Long-time Mercury CX supporter, member and workshop participant Jason Chong has won the 2021 AACTA Reg Grundy Award. The award provides a prize to Australia’s next big competition format show.
“I’ve been a regular attendee of MCX’s Screenmakers Conferences, attended the Screen Makers Lab in 2019 and 2021, was a finalist for the Out of the Box initiative in 2019 and attended this year’s Pitch Lab with Ruth Estelle, where I began refining the pitch for The Second Best Gameshow” said Jason.
In 2019 the SAFC subsidised Jason to attend Screen Forever for the first time, and in 2021 he completed the SAFC Skilling SA training for the AD Department.
The AACTA Reg Grundy Award, offered in 2021 for the second time, saw applications across a number of formats competing for a $50000 prize including development funding.
This year’s winner was determined by a panel of established screen experts including Eden Gaha (President of unscripted television at Shine USA), Cathy Payne (CEO of Banijay Rights), Sharon Wheeler (Award-winning Senior Entertainment Executive), and Marion Farrelly (Speaker, consultant, TV & Film Producer), and Ian Hogg (Media CEO, Advisor, Australian Idol, Australia’s Got Talent, Family Feud).
“A great idea can come from anywhere. It’s our job, as an industry, to make sure such great ideas are heard and their creators are supported. The Reg Grundy Award represents the kind of encouragement and mentorship that has made Australian content what it is today. Now more than ever, this award underpins the importance of new perspectives on entertainment from people of all backgrounds. I see this year’s additional prize for innovative, young, creators as a tremendous way to seed the next great competition format.” said AACTA Reg Grundy Award Judge and President of Unscripted Television at Shine USA, Eden Gaha.
Speaking of the win, Jason said “There’s still loads of work to do, but this is a great chance to say thank you for all the support and opportunities that have been provided by Mercury CX. It has already made a huge difference in my career so far and I really do appreciate it.”
The winners of the South Australian Screen Awards 2021 have been named at a gala awards ceremony at Mercury CX. There were 81 nominees, across 24 awards which were presented to creatives and crew across a range of craft and genre categories including drama, documentary, web series, animation, comedy, music video, screenwriting, directing, editing etc, culminating in the Grand Jury Prize presented by the South Australian Film Corporation.
MYTH – The Go Between and The Recordist have taken out joint honours for Best Drama. MYTH – The Go Between produced by William Littleton, picked up three additional awards including Best Director for Alies Sluiter. The Recordist, produced by Ashleigh Knott and Indianna Bell and directed by Indianna Bell and Josiah Allenalso picked up Best Performance for Brendan Rock along with Best Sound Design for Indianna Bell.
Best Comedy, presented by KOJO was awarded to Producer Lisa Bishop and Writer/Director Gareth Wilkes for Happy Anniversary. Best Documentary, supported by AIDC, was won by My Ba from Producer/Director Alice Yang and Best Animation was The Better Angels for Producer Richard Chataway and Writer/Director Michael Cusack.
In addition five individual awards were presented to acknowledge South Australian screen excellence culminating in the illustrious City of Adelaide Mercury Award, which recognises a South Australian creative’s lifetime achievement and contribution to the screen industry. This award was presented by the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Sandy Verschoor to acclaimed Sound Recordist, Mixer and Sound Designer James Currie. Currie’s 45-year career has seen him work on 146 productions spanning feature films, television series, documentaries and short films. His international reputation has been built working innovatively on sound for directors including Paul Cox, Rolf de Heer and Scott Hicks. Currie said of the award: “I am truly humbled to be the recipient of this year’s City of Adelaide Mercury Award 2021,” adding that hometown recognition was especially meaningful.
Director Scott Hicks said of James’ win “James recorded sound on my very first film ’The Wanderer’, and almost 50 years later he’s working on my current film ‘The Musical Mind’. I’ve lost count of the films we’ve done in between. Many congratulations James – such a well-deserved honour and recognition of your place in the pantheon of South Australian filmmakers. You’re an institution, and I salute you.“
The inaugural Best First Nations Talent Award sponsored by South Australian Film Corporation was presented to actor Natasha Wanganeen for her compelling performance in the short film Djaambi. Another first for 2021 was the inclusion of the Mercury Rising award, supported by the Adelaide Festival Centre and presented to an MCX Member across any award category. The inaugural winner is producer and director Eva Grzelak. The Carclew Foundation presented the Young Filmmaker Award to cinematographer Nicholas Frayne and Media Super presented the Emerging Producer Award to Lilla Berry.
Mercury CX CEO, Karena Slaninka said “I am constantly impressed with the level of talent we have in South Australia and Mercury CX is proud to play an essential role in supporting and celebrating emerging and established talent”.
