Screenability NSW: Australia's screen industry welcomes interns
In early December, the NSW screen industry gathered at AFTRS to welcome the first eight participants in the Screenability NSW Internship Program.
Screenability NSW is a new program to create opportunities in the screen industry for people with disabilities, developed by Screen NSW in partnership with Ai-Media, AFTRS, Carriageworks, Bus Stop Films and specialist employment agency Toozly.
As part of the program, eight paid interns have been placed with leading production companies in film and television. Earlier this month they met at AFTRS with representatives from the companies who will be employing them, including Matchbox Pictures, Screentime and Animal Logic, and began a workshop to prepare them for their new positions.
Writer, director and performer Tim Ferguson, who is taking a lead role in various Screenability NSW activities said: “It really is exciting to see the program come to fruition and to introduce the first eight interns to their senior industry colleagues. Screenability NSW is about encouraging and enabling new thinking and the announcement of the internships is an important first step.”
Matchbox Pictures' Head of Production Helen Pankhurst said: "It's wonderful to be a part of this initiative that will allow us to bring another layer of authenticity to the stories we tell."
* Daniel Monks will join a writing room at Goalpost Pictures. Daniel is an actor, filmmaker & dancer. In 2015, he received the Arts & Fashion Award at the NSW/ACT Young Achiever Awards, and he was awarded the Young Filmmaker of the Year at the WA Screen Awards in 2014. His short films have screened around the world at more than 40 festivals.
* Audrey O’Connor joins production company Giant Dwarf as a camera assistant. Audrey is an actor and filmmaker who has previously studied with Bus Stop Films. She has made short drama films and documentaries, including a film about her experience with a performing arts group in Cambodia, and is involved with theatre.
*Dieter Knierim will get to work as both an editor’s assistant and camera assistant on ABC Entertainment’s You Can’t Ask That and will then join the SBS Eurovision telecast. Dieter is an emerging photographic and video artist who has worked with various peak bodies and Government departments to produce screen projects and his work has been broadcast on NITV and SBS.
* Emily Dash will be a writer and researcher in the writers' room at Matchbox Pictures. Emily is an emerging writer, actor and motivational speaker with several film and theatre credits. Her debut short film I Am Not A Work of Art was part of Metro Screen’s 2015 Screenability program
* Maria Erica Tamayo will join Animal Logic as an editor’s assistant. Erica is a graduate of AFTRS and completed a Bachelor of Communications and Media, majoring in Film and Screen Production at the University of Notre Dame Australia. She has considerable post- production experience.
* Ashley Meeraiya joins the The Footy Show on Channel Nine as a production assistant. A passionate writer for various outlets, his ambition is to become a director.
* Megan Rowe will join a writing room at Screentime on a new drama series. Megan is an experienced writer across a variety of mediums.
* Joni Campbell’s internship will be as a production assistant with the iconic ABC program Play School. Joni discovered filmmaking through a course with Bus Stop Films and a particular love for being behind the camera.
“The Screenability NSW Internship Program is the first step in a program of initiatives that will deliver on an open-ended policy commitment by Screen NSW to work with industry to grow participation in the screen sector by Australians with disabilities,” said Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson.
“We appreciate the enthusiasm with which the industry is embracing the opportunity to work with our interns, offering them a broad range of professional opportunities.”
Each of the eight interns is being provided with bespoke training through the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, developed in consultation with Bus Stop Films.
An online network will be created for all the interns to share their production experiences.
During their internship, the interns will be supported by Toozly, who provide employment support services for people with disabilities.
Dr Jeff Baron Levi, CEO of Toozly, believes we are sitting on a goldmine of untapped resources in people with disability: “A disability does not necessarily become a handicap in the work force if the jobseeker is able to receive appropriate support and adjustments to build on their strengths and compensate for any deficits they may have”.
Following the internship program, Screen NSW will convene a forum at Carriageworks, which Tim Ferguson will host, with the interns, participant productions, partners, government, the wider industry and media to discuss the project, its outcomes and how it can be amplified to create ongoing employment opportunities for people with disability in the NSW screen sector into the future.
AFTRS last month released a significant research paper Inclusive Pathways Framework for Screen Storytelling Talent, looking at best practice in building diversity in the screen industry. The paper surveys the current landscape in Australia and internationally, and offers recommendations to ensure underrepresented groups are provided opportunity and access to the industry.
Photo caption: Eight Screenability NSW interns with Tim Ferguson