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Media Centre

30 05 2022 - Media release

Comedy, crime, coming of age among this year’s Digital Originals contenders


Digital Original series A Beginner’s Guide to Grief

Twelve teams of emerging creatives from under-represented backgrounds will have the chance to pitch their drama projects to SBS, NITV and Screen Australia as the Digital Originals initiative gets underway for 2022, with a week-long workshop for the first round of selected teams kicking off today.  

A partnership between SBS, NITV and Screen Australia, Digital Originals aims to develop exciting, innovative and risk-taking short-form drama projects to premiere on SBS On Demand and NITV, from emerging screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector. This includes people who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse, First Nations Australians, people with disability, female and gender diverse, LGBTQIA+; and those who are located in regional and remote areas. 

Following a call out for applications in January, 12 creative teams from across Australia have been chosen to take part in an exclusive workshop run by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV this week. The workshop features sessions focusing on a range of short form content creation skills and will also include case studies of past Digital Originals and other dramas.

Facilitated by filmmaker Rosie Lourde (Starting From Now), over the course of the workshop, teams will also have access to a host of guest presenters and industry figures including Sierra Teller Ornelas (Rutherford Falls), Leah Purcell (The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson), Michael McMahon (Nowhere Boys), Kodie Bedford (Firebite) and Corrie Chen (New Gold Mountain).

The workshop will culminate in teams pitching their projects to Screen Australia, SBS and NITV on 14 June, with a selection of teams chosen to take their projects into further development. From those, up to three will be chosen for production funding and commissioning with SBS, NITV and Screen Australia.

They’ll follow previous successful Digital Originals including Tasmanian murder mystery The Tailings and Western Australian comedy Iggy & Ace which both premiered on SBS On Demand last year, as well as Robbie Hood and Homecoming Queens produced under SBS’s Short-Form Content Initiative which evolved into Digital Originals. The next Digital Originals set to premiere is South Australian drama A Beginner’s Guide to Grief, dropping on SBS On Demand later this year.

Director and Screenwriter Corrie Chen, one of the presenters across the week, said that Digital Originals is an important platform for the next generation of Australian creatives.

“Having gotten my start in short form filmmaking, it is extremely important to me that the industry continue to support initiatives like Digital Originals. An opportunity like this not only provides a space for exciting voices to share their unique stories, it’s a chance to learn and access valuable support along the way."

Commissioning Editor, SBS Scripted, Loani Arman said, “We were so impressed by the quality of applications for Digital Originals this year that we decided to add two additional places in the workshop. In preparation for pitching to SBS, NITV, and Screen Australia, the workshop will support the teams to interrogate their stories and further develop their projects. Not only will they have the chance to gain insight from incredible industry practitioners, but also learn from each other, building connections with some of the most exciting new talent in the country."

NITV Commissioning Editor, Marissa McDowell added, “Digital Originals is set to continue its impressive legacy with this year’s cohort – there is a diverse range of projects in the mix from across Australia, with a large First Nations contingent of creatives showcasing unique perspectives on classic genres. I look forward to sseeing how the teams further develop their projects throughout the workshop.”  

Screen Australia’s Head of Online, Lee Naimo said, “In this third year of Digital Originals, we’re again seeing how valued this initiative is, with over 170 applications from across Australia. I couldn’t be more excited for these 12 projects to develop their work and take this next step in their careers, and to continue this strong partnership with SBS and NITV to take distinctive and exciting stories to Australian audiences.”

The creative teams taking part in the 2022 Digital Originals workshop this week, and their projects, are:

Borroloola (NSW)
Description: After her grandmother passes away, a bush girl goes through Sorry Business with her extended family and discovers her grandmother had a secret life.
Genre: Drama
Team: Julia Moriarty (writer), Judi McCrossin (producer)

Confinement (QLD)
Description: A new migrant mother must battle postpartum depression and a tyrannical confinement nanny with seemingly nefarious intentions.
Genre: Thriller
Team: Jacqueline Lim (writer), Lark Lee (producer)

Dark Matter Don’t Matter (NT)
Description: After the mass evacuation of Earth, a small Aboriginal community is left behind and decide to take matters into their own hands... by launching themselves to the stars.
Genre: Comedy, science fiction
Team: Tamara Whyte (writer), Isaac Lindsay (writer), Warren Milera (writer), Philip Tarl Denson (producer)

Earshot (NSW/VIC)
Description: When a seemingly happy Indian-Australian actress is asked to record the last messages of a missing immigrant woman for a true crime podcast, embodying one of the justice system’s forgotten victims causes her to obsess over the case - and finally acknowledge the invisible violence in her own life.
Genre: Drama, thriller, crime
Team: Vidya Rajan (writer), Alistair Baldwin (writer), Renée Marie Petropoulos (writer/director)

Fully Receivable (VIC)
Description: When a corporate leadership trip in a national park starts off horrifically with the white facilitator dead, it’s up to Sheila Phounpadith, the Accounts Receivable Manager, to prove she isn’t the murderer.
Genre: Comedy, crime, mystery
Team: Michelle Lee (writer), Tahnee McGuire (director)

Karaoke Kingdom (NSW)
Description: In a haunted karaoke parlour at the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, overworked millennial Cherry Wong starts to fall in love – but she’s too busy untangling the problems of her eccentric patrons and the three ghosts that haunt the halls.
Genre: Drama, romance, magic realism
Team: Claire Cao (writer), Debbie Zhou (producer), Bruce Koussaba (director)

Let’s Break Up (QLD)
Description: Anisa Nandaula, is hiding a secret life of dating and comedy from her conservative Muslim mother. When her first time having sex lands her in hospital with a life-threatening mystery illness, she must face the past in order to heal herself and her relationships before it's too late.
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Anisa Nandaula (writer), Sara Taghaode (producer), Tilly Towler (producer)

Moni (NSW)
Description: Moni, now in his mid-30s, still single, Samoan, and gay, is alone. Truly alone. That is until his parents return from the dead as their 20-something selves, to help their son make peace and seek the life he kept hidden from them.
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Taofia Pelesasa (writer/creator), Eliorah Malifa (producer), Alana Hicks (director)

Moonbird (TAS)
Description: An 11-year-old pakana boy takes on the responsibilities of an adult when his father drowns on a remote Mutton Bird Island in Bass Strait.
Genre: Coming of age, psychological drama.
Team: Nathan Maynard (writer), Adam Thompson (writer), Matthew Newton (producer), Catherine Pettman (producer), Courtney Gibson (producer)

Description: An awkward serial killer becomes entwined in a revenge plot against a religious cult that are brainwashing the youth of Hobart.
Genre: Comedy, drama, horror
Team: Samuel Paynter-Nuggin (writer), Andrew Arbuthnot (producer)

Red Dress Woman (WA)
Description: A teenage Aboriginal girl must take down a racist superhero terrorising her town, before she becomes its next victim.
Genre: Drama, horror
Team: Gary Hamaguchi (writer/director/producer), Brooke Collard (producer)

Warm Props (WA)
Description: 8 hour call. 40 degree heat. Culturally clueless crews and locals who haven’t spoken to each other in decades. What could possibly go wrong with this casting call?
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Jub Clerc (writer/director), Jodie Bell (producer)

Digital Originals must align with the SBS Charter and be in the format of 6 x 10 minute episodes, which form a one hour program for broadcast.


Sarah Vahtola | SBS

[email protected] 

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