Courtney Gibson on Amplifier, Screen NSW’s new script development program
Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson.
Screen NSW's new-look script development program, Amplifier, replaces the agency's biennial Aurora workshop, which nurtured the likes of Somersault, Little Fish, Cut Snake and Animal Kingdom.
Amplifier will also take place every two years, but will place greater emphasis on the market, according to Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson.
"One of the key differences will be the opportunity to work directly with exhibitors and distributors as part of the development process," Gibson said.
"We want to deliver as many films as possible into cinemas. And that means having critical engagement with distribution and exhibition during the screenwriting process, rather than at the back end."
In addition, the initial in-person workshop with mentors will no longer be quite so central to the process.
"When Aurora started, we didn't have Skype or Facetime. We didn't have the means by which to create and then continue a meaningful relationship that wasn't through the hothouse of a lab. We have that now."
Unlike Aurora, applications at different stages of development – so treatments as well as full drafts – are encouraged.
"I think we need to be open to that," Gibson told IF.
"If we go out there and say that each submission needs to be at script stage, you're not choosing the best projects, because you're deciding that projects need to be at a certain stage before they can be supported."
"This is about doing much more bespoke development, so that we might end up with up projects that are very different genres as well as at very different stages [of development], and therefore benefit from very different mentorship."
Advisers will be approached after the four projects are selected, Gibson said, in order to try and cater to each team's specific needs, and workshops may well splinter off into groups.
Each Amplifier will be strucured around a theme, with adaptation the watchword this time.
"There's a rich seam of adaptations in Australian cinema," Gibson said.
"Look at something like Holding the Man, which went through several adaptations. One of the reasons it's such a highly evolved, beautiful piece of filmmaking is because of those previous iterations. Every time the core idea moves into a new medium, it gets stronger and stronger."
Future Amplifiers will have their own "nuances and methodology", Gibson said, and the theme might be based around a particular genre.
"This one being adaptation, it's all manner of genres," she said.
"What we're always trying to do is capitalise on what's working now, and forecast what might do well two years from now."
Applicants must have a prior scripted credit, and submissions close September 2. Four projects will be selected.