Aboriginal Screen Storytelling In Demand

The new CEO of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) says the organisation will maintain its strong commitment to Aboriginal screen makers as the organisation’s current Aboriginal Screen Strategy expires.Kate Croser, who was a producer of the popular Australian film Top End Wedding and who started as CEO of SAFC in September, told Aboriginal Way that audiences have shown they are very interested in stories by Aboriginal screen makers.“Even if you just look at the box office successes of recent years, like Top End Wedding and Sweet Country, which were incredibly successful with audiences both in Australia and internationally, audiences are telling us time and time again, they want more of this kind of content” she said.To support this production, the organisation is ‘making sure that we’ve got a handle on who is the next wave of talent that’s going to tell these stories’.“Currently in South Australia we have a whole lot of amazing creative talent. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen makers developing their work and making short work” said Ms Croser.“What we’re trying to do is really put a lot of our focus on developing that part of the industry and really helping the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander talent that’s out there to develop their projects and ideas to the point where they can take them out to the market and to financiers and to just develop their own skills and experience.”Leading much of this development work at SAFC is Associate Executive Production Development Attraction and Studios, Nara Wilson. She says that since the Aboriginal Screen Strategy commenced in 2015 there has been an increase in Aboriginal stories being developed.“Indigenous storytelling hasn’t always been supported here in the state. We’re doing so much at this point. It almost feels like we’re making up for lost time, but it’s fantastic. It’s such an exciting era I think for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners to be right now and have the support of us as an agency but from other similar partnerships that we do on a national scale.” Ms Wilson said.This support comes partly in the form of skills workshops delivered across the state.“We don’t just work in the metropolitan area within Adelaide. We do a lot of work regionally as well, as we want to have our reach for skills development as far as possible. We’ve done three initiatives in Port Augusta in the last couple of years and that’s just a hub. The practitioners are coming from Port Lincoln, Ceduna, all over. It’s a huge focus for us here to continue to develop those skills and find new talent here in SA” she said.The South Australian Film Corporation is one of the founding partners of the Centralised Program, which encourages screen practitioners and undertakes audience development both in South Australia and the Northern Territory. This is still an under developed region for screen production, according to Ms Wilson.“A lot of the time you see stories come out of Sydney or Melbourne, there’s just a vast geographic space I think in Australia of deep, deep, important and historical stories that so many of our communities want to tell, but now they’re having the opportunity to do so” she said.The way that the program works across borders is not just innovative but also central to its success, Ms Croser said.“It’s designed to facilitate storytelling by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners, whether they’re in the north of the country, the centre of the country or the south of the country.“That’s very different to the way state agencies usually work in screen. Usually the support that you can get is very much based on where you live. Whereas with Centralised, what we’re trying to do is open it up, let the borders be more fluid so that we can try and capture as much talent as is out there regardless of where they might be living at that particular point in time” she said.A key program delivered under Centralised was the Web Series Development Program. Web series play an important role in screen careers, as they allow makers to develop and showcase their skills in an online format, Ms Wilson explained.“The founding partners collaborated with CAAMA who are in Alice Springs, to produce a four day intensive web series workshop. It was facilitated by Wayne Blair with mentors including Dylan River, Tanith Glynn-Maloney, YouTube superstars, Christian van Buren and Adele Virchow.“There were nine teams of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander screen practitioners, five from S.A. and four from NT.“It was a very intensive workshop that allowed the practitioners to have one-on-one mentoring from those experienced practitioners in developing their concepts into pitch-ready web series concepts.“So out of that workshop, we’re really excited to say that the SAFC has put an extra $10,000 towards to teams development. So they can then continue their journey to get it to a stage where they can find financing and various other organisations are doing the same as well.” she said.Late in 2019, the SAFC also hosted the Bunya Creative Talent Incubator, where teams of developing screen makers had an opportunity to work with “A grade” filmmaking team as mentors.Bunya are a production company have produced work such as the Mystery Road feature films and TV series as well as Sweet Country and other productions with a strong connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories.“This workshop was about teams applying with just a film concept, whether it was for Web Series, TV series or feature film. And then through the three day workshop it was to get their concepts to a pitch-ready stage. They can then approach financiers and distributors and broadcasters for extra funding and interest.” Ms Wilson said.SAFC hosts many opportunities for Aboriginal film makers and Ms Wilson encourages aspiring producers to contact her if they would like to know more.“Well, if you’re from South Australia, you could call an email at any time. I’m here to give advice about what opportunities that we can offer from a state agency point of view. I also constantly send out emails about funding and training opportunities from a national ATSI level as well, just to keep everybody informed as much as possible. So give me a buzz or email me at any time. I’m happy to talk.”For more information, contact Nara Wilson Nara.wilson@safilm.com.au or 08 8394 2000 Subscribe the SAFC newsletter on their website https://www.safilm.com.au/and follow SAFC on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/safilmcorporation/

More info here:  Centralised

By Lucy Kingston