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Applications Open for Digital Originals, and three new dramas coming to screens

09/07/2024

09 07 2024 - Media release Applications Open for Digital Originals, and three new dramas coming to screens

(L-R) Moonbird director, co-creator and co-writer Nathan Maynard, co-creator and co-writer Adam Thompson and producer Catherine Pettman.

Screen Australia, SBS and National Indigenous Television (NITV) have announced three new Australian series coming to screens through the successful Digital Originals initiative, with production underway for Moni in NSW, Moonbird in Tasmania and Warm Props in Western Australia.

An ongoing partnership between SBS, NITV and Screen Australia, Digital Originals aims to develop exciting, innovative and risk-taking short-form drama projects to premiere on SBS On Demand, SBS VICELAND and NITV, from emerging screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector.

In Pasifika led series Moni, a gay Samoan man must reluctantly work out why his dead mother has unexpectedly plummeted from the heavens, and in doing so, learn to embrace his own truth. Led by creator, writer, and showrunner Taofia Pelesasa, director Alana Hicks, producer Nicole Coventry and executive producer Eliorah Malifa with Pelesasa Pics, the series explores identity, belonging and self-acceptance.

Moonbird is a co-production between the first-ever Tasmanian Aboriginal screen production company, Kutikina Productions, and Sheoak Films. Produced by Catherine Pettman and Adam Thompson, Moonbird explores the relationship between a recently sober father and his son who attempt to reconnect through a traditional muttonbirding season on a remote Tasmanian island. The compelling series is directed, co-created, and co-written by Nathan Maynard, and co-created and co-written by Adam Thompson.

Warm Props takes audiences behind the scenes with Charlie, who returns to a chaotic film shoot in her hometown in Western Australia and must then face her past as her narcissistic boss threatens the stability of her career and personal life. The heartening series is brought to life by creator and writer Jub Clerc, co-writer Kimberly Benjamin, directed by Clerc and Benjamin, and produced by Jodie Bell for Ramu Productions.

Screen Australia Head of Online and Games, Lee Naimo, said, Digital Originals is a flagship partnership that supports emerging creatives. It gives teams the tools to create online projects of scale in a way that isn't seen anywhere else in the world and has uncovered talent from across Australia who have gone on to work on ground-breaking dramas. The pitches for the latest cohort were particularly impressive, and it's so encouraging to see these teams take on board feedback during the workshop and apply it to their projects as they move forward.

Commissioning Editor, SBS Scripted, Nakul Legha, said, We're proud to be commissioning and developing such bold and ambitious scripted series that continue to raise the bar for Australian storytelling. The Digital Originals initiative consistently delivers award-winning, creatively brilliant series that have launched the careers of Australia's most talented emerging and under-represented voices. We can't wait for audiences to fall in love with Moni, Moonbird and Warm Props. And we're thrilled to back the next wave of creatives in bringing their fresh and exciting stories to the screen.

NITV Acting Head of Indigenous Commissioning and Production, Adam Manovic added, Digital Originals provides a unique platform for emerging First Nations creatives to showcase their innovation and share their stories. With incredible talent shining through in this latest announcement of commissions and development projects, we're excited to see what new stories and voices will come through as applications open for 2024.

Head of Screen NSW, Kyas Hepworth said, Digital Originals is such a fantastic platform for under-represented voices and Screen NSW is excited to support Moni and the entire team. This project is a great example of the new wave of fresh and authentic voices coming from Western Sydney and I can't wait to see the series come to life.

Executive Manager of Screen Tasmania, Alex Sangston said, We have been working with the Moonbird team since the project's inception and we're thrilled to see it come to fruition. It is invaluable that palawa people can share their stories, cultural heritage and practices, and we're proud to support that. Congratulations to Nathan Maynard, Adam Thompson, Catherine Pettman, Kutikina Productions and Sheoak Films on bringing a powerful and vital story the screen.

CEO of Screenwest, Rikki Lea Bestall said, It's wonderful to see another Western Australian series produced through this fantastic initiative, which enables talent to hone their creative voices and deliver innovative, contemporary scripted projects. We're proud to be supporting this unique First Nations story congratulations to Jub, Jodie, Kimba and the incredible cast and crew who brought this series to life in WA's beautiful Kimberley region. We look forward to seeing Warm Props hit SBS and NITV soon!

Loani Arman is Executive Producer for SBS on Moni, Moonbird and Warm Props, and has been working with and mentoring teams during the development and production of the projects.

As the Digital Originals initiative enters its fifth year, five projects have also been selected for further development from the 10 shortlisted teams who took part in an exclusive workshop hosted by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV in December 2023. Up to three will later be chosen for production funding and commissioning. The creative teams, and their projects, selected for further development, are:

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Two Blak Queens living in Meanjin's West End are thrust into the unknown when their landlord dabbles in witchcraft, sending the young women on a quest to unblur the lines between f
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