UNTAPPED, a breakthrough talent development program for undiscovered and underrepresented Australian filmmakers, has been launched by Australians in Film (AiF) in association with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and Screen Australia.

The program, which includes masterclasses from visionary filmmakers who are boldly breaking down industry barriers and mentorship from internationally successful and high-profile production companies, is designed to give emerging Australian screenwriters and directors the education and access needed to fast track their careers and their projects.

The nine-month program, which runs online from April to December 2021, will provide tangible creative pathways and foster exciting collaborations for a new generation of Australian filmmakers. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ persons, culturally diverse peoples, and people living in remote locations will be prioritized.

The program begins with five open-access online masterclasses for all eligible applicants. Featuring conversations with Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers (Search Party), Nisha Ganatra (The High Note; Late Night), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy; Bombay Beach), Warwick Thornton (Mystery Road; Sweet Country), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit; Thor: Ragnarok), the masterclasses will give UNTAPPED applicants a window into the artistic processes and strategies for creative success from some of the most innovative artists working today.

Har’el is also the founder of non-profit initiative Free the Work, which was founded as Free The Bid in 2016. Free the Work provides actionable solutions to fight systemic inequalities in film, television, advertising, and media and advocating on behalf of underrepresented creators.

Following the masterclasses, five creators or creative teams will be selected for the UNTAPPED Development Lab, a four-month intensive mentorship program. Selected Lab participants will receive individualized mentorship, story consultation, creative feedback and professional development support from top industry mentors including executives from Blossom Films, Made Up Stories, LuckyChap Entertainment, See-Saw Films and Truant Pictures.

“We see and understand the frustration and struggle of underrepresented and undiscovered filmmakers in Australia, and with our partners the HFPA and Screen Australia, we have established UNTAPPED to create tangible pathways for new talent. We want to support their dreams and to help them grow as storytellers. Hollywood is definitely listening to find new voices and UNTAPPED will help open doors for emerging Australian creatives who often find the industry impenetrable,” said AiF Executive Director Peter Ritchie.

The HFPA President Ali Sar said, “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has a proud history of supporting and promoting the global screen industry. UNTAPPED will continue this important HFPA mission by offering immensely valuable learning and networking opportunities for emerging Australian screen professionals to learn from industry leaders in Hollywood.”

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “Screen Australia is thrilled that, through the UNTAPPED program, undiscovered and underrepresented Australian storytellers and filmmakers are getting the invaluable opportunity to connect with world-renowned creatives, begin fostering meaningful relationships within the industry, and develop their skills as they take the next step in their careers. Australia is home to globally celebrated storytellers and filmmakers, and we look forward to discovering and supporting emerging Australian creatives in partnership with Australians in Film and HFPA.”

One of the key supporters of UNTAPPED is Nicole Kidman and her production company Blossom Films.