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Meet the Victorian Screen Development Internships alumni

Features  28 Apr 2022

Alumni from left to right: Nikki TranAP PobjoyRavi Chand and Davey Thompson.

 

FROM APPLICATION TIPS TO MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR INTERNSHIP, MEET THE ALUMNI MAKING CAREER MOVES WITH THE SUPPORT OF VICSCREEN. 

 

When it comes to finding your path in the screen industry, our Skills Development programs are here to support you. That’s why this year, we’ve partnered with Paramount Australia and New ZealandBlackfella Films, and Fremantle Australia to assist diverse creatives get a leg up with our Victorian Screen Development Internships

The two internships—both paid and taking place over a span of 12-months—are designed to overcome traditional barriers to entering the screen industry, allowing you to explore opportunities that will be advantageous to your career.

Catching up with program alumni AP PobjoyNikki TranDavey Thompson and Ravi Chand, we spoke with the four rising stars about their experiences working in the industry, their accelerated career growth, and helpful advice for creators keen on applying. 

 

HEY! FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED TO KNOW: WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO APPLY FOR THE VICTORIAN SCREEN DEVELOPMENT INTERNSHIPS?

Nikki: For me, it was the chance to understand the industry from the inside. I didn't quite 100% know how shows got up and were developed or commissioned. The internship was great because it gave me a perspective of what a commissioner looks for in content in the ABC, as well as production companies and VicScreen. That was really attractive to me. 

Davey: I had been working in theatre for my whole career at that point, but I was really looking for a change in my life. I've always wanted to work in the screen sector and this opportunity popped up. Like Nikki, I saw it was a really great opportunity to get a diverse range of experiences across different avenues. I just took that chance and ran with it.

AP: I'm definitely on the same page as Davey and Nikki about trying to learn different processes from the inside out. I wanted to know more about production companies, broadcast and funding, with the length and depth of the internship appealing to me too. I believe that development is often the first place that you can make change in the screen industry and I wanted to be part of that. 

Ravi: I wanted to apply because I had been trying to find my place in the industry for a long time. The difficult part for me, particularly as someone that hasn't gone to film school, was that I didn’t get opportunities growing up. It was really about trying to understand the industry, but not only that—I wanted to meet the right people to be able to make change and better share stories of underrepresented groups. In order to do that, I needed to really get onto the inside of it, and I was lucky enough to come through Talent Camp and met a few of the VicScreen staff.

 

LOOKING BACK AT YOUR APPLICATION AND INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY AND HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CAREER?

Nikki: When I first applied, I kept saying that I didn't know what I didn't know. Throughout the internship, I realised that development is the first point of which you can create change in the industry. I also developed an extra skillset in facilitating projects in development, which I think I've always been doing naturally through writing, creating, and producing projects of my own or with the people I know. It was nice to be able to have that extra skillset and put projects together, piecing all the different funding, schedules, and elements.

Davey: When I applied, my expectation of moving up in this industry was to start right at the bottom—working really hard for years and years and years. That was what I was ready to do, but it was through this internship that I discovered that I have a skillset for development, and that's where I really thrived. That opened the door for me to pursue a career in this sector through that avenue. I was really surprised and amazed to just be able to walk away and know that I've got other ways to get to where I want to be.

AP: Yeah, I actually had a look back at my application that I wrote maybe a year or so ago the other day. I had some goals outlined in there that I don't think really shifted throughout the internship at all. I mean, I was pretty keen on working in development management, working with writers, that sort of thing. I think it just affirmed those things that I already knew I wanted. Not to say that it wasn't surprising, or didn't give me a new perspective, but it was a big affirmation for me.

Ravi: The mindset I had was: I'd be coming in to learn a lot of things that were very practical and hands-on. But what I really did not expect was just the level of support that has come through from VicScreen staff and the level of mentorship. VicScreen helped me to find strength in the way that I articulate my voice, as well more confidence to be able to do that. That was something that I did not expect to come in such a way, as it organically happened and wasn't something that was forced. My journey still hasn't finished, but for me, I could not have asked anything more from VicScreen. 

 

THERE’S THREE DIFFERENT STAGES WITHIN THE INTERNSHIP. WAS THERE A KEY MOMENT WHERE YOU SAW RESULTS FROM WORKING ON YOUR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT? 

AP: I feel like even after the internship, I'm still learning. But towards the end of the internship when I was at the ABC, I got offered my job at Aquarius Films. I think that was a bit of a moment for me where I was like, "Oh, hold on. I now have a skillset and I can go on." I think that was a bit of a moment for me, which happened at the end of the internship.

Davey: I had lots of “Aha!” moments really, especially with production companies and seeing what my knowledge and skills could do within the company. While it was really affirming to know that I could do that as a professional, I think the biggest moment for me was working in the development team at VicScreen. I remember I did my first script report and got a lot of praise for it, being called a natural. That was the biggest one for me.

