SPARK, the new national feature film script workshop developed by the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Film Television and Radio School, will help address problems with the film development process in Australia, the chair of the AFC, Maureen Barron, said tonight at the launch of SPARK in Melbourne.
These problems, identified in the AFC benchmark paper on Development (published in 2000), include the chronic under-resourcing of development and the fragmented and protracted nature of the development process.
Ms Barron added that the isolation and lack of support for writers developing feature scripts were also issues addressed by SPARK.
SPARK, a co-venture between the AFC and the AFTRS, is a comprehensive four- stage development program. The first stage is the week-long residential workshop to be held at Hepburn Springs in February next year. Eight advisors and eight writers will meet in one-on-one sessions throughout the week, and will be joined for two days by the producers and directors of the films.
A next draft of each film will then be funded by the AFC. Participants will receive more feedback on the creative direction of the project, with the final stage being the development of a strategic financing plan with input from sales agents and distributors.
"The focus of the workshop is very much on supporting, challenging and inspiring the writer. It is the writer who starts with the blank page and who gives shape to his or her stories and ideas. But film is a collaborative process - it is crucial that the director and the producer are also involved, that they can share and build on the same vision," Ms Barron said.
"The principle of the workshop is respect for the creative process and for everyone involved in this murky, complex and rewarding process. Our ethos is viva diversity - there is no 'correct' way to tell a story. The different advisors will bring a diversity of insights, methodologies and perspectives to each script. Their role is to advise, challenge, share, nurture, respond and suggest. It is the writers who determine which ideas resonate with them and the stories they wish to tell."
Ms Barron launched SPARK with AFTRS director, Rod Bishop, and writer Mac Gudgeon, one of Australia's major award winning writers for both film and television.
SPARK is at www.aftrs.edu.au/spark