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Impact Australia calls on screenwriters of all levels to apply by 27 June

With the end-of-June deadline fast approaching for Impact Australia 2, Australian writers are urged to submit to the highly-coveted program which will take place in Melbourne in September.

Impact founders Ron Howard, Brian Gazer, Tyler Mitchell sit infront of a poster that reads Impact.Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Tyler Mitchell

With the projects and applicants from last year’s Impact Australia flourishing, applications for the second iteration of the program are now open to find, mentor, upskill and fast-track budding local screenwriters.

Screen Australia spoke to Impact CEO Tyler Mitchell earlier this week, who says the outcomes from the 2020 Impact Australia group have been significant.

“Three writers, who had no representation, all got signed by US representation,” he says.

“Eight of the 10 projects that we developed all got significant producer attachments and production company attachments. Projects were optioned.”

He says one of the writers Brendan Fletcher, who was developing the feature Taronga with co-writer Devi Telfer (see here), has recently had the series Firebite greenlit by AMC, with Telfer working in the writers’ room.

“It's really exciting to see, after Impact, many of these writers are on a rocket ship to success.”

Writers interested in Impact Australia 2 have until 27 June 2021 to apply (apply here), with the eight-week mentorship program commencing in Melbourne on 13 September. The program has been launched by Impact – the company co-founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer – and Gentle Giant Media Group (see Ron Howard’s call for applications here).  In 2021, Impact was named the second most innovative film and TV company in the world – behind only Netflix – for providing fresh voices a means to break into Hollywood.

Impact Australia had to take place virtually in 2020, but this year the program is set to take place in Melbourne, with a stipend provided so successful applicants can relocate to the Victorian College of the Arts’ Southbank campus at the University of Melbourne for the intensive eight-week period.

The program is designed to turn an idea into a sellable screenplay, teleplay or presentation in just eight weeks. The way it works is that the Australian writers, or ‘Creators’ are paired with a world-class screen and television writer, or ‘Shaper’, to help develop their idea to the point where it’s ready for the Pitch Day – the culmination of the mentorship where Creators pitch to producers and buyers with the goal of selling the project. The Shapers for 2021 are yet to be announced, but last year included the likes of Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral), Shaun Grant (True History of the Kelly Gang, Berlin Syndrome), Sarah Heyward (Girls, Modern Love), Jason Smilovic (Condor, My Own Worst Enemy), and Kai Wu (Paper Girls, Carnival Row)

 “Anyone who has a dream of writing should apply. Anyone,” Mitchell says, adding all you need is an idea for a movie or show where you feel you may be the only person in the world to write it.

Applicants don’t need to have written a feature or teleplay before. Mitchell says one person who applied for a previous iteration of Impact was accepted off a short story writing sample.

“She’s written on two television shows now. And she'd never even written a pilot (before).”

Mitchell says the application process itself has been designed for writers, with questions drawn from the insights gained in from Impact’s speaker series, which have featured the likes of Damien Chazelle, The RZA, Glenn Close, Judd Apatow, and more.

“The application itself will, I promise you, make you a better writer,” Mitchell says.

“Writers actually send our application around to other writers, because these are the questions that the top people in the game in Hollywood ask themselves every day about their own projects. So it's a great exercise, if nothing else and you will improve your craft. It is amazing how, going through this process, myself included, how so often these really critical questions are not thought through.”

Impact Australia is the homegrown expansion of the Impact accelerator program, which launched in 2018.

Why have an Australian version?

“The truth is, is because Film Victoria called me [after Impact and said] we would love to figure out a way to work together,” he says. “But beyond that, the way that the government invests in artists and supports artists in Australia is phenomenal. It does not exist in the United States.”

And when it comes to the screen industry, he says "everything starts with a story and a script”.

“Everything. That script can hire hundreds, if not thousands more people on the show…

“We are trying to find and build writers to have working careers globally. [And] Australia punches above its weight. In our first two Impacts, we had Australians… so we know that there's a tonne of talent in Australia, a work ethic, and such unique ways that Australians see the world.”

Impact Australia has received principal funding from Screen Australia and Film Victoria and is supported by Learning Partner, the University of Melbourne and state and territory screen agencies across Australia.

Apply for Impact Australia 2 by June 27 here and learn more about Impact here