“The South Australian Screen Awards have helped launch the careers of many filmmakers who have gone from making an award winning short to their first feature and are an important career milestone. We couldn’t offer these awards without the support of our many partners and award sponsors”.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
CITY OF ADELAIDE MERCURY AWARD
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Sponsored by South Australian Film Corporation
MYTH – THE GO-BETWEEN
Produced by William Littleton; Directed & Written by Alies Sluiter
EMERGING PRODUCER AWARD
Sponsored by Media Super
FIRST NATIONS TALENT AWARD
Sponsored by South Australian Film Corporation
Natasha Wanganeen – Actor, Djaambi
YOUNG FILMMAKER AWARD
Sponsored by Carclew Foundation
MERCURY RISING AWARD
Sponsored by Adelaide Festival Centre
> GENRE CATEGORIES
Sponsored by Adelaide Film Festival
Producers: Ashleigh Knott & Indianna Bell
Directors: Indianna Bell & Josiah Allen
Writer: Indianna Bell
MYTH – The Go-Between
Producer: William Littleton
Writer/Director: Alies Sluiter
Sponsored by KOJO
Producer: Lisa Bishop
Writer/Director: Gareth Wilkes
Sponsored by Australian International Documentary Conference
Producer/Director: Alice Yang
Producers: Danielle Tinker, Marcus McKenzie & Daniel Principe
Directors: Marcus McKenzie & Daniel Principe
Deadly Family Portraits: Sansbury Sisters
Producer: Lilla Berry
Director: Pearl Berry
Sponsored by Finders University
The Better Angels
Producer: Richard Chataway
Writer/Director: Michael Cusack
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Sponsored by Music SA
alt. “Devil’s Cut “
Producers: Ashley Pollard & Benjamin Powell
Director: Ashley Pollard
BEST WEB SERIES
Sponsored by Government of South Australia Department for Innovation and Skills
Producer: Kurt Roberts
Writer/Director: Benno Thiel
BEST STUDENT PRODUCTION
Sponsored by University of South Australia
Producer: Kirrily Snape
Writer/Director: Tasman Colquist
Sponsored by CDW Animation
Henosis Brewed Engagement Extended Reality Labs
> CRAFT CATEGORIES
Sponsored by Australian Writers’ Guild
Kate Bonney – Waiyirri
Sponsored by SunJive Studios
Alies Sluiter – MYTH – The Go Between
Sponsored by Pro AV Solutions
Nicholas Frayne – Which Made This Place Home
Sponsored by Channel 44
Tania Nehme – MYTH – The Go Between
Sponsored by Heesom Casting
Kavitha Anandasivam – Possum
Brendan Rock – The Recordist
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Sponsored by Light Adelaide
Brendan Homan & Natalie Homan – Last Meal
BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP
Sponsored by Kryolan Professional Make-up
Bec Troisi – MYTH – The Go Between
Sponsored by The Fabric Store
Hannah Sitters – Secret Pretty Things
BEST SOUND DESIGN
Sponsored by Best FX
Indianna Bell – The Recordist
Sponsored by University of Adelaide Elder Music Conservatorium
City of Adelaide and Mercury CX are excited to announce the four recipients of the inaugural Hothouse Creative Residencies.
In partnership with the City of Adelaide through their Cultural Strategic Partnerships Program, Mercury CX’s Emerging Hothouse Scheme provides two emerging screenwriters, a producer and a cinema programmer/projectionist with a 12-week, flexible residency. Following an extensive callout and review of applications, four creatives have been selected to be the initial Hothouse Creative Residents. The inaugural 2021 Hothouse Residents are:
DYLAN COLEMAN – Screenwriting
Award-winning novelist, First Nations academic and social justice activist, Dylan Coleman is working on a screenplay adaptation of a novel manuscript that won the black&write Writing Fellowship, to be published in the near future.
SALLY HARDY – Screenwriting
Award-winning playwright and children’s author Sally Hardy is working on an adaptation of her play Night Light scheduled to be performed in 2023.
CRAIG JACKSON – Producing
Transitioning from a career as a cinematographer to producing, Craig Jackson is developing a factual television series, whilst also producing one of this year’s Mercury CX Quicksilver production fund short films.
AIMEE KNIGHT – Cinema Programming & Projection
Film critic and The Big Issue’s small screens editor Aimee Knight brings an understanding of contemporary cinema to the programmer and projection residency and is currently programming the final session of Adelaide Cinematheque for 2021 with a focus on ‘difficult women’.
Attracting diverse creatives and projects
In announcing the recipients, Karena Slaninka, CEO Mercury CX spoke of the exceptional candidates who applied. “We’ve had an excellent response to the program in the first year and are thrilled to have such talent seeking to be part of this year’s residencies.”
“Transitioning from one area of creative industries to another, or seeking to elevate one’s career, can benefit from mentoring, structure, and a supportive environment in which to achieve creative outcomes to set goals and to develop craft and contacts. Hothouse facilitates that while providing resources and the structure to be able to work toward a specific creative outcome.”
