SQ partners with SBS, Madman, The Post Lounge and Media Super to launch diversity-focused film fund

(L-R:) Post Lounge GM Kurt Royan, Media Super CEO Graeme Russell, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, SBS director TV and online content Marshall Heald and Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira. (Photo: Alister Randell)

Screen Queensland has announced a three-year partnership with SBS, Madman Entertainment, The Post Lounge and Media Super to co-produce and co-finance a slate of feature films that feature diverse talent, creatives and stories.

The aim of the R.I.D.E (Respect, Inclusion, Diversity and Equality) Feature Film Fund is to boost participation of under-represented talent and see up to two films created each year in Queensland.

The fund will provide opportunities for up to six Queensland creative teams to produce $1.5 million budget feature films for theatrical release and national broadcast.

“Queensland is leveraging screen industry expertise and investment to even the playing field for underrepresented groups in the screen industry. We are empowering filmmakers from a wide range of backgrounds to tell stories that reflect the diversity of our community that will also resonate with global audiences,” said Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieria.

Investment from all four parties will support the fund with project management from Screen Queensland, post-production services and expertise supplied by The Post Lounge, theatrical distribution through Madman Entertainment and broadcast on the SBS network of channels.

Applications are open to Queensland writers, directors and producers with anywhere from zero to two credits in that role on a feature film. For teams, at least two out of three key roles (writer, director, producer) must be from an under-represented background. For the purposes of this program, this is recognised as differences in gender; age; Aboriginal identity; cultural and linguistic diversity (CaLD); disability; sexuality and gender identities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+), location (including regional and remote areas); and socio-economic status.

As per the guidelines: “Consistent with the SBS charter and Screen Queensland’s commitment to telling diverse stories, the chosen films will have diversity at their heart both in terms of the creative teams and content. To be clear – diversity is NOT simply adding a “gay best friend” character, changing the lead character from male to female or making them from a non-Anglo-Saxon
background. The stories we want told are bigger than that and the commitment to diversity must be too.”

SBS director TV and online content Marshall Heald, Director, TV and Online Content SBS said that the fund goes to the heart of the broadcaster’s purpose as an organisation.

“SBS is committed to ensuring the diversity of content available for Australians reflects the rich diversity of our society. By providing opportunities for creatives from diverse backgrounds to share
their stories, we are all able to see, explore and celebrate the differences that make Australia what it is today.

“SBS proudly champions a more inclusive screen sector by fostering talent from diverse and underrepresented communities, and we’re excited about the opportunities ahead through this partnership to share more uniquely Australian stories across our network, including our brand new SBS World Movies channel.”

Madman Entertainment founder and MD Paul Wiegard said they were confident of the market appeal of diverse stories.

“Madman is committed to bringing remarkable Australian stories to audiences and has always sought to work with both emerging and established screen talent from diverse backgrounds. We’re excited to collaborate with filmmaking teams through this initiative and help find the best possible audiences for their projects.”

The Post Lounge GM Kurt Royan, General Manager said: “The Post Lounge want to be known as a champion of new and diverse voices in the entertainment industry, so we’re excited to partner with SQ, SBS, Madman and Media Super to develop the next generation of Queensland filmmakers by supporting their projects from inception through to delivery,” said Mr Royan.

Media Super CEO Graeme Russell, CEO Media Super said: “Media Super is an integral part of Australia’s screen industry. This investment, through our newly established Industry Innovation Co-investment Fund, allows us to pursue new, innovative sources of investment returns for our members while extending our support for one of our key industries. In doing so, we also give Australian writers, directors, filmmakers, actors and crew more opportunities to ply their craft at home.”

The R.I.D.E Feature Film Fund will select up to four projects in the first stage of the program with creative teams receiving intensive development support from market and industry experts, followed by the selection of one project that will be greenlit for production.

Applications close August 19. More info here.