Clockwise from top left: Alethea Jones, Jiao Chen, Zareh Nalbandian, Luke Davies.

Luke Davies, Alethea Jones, Animal Logic CEO Zareh Nalbandian and Columbia Pictures’ director of creative development Jiao Chen will be the mentors in this year’s Mentor LA program.

Applications are now open for the development program for mid-level screen professionals. Applicants must be Australian residents currently living in Australia.

Australians in Film (AiF) and Screen Australia are encouraging applications from groups currently under-represented in the Australian screen industry including women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities, LGBTQI and gender diverse people.

Established in 2017, Mentor LA consists of four one-hour sessions. Three are held online and one is face-to-face in Los Angeles, starting in April.

The sessions are designed to provide mentees with personalized, first-hand knowledge of the challenges and knowledge these mentors have learnt from working in the Hollywood system. Return economy airfares and living expenses will be covered in LA for the five days of the final session.

AiF executive director Peter Ritchie said: “Australians in Film’s mission is to help develop a robust and progressive community of Australian screen storytellers working internationally.

“Mentor LA is an opportunity for established screen professionals to give back and provide development to under-represented screen creatives, who may not necessarily have been given the same shot because of the current imbalance in the screen industry.

Applications close at 6 pm on April 3 (PST), 1 pm on April 4 (AEST). The program will run throughout 2020, with sessions every two months.

For information on the program and where to apply, please click here.

MENTORS

Alethea Jones is a writer/director/producer with expertise in elevated and comedic storytelling in film and television. She is attached to direct the period musical The Big Gay Jamboree  for Margot Robbie’s LuckyChap Entertainment and Paramount Paramount Studios.

Her TV directing credits include episodes of Lodge 49 (AMC), Dollface with Kat Dennings (Hulu) and Wrecked (TBS) and she directed and executive produced Dispatches from Elsewhere starring Sally Field, Jason Segel and Richard E. Grant (AMC) and Queen America with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judith Light (Facebook Watch). 

Currently she is producing five episodes of a grounded sci-fi comedy Made for Love with Ray Romano, Kristin Millioti and Billy Magnussen for HBO Max. She also has a series in development with HBO Max called Classified. 

Jiao Chen is the director of creative development at Columbia Pictures. He is working on some of the studio’s biggest titles including Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Uncharted. Before joining Sony Pictures, he was a creative executive at Fox 2000.

Australian-born, Los Angeles-based Luke Davies (Lion, Beautiful Boy, Catch-22) is an internationally renowned, award-winning screenwriter, novelist and poet. His next feature, News of the World, an adaptation of Paulette Jiles’ bestselling novel, is set up at Universal Studios, with Gail Mutrux and Playtone’s Tom Hanks producing.

Hanks will play a Texan who escorts a 10-year-old white girl to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio in 1870 after she was rescued from the Kiowa Indian tribe that kidnapped her and killed her family four years earlier; Paul Greengrass will direct.

Davies is also adapting the book The Most Dangerous Man in America by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L Davis as a limited series produced by Wiip and Starthrower. Woody Harrelson is attached to star and as an executive producer.

Zareh Nalbandian, Animal Logic’s co-founder and CEO, has been developing and producing large-scale screen projects for over 25 years. He was executive producer on The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Movie 2, Academy Award winning Happy Feet, The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie and producer on Peter Rabbit 2, Peter Rabbit and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.

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