Screenrights announces recipients of 2021 Cultural Fund

Back to Back Theatre's Shadow internship. (Image: Tao Weis)

Screenrights has revealed the seven projects that will share in $250,000 as part of the 2021 Cultural Fund.

Sweetshop & Green, Diversity Arts Australia, Back to Back Theatre, Co-Curious, Media Farm, Midnight Feast, and For Film’s Sake are the recipients of this year’s grants, which were awarded under the theme of New Teams.

For Co-Curious, $45,500 will go towards Stories From Another Australia, a talent and career development program that aims to address issues around the lack of cultural diversity in the screen industry by bringing together emerging CaLD screenwriters and experienced industry practitioners.

The program, which is yet to launch, has already received funding from the Ian Potter Foundation and is planned to take place across three years in NSW, Victoria, and South Australia.

Co-Curious will be hoping the up-and-coming talent that is selected can enjoy similar success to those from its Behind Closed Doors initiative, which was a key driver of anthology feature drama Here Out West, a finalist in this month’s CinefestOZ’s $100,000 Film Prize.

CEO Annabel Davis told IF this year’s Cultural Fund theme of ‘new teams’ was aligned with the Co-Curious way of working.

“Our model of story development brings a deep understanding of working respectfully with community,” she said.

“The unique position of Co-Curious is that it supports writers to bring their stories to life with their own sense of authenticity and at the same time attract experienced and established industry practitioners, mentors, and program partners with a focus on two-way learning.

“Stories From Another Australia aims to create a network of support and potential collaborators for the participants moving forward in their careers.”

Annabel Davis.

This is the fourth year Screenrights has distributed the Cultural Fund, having supported three projects in 2018, four projects in 2019, and seven projects in 2020.

Board director and cultural fund working group chair Geoffrey Atherden was confident this year’s grants would deliver rewarding and innovative outcomes for audiences and the screen industry in Australia and New Zealand.

“This year’s focus on New Teams attracted a strong round of high-quality applications out of which seven projects have been approved with a rich diversity of participants and project aims,” he said.

Applications were assessed by a panel of professionals with both local and international expertise in screen, media and education.

The successful projects for this year are:

Sweetshop & Green
Activity: The New Pasifika Creators Accelerator Program is New Zealand’s first program designed to place talented emerging Pacific creatives living in New Zealand with high-profile, established Pacific-led production companies to provide on-the-ground training, mentorship, networking, and skills development. The program has been designed by Team Moana, a new Pacific-led collective of four high-profile production companies. The goal of the collective is to create a pipeline of new Pacific talent by providing sought after opportunities that will help provide essential credits necessary to gain entrance into the industry. The program has been devised as an annual program for four highly talented emerging Pacific creatives.
Location: New Zealand
Amount funded: $50,000

Diversity Arts Australia
Activity: Equity, Inclusion and the Screen Sector is a capacity building program to increase understanding and confidence of the small to medium screen-based companies around engaging effectively with cultural and racial diversity – including the persistence of systemic barriers in practices and building culturally safe practices. The program is focused on practical and actionable strategies to make change, from recruitment and leadership to programming and audience development. The focus of the program is on building capacities to work with culturally and linguistically diverse, migrant, POC and refugee communities who are underrepresented in the screen industry, and build knowledge and connections with these communities.
Location: Australia
Amount funded: $25,000

Back to Back Theatre
Activity: Back to Back Theatre will partner with screen industry leaders to share the outcomes of their internship program that saw people with disability employed and mentored in production roles during the creation of Shadow in 2020, with a view to creating a model(s) for increased employment opportunities for people with disability in the wider screen sector. With Deakin University, Back to Back conducted comprehensive research and evaluation of the internship program, documenting actual and potential long-term economic benefits and social impacts for individuals with a disability, their capacity to be engaged with mainstream screen services and within the broader community. This project will see Back to Back’s research form innovative partnerships with sectors of the screen industry, developing concrete strategies to assist these partners to explore strength-based opportunities and approaches to disability employment.
Location: Australia (NSW)
Amount funded: $20,000

Activity: Stories From Another Australia is a talent and career development program that aims to address issues around the lack of cultural diversity in the screen industry through a tailored skills development program designed to bring together emerging CaLD screenwriters and experienced industry practitioners. The program will create a network of support and potential collaborators. It will also provide participants with the tools to unlock four key enablers essential in establishing and sustaining a screenwriting career.
Location: Australia (NSW & VIC)
Amount funded: $45,500

Midnight Feast
Activity: The Feast is an innovative training program teaming 20 artists with physical and intellectual disabilities with creatives from Jungle Entertainment and The Corinthian Food Store to learn about collaborative writing, development, pitching, pathways to audience, casting, directing and editing on a budget. Over one year, artists from Midnight Feast will be encouraged to work with new collaborators, to develop skills, and to deepen their connections in the film industry. At the culmination of the program, each artist will have a chance to pitch a project to executives from Jungle Entertainment and The Corinthian Food Store, and to receive feedback. A documentary crew will capture the work of the artists from start to finish. This program is about giving artists agency over their own work, as well as a place at the table with well-connected partners.
Location: Australia (NSW & VIC)
Amount funded: $49,100

Media Farm
Activity: Impact Teams Lab is a new initiative that brings together participants from three different groups or categories – producers and storytellers, researchers and subject matter experts, and people with lived experience – to form new teams to tackle two important problems we face: Climate crisis and Inequality, Diversity and Inclusion. Impact Teams Lab introduces these participants to one another and helps them form transdisciplinary teams over mutual areas of concern. Then, over a 6-week period, the teams are guided on how to work together to develop a screen content project that will make a measurable impact. At the end of this period, lab participants will pitch their projects and impact measurement tools to networks, screen agencies and to impact investors for feedback and development funding.
Location: Australia (NSW)
Amount funded: $30,000

For Film’s Sake
Activity: Currently in its pilot year, Platform is a three-day workshop intensive to be staged with Sydney Film Festival to provide expert skill development that bridges the gap between creative and commercial elements of screen production in the global market. Up to 10 participants with an active screen project in development (episodic or feature) are supported by recognised international experts and connectors to develop their market skills and awareness through targeted workshops in creative producing, pitching, packaging and financing. Platform culminates in a public pitch to international mentors and financiers derived from For Film’s Sake’s Attagirl partners.
Location: Australia (NSW)
Amount funded: $30,000