Talent Camp: Responding to audience demand for rich and engaging stories
In June this year, in partnership with Australian Film Television & Radio School (AFTRS) and Screen Australia, we opened a call for emerging content creators and storytellers from diverse backgrounds across NSW to apply for one of 15 spaces at a new week-long skills development opportunity called TALENT CAMP.
Responding to audience demand for rich and engaging stories and the industry’s concern about the lack of diversity in the Australian screen sector, the TALENT CAMP initiative aims to provide an opportunity for new talent, new perspectives, and new voices that reflect the richness and depth of contemporary Australian society.
The NSW week-long workshop was held this week at AFTRS and attended by 13 NSW and two ACT-based storytellers, with coaching focused on story development, screen producing and career pathways led by industry experts including renowned producer Kath Shelper (Black Comedy, Samson & Delilah, Ruben Guthrie) and story developer Brita McVeigh, AFTRS Engagement Manager Christina Alvarez said that the initiative had been very well received; more workshops across the other states will follow shortly.
“Talent Camp NSW has been a spectacular success. The 15 screen creatives have each walked away with a strong and nuanced understanding of storytelling and have developed new skills designed to forge potent pathways in the screen industry.”
Find out more about the workshop facilitators:
Brita is a Dramaturg, Directing Coach and Story Consultant working with actors, directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers. Brita has contributed to the development of more than 120 feature film, short film, television and theatre projects. Brita is a guest teacher at AFTRS and is an advisory board member and Story Advisor at Story Camp Aotearoa, a five-day residential screenwriting retreat for feature film screenwriters in New Zealand. Brita has been Chair of Script to Screen, a NZ based screen industry professional development agency and has facilitated numerous story workshops to help filmmakers reach the next stage in their creative careers.
Kath Shelper is the producer of many celebrated films, most noticeably Samson & Delilah, which won the director Warwick Thornton the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. The film took out many other awards around the world. Kath currently produces the ABC sketch comedy series, Black Comedy, which has had two series screen in 2014 and 2016, winning an AACTA Award and nominated twice for a Logie. Her last feature film, Ruben Guthrie, opened the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.
In the last few years Kath has produced The Darkside, a hybrid documentary-drama with Warwick Thornton (Forum, 2014 Berlinale), ABC TV feature doc Tender by artist Lynette Wallworth (AACTA Award Best TV Doco 2015, 2014 Sydney Film Festival) and two chapters of The Turning feature film (Tim Winton’s short stories project, Berlinale Gala 2013), with Warwick Thornton and actress Mia Wasikowska in her directing debut. Mia and Kath also made another short film for the Madly anthology (Tribeca 2016).
More about the program mentors:
Dr Amin Palangi is an Iranian filmmaker based in Australia and the founder of Palangi Productions. He has been making fictional and documentary films in Afghanistan, Iran and Australia. His debut feature documentary Love Marriage in Kabul received the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival and Canberra Film Festival, the official selection of Melbourne Film Festival and a finalist for the Walkley Awards in 2014 for excellence in journalism.
Amin is an AFTRS graduate and holds a PhD from Australian National University. In addition to his filmmaking, he has worked as the Screen Producer at Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), a post production lecturer at JMC academy, and has founded and directed the Persian International Film Festival in Australia. Currently, Amin is the convergent media lecturer at Western Sydney University and is a member of the NSW Film and Television Industry Advisory Committee.
Gary Paramanathan works at the intersection of arts, culture and community. Currently working at AFTRS, he has previously worked at Fairfield City Council in Cultural Development, Information and Cultural Exchange in Screen Culture, and collaborated with a number of arts and cultural organisations. Gary is the founder and director of Colourfest Film Festival (2010-2017). He holds a Masters of International Communication from Macquarie University and also writes for the South Asian Australian publication southerncrossings.com.au. Gary is passionate about migrant and diaspora storytelling.
More about the Emerging Storytellers:
Alana Hicks (NSW)
Alana is a writer and producer of web sketch comedy series The Kvetch Set Sketch Collective, with a strong desire to make and see stories about mixed-race identity on Australian screens. She is a lover of 90s TV, and dorky comic books, a poet and rapper in another life, and now a digital content maker.
Ali Kadhim (NSW)
Ali Kadhim is a self-taught filmmaker who has been writing, directing, shooting and editing his own short-films and experimental videos for the past 15 years. He’s worked internationally in physical theatre and currently works as a stunt performer.
He is currently in the writing stage of some feature length projects, most of which are in the treatment and early draft stages. His aim is to tell stories that feel real, raw and believable, with stories and images that can resonate with audiences universally and ultimataley make people ‘feel’.
Bee Cruse (NSW)
Bee is a storyteller descending from the three richest cultures of the world; Indigenous Australian, First Nation American and Chinese. Her passion for social change and equality is the reason she chose the Arts as a platform to engage with the masses. Bee has worked in the NGO sector, politics, film, television and now theatre, and is currently working as the Community Engagement Coordinator of Solid Ground at Carriageworks, a program that links young Indigenous creatives to the Arts sector. Bee is also the Jr. Impact Producer of Maya Newell’s latest documentary KIDS.
