Sunshine Coast Showdown aims to shine a light on local talent

Dan Munday and Jon Coghill.

Jon Coghill knows the potential an idea can have.

As the drummer of rock band Powderfinger, he has seen first-hand how humble beginnings can form the foundation of successful careers within the arts.

“Powderfinger wasn’t all of a sudden a big band playing to 50,000 people,” he told IF.

“It started in the early ’90s with five guys in a little rehearsal room with an idea and lots of ambition.”

Such is the inspiration for the Sunshine Coast Showdown, an initiative created to help emerging talent in the region take the next steps towards breaking into the film and television industry.

Coghill is one of a handful of founders for the initiative, which is being delivered in conjunction with the Sunshine Coast Screen Collective.

The contest offers production funding and mentoring across six categories, including short film (drama/comedy), short film (horror/sci-fi/action), unscripted pitch (light entertainment), unscripted pitch (ob/doc), music video, and ‘Young Guns’ short film.

Winners of each category will receive $5,000 to develop, produce and deliver their projects ahead of a gala night launch in January.

Coghill has turned his attention to screenwriting since leaving his role as journalist, presenter and producer for the ABC last year, with his locally produced short Green with Envy having been shortlisted as a finalist at the London International Short Film Festival in May this year.

He said the showdown aimed to “nurture the process” of ideas within the sector.

“Learning to develop those ideas is really hard in the screen industry,” he said.

“It’s all about the format, talking to the right people, and playing your cards right.

“We want to help people start to do that.”

Coghill will be joined as a mentor in the contest by fellow Sunshine Coast local and head of unscripted for Matchbox Pictures, Dan Munday, whose experience includes producing the US Survivor series for 18 years, as well as developing unscripted shows, such as The Apprentice, and working for the likes of MGM and NBC.

Also providing guidance will be writer/directors Tam Sainsbury and Chris Sun, and producer Josh Capelin.

Munday said the showdown had the potential to not only grow and connect the existing talent in the region, but also act as a beacon for media executives, developers, talent, and governing bodies to gather around.

“Australia is bursting at the seams with domestic and international production and for years we’ve discussed the need for significant studios here [on the Sunshine Coast].

“As the mentor for the unscripted formats category of the competition I hope to discover not just one idea and person to help through this creative process but multiple creatives from different fields that want the work-life balance of working on film and television while living on the Sunny Coast.”

Support for the initiative has also come from former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is now a patron of the Sunshine Coast Screen Collective.

Coghill said it wasn’t hard to find people who wanted to see a screen industry grow on the coast.

“We approached people that are interested in the arts and the creative industry,” he said.

“That was important because they could see how they could help, and how this could grow.”

Submissions for the Sunshine Coast Showdown open on July 26. Find out more information here.