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Boosting Diversity in the Sector

In 2019-20, SBS deepened its commitment to exploring the diversity of Australia on and off screen and provided tangible pathways to increase opportunities for diverse screen practitioners.

Diversity Talent Escalator

Now in its fourth year, in 2019-20 SBS’s Diversity Talent Escalator initiative continued to increase representation of Australia’s diverse communities within the production sector.

The initiative seeks to create career development opportunities for emerging and mid-level screen practitioners from backgrounds currently under-represented within the Australian screen industry.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, the Diversity Talent Escalator created five placements for filmmakers, including roles within the highly anticipated local drama New Gold Mountain and three documentaries including the series return of Every Family Has A Secret. Since the initiative launched, 28 places have been established across documentary, entertainment and drama productions.

As of 2020, SBS has collaborated with every State and Territory in Australia with Diversity Talent Escalator placements established on the upcoming drama web-series The Tailings in Tasmania and factual series Come Fly with Me in the ACT. SBS has supported 17 female, 10 male and one non-binary filmmaker in roles, including: Director, Production Manager, Associate Producer, Assistant Editor and Script Coordinator, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

The Diversity Talent Escalator is a co-funded program in partnership with Film Victoria, Screen NSW, Screen Queensland, Screen Territory, Screenwest, South Australian Film Corporation, the Tasmanian Government through Screen Tasmania and Screen Canberra.

Pitch to Pilot

In 2019-20, SBS and Film Victoria teamed up on Pitch to Pilot, a joint development initiative focused on developing compelling new television drama series that celebrate our diverse and multicultural society.

Open to both new voices and established content creators, Pitch to Pilot has a two-stage development process. From the 48 applications received, four projects received $20,000 each for development, with teams then given the opportunity to pitch for further development. One successful project received an additional $20,000 to continue development.

Digital Originals

In August 2019, SBS and Screen Australia called for applications seeking to identify and develop up-and-coming writers from less represented communities, with the aim of lifting diverse talent and creating bold new scripted content for SBS On Demand.

Ten projects were selected for the workshop, led by two mentors: Anna Dokoza, Australian television director and producer, and Ryan O’Connell, writer, producer and star of the Emmy-nominated Netflix short-form series, Special. The workshop focused on short-form narrative writing skills, as well as developing projects that align with the SBS Charter and the SBS On Demand platform.

Projects had to be of a scale suitable for online audiences – immediately compelling, creatively outstanding and risk-taking in their nature.

R.I.D.E. Feature Film Fund

In June 2019, SBS, Screen Queensland and Madman, together with The Post Lounge and Media Super, launched the R.I.D.E. (Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality) Feature Film Fund, a career-making opportunity for Queensland talent from under-represented backgrounds to develop and produce a $1.5 million dollar feature film every year for three years.

The initiative is Australia’s largest feature film fund partnership, and three projects showcasing diverse stories commenced development in the 2019-20 reporting year.

In May 2020, it was announced that R.I.D.E. is open once again and now seeking applications at any time.

Supporting the Indigenous production sector

SBS remains committed to creating more production opportunities for Indigenous media practitioners, offering a range of career support, internships and development opportunities.

In 2019-20, NITV continued to work to grow pathways specifically for Indigenous practitioners, launching several new initiatives with state and federal screen funding agencies, enabling the channel to increase content created by and for Indigenous Australians. See NITV for more information.