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13 09 2023 - Media release

Untapped 2023 Development Lab Participants Announced


2023 Untapped Participants

Screen Australia and Australians in Film today announced the participants of UNTAPPED 2023 Development Lab, part of the ground-breaking online professional development program for Australia’s best undiscovered writers and directors.

This year the participants are;

  • Grace Tan (she/her) & Neilesh Verma (he/him) NSW Horror/Psychological Drama Feature Koan
  • David Valencia (he/him) QLD Comedy/Drama Feature Here Now
  • Miranda Aguilar (they/them) NSW Dramedy Series Courting Ghosts
  • Samuel Leighton-Dore (he/him) QLD Animated Horror/Comedy Series Other Half
  • Tim Williams (he/him) VIC Comedy/Drama Series The Impatients

UNTAPPED is presented by Screen Australia and Australians in Film. Supporting Partners include the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, South Australian Film Corporation and VicScreen. Industry Partners include Australian Directors Guild, Australian Writers Guild, Screen Canberra, Screen Producers Australia, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, Screen West and Screenworks.

Run online yearly, the UNTAPPED program creates meaningful professional pipelines between Australia’s top emerging screen talent and the influential Hollywood industry.

The program begins with a series of insightful and motivating Masterclasses with a number of high-profile international filmmakers who, through their powerful work, are breaking down barriers in film and television narrative storytelling. From over 380 participants, these five projects have been selected to move onto the Development Lab, which runs from August until December of this year.

The Development Lab consists of group and individual sessions, with each participant(s) given a professional mentor, script advisor and pitch coach, plus an invitation into the AiF alumni network, which consists of Australia’s leading and award-winning content creators.

Masterclass speakers this year included Aïda Mashaka Croal (Jessica Jones, Luke Cage) moderated by Sarah Bassiuoni (The Heights), Amy Wang (Crazy Rich Asians 2) moderated by Jiao Chen (Sony Pictures Entertainment), Andrew Ahn (Fire Island) moderated by Thomas Wilson White (Heartbreak High), Cherien Dabis (Only Murders in the Building) moderated by Monica Zanetti (While the Men are Away), and Bilal Baig & Fab Filippo (Sort Of) moderated by Mithilia Gupta (Five Bedrooms).

Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia said; “For the past three years, we’ve partnered with Australians in Film on UNTAPPED to provide tangible pathways and cultivate exciting collaborations for undiscovered Australian creative talent. This new cohort of writers and directors exemplifies the depth and diversity of our world-class screen industry and how exceptional our emerging talent is. A huge congratulations to the five participants, I’m thrilled that Screen Australia can continue to support this career-changing opportunity and I can’t wait to see what they achieve."

Peter Ritchie, Executive Director of Australians in Film said; “Every year UNTAPPED uncovers some of Australia’s most exciting new voices. We all know how hard it is to not only break into the industry, but also to maintain a career and bring a vision authentically to the screen. With the incredible support of Screen Australia and all our partners, UNTAPPED, as part of AiF’s professional development programming is strategically placed to welcome the best emerging talent into a supportive network of international creatives who are currently working at the highest level in the industry.”

UNTAPPED 2023 participants:

  • Grace Tan (she/her) & Neilesh Verma (he/him) NSW
    Koan - Horror/Psychological Drama Feature 
    After recently being released from prison Anya finds herself caught in the grip of a mysterious online cult that watches her every move. When her estranged mother re-enters her life, Anya, now consumed by a delusion of divine purpose finds her sense of reality beginning to crumble.
    Grace is a writer and director based on Gadigal land, Sydney and Neilesh is a writer, director, former stand-up comedian and sometimes actor based on Gadigal land, Sydney.
  • David Valencia (he/him) QLD
    Here, Now - Comedy/Drama Feature
    Struggling first-time parents Daniel and Sophie are determined to do the best by their young daughter with special needs — all while trying to survive each other, their families, a bizarrely-themed birthday party and a rather unexpected arrival. 
    David is a Colombian-born stage and screen actor, writer and director based in Queensland, traditional Bundjalung land.
  • Miranda Aguilar (they/them) NSW
    Courting Ghosts - Dramedy Series
    Self-conscious teenager Luisa-Marie can’t be honest with her online crush or herself, but when her Grandpa Ernesto dies, the only one who can help her grow up is his ghost.
    Miranda is a queer, Filipinx writer, creative producer and community arts worker based on Gadigal land, Sydney.
  • Samuel Leighton-Dore (he/him) QLD
    Other Half - Animated Horror/Comedy Series
    In the 1960s a jaded marriage counsellor abducts a series of newlywed clients, surgically attaching them spine-to-spine and forcing them to compete in challenges designed to prove they are soulmates. Twenty years later, a documentary film student conducts interviews with the one surviving couple, who are divorced but not yet separated, in hopes of solving the absurd case.
    Samuel Leighton-Dore is an artist, author and screenwriter based on Kombumerri country, the Gold Coast.
  • Tim Williams (he/him)VIC
    The Impatients - Comedy/Drama Series
    When a tenacious young wheelchair soccer prodigy is forced to spend his summer in hospital, he decides to put together a team of misfit patients to take on a group of bullies. In doing so, he starts to regain the sense of purpose he lost after his injury.
    Tim is a Melbourne-based (Naarm) screenwriter.

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