25 JAN 2022

SBS Australia cancels in-person Upfront event

SBS would have been the only network to hold an in-person event for 2022 Upfronts, albeit late, but Omicron has thwarted that event.

25 JAN 2022

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SBS has been forced to call off its plans for an in-person Upfronts next month. The broadcaster held off a late 2021 event in the hope of an in-person function on February 16. “We were really looking forward to sharing a glass of bubbly and some great food with you all in February, but Omicron has other ideas,” SBS advised guests yesterday. SBS would have been the only network to hold an in-person event for 2022 Upfronts, albeit late, but Omicron has thwarted that. “While we’re not going ahead with out in-person events, you’ll be getting a preview of the amazing content coming to SBS in your inbox on Monday February 21. Stay safe and see you soon!,” SBS advised.

Also this week, Screen Australia, SBS and NITV announced that Digital Originals are back for 2022. The Digital Originals initiative aims to develop exciting and innovative short-form drama projects to premiere as a single episode program on SBS On Demand and NITV, from screen creatives who are currently under-represented in the sector. This includes people who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse, First Nations Australians, people with disability, female and gender diverse, LGBTIQ+ and those who are located in regional and remote areas.

Past recipients include AACTA Award-winning Tasmanian mystery "The Tailings", Western Australian comedy "Iggy & Ace", and the upcoming South Australian drama "A Beginner’s Guide to Grief", with three more projects from the 2021 cohort heading into production to be announced soon. “We are thrilled to partner with SBS and NITV on the third instalment of Digital Originals, to continue to build this pathway for premium online Australian drama. I can’t wait to take the new batch of talent creators through the workshop, and work with them on developing their projects for the SBS OnDemand audience,” Screen Australia’s Head of Online Lee Naimo said.

SBS Head of Scripted, Julie Eckersley, added: “Digital Originals continues to be a great success and an important initiative SBS is incredibly proud to be a part of. Over three years, we’ve seen unique and award-winning stories from across the country resonate with audiences, while supporting and showcasing incredible emerging talent in our sector. It continues to be a key element of our drama offering, and I’m looking forward to seeing what fresh voices and amazing talent this next round uncovers.”

“Digital Originals provides a brilliant opportunity to support more First Nations narrative writers and practitioners to hone their skills and have their voices heard. NITV, as part of the SBS network, is committed to bringing stories from underrepresented communities to a national audience, I encourage our next wave of creatives to get involved,” NITV’s Head of Commissioning and Programming, Kyas Hepworth, stated.

Up to 10 teams will be selected to attend an exclusive workshop from 17–19 May 2022, run by Screen Australia, SBS and NITV. The workshop will focus on narrative writing skills, as well as developing the projects to align with the SBS Charter and SBS On Demand platform, culminating in a pitch to Screen Australia, SBS and NITV. Teams of either two or three members are eligible to apply and must include one writer. Teams outside of Sydney will receive flights and accommodation for up to three team members to attend the workshop. The workshop may be held virtually pending travel restrictions in place at the time. From these 10 teams, up to four will be chosen to take their projects into further development, and from these up to three will be chosen for production funding and commissioning with SBS, NITV and Screen Australia.