Screen Australia and SBS announce applications open for Emerging Writers' Incubator

13 May, 2023

Applications are open for the SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator, a nationwide initiative supporting the development of historically under-represented screenwriting talent in the Australian screen sector. In its third year in 2023, the initiative will be delivered in partnership with Screen Australia, and state agencies Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Tasmania, Screenwest, the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and VicScreen, and with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild.

Launched in 2021, the initiative was created to invest in the future of an increasingly inclusive screen sector and Australian storytelling, by providing a year of paid employment in a leading Australian production company for emerging writing talent reflecting backgrounds and experiences historically under-represented in the Australian industry. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; people who are culturally and linguistically diverse; people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or with disability; people who are female or gender diverse; people who identify as LGBTQIA+; and people located in regional and remote areas.

This year, once again, six successful writers will join the teams of Australian production companies acclaimed for their delivery of Australian drama. Over a 12-month period, employed full-time, they will gain significant work experience further developing their skills, knowledge, and networks, working across the production companies’ slate of drama productions. They will also be supported by the Australian Writers’ Guild with access to creative and training workshops.

In 2023, the award-winning production companies taking part in the initiative are Curio Pictures who will host a Western Australian writer; Endemol Shine Australia who will host a NSW-based writer; Kindling Pictures hosting a Victorian writer; Kojo Studios who will have a South Australian writer join the team; Orange Entertainment hosting a Queensland writer; and TAP (Tony Ayres Productions) who will host a Tasmanian writer in their office in Melbourne, supported by Screen Tasmania.

Screen Australia's Head of Development Bobby Romia said, “Screen Australia is excited to support the third year of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator and uncover a new generation of screenwriting talent. With a year-long placement with top production companies up for grabs, this initiative is an exceptional launch pad for diverse and emerging voices across the country. I encourage emerging screenwriters with a unique story, voice and perspective to apply.”

Julie Eckersley, Head of SBS Scripted said, “At SBS, we’re committed to bringing though a tidal wave of new and diverse voices to tell stories for our screen. Giving skills and opportunity to talent that reflects the wonderful richness of who we are as a country makes for fresh, dynamic, surprising and entertaining stories that more Australians can connect with. The Emerging Writers’ Incubator is an exciting example of how we can come together as a sector and invest in genuine pathways and support careers. It is fabulous to see previous participants’ credits on shows, and with so much untapped talent out there I can’t wait to see what this year’s Incubator uncovers.” 

Kyas Hepworth, Head of Screen NSW said, “Screen NSW is looking forward to supporting the Emerging Writers’ Incubator with SBS for another year.  The Emerging Writers’ Incubator provides a unique opportunity for under-represented screenwriters across the country to develop new skills and work with leading production companies to bring their lived stories to the screen. We look forward to seeing the NSW talent that will be unearthed through the Emerging Writers’ Incubator this year!”

Dr Belinda Burns, Acting CEO of Screen Queensland said, “Partnering to deliver the SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator is one of the avenues through which Screen Queensland actively uplifts diverse talent, with a focus on supporting screen creatives to tell stories that are original and compelling.  Industry contacts, hands-on experience and credits are crucial to launching life-long writing careers. By equitably creating space for diverse screenwriters, we are increasing our industry’s capacity to authentically embed under-represented perspectives into the stories we see on screen.”  

Alex Sangston, Executive Manager, Screen Tasmania said, “This is a great opportunity for an emerging Tasmanian writer to develop their skills in an industry setting and launch their career. On behalf of the Tasmanian Government, we’re excited to work with TAP, Screen Australia and SBS to support this placement.”

Rikki Lea Bestall, Screenwest CEO said, “We’re proud to be supporting the third year of the Emerging Writers’ Incubator. This fantastic initiative will again give emerging WA screenwriters from under-represented backgrounds the opportunity to hone their skills and talent through a year-long placement, which in 2023 will be with the passionate team at Curio Pictures.”

Kate Croser, CEO of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) said, “The SAFC is pleased to once again support the Emerging Writers’ Incubator, an exciting initiative which supports our aim to grow the capability and diversity of the South Australian screen sector through increasing the pool of credited key creatives in the state. In 2022, the SAFC facilitated a record 28 South Australian writers, directors and producers to gain their first above-the-line screen credit on a feature film or broadcast program, of which half came from a group under-represented in the industry. We look forward to similar career success for the South Australian graduates of the Incubator – Ansuya Nathan, who worked with Closer Productions, and Elena Carapetis, currently working with Highview Productions - and look forward to welcoming another South Australian writer into the program in 2023 to work with South Australia’s Emmy award-winning KOJO Studios.”

VicScreen CEO Caroline Pitcher said, “We’re proud to partner with SBS on the return of this meaningful program which aims to ensure that the stories we see on screens and the talent behind them reflects the diversity of our community. The chosen Victorian recipient will be given hands-on experience at Kindling Pictures, a new production company headed by the prolific Producer and Creator Imogen Banks, known for producing the iconic series Offspring and Puberty Blues. We can’t wait to see the talent who will be unearthed this year, and we look forward to equipping that individual with the experience they need to embark on a successful career in screen.”

Susie Hamilton, Professional Development Manager, Australian Writers’ Guild said, “The AWG is delighted to continue to support the Emerging Writers’ Incubator. This initiative has proven to be one of the most valuable we’ve been involved in, offering practical skills and opportunities to some of Australia’s most promising new writing talent.”

The Emerging Writers’ Incubator is open for applications from Monday 15 May 2023 until 16 June 2023. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by late August 2023, with placements in host companies due to commence later this year.

Applications are made with each participating screen agency:

The six successful writers from the second round of the initiative in 2022 – who were among hundreds of applications received from across Australia - are currently working in their placements around the country with Becki Bouchier at Sweetshop & Green (supported by VicScreen), Elena Carapetis at Highview Productions (supported by SAFC), Kelli Cross at Easy Tiger (supported by Screenwest), Patrick Hogan at Brindle Films (supported by Screen Territory), Skye Leon at Jungle (supported by Screen NSW), and Aven Yap at Hoodlum Entertainment (supported by Screen Queensland).

They followed on from the first year of the initiative in 2021 which saw Sebastian Chan chosen to work at Bunya Productions (supported by Screen Canberra), Lâle Teoman at Goalpost Pictures (supported by Screen NSW), Nicholas Lin at Ludo Studio (supported by Screen Queensland), Ansuya Nathan at Closer Productions (supported by the South Australian Film Corporation), Alberto Di Troia at TAP (supported by VicScreen) and Cassandra Nguyen at Komixx Entertainment, (supported by Screenwest).,

Co-funded by SBS and Screen Australia, with participating state and territory screen agencies, the Emerging Writers’ Incubator initiative will support the careers of 18 emerging writers over the three years of the program, with six successful candidates partnered with production companies around Australia each year.

In 2023, production companies applied to be involved as a host company, with each of the final six companies selected by the relevant state agency, Screen Australia, and SBS.

The Emerging Writers' Incubator is one of the many initiatives delivered by SBS designed to support pathways for screen creatives, and a more inclusive future of Australian storytelling. Read more about this work here.