Penny Smallacombe has joined Netflix ANZ as the manager of its Grow Creative program.
Grow Creative is a Netflix initiative to expand and up-skill local talent – both above and below-the-line – via investment in education and training.
Delivered via strategic partnerships, the idea behind the program is to create a pipeline of jobs from educational institutions and training programs onto Netflix productions.
While aiming to support the streamer’s business needs, Grow Creative also has an eye to building the creative capability and sustainability of the industry, with a particular focus on inclusion and skill gaps.
Smallacombe, a Maramanindji woman from the Northern Territory, joins Netflix from Bunya Productions, where she has worked for a year as a producer on projects such as SBS series True Colours.
Prior to, Smallacombe was Screen Australia’s head of First Nations for six years, overseeing projects such as ABC series Mystery Road, Sweet Country, Total Control, Goldstone, Little J and Big Cuz, Grace Beside Me, We Don’t Need a Map, Maralinga Tjarutja, Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky and She Who Must Be Loved.
In that role, she also facilitated a variety of initiatives for First Nations creatives, such as Songlines on Screen, Pitch Black Shorts, Shock Treatment, State of Alarm, [Black Space], Bunya Talent Hub LA and the Producers Initiative.
Prior to joining the agency, she worked as senior programmer at NITV and was a producer on projects like A Change of Heart, The Forgotten Ones, Message Sticks and Yarning Up.
While Netflix is yet to officially announce its plans or investment under Grow Creative in Australia and New Zealand, it launched the same program in the UK last September, putting up £1.2 million ($2.1 million) to train more than 1,000 people. Opportunities for training were available on productions like Sex Education, The Witcher and Top Boy, as well as with Bridgerton prod-co Shondaland. Under the program, the streamer also put £300,000 ($532,000) towards the London Screen Academy.
Separately from Grow Creative, Netflix has invested in several industry development programs in Australia, including $500,000 to deliver the Regional Crew Development Program in partnership with Screenworks, and more than $500,000 to launch a First Nations scholarship fund with AFTRS.
Other training initiatives have included an entry-level post-production attachment program on Heartbreak High.