the US market through this program. It’s a fantastic opportunity for creators to reach international audiences and take Australian stories to the world.”

For 2022 participant Alex Wu, the program was “impressively catered” around each individual creator’s needs and knowledge gaps.

“Being able to establish connections and talk one-on-one with experienced writers, producers, and development executives provided an insight into the US industry that I would find extremely difficult to obtain otherwise as an early-career filmmaker,” he said.

The supporting partners for Untapped include Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, South Australian Film Corporation, and Scripted Ink.

The industry partners consist of Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers Guild, Screen Canberra, Screen Producers Australia, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screenwest, and Screenworks.

The first masterclass will be held on March 8 (PT) / March 9 (AEST). Applications are open until Friday, March 3 at 5pm (PST) or Wednesday, March 4 at 11am (AEST).

Find out more information about guidelines here.