Chantelle Jamieson (NSW)
Since graduating from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2009, Chantelle has worked in film, theatre and television, appearing in feature films Eddy and Viv, Crushed, Rip Tide, and will next be seen in Will Gluck’s Peter Rabbit. Her television credits include Crownies, House Husbands, Underbelly Files:The Man Who Got Away, and Panic At Rock Island. In the world of theatre, Chantelle recently played ‘The Creature’ in Lally Katz’ Frankenstein (Theatreworks) and other productions have included Fallen (Sport For Jove), The Importance of Being Earnest (DTC), and Look Back in Anger (Red line). Chantelle also created the web series Ang Wilson which premiered at Seattle Web Fest 2017.
Daniel Nour (NSW)
As the son of Egyptian migrants, with a slightly theatrical and creative bent, Daniel says he has often felt like a fish out of water. “A white society and a conservative community means I’ve been forced to create my own reality through art…or die."
David Hutman (NSW)
David is a 48 year old ex-truck driver from Kempsey and currently a writer for Scarlett Productions. After only recently starting to write, he says he “abolutely loves the freedom of it” and is very excited about the workshop.
Donita Hulme (NSW)
The proud daughter of English and Fijian migrants, Donita is a creative industries champion, who has worked in the cultural sector for 22 years and is also an emerging artist. Her journey has included a decade with the Australia Council for the Arts, two years in Fiji through Australian Volunteers for International Development, and four years with Information and Cultural Exchange . Today, her Neighbourhood Renewal work has a clear and leading focus on culture and placemaking. Donita is also an active member of the Pasifika community, sitting on boards for both the NSW Pacific Council and Fiji Youth Initiative.
Erin Foy (NSW)
Erin is a writer best known for her kids’ short film Turtle Soup, which landed on the Tropfest shortlist in 2016, before taking out the Best Film award at the Short and Sweet Film Festival 2017. During her years of writing, Erin has developed many feature films and TV specs, one of which caught Rebecca Gibney’s eye in 2016. As a result, Erin was hired to work alongside Rebecca and Matchbox Pictures in the plotting room for their Channel 7 drama Wanted. Along with writing, Erin is also a key cast member of renowned Sydney comedy troupe Confetti-Gun.
James Christie-Murray (ACT)
James is a 23-year old queer filmmaker that believes that storytelling is the essence of all life. He is currently in his final year of film production at the University Of Canberra and says he enjoys being outside of his comfort-zone, playing with genre, and re-shaping traditional ways of filmmaking. “You could say I'm a little bit of a rebel. Also, I watch way too many films for my own good.”
Lucie Towers (NSW)
Lucie is an aspiring writer, illustrator, animator and comic artist. Her goal is to work as a writer or story artist in film & television, children’s programming and/or animation. She believes that diverse representation in storytelling is immensely important. She is a self-confessed geek for monster movies, old-timey tales, animation, comics, zine-making, fairytales, puns and any ‘absurdly twisty-turvy word-nerdy tomfoolery’. Currently, she is working on a manuscript for an illustrated novel, Lepidopterlalia, whilst developing other stories in her spare time.
Michael Gupta (NSW)
Michael grew up in Western Sydney with an Indian father and Australian mother. He says he was drawn to storytelling through performance and has since acted across film, theatre and television productions over the last 10 years. In moving towards writing and directing for screen, he is interested in exploring the themes of youth, coming of age, rites of passage and the outsider looking in.
Nevanka McKeon (ACT)
Nevanka is fairly new to film making but has experience in radio and television, working in Indigenous media, SBS/NITV and ABC Radio and Television across a variety of roles including presenting, producing, journalism and production support. In 2016, she worked on three documentaries as an Associate Producer, Producer, Writer and Director; Footprints on Our Land, Emmie Wehr and Winawaal: My Country, My Home. The documentaries Emmie Wehr and Winawaal: My Country, My Home screened on NITV in late 2016. Footprints on Our Land screened at the opening night of the Canberra International Film Festival in October 2016.
Nilendra Fonseka (NSW)
Nilendra has an Economics degree, and has worked in Corporate Finance for the past five years, with writing, music, stand-up comedy, improv and acting his life blood during his spare time. Last year during a one year Acting Studio in Melbourne Nilendra says he realised that being in front of (or around the camera) was where he needed to be. He quit his job and started fresh in the industry, he has been fortunate to have acted in 12 films since, and made two of his own this year. He says it has been a ‘hugely transformative journey’, and that he’s never looked back.
Sophea Op (NSW)
Sophea is an actor and writer with a background in theatre (particularly devised work), interested in creating and performing in screen. She has performed in theatre work such as The Prophet Remixed, and devised work in Suburbist, and How to Make a Happy Meal.
Tasnim Hossain (NSW)
Tasnim Hossain is a playwright and performance poet and is the current Resident Playwright at the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP). Her work has been staged in Sydney, Canberra, Perth and Manchester (UK), with her first solo show developed through support from Playwriting Australia's Lotus Salon for Asian-Australian writers. She is also working on a second for Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle later this year.
Tasnim has worked in writers’ rooms with Noted Festival and Goalpost Pictures and has performed poetry around Australia. She has also taught young people how to write and perform poetry through schools and community groups.
Front row – Brita McVeigh and Gary Paramanathan – Facilitator and Mentor – and Lucie Towers kneeling
Second row – Bee Cruse, Erin Foy, Tasnim Hossain, Donita Hulme, Ali Kadhim, Daniel Nour, Nevanka McKeon, Sophea Op
Back Row – David Hutman, Nilendra Fonseka, James Christie-Murray, Chantelle Jamieson, Michael Gupta, Alana Hicks.