Call out for people with disabilities to work on sketch web series ‘Sit Down Comedy’
Writer-producer Ade Djajamihardja has put out a call for people with disabilities to come on board to work on his web series, Sit Down Comedy.
Djajamihardja has worked in the industry for around 25 years, however in 2011 had stroke which means he now lives with a disability.
With Sit Down Comedy, a sketch show which has received development funding from Screen Australia, Djajamihardja wants to “disable discrimination” and create opportunities for people with a disability to be better represented in the screen industry. The series will follow a central character who uses a wheelchair.
“We would love to involve some people in the disability community in the writers room to help us brainstorm ideas. We are also very keen to find people for on screen roles (some as presenters, some as characters and some as extras). We are open to other roles including crew roles,” he tells IF.
“To be honest, we are keen to have more people with disabilities represented both behind and in front of the camera, so if we get someone with a disability who has skills in an area that we can use then we would try to give them a role in this production. This production will be ‘inclusive’ and have a mix of people with and without disabilities.”
Colin Cairnes will direct the project, and be a member of the writing team. He and Djajamihardja have known each other since the mid-90s, when they both worked Singapore’s national broadcaster SBC (now Mediacorp).
“As well as being an award-winning and very talented independent film maker, Colin has also worked as a carer and is also passionate about the industry being more inclusive of people living with a disability. And he is just a really great guy and also very funny,” says Djajamihardja.
Sarah Barton, who was behind the docos Defiant Lives and Channel 31’s No Limits, will also be a writer and production co-ordinator.
Almost 1 in 5 Australians has a disability. However, Screen Australia’s 2016 study “Seeing Ourselves: Reflections on Diversity in TV Drama”, revealed that the percentage of Australians with disabilities was more than four times the percentage of characters with disabilities on TV. The report also noted that Australians with disabilities have lacked opportunities to be involved with behind-the-scenes decision making, such as a presence in writer’s rooms or on-set, which in turn can flow on to a lack of diversity on screens.
Actor Thomas Campbell also made a public plea this week to producers and casting agents to take a chance on actors with disabilities. “Unless people with disabilities and in my case, non-normative bodies, become far more visible we will miss out on inspiring young performers with physical differences and achieving inclusion across the board,” he said.
To apply to work on Sit Down Comedy, send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org before April 27, answering the questions below:
“1. Why would you like to be involved with Sit Down Comedy? (working title) (This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your wit and humour and tell us what talent you could bring to the table). What type of role would you be interested in? (eg. Acting, crew, writing, graphic artist, marketing?)
2. This is a sketch comedy; so if you are interested in writing then please do tell us something funny (maximum 500 words). Maybe you would like to share with us the most absurd thing that has happened to you or just tell us a funny story that is in someway connected to disability.”
New talent is encouraged to apply, and Djajamihardja is happy to take submissions in any form – Word document, video, etc. Sit Down Comedy will be shot in Melbourne.