“Hothouse is a unique initiative in supporting artists and creatives who are developing and advancing in their creative practice is an important part of our vision for Mercury CX to be a national centre of excellence for story,” Slaninka said.
“Adelaide is one of the most liveable and creative cities in the world with artists, makers and festivals at its heart,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The City of Adelaide is working in partnership with our arts and culture sector to support artists and create opportunities for them. We are curating a city filled with dynamic arts and cultural experiences for people to enjoy.”
The Hothouse Residencies provide the opportunity for creatives to focus on specific works in a supportive environment surrounded by resources and mentors to help take their projects to fruition. The flexible program allows for each participant to draw on both the resources of Mercury CX as well as mentoring and industry connections to further their projects.
Screenwriting resident Dylan Coleman said the appeal of the program was in the idea of the hothouse. “As the word suggests, Mercury CX provides an opportunity to grow quickly and to develop the skills in a warm supportive environment that might otherwise take years or even decades to reach. The alchemists of old turned mercury to gold, that’s the chemistry at work here.”
Creating connection through immersion in the screen industry
In addition to mentoring and access to Mercury CX facilities, the residency program included the 2021 MCX Screenmakers Conference, providing unique access to industry leaders and the opportunity to pitch their projects.
The opportunity for residents to deepen industry connections can be a defining step for their projects. Playwright and screenwriter Sally Hardy secured additional industry meetings about her project through the conference.
“This year’s MCX Screenmakers Conference was a godsend. As well as hearing from people at the top of their game in the industry, I was able to discuss my feature film with festival programmers, producers and distributors” she said.
Producer Craig Jackson said that MCX Screenmakers proved to be a valuable part of achieving the goals of his residency. “So much of the development process involves getting feedback from others as a project progresses and having ongoing access to informed and experienced professionals is invaluable to shaping an effective treatment and pitch,” said Jackson.
Mercury CX Script Executive and screenwriting mentor Ruth Estelle knows from experience the importance of dedicated space for the development process. “Writers need space and support, and at Mercury CX we are well-placed to provide both. The results, I’m sure, will speak for themselves when we see their work on the big screen!” she said.
Discussing the opportunities afforded by the residency Sally Hardy said, “As a playwright adapting my own play into a feature film, the opportunity to work closely with experienced and talented mentors like Ruth Estelle is invaluable.”
“It’s incredibly helpful having access to Ruth’s knowledge of structure, audience and genre, as I deconstruct my story and create it anew for the medium of film. It’s also priceless to have a creative workspace available 24/7 for the duration of the residency, where I am free to write away from domestic distractions!”
Bringing a different lens to stories on screen
In explaining why she chose to apply, Dylan said “I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to work with a trusted local organisation who has supported First Nation writers and filmmakers and mentorships in the past. Being able to share our stories as First Nations writers is so important. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to spread my wings.”
The third residency focus area is Cinema Programmer + Projectionist, an underexplored field in the screen industry.
Aimee Knight spoke of how this rare opportunity complements her work writing about screen culture “enriching my critical perspectives on cinema by learning the intertwined art of film curation.”
There is more to cinema programming than just choosing films. The residency will help Aimee gain a practical understanding of the big-screen distribution process. ”All that nitty-gritty administrative stuff that comes with contracts, budgets, marketing, and promotion. I’m particularly keen to spend time in the hallowed projection booth, where the alchemy of exhibition happens.”
Knight’s curation will draw on her background in film criticism and include putting a series ofdifficult women on the big screen as part of the new Adelaide Cinematheque program from 1 to 10 November.
Discover the range of activities undertaken by Mercury CX during 2020 with the full Annual Report. From all the productions supported by Mercury CX to the winners of the South Australian Screen Awards 2020, the range of measures of adapting to COVID-19 and the first ever online edition of Screenmakers Conference, discover the breadth of activity from this centre for story excellence.
These words curse women for doing their jobs – especially in Hollywood, where clear-eyed femme directors have been blacklisted for applying the same discipline and commitment that gets their male peers labelled ‘visionary auteurs’.
This November, Adelaide Cinematheque celebrates these so-called ‘Difficult Women’ with a season showcasing their tenacity, humour and artistic excellence. Curated by Aimee Knight – Mercury CX’s Emerging Hothouse resident in cinema programming and projection – the four-film strand runs from 1–10 November at the Mercury.
Yentl (1983) Dir. Barbra Streⅰsand
Monday 1 November, 7pm
Streisand’s directorial debut is a masterwork of mainstream feminist cinema. The multihyphenate shines as the titular difficult woman who, in turn-of-the-century Poland, adopts a male persona so that she may study Jewish theology. This leads to a love triangle that destabilises gender, sexuality, patriarchy, and the gaze.
