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ACMI, Film Victoria and Media Mentors present

Where to now for Australian scripted TV?


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Thu 5 Nov 2020


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This month we bring together the Drama, Comedy and Children's TV bosses from ABC, Channel 9 and Channel 10 to discuss the impact of 2020 on scripted TV and give us a sneak peek at what’s coming in 2021.

How can Australian scripted TV compete with streaming services? How will the end of quotas impact on scripted output? Are there different production models ahead – more cost effective, perhaps? What successful shows do they wish they had commissioned? What are the plans for more diversity on our screens? What makes an Australian commission more likely? Do the audiences care? The answers to these questions and more will be discussed in Running Free Live session.

Hosted by Denise Eriksen, Media Mentors Australia.


Amanda Duthie, Head of Scripted, SBS

Amanda Duthie is currently acting Head of Scripted at SBS, where she is responsible for the development and production of the prime time fiction series, short form series and the low budget feature initiative. Current productions include New Gold Mountain, The Tailings and The Unusual Suspects. She joined SBS after her role as Head of Production, Development & Attraction at South Australian Film Corporation working across TV, film and various screen initiatives. Prior to the SAFC, Amanda was Creative Director/CEO of the Adelaide Film Festival curating five major screen events as well as leading the Investment Fund slate which included multi-award winning titles such as Sweet Country, The Nightingale, Top End Wedding, 52 Tuesdays, Tender, Animals, Hotel Mumbai, She Who Must Be Loved, I am Mother, Ali’s Wedding, Girl Asleep, Spear, Fucking Adelaide as well as art and screen projects such as HIVE, installations for galleries and museums and VR/hybrid work such as Collisions. Amanda was Head of Arts & Entertainment at ABC TV delivering award winning projects across all platforms from 2008-2012.

Andy Ryan, Head of Drama, Nine Network

As co-Head of Drama for Nine since 2011, and Head of Drama since April 2020, Andy oversees the commissioning and production of the network’s drama, comedy and children’s drama output. Working across Nine’s linear and digital services, Andy commissions around 70 hours of original scripted content each year. Recent productions include Halifax: Retribution, Informer 3838, SeaChange, and five seasons of Australia’s most popular series, Doctor Doctor. Other commissions include multiple seasons of Underbelly, Love Child and House Husbands; comedy series Here Come the Habibs; and the mini-series Howzat!, House of Hancock, House of Bond, Gallipoli and Underbelly Files: Chopper. Productions for 2021 include the series Amazing Grace and Doctor Doctor season 5. For the Australian streaming platform Stan, Andy was Executive Producer of Stan’s first two drama commissions – crime thriller Wolf Creek and comedy series No Activity. Prior to joining Nine, Andy was a screenwriter and script producer for top rating dramas including McLeod's Daughters, Home & Away and All Saints, as well as and children’s animations Blinky Bill and Flipper & Lopaka.

Kyas Hepworth, Acting Head of NITV, Senior Commissioning Editor, SBS

Kyas Hepworth (nee Sherriff) is a cisgender Bundjalung woman who has spent her career in the Screen and Creative Arts space. Currently the Acting Head of NITV & Senior Commissioning Editor for Special Broadcasting Service. Kyas has a passion for storytelling in all genre’s. Kyas was recently appointed to the AIDC Board, NIDA’s Academic Board and as a Natalie Miller Fellowship Ambassador. Kyas was previously AFTRS Head of Indigenous and a member of the Executive team. Prior to this, she worked across feature films, documentaries, TV series and shorts. As an integral member of Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Kyas helped bring popular and critically acclaimed content to international screens, including TV series 8MMM, feature film The Darkside and documentary The Redfern Story. She was a development manager on Logie award-winning children’s animation series Little J and Big Cuz. She has worked with some of Australia’s most experienced and renowned Indigenous screen practitioners assisting them in getting their projects from development through to production. Kyas is focused on bringing unique and diverse stories to the screen.

