Sebastian Chan on a path to bigger things at Bunya

Sebastian Chan.

For Sebastian Chan, the road to becoming an emerging creative has encompassed a decade of writing, directing, and producing.

The 32-year-old is in the midst of a 12-month placement at Bunya Productions, having been selected as Screen Canberra’s candidate for the 2021 SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator.

It’s not the first time he has been recognised for his talent, with his 2018 short film Bus Trip winning the Judges’ Choice award at the Focus On Ability Short Film Festival, while his project The Family took out the Best Pitch award at the 2020 Melbourne Webfest.

Chan is also responsible for the ACT’s first IGTV series, The Red Thread (Where You Are Festival), about two teens destined to reconnect and stoke their love for each other.

Despite a growing list of accolades and achievements, the Canberra native told IF he was comfortable with the ’emerging’ tag.

“I’m from Canberra, which is still an emerging industry in a sense,” he said.

“So most of the time while a was there, I considered myself to be emerging, even though I was producing short and web series.

“Now my official title at Bunya is emerging writer, so it’s kind of like I’ve kind of gone up a step but I’m still considered emerging, which means I get the best of both worlds.

“I am in the spot where I can learn as much as possible without that other pressure of having to constantly outperform people in that mid-career space.”

Other than a four-month stint teaching English in Nepal, the Bunya placement is the first time Chan has lived away from his hometown.

After studying media arts and production at the University of Canberra, he earned Advanced Diploma in Producing (Story, Audience, Finance) from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, going on to set up his own production company, Vorfreude Pictures.

Sebastian Chan on the set of ‘At The Phoenix’ .

While the majority of Chan’s credits have come as a producer, the likes of which include the 2021 web series At The Phoenix, he was able to further his writing skills in 2018 as one of five regional writers/directors selected by Screenworks, Jungle Entertainment, and Midwinter Films to assist with the sci-fi comedy feature film Croak, alongside Nash Edgerton and Christiaan and Connor Van Vuuren.

He identified the initiative allowed him to experience another side of the creative process.

“It was great because it was one of the first times I was able to work in a professional writers room setting,” he said.

“I got to see how Nash Edgerton and Christiaan and Connor Van Vuuren work, and really observe the process because the script was already there and written, so it was about developing it a little further in terms of a feature film, and for a modern audience as well.

“We got to talk to heads of department potentially working on the film, and really look at it from all angles. It was also good to connect with other writers in Australia.”

There is no shortage of professional networking opportunities for Chan in his current work environment, where he is responsible for sitting in on development meetings with the producers, as well as taking notes in the writers’ room of projects such as the upcoming Ladies in Black television series.

The placement has also included receiving “super valuable” feedback from Bunya on his own slate.

“There’s a web series I’ve been developing for a few years now with some writers in Canberra and the [Bunya] producers have been really supportive in not just giving their thoughts, but offering advice to get it to the next level in development as a television series,” he said.

Following the end of his employment at Bunya in January, Chan will undertake a master’s degree in Screen Business from AFTRS, a move he said was inspired in part by his time at the production company.

“Something I wasn’t expecting from this placement was getting to see the nuts and bolts of running a company like Bunya,” he said.

“It’s really driven a thirst for knowledge in that area.”