Alison Bell with Sarah Scheller at Charlie’s (Photo: Costa Vakas).

Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) film and television alumni will have the opportunity to work in Los Angeles thanks to a new partnership between Australians in Film (AiF) and the University of Melbourne.

The $92,000 three-year partnership is the first of its type between AiF and a university and will allow mid-career film and TV graduates to apply for a hot desk at Charlie’s on the Raleigh Studios lot.

Concurrently, the University also announced today the creation of the Melbourne Screen Fund, which aims to raise $5 million in donations to support current VCA students and alumni.

Explaining the rationale for the fund, VCA head of film and television Sandra Sciberras said: “We are all aware of the difficulty of financing films and the vital need for gap finance to support ambitious work that might not otherwise get produced.

“I want to be able to capture the uniqueness of the filmmakers that come through our doors at the VCA and who have the ethic of hard work and talent that will enable them to navigate a changing screen industry.”

The first VCA grad to secure a hot desk at Charlie’s will be Nick Watson, a comedy and animation writer who wrote for the second season of Conan O’Brien-produced Final Space, an animated space opera comedy-drama for TBS and Cartoon Network’s late night programming block Adult Swim, and for Hasbro Studios’ Littlest Pet Shop: A World of Our Own, an animated kids show that ran on Discovery.

Watson is currently developing animated children’s show Log as a co-production between Pirate Size Productions and Starburns Industries, with funding from Screen Australia.

Produced by Bryony McLachlan and co-written with Dan Nixon, the series centres on a log which keeps drifting into people’s lives and somehow manages to help.

(L-R) Susan Bird, Dr James Allan, Simonne Overend, Sandra Sciberras, Peter Ritchie, Peter Barron and Kath Dolheguy at today’s launch.

He has also worked as a screenwriting lecturer at the University of Melbourne and as a creative executive in film and TV development in LA.

According to Scibberas, the agreement with AiF aims to connect with early to mid-career film and TV alumni based in or visiting LA.

“Our industry is becoming increasingly global, with film and television makers working ever more commonly abroad and bringing that work back home to Australia as well as to the rest of the world,” she says. “The AiF partnership is one of many ways we’re looking to support our alumni at a crucial point in their careers.”

AiF executive director Peter Ritchie said the partnership would be of great benefit to creators as they develop their careers in the US, observing: “Hollywood is vast and ever-changing and can seem impenetrable to an outsider.

“This new desk partnership with the University of Melbourne will provide an ideal home base in LA for its alumni and offer access to a network of like-minded screen creatives, with a view to creating opportunities that can accelerate their projects and careers.”

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