AACTA Development Initiatives

2023 AACTA Pitch: Focus

AACTA Pitch: Focus in partnership with Sony is a national short film development and production initiative. Now in its third year, Focus challenges student filmmakers to form teams and pitch an original production to be assessed by a panel of esteemed industry judges. The initiative offers emerging creatives an opportunity to be mentored throughout the development and production process, and is a great way to break into the industry and build a supportive network.

Teams can be made up of directors, writers, producers, editors, and/or cinematographers with at least one member of the team actively pursuing studies in film or screen. Teams are asked to submit their creative ideas for a short fiction film (4 – 10 minutes). The top five teams will be provided with state-of-the-art Sony equipment kit on loan (valued at over $2,500) to shoot a short proof of concept.

This year’s recipients will receive $15,000 in production funds toward their short film, a loan of Sony equipment kit (valued at over $20,000) to shoot their short film which will be featured in the Sony Catchlight Film Festival and receive complimentary AACTA Award consideration, invaluable feedback and guidance throughout the production process, ongoing mentoring opportunities, complimentary professional AACTA memberships and tickets to the 2024 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Group.

Projects that demonstrate the following are likely to be the most successful:

  • New, creative and unique ways to engage audiences;
  • Strong characters that resonate with audiences;
  • Ideas that bend genres and break new ground.

Round one calls for a 3-minute video pitch outlining the short film idea. A longlist of 10 projects will be determined by a judging panel of leading short film industry figures and representatives of Sony and AACTA who will be required to submit additional materials supporting their project. A shortlist of 5 projects will be determined by the judging panel and the five finalist teams will be provided Sony equipment and given two weeks to shoot a proof of concept short. The teams will be invited to present their films in front of the judging panel and industry experts.

AACTA encourages teams comprised of new, emerging, and student content creators to enter, particularly those from diverse and under-represented backgrounds. Entry is $50 for teams that have at least one AACTA member and $90 for teams comprised of non-members. AACTA recently introduced a youth membership for people under 25. For $25, youth members can view and vote on the AACTA Awards, access to AACTA TV (our exclusive member streaming service), invitations to our year-round programming, with industry events showcasing some of Australia’s incredible talent, screen community networking opportunities, and discounted entry to AACTA’s development initiatives, aimed at discovering and supporting emerging screen talent. For more information on AACTA membership, click here.

Initial entry requirements include:

  • Title and logline
  • 500 word synopsis
  • three minute pitch video, and
  • résumé of the team.

Round one entries close 9am AEST Monday, 14th August 2023. 

The 2023 Judging Panel will be announced soon.


July 17 – Call for Entries Opens (Round 1)

Entrants are asked to submit a Title, Logline, three minute video pitch, 500 word synopsis, and resumes of the team members.

August 14 – Round 1 Entries Close

Entries are due by 9am AEST, Monday August 14 2023.

August 18 – Longlist of Top 10 Confirmed & Start of Round 2

The Top 10 teams are asked to submit a pitch deck, first ten pages of a screenplay and budget.

September 8 – Round 2 Materials Submissions Closes

Submissions are due by 09am AEST, Friday September 8, 2023.

September 15 – Top 5 Finalists Confirmed

The top five teams will be provided Sony gear on loan to shoot a proof of concept.

w/c September 18 – One on One Meetings with Judges

The judges will provide advice on finalists’ project/POC shoot. 

w/c September 25 (TBC) – Top 5 Finalists Announced at Sony’s Catchlight Film Festival

Top 5 finalists will be announced at Sony’s Catchlight Film Festival.

October 13 – Proof of Concepts to be Delivered

October 20 – Final Pitch to Judges, and Recipient Confirmed. 

Late October –Winner Announced

Finalist’s proof of concepts are screened as part of Sony’s Scene Festival, and winner is announced.


Bye Bye Buddy – Emily Goddard (VCA), Haley Alea

When a brilliant country vet gets fired for having too much empathy, she sets up an at-home euthanasia service for pets, only to discover the real need for assisted dying is with their owners.

Fantasy – Lotte Sweeney (VCA), Isadora Sweeney, Riley Scott, Lucinda Corin, Maiah Stewardson

Fantasy is a short, surreal comedy about a disabled, love-sick teenager who must navigate a tense relationship with her mother, and her own vivid imagination if she ever wants to find real love. 

The Long F*cking Road – Vidhi Vira (Collarts), Alicia Sutcliffe (Collarts), Ruby Taylor (Collarts)

In an attempt to reconnect, Frankie, an angry 26 year old drives her younger sister Poppy to their father’s wedding, where she must let go of her defences before it's too late.

Skin Deep – Angie Kilsby (VCA), India Stanley, India Williams, Gracie Dephoff

A single mother who is trying to get back into the dating game fears she is 'ageing badly' and goes to extreme measures to improve her appearance, with unexpected consequences.

