Sally Aitken and Aline Jacques announce new production company SAM Content

SAM Content founders Aline Jacques and Sally Aitken. (Image: Jacquie Manning)

Filmmaker Sally Aitken and producer Aline Jacques have combined their expertise to officially launch SAM Content, an independent production company based in Sydney.

The pair will develop and produce all genres of unscripted and scripted projects for domestic platforms and the international marketplace as part of the new venture, which begins with four projects in various stages of production.

They include an untitled Wiggles project in partnership with Augusto Entertainment’s Cass Avery and Daniel Story and Inconceivable: The Secret Business of Breeding Humans, a documentary for SBS about investigative journalist Sarah Dingle’s discovery at the age of 27 that her mother was impregnated with anonymous donor sperm. There is also an architecture series and a music feature documentary, with additional projects to be announced in the coming months.

The formation of the company continues a decade-long working relationship between Aitken and Jacques, who have previously collaborated on 2011 miniseries Seduction in the City, the 2015 SBS documentary The Great Australian Race Riot, and 2018’s The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill.

Aitken, whose Sundance-selected documentary Playing With Sharks is up for a News & Documentary Emmy Award, said the changing international media landscape had made the timing right to start SAM Content.

“I just think there’s so much appetite for our content, and with a real focus on the Asia Pacific and our region.

“Also, if you can work through COVID and do things remotely and survive a pandemic, then I basically think you can conquer anything.

“We’re excited about lots of different aspects of how we can be nimble in quite an interesting dynamic space.”

For Jacques, a producer that has developed documentaries across a wide range of genres for the ABC, SBS, BBC, National Geographic, Arte, PBS, Curiosity Stream, and Discovery, the venture is an opportunity to capitalise on her and Aitken’s experience in telling Australian stories for an international audience.

“Sally and I have made films together for a decade,” she said.

“She is one of Australia’s most beautiful storytellers with films that have been in competition in Cannes and Sundance and nominated for two Emmys. She is a brilliant collaborator and incredibly generous with other emerging filmmakers. With her international profile, our sympatico across a number of projects, and her ongoing creative support of younger filmmakers, it seemed an obvious idea – let’s set up a production company.”

Despite an already hefty slate in development, Aitken and Jacques are open to new pitches, with the former encouraging prospective collaborators to get in touch with their ideas.

“I don’t think there are any rules about approaching — just approach,” she said.

“Certainly, we’d be looking for a belief in the idea and obviously a commercial viability to it but all a lot of that comes through dialogue and collaboration as well, and that’s possibly one area where, with our combined skill set, we can help with.”