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By the powers of theatre and film combined, this is Dungog Film Festival and Sydney Theatre’s In the Raw. Here’s a hero that’s about to take unproduced film scripts down to zero. We chat with Dungog Film Festival Director Allanah Zitserman to find out more.

Why are programs like In the Raw important for new filmmakers? In The Raw is an exciting opportunity for filmmakers as it enables them to road test their screenplay before heading into production. The program helps screenwriters gain a new perspective and objectivity of their projects with the help of talented actors who bring their ideas and characters to life.

How has the program helped previous filmmakers? DFF has received excellent feedback and seen much success from filmmakers involved. Writer/director Pauline Chan, whose screenplay Mei Mei took part in the program’s inaugural year and whose feature film is now in post-production is an example. She believes that DFF’s program was significant in developing her script and attracting a team that includes film stars Guy Pearce and Claudia Karvan.

Is it possible to portray a film to its full potential on stage? Many people refer to scripts as “blueprints” – the plans for the finished film, with the production process compared to that of contracting and construction. These blueprints have no reason for existence except in the creation of buildings or films but getting them right is fundamental to the success of the final work. In The Raw gives a script the 3D treatment so that a film can be visualised better and allow public (the intended end-user) to comment and help refine its design.

It is nice to see this collaboration between a film festival and theatre company. Are there many similarities in the production of a film and a play? The production of a film and play do differ but not vastly.  Each is concerned with bringing the written word to life.  Each must work with the actors, designers, lighting directors, sound designers, marketing companies and so on. Both need a lot of time and planning, logistics, budgeting.

Can you give us a sneak peek into this year’s first live reading of Sleepwalker? Matt Wheeldon’s brilliant feature screenplay Sleepwalker was nominated for the Monte Miller AWGIE Award in 2010. This psychological thriller examines the torments of a troubled young woman, keen to move on from past mistakes but finds life almost impossible when a sleepwalking problem returns with a vengeance.

It’s stated that In the Raw will be a bi-monthly event. Is a script only read once? Yes, generally a script reading is performed only once, though some producers do go on to do another if there are significant changes to the script that they want to test again. So much can be learnt in a reading, it’s such a worthwhile investment, but most often there isn’t the budget or time to do them, which is why we started In The Raw, to help create better scripts.

How and when can filmmakers submit their scripts? Submissions are now open. Television pilots and feature scripts can be submitted at any time. The deadline is revolving, as the program is now bi-monthly so we are constantly looking for unproduced feature screenplays or television pilots. Don’t forget to fill in the entry form on our site. We can’t wait to read the work of talented Aussie writers.

Feb 7, Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay, Free, 9250 1999, sydneytheatre.org.au, dungogfilmfestival.org

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