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Media Centre

07 12 2023 - Media release

Screen Australia's Gender Matters Taskforce and WIFT Australia Announce Mentorship Program, ElevateUs


L-R: Dr Phoebe Hart, Aaron Pedersen, Mitu Bhowmick Lange AM, Julie Kalceff, Laura Heath Potter, Marissa McDowell, Amanda Toney, Julie Ryan, James J. Yi, Jane Corden, Donna Chang, Andrea Gorfolova, Burkhard Dallwitz, Vicki Madden, Tanya Green

Screen Australia's Gender Matters Taskforce and WIFT Australia proudly introduce ElevateUs. Building on the success of previous collaborations, Gender Matters Connect and WIFT's MentorHer, ElevateUs will nurture talent, foster diversity, and extend its reach internationally in 2024.

With a stellar lineup of mentors, including prominent figures like visionary Indian-Australian distributor Mitu Bhowmick Lange AM, STAN Commissioning Editor, Donna Chang, entrepreneur and Stage 32 Managing Director Amanda Toney, and Wiradjuri woman and Head of Commissions at NITV Marissa McDowell, ElevateUs aims to empower and elevate women and gender-diverse talents from across the Australian screen industry.

Thanks to the support of the Gender Matters Taskforce, Stage32, Screen NSW, Screen Tasmania, Screen Territory, and the Cuthill Family Foundation, ElevateUs promises to provide mentees with unparalleled access to experienced mentors, offering guidance, industry insights, and practical advice tailored to the mentees specific career goals, whether above the line, below the line or in adjacent industries such as distribution and marketing. The program aims to connect talents at all levels within the industry, offering a unique platform for knowledge sharing, relationship building and professional development.

Liz Tomkins, Chair of the Board at WIFT Australia said, "Through this program, we aim to create meaningful connections between emerging talents and established professionals, sculpting a future where diversity and inclusivity are the bedrock of success and ushering in positive, lasting change within the industry."

Rosie Lourde, Chair of the Gender Matters Taskforce emphasised the importance of maintaining connections in an industry where relationships are crucial, saying, "ElevateUs aims to empower both parties to the mentorship relationship and support them to get the most out of the experience, with impact far beyond the program."

Screen Australia Director of Content Grainne Brunsdon said, "ElevateUs is a meaningful program for women and gender-diverse practitioners to build their knowledge, skills and networks within the screen industry. Initiatives like this go a long way in helping our industry become more inclusive for all."

Following WIFT Australia’s recently announced partnership with Stage 32, the US-based online platform that connects and educates the global entertainment industry, they will play a significant role in ElevateUs, providing a variety of mentors from top organisations such as Amazon Studios, Warner Bros. and the Verve Talent & Literary Agency.

Amanda Toney said, "In Stage 32's continued commitment to break down global barriers and support creatives, we look forward to providing opportunities for Australian-based artists and technicians, on a global scale."

ElevateUs will run for three months, offering a structured framework including regular mentorship sessions, panel events, and exclusive industry insights. Prospective Mentors are invited to complete a Mentor Registration form, while all women and gender-diverse practitioners in the Australian screen industry, regardless of your area of interest or your skill level, are similarly encouraged to apply to participate as a mentee. There is no cost for participation and the details of the program can be found online along with the registration forms at www.wiftaustralia.org.au/elevateus.

Driven by powerhouse mentors including:

  • Mitu Bhowmick Lange AM: Indian-Australian distributor, festival programmer, WIFT board member and recipient of the order of Australia, Mitu pioneers diverse cinema in Australia.
  • Donna Chang: As Commissioning Editor at Stan, Donna Chang works across Stan's pipeline of original film and television projects. She has worked at a variety of industry roles including SBS as Commissioning Editor, Lingo Pictures as Head of Development, Screen Australia as Development Executive, and Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, in London.
  • Jane Corden: Former Moneypenny Group CEO and Managing Director of Entertainment Partners in Australia and New Zealand, Jane boasts 35+ years' expertise in production accounting, payroll, incentives, and technology, Jane's professional impact spans film and TV projects across the globe.
  • Burkhard Dallwitz: German born Internationally acclaimed Australian screen composer, best known for his Golden Globe award winning soundtrack for The Truman Show, Co-founder of Zeitgeist Music, Burkhard continues to shape the industry, mentoring emerging talents and contributing to the art of screen composition.
  • Andrea Gorfolova: With 25 years of industry experience, Andrea oversees the Factual, Scripted, and Family series at BeCollectiveMedia. In prior roles she managed diverse series like Go Away Unicorn and Utopia Falls. Combining a background in international finance with creative expertise, Andrea has produced nearly 1000 hours of programming.
  • Tanya Green: Tanya Green, a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer, leads preschool content development at Mainframe Studios. With over 15 years in animation, she produced Emmy-winning series like Peg + Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood at Brown Bag Films.
  • Phoebe Hart: Award-winning Documentary writer, director, producer and academic, known for her biographical documentary Orchids: My Intersex Adventure. Founder of hartflicker, Phoebe is Ph.D. holder, associate professor, and multilingual individual, who combines her passion for beauty with a strong commitment to social justice.
  • Laura Heath Potter: Head of Communications, Canada, at Paramount Streaming, with over two decades of experience Laura has previously held positions with CTV, Corus Entertainment, Odeon Films and the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Julie Kalceff:  Emmy award-winning Australian writer, director, and producer, Julie is celebrated for groundbreaking series First Day and Starting From... Now. A pioneer of LGBTQIA+ representation, she continues to create impactful and inclusive storytelling.
  • Vicki Madden: Vicki Madden, a seasoned Producer, Writer, and Showrunner with 25+ years in the television industry, owns Sweet Potato Films. She co-created, co-produced, and wrote the renowned TV series The Kettering Incident and, more recently, crafted the highly acclaimed Disney/STARZ/AUS series The Gloaming, a captivating gothic tale set in Tasmania.
  • Marissa McDowell: A Wiradjuri woman and Head of Commissions at NITV, dedicated to amplifying First Nations stories. With a rich background in documentary filmmaking, photography, and writing, Marissa fosters cultural representation.
  • Aaron Pedersen: Renowned Aboriginal Australian actor, best known for portraying Detective Jay Swan in Mystery Road and its sequel Goldstone, Aaron has been nominated and won numerous acting awards including the 2021 AACTA Award for Best Actor in a series.
  • Julie Ryan: As a renowned Australian film producer, Julie Ryan garnered acclaim for films like Ten Canoes which was awarded the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival, and box office smash hit Red Dog. Her recent work includes executive producing Late Night With The Devil, praised at SXSW 2023.
  • Amanda Toney: Visionary entrepreneur and Stage 32 Managing Director, seamlessly blending business acumen, with creative insight, Amanda built relationships with global brands to build her first multimillion dollar company by the time she was 30.
  • James J. Yi: Born in Seoul and raised in San Francisco, James is a dedicated producer known for thought-provoking titles like Gook and Miss Purple. He regularly works with the Sundance Writers’ Lab and pioneers Canadian and global collaborations.


Annie Simpson

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