Investment & Support

SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator

April 21, 2021


SBS, in partnership with Screen Australia, state and territory agencies Screen Queensland, Screen NSW, Screen Canberra, Screenwest and the South Australian Film Corporation, and with the assistance of the Australian Writers’ Guild and Film Victoria through its Key Placements Scheme, have launched the Emerging Writers’ Incubator: a new, national initiative to support the development of underrepresented fiction writing talent within the Australian screen sector.

Working with some of Australia’s leading production companies, the Emerging Writers’ Incubator will bring the industry together to contribute to greater inclusion amongst Australian screenwriting talent, by providing significant work experience in drama production for up to 18 emerging writers from diverse backgrounds and with lived experiences currently underrepresented in the sector. 

For the purposes of this initiative, underrepresented includes those who identify as First Nations Australians; those who identify as culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; those who identify as Deaf and disabled; those who identify female or trans/gender diverse; those who identify as LGBTQIA+; and people located in regional and remote areas. 

Across the country, six successful candidates (Selected Writers), will be employed for 12 month placements in production companies acclaimed for their delivery of Australian drama, from around the country, with placements commencing from July 2021. Screen Queensland will support one successful Queensland writer to take part in the program in 2021.

For any enquiries, please contact Screen Queensland on 07 3248 0500



Selected Writers will work across the production company’s entire fiction slate (irrespective of commissioning network / platform) performing many of, but not limited to the indicative duties list below:

Indicative role description

  1. Attend writers’ rooms (as deemed appropriate by the production company – as participant, note taker, or observer); and
  2. Participate in the production company’s development slate meetings; and
  3. Shadow the production company’s development producers and/or producers (as appropriate), building capacity, on knowledge and honing industry / craft skills (including script editing skills); and 
  4. Shadow producers in pre, shoot, post and screening stages of project (as appropriate); and
  5. Assist with devising and writing pitches; and
  6. Assist with assessing creative material (e.g.: pitches); and
  7. Assist with creative feedback (e.g.: script notes, script feedback meetings); 
  8. Attend pitch meetings (as appropriate); and
  9. Draft funding applications for script development.

The Emerging Writers’ Incubator partners (SBS, Screen Australia and the Selected Writer’s local Screen Agency) will provide total funding of up to $80,000 to each production company as the salary for the writer (inclusive of superannuation, payroll tax, insurance, workcover). The production company will be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the Selected Writer is paid according to all applicable legislation and industrial awards including the superannuation guarantee and workplace insurance requirements.

A contribution toward relocation or travel from respective states (if applicable) may be available from your local agency. Please contact your screen agency for further information. 

All intellectual property generated during this opportunity will be the property of the production company, but each writer’s credit, where applicable, and associated benefits will be determined by AWG standard agreements. To the extent that a writer may subsequently be engaged as a writer of an episode of television, the Miniseries and Telemovie Agreement 2010 (MATA) (2021 rates) or Series and Serials Agreement 2008 (SASA) (2021 rates) will apply.


Writers that apply to the Incubator must meet the following minimum eligibility requirements: 

Applicants must:

  1. Be an emerging writer from an underrepresented background (as defined above) who have some experience, for example:
  2. Participated in a scheme run by a major screen agency/organisation/broadcaster in Australia (e.g.: AWG Pathways (writer applicants only), Screenability, AFTRS Talent Camp, Plot Twist Programs, Cinespace’s Package to Pitch, Impact Australia, SQ initiatives) and/or;
  3. A writer or co-writer credit on a piece of completed narrative fiction (television episode, feature film, or webseries), or who is currently in development on a project with support from a broadcaster, major online content provider or screen agency/organisation) and/or;
  4. A body of work in related areas (e.g. playwright).
  5. Be a permanent resident and/or citizen of Australia;
  6. Be a resident in the state or territory from which you are applying
  7. Not have been previously engaged by the host company (or any related entity) for three months or more. 
  8. Be available to undertake a paid placement for a period of 12 consecutive months
  9. Meet the general eligibility requirements set out in their respective Screen Agency’s Terms of Trade and in the application form.


Applications close Friday 28 May AEDT 2021 


The application process will be undertaken in three stages:

Stage One

Applicants must provide as part of the application process for Stage One:

  1. A completed application form, including any additional documentation and materials listed in the form.
  2. Up to 1-page statement outlining where you are at in your writing career and how participating in this scheme will benefit your career development; and
  3. Up to 1-page of your writing CV/credits; and
  4. A 10-page sample of screenwriting (for Stage One consideration)

Applicants must also provide as part of the application process for Stage One, a sample script. This will not be evaluated in Stage One, but will form the basis of the Stage 2 assessment. Applicants must provide:

  1. A half-hour or hour episode of television writing, or feature film script. 

After Stage One, a longlist of applicants from each state and territory writers will be compiled, and they will enter the second assessment stage:

Stage Two


  1. The sample of screenwriting (either half-hour or hour episode of television writing, or feature film script) provided in Stage One will now be assessed.

Stage Three

After applications have been assessed, a shortlist will be circulated to the host companies, who will select the writers that they wish to progress to the interview stage. Companies may elect to interview as few or many writers as they choose. Each interview will involve a representative from their respective screen agency as well as representatives from key stakeholders SBS and Screen Australia.

Once all interviews have been completed both the host companies and the applicant writers will be asked to nominate their preferred choices. 

The local screen agency, SBS, and Screen Australia will use these nominations to determine the most suitable and appropriate match between company and applicant. Decisions will be communicated to applicants following final consultation and confirmation with the host companies.


Each eligible applicant will be assessed taking into consideration the below criteria:

  1. The writer’s career goals and benefit to the writer’s career development if successful. 
  2. The writer’s perceived ability to successfully engage with a production company slate across the 12-month period 
  3. The standard of the supplied writing sample, and its demonstration of the abilities and skills of the writer
  4. The alignment of the writer with the diversity and inclusion aims of the initiative


Funding will be provided as a grant. This grant will be provided to the host company to pay the salary of the successful applicant over the year placement.  The successful applicant should expect to enter into a standard employee or contractor confidentiality and/or intellectual property agreement with the host Production Company before commencing the placement. SBS, Screen Australia and the Selected Writer’s local Screen Agency reserves its right to request a copy of these agreements at any time.

At both the mid-point and the conclusion of each the placements the Selected Writer and the production company will each deliver a report offering an insight into how the placement is working for each party and suggestions for the ongoing shape of the initiative. 

It is a condition of funding that successful applicants co-operate with their local screen agency, Screen Australia, and SBS in any PR and press activity relating to their participation in the Emerging Writers’ Incubator. Participants may also be asked to contribute to future seminars or workshops to share their experiences and knowledge with other filmmakers.


  1. Applications Open: Monday 3 May 2021
  2. Applications Close: Friday 28 May 2021
  3. Applicants Notified: 30 June 2021
  4. Successful writers commence: From late July 2021

All partners of this Initiative acknowledge and appreciate the effort that goes into applications, but given the anticipated volume of applications will not be able to provide individual feedback on each application.