Finding A Voice

Dan Prichard tells FILMINK about his writing program Fresh Ink and how it inspired a film which will premiere online in February 2012.

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Dan Prichard, head of the Australian Theatre for Young People's writing program, Fresh Ink, says the program was designed to set up and develop new playwrights and "nurture their writing skills."

The program pairs aspiring young playwrights with experienced mentors, who are often highly-regarded Australian writers. Fresh Ink allows young people to understand what it is to have a career as a writer.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for an emerging writer," Prichard tells FILMINK. "These writers are the future storytellers of our culture.

"I think it's crucial that young writers have access to experienced practitioners so that they can get a real insight into what they are letting themselves in for - the highs and the lows.

"Equally, a program that is quite rigorous and structured can really push them as writers and develop the self-discipline that's needed to write professionally," Prichard says.

Prichard, who has worked in an art house cinema group in the UK, for the Cambridge Film Festival and as an arts project manager in Singapore, says the project began as monologues created for HSC students.

"The Australian Theatre for Young People developed a program which aimed to produce performance pieces for young actors/directors to work with for the HSC, all of which were written by emerging playwrights between 18 and 26," Prichard says.

"Each year we select a theme and, over a week, 18 young writers work with leading playwrights to develop a monologue around that theme, 7 to 8 minutes in length, intended for a performer in the 16-26 year age range.

"The monologues that emerged were so strong that we were looking for a way to extend the audience for them, while also to encourage young people to start writing, performing, directing and making both theatre and film."

Following the incredibly high standard of the writing of the monologues, produced by the aspiring playwrights, Prichard thought the next step would be to transform them into a film - which has become known as The Voices Project - but he first needed a director.

"I immediately thought of Damien Power," Prichard says. "I'd seen, and had been really impressed with, his short Peek-A-Boo. We met and he was very interested in the project and when he'd read all of the existing monologues, he proposed shooting two of the scripts, which he felt best lent themselves to the process of adaptation."

Power has teamed with writers, Jessica Bellamy and Joanna Erskine, to deliver "powerful pieces, with two unforgettable lead characters," Prichard says.

Prichard says the aim of the project was to have people "watch the films. But, also, we want the films to be the starting point for the audiences' own creative journeys."

The Voices Project has continued to evolve and Prichard hopes the project will gradually involve more and more people.

Prichard is currently preparing to call on young writers for Fresh Ink's 2012 program. 
 

Power will begin shooting the film in December.

For more information on The Voices Project, head here.

Photo credit: the cast of The Voices Project  trailer. (C) atyp.

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