VicScreen greenlights four Originate features, launches Originate Series

From left are Kalu Oji, Rosie Lourde, Hannah Ngo, Ivy Mutuku, Mimo Mukii, Katie Found, Adrian Chiarella and Harvey Zielinski.

VicScreen has announced that four films developed through its Originate Features initiative will head into production, while also launching a series version of the program.

Into the Blue by writer/director Katie Found and writer Markella Kavenagh; Sweet Milk Lake by writer/director Harvey Zielinski and producer Rosie Lourde; Pasa Faho by writer/director Kalu Oji and producers, Mimo Mukii and Ivy Mutuku, and Leviticus by writer/director Adrian Chiarella and producer Hannah Ngo will be backed by $2.8 million investment, delivered in partnership with SBS, Arenamedia and Screen Australia.

The money will support two of the projects to head into production by June 2024, with the following two films kickstarting production the following financial year.

Participants for Originate Features, launched in 2021, have been mentored throughout the development process by Arenamedia producers Robert Connolly and Liz Kearney, SBS head of scripted Julie Eckersley, and SBS scripted commissioning editors Loani Arman and Donna Chang.

Connolly said he was pleased to be able to raise the profile of emerging talent.

“Arenamedia is excited to be working with SBS and the team at VicScreen on this exciting initiative to bring new and diverse creative voices to our screen, championing filmmaking teams with a bold and adventurous approach to cinema and unique stories to tell.”

VicScreen CEO Caroline Pitcher said Originate was raising the bar in championing “bold new voices”.

“This is a game changer for our filmmakers, one that sets a new precedent in how we can support untapped Australian talent,” she said.

To coincide with the announcement of the successful features, VicScreen announced the initiative would now also be focusing on television, launching Originate Series. This follows the launch of Originate Factual in March.

Participants in the script development workshops.

Eight aspiring early-career to mid-career writers will be selected to undertake masterclasses and paid professional development opportunities as part of the program, receiving mentoring by experienced TV series writers and producers.

Participants will also complete a world-class eight-month television writing program delivered by the University of California (UCLA) School of Theatre, Film and Television’s Professional Programs.

After completing two original scripts and pitch materials, they will be invited to pitch their projects to Victorian producers and key market partners.

Applications for Originate Series are now open to Victorian writers, with applications closing Tuesday 11 July.

The successful Originate Film projects are as follows:

Into the Blue
Writer/director – Katie Found
Writer – Markella Kavenagh
Synopsis: Destined for the nursing home after a dementia diagnosis, 80-year-old Iris enlists the
help of her teenage granddaughter Poppy to help her fake her own death.

Sweet Milk Lake
Writer/Director – Harvey Zielinski
Producer – Rosie Lourde
Synopsis: A softly spoken trans man who, after being mistaken for his alpha, cis twin brother by
his estranged and dying dad, relishes the opportunity to be “one of the boys.”

Pasa Faho
Writer/director – Kalu Oji
Producers – Mimo Mukii and Ivy Mutuku
Synopsis: Struggling shoe shop owner, Azubuike, attempts to reconnect with his 10-year-old son,

Writer/director – Adrian Chiarella
Producer – Hannah Ngo
Synopsis: Cursed by a supernatural being, two queer teenagers are forced to confront their