SPA unveils Screen Forever 37 program

The Transatlantic Hybrid session at Screen Forever 36, featuring (from left) Katherine Slattery, John Molloy, Andrea Ulbrick, Vanessa Alexander, and Michael Lucas.

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) has released the full program for this year’s Screen Forever conference, shaping its schedule around the strands of Story and Vision, Shifting the Status Quo, and Markets, Trends & Finance.

Taking place on the Gold Coast from May 3-5, this year’s event consists of more than 140 speakers across nearly 50 sessions, including the usual mix of local and international producers, buyers, broadcasters, commissioners, sales agents, and screen industry professionals.

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said the program had been curated to “deliver maximum learning and tailored business outcomes for the Australian screen industry”.

“We look forward to welcoming familiar faces, along with those first-timers to Screen Forever 37 to connect, invigorate, and celebrate the unique and dynamic industry we’re all so passionate about,” he said.

Tony Burke addressing delegates last year.

Within the Story and Vision strand, a session titled The New Wave of Aussie Talent examines the diverse new talent who are on the rise, while Celebrating First Nations Storytelling comprises a panel of key creatives who continue to bring untold stories to screens.

There is also Kindred Spirits – How the Big 4 Public Broadcasters Work Together, which will take a closer look at the relationships between domestic and international broadcasters who shape young minds through culturally significant programming.

As part of Shifting the Status Quo, The Culture Vs Business – Finding the Sweet Spot in the Streaming Era session will explore fair regulatory frameworks, the definition of Australian content, and what it means to properly value intellectual property.

Delegates can hear further insights into the new climate via The Future Economics of Streamers, in which a panel of industry researchers and analysts will explore the changing strategies being implemented by streamers and what effects these will have on Australian production companies.

The discussion will move behind the camera with The Critical Mass of Crewing, a conversation about how the rise in production has outpaced Australia’s crew development pipelines, locally and internationally, posing the question of how to best address crew shortages.

For the Markets, Trends & Finance strand, executives from the ABC, Seven Network, Foxtel Group, NITV, Paramount +, Prime Video, Stan, and SBS will come together as part of Meet the Buyers and Meet the Streamers sessions to discuss industry trends and what scripted and unscripted content they want to see from Australian production companies to fill their slates.

Delegates in between sessions at last year’s event.

Attendees will also hear from key representatives within Screen Australia, and state agencies in ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, and WA during Meet the Funders sessions. The national screen agency will be joined by the British Film Insititute to discuss global alliances, working with UK producers, and how Australian production companies can access the Global Screen fund as part of the Co-Productions and the UK Global Screen Fund session.

Other forums within the line-up include Storytelling for Change, an investigation of how writers are creating a dialogue with audiences; The Future is Accessible, which will explore what ‘accessibility’ should mean to producers, crews, and cast; Arguing About Authenticity, an analysis what authenticity really means; and Who Gets to Play Who? Casting with Integrity, a discussion that will look into ways casting must evolve, as well as shine a spotlight on the issue of meaningful mental health within the screen sector.

Of the speakers already announced for the event, there is digital strategist Rita Arrigo, Google Australia’s head of research Grace Chung, Othelia co-founder and CEO Kate Armstrong-Smith, MIDiA executive vice president and research director Tim Mulligan, Stateless showrunner Elise McCredie, freelance producer Stephanie Dower, Paralympian Paul Nunnari, and 2022 SPA Ones To Watch program participant Chanel Bowen.

Delegates will also hear from BBC Studios Productions CEO Ralph Lee, BBC Studios scripted commercial director Caroline Stone, and BBC head of children’s content and programming strategy Anna Taganov.

Following the conference, and the SPA Awards on May 5, the SPA Connect Market will take place across May 9-10, allowing delegates to promote their screen businesses, slates, and productions to a host of buyers, commissioning executives, distributors, and sales agents from across the globe.

Find the full program here and information on how to register here.