Ellie Madritsch and Ana Jimenez.
When Fremantle director of scripted Jo Porter started out as a producer more than 20 years ago, shows such as All Saints and Blue Heelers ran for 42 episodes a year and there were plenty of opportunities for emerging writers.
With most dramas now limited to four to six episodes, Porter worries there are far fewer avenues for writers to break into the business.
Her solution is Next, a Fremantle initiative which will serve as a talent escalator for writers who have at least one credit.
Spearheaded by Fremantle drama coordinators Ellie Madritsch and Ana Jimenez, the program aims to fund a minimum of three projects – short-form digital content or podcasts – next year and in each of the following years as a stepping stone to long-form projects.
“These platforms can be pathways and proving grounds for writers, enabling them to build worlds and connect with audiences,” Porter tells IF. “We want to give opportunities to writers who have at least one existing work.”
Potentially the podcasts produced under the scheme could be aired on Audible and internationally via Fremantle’s UK-based scripted podcast label Storyglass, which launched last November.
Madritsch and Jimenez, who started at Fremantle a year ago, said: “We’re looking to fill gaps we see in the industry – to give emerging creatives exposure to the development process, provide a platform for their original stories, and to produce the kind of audacious, diverse short-form content that contemporary audiences are hungry for.”
The duo is taking a targeted approach including working with talent they have already identified and tracking writers via agents.
The Next scheme complements Fremantle’s collaboration with Screenworks and SPA’s One to Watch sponsorship to promote career advancement for the next generation of industry professionals across all aspects of production.