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Call for scripts for the Family Film Initiative

At a time when Oddball has delivered over $4.5 million at the box office after only two weekends, Screen Australia is seeking to encourage experienced writers to consider family film through the creation of the Family Film Initiative.

Family films represent one of the most lucrative genres at the Australian box office, yet in recent times the modest volume of scripts being submitted to Screen Australia for this category does not reflect the significance of the market.

Working with screenwriter, script editor, producer and author Joan Sauers, Screen Australia’s Initiative will fund up to three writers to develop their family film script up to a polished draft.

Red Dog, Babe and Paper Planes are three of the highest grossing Australian films of all time, with this genre also benefiting from high ancillary values such as DVD and merchandise sales,” said Sally Caplan, Screen Australia’s Head of Production. “We want to see the volume of live action family scripts coming to us significantly increase as we believe in this category. We want other Australian writers to experience the success Oddball’s creative team is now enjoying.”

The Initiative is open to eligible Australian writers with Stage One submissions requiring a logline, one-page synopsis and writers notes. Submissions are due 30 November 2015 and only live action family films with an estimated budget of under AUD$7 million will be considered.

Stage Two will include the shortlisting of up to ten family film concepts and the selected writers will attend a two-day Family Film Forum in Sydney in March 2016. The forum will feature guest speakers including Harry Cripps, the writer for Dreamworks’ forthcoming musical feature Larrikins to be directed by Tim Minchin. Industry will also be able to register to attend the forum (or watch a live stream), with details to be announced in January.

After the forum, shortlisted writers will consult with Joan before having the opportunity to revise and submit their final documents by 8 April 2016. Screen Australia will then select up to three successful writers from the shortlisted applications who will be announced on 29 April 2016. These projects will then be funded to develop a polished draft script in consultation with Joan and selected mentors. These scripts can then progress to apply to Screen Australia’s standard production funding program if desired.

“Scripts for family films are perhaps the hardest to get right, so we want to offer guidance, especially to writers who may never have thought about writing for the family market before,” said Family Film Initiative guest Executive Producer Joan Sauers. “We hope to encourage a distinct voice – maybe a little more twisted than your average Hollywood fare, which speaks in a uniquely Australian way.”

All applications for the Family Film Initiative must satisfy the program guidelines.

Read Fairfax's interview with Joan Sauers and Harry Cripps about the initiative here

MORE INFORMATION

The Program Operations team can be contacted on 1800 507 901.