Libbie Doherty, Head of Children's Production, ABC

Libbie Doherty is responsible for the Content Strategy and has oversight of 380 hours of internally produced and commissioned content across the ABC’s two dedicated children’s channels, ABCME (6–12yrs) and ABC KIDS (2–6yrs). As a member of the ABC's TV & Radio leadership team, she contributes to the ABC’s audiences, production and business strategy by building programming, across all the Children’s distribution channels. With 60+ internal creative staff in Sydney and Melbourne, as Creative Leader she nurtures teams to deliver ambitious, unique and compelling stories. Driving new partnerships and valuing long standing creative alliances, her tenure positions the ABC as a trusted partner enabling Australian content to thrive in Australia and succeed in the global marketplace.

Rick Maier, Head of Drama and Executive Production, Network 10

Rick Maier spent over 20 years writing, script editing and consulting on adult and children’s series before taking up a position at TEN firstly as Executive Producer in Development and Drama, and for the last ten years as Head of Drama. Rick's writing credits include The Young Doctors, E-Street, Prisoner, Bellamy, Big Sky, Carson's Law, The Restless Years, Neighbours, Mission: Impossible, Murder Call, Cody, G.P., Snowy River, Pirates Island, Fallen Angels, Prime Time, Secret Valley, Sweat and Police Rescue. As Head of Drama he has been responsible for The Secret She Keeps, My Life is Murder, Five Bedrooms, Playing for Keeps, Wake in Fright, Sisters, The Wrong Girl, Brock, Mary: The Making Of A Princess, Party Tricks, Secrets & Lies, Wonderland, Reef Doctors, Mr & Mrs Murder, Puberty Blues, Underground – The Julian Assange Story, Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, Offspring, Hawke, A Model Daughter - The Killing of Caroline Byrne, Rush and, of course, Neighbours. He is also the Network EP for Masterchef Australia (2012–20).

Sally Riley, Head of Scripted Production, ABC

Sally Riley is the Head of Scripted for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) where she is responsible for development and production of all Drama, Comedy, Entertainment and Indigenous programs. A proud Wiradjuri woman, Sally is a leading advocate for Indigenous perspectives, voices and stories. Sally’s previous role was the inaugural Head of ABC TV’s Indigenous Department where she pioneered ground-breaking productions such as Cleverman, Gods of Wheat Street, Black Comedy, 8MMM, The Warriors, and Redfern Now, the first series to be commissioned, written, acted and produced by Indigenous Australians. Under her leadership as Head of Scripted, Sally plays an integral role in re-shaping the slate by commissioning titles that not only champion bold Australian content but also attract international co-productions such as Mystery Road (produced by Bunya Productions and distributed by All3Media) and Total Control (produced by Blackfella Films) which recently received a premiere screening at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. This year, Sally was inducted as a new member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2020 for her outstanding contribution to the art and science of motion pictures, in recognition of her achievements and advocacy in championing diverse storytelling in Australia with an impact across the international landscape.

Todd Abbott, Head of Comedy, ABC

Todd Abbott was appointed the ABC’s Head of Comedy in July this year. He leads the commissioning and creative execution of the public broadcaster’s catalogue of narrative and scripted comedy programs across multiple platforms. He has produced landmark television programs including the iconic comedy series The Dream with Roy & H.G. and the globally-lauded ABC series Please Like Me with Josh Thomas. Other career highlights include reimagining Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals for Seven, rebooting Rove for Ten in 2007 and producing Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey for the ABC and the short-lived but fondly remembered Micallef Tonight for Nine. Abbott has produced not only comedy and entertainment, but also sport, current affairs and documentary content for the ABC, Seven, Nine, Ten, Foxtel, Stan, Amazon Prime and Pivot. Prior to joining the ABC he was Creative Director at Guesswork Television, where he produced and developed scripted and non-scripted programs built around comedians; and worked with teams on shows including Rosehaven, Frayed and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering. For Guesswork he also produced the Stan Original Australian Lockdown Comedy Festival, featuring 25 stand-up comedians filmed, directed and edited remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a series of one-hour comedy specials for comedians including Celia Pacquola, Judith Lucy, Lano & Woodley, Tom Walker and Dilruk Jayasinha for international release on Amazon Prime Video.


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