Screenrights announces 2021 cultural funding list

Screenrights Cultural Fund fuels industry change, from New Pasifica Creators to an Impact Teams Lab.
Back to Back theatre at work on their production Shadow

Screenrights collects and disburses residual and secondary rights, some of which is used to support a modest Cultural Fund. This year it has dedicated $249,600 to seven projects in both Australia and New Zealand. It is a good targeted program, a bit like the right oil on the most important squeak.

The 2021 list focuses on diversity and collaboration, which are closely related anyway. As Diversity Arts Australia Executive Director Lena Nahlous said: ‘Over the past 18 months the screen industry has undergone a cultural reckoning, amplifying public conversations about systemic racism and a lack of diversity in Australia’s screen and media sectors.‘

‘If we as a sector are to move beyond platitudes like ‘we must do better,’ and one-off, palliative attempts to ‘fix’ systems, a commitment to collective action is key to sustainable change. This funding from Screenrights provides us with an opportunity to support sustainable and systemic change within the screen sector.’

Sweetshop & Green

Activity: ‘The New Pasifika Creators Accelerator Program’ is New Zealand’s first program designed to place talented emerging Pacific creatives living in New Zealand with high-profile, established Pacific-led production companies to provide on-the-ground training, mentorship, networking and skills development. The program has been designed by Team Moana, a new Pacific-led collective of four high-profile production companies. The goal of the collective is to create a pipeline of new Pacific talent by providing sought after opportunities that will help provide essential credits necessary to gain entrance into the industry. The program has been devised as an annual program for four highly talented emerging Pacific creatives.

Location: New Zealand

Amount funded: $50,000

Read: Alice Burgin and Ester Harding join Sweetshop and Green

Diversity Arts Australia

Activity: ‘Equity, Inclusion and the Screen Sector’ is a capacity building program to increase understanding and confidence of the small to medium screen based companies around engaging effectively with cultural and racial diversity – including the persistence of systemic barriers in practices and building culturally safe practices.

The program is focused on practical and actionable strategies to make change, from recruitment and leadership to programming and audience development. The focus of the program is on building capacities to work with culturally and linguistically diverse, migrant, POC and refugee communities who are underrepresented in the screen industry, and build knowledge and connections with these communities.

Location: Australia

Amount funded: $25,000

Read: Introducing more diverse arts writers

Back to Back Theatre

Activity: Back to Back Theatre will partner with screen industry leaders to share the outcomes of their internship program that saw people with disability employed and mentored in production roles during the creation of Shadow in 2020, with a view to creating a model(s) for increased employment opportunities for people with disability in the wider screen sector.

With Deakin University, Back to Back conducted comprehensive research and evaluation of the internship program, documenting actual and potential long-term economic benefits and social impacts for individuals with a disability, their capacity to be engaged with mainstream screen services and within the broader community.

This project will see Back to Back’s research form innovative partnerships with sectors of the screen industry, developing concrete strategies to assist these partners to explore strength-based opportunities and approaches to disability employment.

Location: Australia (NSW)

Amount funded: $20,000

Read: The future of storytelling is collaborative


Activity: ‘Stories From Another Australia’ is a talent and career development program that aims to address issues around the lack of cultural diversity in the screen industry through a tailored skills development program designed to bring together emerging CaLD screenwriters and experienced industry practitioners.

The program will create a network of support and potential collaborators. It will also provide participants with the tools to unlock four key enablers essential in establishing and sustaining a screenwriting career.

Location: Australia (NSW & VIC)

Amount funded: $45,500

Read: Julie Kalceff on First Day; Co-Curious producer Annabel Davis on Here Out West

Midnight Feast

Activity: ‘The Feast’ is an innovative training program teaming 20 artists with physical and intellectual disabilities with creatives from Jungle Entertainment and The Corinthian Food Store to learn about collaborative writing, development, pitching, pathways to audience, casting, directing and editing on a budget.

Over one year, artists from Midnight Feast will be encouraged to work with new collaborators, to develop skills, and deepen their connections in the film industry. At the culmination of the program, each artist will have a chance to pitch a project to executives from Jungle Entertainment and The Corinthian Food Store, and to receive feedback.

A documentary crew will capture the work of the artists from start to finish. This program is about giving artists agency over their own work, as well as a place at the table with well-connected partners.

Location: Australia (NSW & VIC)

Amount funded: $49,100

READ: Jungle Entertainment’s Christiaan Van Vuuren wrangles a panel on Covid and the writers’ room.

Media Farm

Activity: ‘Impact Teams Lab’ is a new initiative that brings together participants from three different groups or categories – producers and storytellers, researchers and subject matter experts, and people with lived experience – to form new teams to tackle two important problems we face: Climate crisis and Inequality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Impact Teams Lab introduces these participants to one another and helps them form transdisciplinary teams over mutual areas of concern. Then, over a 6-week period, the teams are guided on how to work together to develop a screen content project that will make a measurable impact.

At the end of this period, lab participants will pitch their projects and impact measurement tools to networks, screen agencies and to impact investors for feedback and development funding.

Location: Australia (NSW)

Amount funded: $30,000

For Film’s Sake

Activity: Platform 2022 is a three-day workshop intensive that follows this year’s first ever Platform, to be staged with Sydney Film Festival to provide expert skill development that bridges the gap between creative and commercial elements of screen production in the global market.

The workshop will support up to 10 participants with an active screen project in development, and culminate in a public pitch to international mentors and financiers.

Location: Australia (NSW)

Amount funded: $30,000

Read: Sydney Film Festival sets new dates in lockdown

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.