Nikki: I'm constantly always going, "What am I doing? Is this what I want to do?" This is because I always felt I had two different trajectories because I always wanted to write and produce at the same time. With the internship being in development, it felt like I had found the nexus between creating and producing. A few years on, I now work at Fremantle Australia as the Development Coordinator, where I sit in writer's rooms, write my own scripts, and sit in on production meetings. Throughout my whole internship, it really helped me solidify what my goals are for my career—which is both to write and produce—and I don't have to give up either.

Ravi: Prior to the internship, I felt I was putting my work out into the abyss. But now being on the other side of it, I can clearly see the thinking, the process, the protocols, and how everything is going into place. During the internship, you do absorb so much—not only the way the applications are put together but the way that they're written. That had an immediate impact on the way that I write, the way that I develop, and now the way that I run story room. And of course, the way that I do an application once I finished the internship.

 

"IF YOU WANT TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CHANGE, THIS IS ONE OF THE AVENUES THAT YOU CAN REALLY GET IN THERE AND HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD." — RAVI CHAND

 

YEAH, WHEN IT COMES TO THE APPLICATION PROCESS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE LOOKING TO APPLY?

Nikki: I was very specific in what I wanted to learn from each of the hosts, but also honest about what I didn't know. I highlighted the gaps in my learning, so it was clear what I would get out of this journey. That being said, if you have applied in past years and are considering applying again: do it, keep applying.

Ravi: Jumping off that, I didn’t get this opportunity the first time I applied. Even though I was really disheartened, the person on the other end was so encouraging and gave me genuine feedback. In terms of advice, be specific in what you want to learn. I really mapped that out and in the second year, got in.

Davey: I was very much on a similar page, but I had less of an idea really of what I needed to learn and I was so nervous. I felt like I was under-experienced. My career was theatre. I wasn't in with a shot, but really, it's an interview for an internship. They want to know where you want to go. They want to know how your brain works and the impact that you want to have. So really, if there's any advice I could've given myself back then, it's just to take a breath and sell yourself. Don't treat it like a job interview, but rather a conversation. They just want to know you. 

AP: For written stuff: take a highlighter, go through the questions, and make sure you're answering them correctly. Like Nikki said, be really, really specific. I think in my application I had: this is the first host and this is what I would want to do here. Aside from that, just have a voice. These people want to know who you are, like what Davey said. You want to fill people with excitement to have you involved. Be open and honest, and most of all, yourself.

 

TOTALLY. WHAT'S THE MOST PRECIOUS THING THAT YOU CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR INTERNSHIP? 

Ravi: What you can actually offer is far greater than what you realise. Through this process, I've been able to express that more. 

AP: I think I'm the same as Ravi. I used to think nobody wanted to listen to what I had to say, but that wasn’t true. You go into these meetings and you're in these big production companies—and things are a little bit scary at first—but people want to hear from you. 

Nikki: Yeah, for me it's confidence in my own creative ability. I came into the internship thinking all these people with jobs in the industry were more creative and their opinion mattered more than mine. But throughout the course of the internship, I realised I have a voice and my creative opinion matters.

Davey: I can't honestly say it better than what these mob already have. It's just knowing that actually, I do have a voice and that it matters and it can change things. That's incredibly precious to me.

 

LOOKING BACK TO YOUR EXPERIENCES, WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES DID THE INTERNSHIP OPEN UP FOR YOU AND WHY SHOULD PEOPLE APPLY?

Nikki: I had projects that I knew I wanted to work on after the internship was over. But towards the end of our internships, VicScreen was really good at introducing us to a whole bunch of different production companies and people that we wanted to speak to. My opportunity fell in my lap because Chris Oliver-Taylor at the time was the CEO of Fremantle. We had a chat because he's on the VicScreen board after my internship was over. My work opportunity came after that, thanks to meeting different people and having different conversations during my experience.

Davey: Yeah, on the way out for my internship, VicScreen was really great at introducing me to other people I wanted to meet. I made a lot of noise that I was leaving and finishing up my internship, and as a result applied to work at Screen Australia with the same rambunctiousness that I was approaching other people with and became a Development Associate there. I now work at VicScreen as a Production Executive, First People’s Lead. It was the internship experience and my time in development that led me there, so definitely take advantage of meeting as many people as you can and apply.

AP: As I was working through the ABC portion of my internship, Aquarius Films found me and contacted me directly. I agree, you need to make a lot of noise that you're leaving. You've got this banner over your head for a year, your face will be across things, and people watch. I think that's a very great affirmation. 

Ravi: This internship is a really rare opportunity. I've now got projects that I've been developing, including a documentary and TV show for ABC (as (Warrior Tribe Films). Just by talking to VicScreen staff, I cannot express how supportive they've been in wanting me to succeed. I just also wanted to say that a lot of times from underrepresented groups, we haven't seen our stories or we haven't seen ourselves represented on screen in the right manner. The conversation to me is, "We don't want just to be seen on screen, we actually want it to be meaningful." If you want to make meaningful change, this is one of the avenues that you can really get in there and have your voice heard. People actually put systems in place to make that change happen. So if you want change in the industry, then this is the way to go through. Apply and make the most of it.

 

Applications for the Victorian Screen Development Internships are now open and close Monday 2 May 2022. To find out more, read the press release here or visit VicScreen's Skills Development page.