With Love, Lottie – Lily Drummond (Flinders University), Jeremy Lowrencev

When a disabled teenager fears she will never find love, she enlists her friends to become her mentors in the unpredictable world of dating and discovers that love can come in unexpected ways and different forms.




Riley Sugars is a Melbourne based filmmaker, who has recently had success with his short film Hatchback (2022) in which he served as Director, Lead Producer and Co Writer. The film was accepted to over 20 Australian and International festivals, winning multiple awards and culminating in an AACTA Nomination for Best Short Film in 2022. He worked on the Sundance Award Winning feature film Shayda (2023), Location Managed the feature film Wog Boys Forever (2022) and recently produced the upcoming 4 part comedy mini series Til You Make It. Riley has just Produced feature film Lenore mid this year, which shall be released sometime in 2024. 




Nicholas Colla is a producer and director of film, television & digital content.

Through his production company LateNite, Nick is committed to investing in emerging creatives with strong, unique voices, helping them tell their stories in a creatively supportive and collaborative environment.

Nick’s producing credits include the fantasy comedy series The Wizards of Aus featuring Guy Pearce (SBS2), children’s adventure comedy The Legend of Burnout Barry (ABC) and the AACTA nominated short Rebooted, which featured in competition at festivals including Clermont-Ferrand, Annecy and Austin. Nick’s latest project, the animated comedy series The Future of Everything, is set to premiere at both Adelaide and Austin Film Festivals later in the year. Nick’s first foray into features was with the indie romcom Hannah and the Hasbian which screened in competition at Frameline Film Festival, the oldest and largest queer film festival in the world.

As a director, Nick has directed the much adored Australian soap Neighbours (Fremantle Media) and music videos for some of Australia’s biggest artists including Peking Duk (ADG award nominated), Cosmo’s Midnight and Vera Blue. His short film Palindromes screened in competition at festivals including Flickerfest & Palm Springs and was sold to ABC iView, Virgin Australia and the RTI Network in Italy.

His work uses humour to explore stories that are unmistakably human and straddle the line between light and dark. Nick’s ambition is to tell illuminating narratives that are funny, deeply affecting and keep you up at night.




Luisa Martiri is an award-winning director and producer dedicated to creating exciting and thought-provoking cinema that centres diverse, female stories. In 2021, her short film ‘The Moths Will Eat Them Up’, which was funded by Screen Queensland as part of their RIDE initiative and executive produced by Unless Pictures, garnered critical acclaim, earning nominations and awards at esteemed festivals. It won the Oscar-qualifying Dendy Award for Best Live Action Australian Short Film and the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director at the Sydney Film Festival 2022; received multiple nominations at St Kilda Film Festival 2022 and won Runner-Up Best Australian Short Film at Gold Coast Film Festival 2023. Additionally, it was nominated for the 2022 AACTA Award for Best Short Film. Prior to this, Luisa produced and directed her debut short film, Milk (2018), and her sophomore short film, Pools (2021), alongside her frequent collaborator, screenwriter Alex Philp. Pools was an official selection at Flickerfest International Short Film Festival 2021; Cinefest Oz 2021; Show Me Shorts New Zealand 2021 and Melbourne Women in Film Festival 2023. In 2022, she was selected for the QLD edition of AFTRS Talent Camp.




Lyn Norfor is Director of Production and Technology at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. Previously she was Head of Producing and Production, AFTRS. Lyn was closely involved in the COVIDSafe Industry Taskforce responsible for developing the COVIDSafe Production Protocols for the screen industry at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Lyn is an experienced producer and co-founder of Emerald Productions. She has produced and executive produced a number of feature films that showcase bold new voices and talent including ALI’S WEDDING (writer Osamah Sami, director Jeffrey Walker), UNDERTOW (writer/director Miranda Nation), HOT MESS (writer/director Lucy Coleman), HERE OUT WEST an anthology film that opened the Sydney Film Festival in 2021 (writers Nisrine Amine, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Arkas das, Dee Drogan, Vonne Patiag and Tien Tran; directors Fadia Abboud, Lucy Gaffy, Julie Kalceff, Ana Kokinos, Leah Purcell).




Vonne Patiag is a multiple AACTA, AWGIE, Logie and SPA Award-nominated Writer, Director, Producer and Actor based in Western Sydney. His recent credits include writing and associate producing the 4-part series ‘The Unusual Suspects’ for SBS, the feature anthology film ‘Here Out West’ released theatrically in early 2022, writing on ‘Significant Others’, a 6-part drama for ABC and showrunning and directing the online series ‘Halal Gurls’ for ABC. He is co-founder of In-Between Pictures, a production company with a focus on QPOC stories, with several long-form projects in development, including the feature ‘Tomgirl’, based on the 2018 short that premiered on SBS. Most recently, his short film ‘Too Many Ethnics’ had its World Premiere at Flickerfest 2023.


  • Entries & Materials Deadline Monday 14 August 9am AEST
  • Rules & Supporting Documents Terms & Conditions
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