Jennifer’s Body (2009) Dir. Karyn Kusama
Wednesday 3 November, 7pm
“Hell is a teenage girl.” So opens this oft-misunderstood film about the horror and romance of women’s friendship. Written by Juno’s Diablo Cody, the witty script flips the body monstrous on its head, while Megan Fox – backed by director Karyn Kusama (Destroyer) – gives a wink and a nod to the monotony of misogynist.
Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) Dir. Leslie Harris
Monday 8 November, 7pm
With her sharp mind and sharper tongue, Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson) is 17 going on 30. She dreams of leaving Brooklyn, going to college, and graduating into middle-class security. Can Chantel really navigate a world that wasn’t built for her? The first and, to date, only feature directed by Leslie Harris remains feverishly relevant.
Ishtar (1987) Dir. Elaine May
Wednesday 10 November, 7pm
Starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as palpably untalented lounge singers, this notorious flop sealed Elaine May’s fate as Hollywood’s #1 difficult woman. But as the writer, director and Taurus sun observed, “If all of the people who hate Ishtar had seen it, I would be a rich woman today.”
So, let’s reimagine the canon as we commend these four directors – and every woman whose career has been hindered by whispers, but whose work endures regardless.
Sam Meikle is a highly experienced writer and creator with over 200 hours of produced credits across a broad range of television dramas, comedies, animation and web series. He has worked extensively in program development for many of Australia’s leading production houses, and he’s written and interviewed for documentary works. His short films have screened at festivals around the world and he’s been engaged to develop multiple feature film projects. Sam holds a Masters in screenwriting from the AFTRS (2000), he’s a graduate of the NIDA Playwrights’ Studio (2000), a recipient of a 2009 Australian Writers’ Guild/Arts NSW Mentorship, along with the 2014 Inscription Enderby Entertainment Scholarship. He was a member of the Screen Australia Talent USA delegation in 2018, the Scripted Ink/AWG Pathways Los Angeles delegation in 2019, and he has been nominated for 11 Australian Writers’ Guild Awards and won 4.
Most recently, Sam was a writer, an Executive Producer and co-showrunner of Wakefield for the ABC, Showtime and BBC Studios, and he is a co-creator and Executive Producer of MaveriX for the ABC and Netflix.
Back row: Pete Ninos, mentor Louise Gough, Lucy Campbell, Bettina Hamilton, Matt Vesely. Front row: Georgia Humphries, Madeleine Parry, Peta Bulsara (Astbury).
South Australia’s bold and ambitious Film Lab: New Voices feature film skills development program is set to foster a new generation of diverse South Australian filmmakers as the first three successful teams are announced today, with round two applications open from August. The initiative from the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) and Adelaide Film Festival in collaboration with Mercury CX also welcomes the support of Screen Australia in delivering the development phase of this inaugural round of the program which gives three South Australian creative teams industry mentoring with highly credentialed screen story development mentor Louise Gough across a 12-month period, to develop a low-budget feature film script. One project will be selected to move into production, to be wholly produced and postproduced in South Australia, and the final film will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2022.
The three selected teams for 2021 are: – Writer/director Peter Ninos and producer Georgia Humphreys, – Writer Lucy Campbell, producer Bettina Hamilton and director Matt Vesely, and – Writer/director Madeleine Parry and producer Peta Bulsara (Astbury).
The program will open again for round two applications in August 2021, with the final film to be delivered in time for Adelaide Film Festival 2024.
Mercury CX plays a key role in supporting professional development, removing barriers to entry and cultivating unique, authentic stories from diverse creatives. Our professional development programs create a pipeline of talent into such initiatives as Film Lab: New Voices, which provides a unique opportunity to gain an invaluable feature film credit through the South Australian Film Corporation and the rich experience of connecting with an audience through a screening at the Adelaide Film Festival. The coordinated pathways through these organisations is quite special and is set to benefit South Australian practitioners enormously. – Karena Slaninka, CEO Mercury CX
Read the full release at South Australian Film Corporation.
Mercury CX is presenting a new chapter in its long history of supporting screen in its 46th year
The Media Resource Centre (MRC) was established by a group of dedicated filmmakers in 1974 to support film and video production and exhibition in Adelaide and South Australia. Its emergence was part of a wider movement that also led to the creation of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), the drama centre at Flinders University, and the beginnings of media studies in high schools around the country.
Although forced to scale back during 2020’s COVID-19 situation, Mercury CX still delivered a range of innovative programs for emerging screen professionals.
From the lock-down film competition CABIN FEVER, to Screenmakers Connect, Australia’s first online conference for the emerging industry sector, and an all-digital South Australian Screen Awards, Mercury CX has found ways to deliver opportunties to learn and create.
This year sees new workshops, development opportunities and a refreshed membership system that brings together our iconic Mercury Cinema and our professional development into a more aligned package for all lovers of story.