The projects and participants selected for the inaugural New Perspectives Pitch Lab, a training initiative for emerging non-fiction talent with a social impact project in development or production, have been announced on 18 November.

New Perspectives Pitch Lab is an initiative of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), Doc Society, and the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), in partnership with Screen NSW.

The selected projects:

  • The Valley, a feature documentary from writer/director Josie Hess and producer/writer Stephanie Sabrinskas about a regional Victorian town that sits on the precipice of Australia’s largest coal mine. In the wake of the industrial collapse, young female activists fight to rebuild a brighter future for their communities.
  • Gay Graves, by writer/researcher/host Holly Zwalf and producer Erin McBean, is a podcast series uncovering the hidden, forgotten, and never-before-told queer histories of Australia. From gay bushrangers, lesbian buskers, and techno-dancing bush hippies through to genderless Indigenous dreaming spirits and crossdressing husbands and wives, Holly Zwalf and guests visit a new gravesite in each episode to scatter eco-friendly rainbow confetti and to (re)discover the LGBTQ+ histories buried there.
  • iSpeak, by producer/writer Aven Yap and sound engineer Chloe Turner (AFTRS graduate, Masters in Sound), is a podcast about how language shapes the human experience. By the end of this century, half of the world’s 7000 languages will become extinct. Which languages do we want to define our lives? Why do we speak the way we do? What will we lose when a language falls silent? iSpeak explores how we reckon with the rapidly changing ways we interact with language.
  • Make It Look Real, a feature documentary by producers Bethany Bruce and Daniel Joyce and director Kate Blackmore is about an intimacy coordinator, who is hired to choreograph Hollywood sex scenes and keep actors safe on set. She sets out to change her industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement but begins to question whether she really is able to protect the actors she works with.
  • Norita, by producers Rebecca Bennett and Daniel Joyce and director Jayson McNamara, is a feature documentary set in Argentina. In 1977, Nora Cortiñas’ son was kidnapped by Argentina’s dictatorship. During her forty-year search for him, Nora is transformed from a conservative housewife into a trailblazing activist and celebrated icon, inspiring a new generation to fight for their democracy.
  • The Removalist, a documentary from NSW director Clare Lewis and NSW producer Carolina Sorensen, unpacks Australia’s gender-based violence problem one box at a time.

Head of Screen NSW, Grainne Brunsdon, said, “The successful teams chosen for the inaugural New Perspectives Pitch Lab initiative all demonstrate tremendous talent, distinctive and diverse storytelling styles, and imagination. Screen NSW is excited to be involved in the development and mentorship of these unique and sincere stories. We look forward to seeing how the stories develop in the labs and prepare to become tools of record or to drive policy change.”

AFTRS Head of Documentary, Richard Welch, said, “For the inaugural New Perspectives Pitch Lab, AFTRS was thrilled to work alongside our industry partners Doc Society, AIDC, and Screen NSW to identify projects with new perspectives. We’re excited to support them through the labs program at AFTRS.”

The creators behind global initiatives such as Good Pitch, Climate Story Lab, and the Impact Field Guide, Doc Society are dedicated to the impact of art and the art of impact. Malinda Wink, Global Director, Good Pitch, on behalf of Doc Society, said, “I’m looking forward to diving into these six projects covering a diversity of formats, subjects, and storytellers from across Australia. Each project has great potential for impact and reaching audiences both here and abroad.”

AIDC, Australia’s premier event for documentary and factual content servicing the screen and digital media industries, will take place from 28 February to 3 March 2021. Alice Burgin, CEO, AIDC said, “AIDC wishes to congratulate all the successful candidates. We cannot wait to see the final pitches and welcome one team to our 2021 event.”

The New Perspectives Pitch Lab encouraged applications from storytellers with projects that offer a rare insight into the under-represented and overlooked; stories from those who see more than what’s shown in the common zeitgeist; stories that break barriers and explore nuance over polarity. The initiative was open to projects from across the non-fiction landscape – from observational, character-driven stories, to hybrid and essay films, to podcasts and series for television or online.

The Pitch Lab consists of five online coaching and development sessions and an online pitch event with mentors including Malinda Wink, Global Director of Good Pitch, Doc Society, and Screen NSW Investment Manager Andrea Ulbrick. The sessions begin this week. Participants develop their project pitch in group and individual sessions and pitch to an industry panel for feedback. The focus of the pitch training is to support participants to develop strategies and pathways for non-traditional access to audiences and finance for projects that have the potential for an impact campaign. Individuals or teams of two can participate in the pitch lab.