Screenworks announces winner of Discovering New Voices animation program

Jess Murray.

Tasmanian writer/animator Jess Murray will receive guidance from Princess Bento in developing a new series after winning Screenworks’ Discovering New Voices – Adult Animation initiative.

Held in conjunction with the major new animation studio from Princess Pictures and Bento Box Entertainment, the three-stage program – aimed at writers and animators from regional Australia – will see Murray undertake a paid, four-week attachment.

Murray’s After All – a series about two amateur filmmakers, Winston and Marshal, living together in an absurd wasteland long after a nuclear war has swept the planet – was selected from a field of 40 applicants.

The AFTRS graduate said they were “super excited” to work with Princess Bento on the concept.

“This will be the next big step for my career of drawing strange characters and telling heartfelt yet goofy stories,” they said.

“It’s certainly something I didn’t expect to be doing when I was doodling in the back of maths class in high school.”

Launched in March, Princess Bento is a Melbourne-based animation studio overseen by the Bento Box and Princess management teams that produces content for platforms in the US, Australia, and other international territories.

The new company builds on the first-look development deal the two companies entered last year to jointly develop animated content from Australian-based creators.

Princess Pictures head of development Sarah Lang said there had been a wealth of talent on display in the submissions for the program.

“We were looking for animation concepts that are funny, irreverent, and imaginative but also have something worthwhile to say,” she said.

“It was brilliant to see the diverse range and the high standard of applications from regional Australia, and ultimately Jess stood out because of the clarity of their vision and their dedication to improving their craft.”

Princess Bento will continue to build relationships with a number of the regional creatives involved in the initiative, which was supported by the Screenrights Cultural Fund.

Screenworks CEO Ken Crouch said the program was about drawing attention to emerging talent in all parts of Australia.

“The animation industry is hungry for new and unique voices and great Australian stories can and should come from all regions of our great country, not just from the metropolitan centres,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to supporting Jess on their four-week internship at Princess Bento – it will be an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about the valuable skills of writing episodic comedy and creating animation, as well as to further development of their own project.”