A transformative 6-week coaching progra
The first in-take will commence in April 2023 and is by invitation only
These days the most successful dark genre projects are often the most original too. It’s necessary to be aware of the marketplace's needs, while also making sure to honour your own unique voice and style . Whether you’re emerging or more established, whether working in short films, TV or feature films, strategic thinking will help your project stand out from the crowd. Referencing current films and case studies and examples from their horror anthology Dark Whispers - Volume 1, filmmakers Briony Kidd (The Room at the Top of the Stairs and founder of Stranger With My Face International Film Festival) and Megan Riakos (Crushed, Deadhouse Dark and founder of Hemlock & Cedar Films) will explore ways to develop, articulate and then deliver fresh and provocative content within this competitive genre.
This two-hour workshop will investigate various stages of concept development, from the first spark of an idea through to attracting audiences. It is suitable for writers, directors and producers.
The two key areas to be covered are:
To first settle on a concept, it is important to understand your aims for release. Even more important though is to deeply understand what it is that you want to communicate. As the adage goes, a genre story should be “the same but different”. So what are you saying that no one else can or would? Or perhaps the uniqueness will be all in the execution. Your point of difference could be aesthetic or even technical. The crucial thing is to know how you plan to grab an audience’s attention (remembering that collaborators and investors are your first audience). How will you push the boundaries of your chosen genre or subgenre, to approach it in an unexpected or idiosyncratic way? What influences will inform the work, and how? And what kind of development process will work best for you and your project, to ensure that you don't lose your way? It's about being very intentional at every stage. Yes, you need to know about things like festival strategy and marketplaces requirements. But you never want to feel that these considerations are restricting your imagination. Under the right circumstances, limitations are great drivers of creativity. This part of the workshop is about setting up those circumstances.
Delivering and releasing
Once your script is ready, the focus then becomes maintaining the integrity of your concept as you move into production... and beyond. How do you clearly communicate your vision with your cast, crew and stakeholders, while also creating a collaborative space within which to achieve it? Later, how can you champion this concept in the marketing and distribution phase, to ensure that your story has the best shot of reaching the intended audience? Discussion here will include tools such as references, shot lists and mood boards. There will also be some points around navigating obstacles and opportunities that may change the originally intended pathway, including how your poster and other marketing materials can work with (or against) your release strategy.
Participants are required to watch the anthology feature film Dark Whispers - Volume 1 in preparation for this workshop. The film is available to watch online for free using your Tasmanian Libraries card or rent it for $1.99 via iTunes.
The session will include workshopping of ideas from the participants. Those who have a project in development should have a logline ready to enable easier discussion of your idea (note: for those who wish to share only, this is not obligatory).
Then stay on for an informal networking opportunity with fellow dark genre filmmakers afterwards. Meet your next collaborators! Drinks available onsite from the cash bar.
Event details & tickets
WORKSHOP: Distilling darkness: developing and selling your uniquely compelling genre project
DATE: 8 December 2022
TIME: 6 pm - 8 pm, followed by drinks at the bar
PRESENTERS: Briony Kidd and Megan Riakos
LOCATION: Artgym, 37 Barrack Street, Hobart, Tasmania
$25 AWG / ADG / WIFT / Wide Angle Tas / Screen Vixens
$18 student / concession
BOOKINGS: Click on a button below to book with Visa or Mastercard or get in touch for other payment options.
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Terms & conditions
You will receive confirmation from the payment platform as soon as you book, followed by a ticket/tax receipt in a separate email. Please note this second email is not automated, so be patient. It will arrive within the same day.
tickets are not refundable unless the event is cancelled - or otherwise at the organisers' discretion.
If you are not able to attend you are welcome to transfer your ticket to a friend but please advise the organisers of the change ASAP as the event will be somewhat tailored to the registered participants.
By booking for this event you will be added to the Hemlock & Cedar Films & Stranger With My Face International Film Festival mailing lists to receive updates about this and other events that may be of interest to you. Opt out at any time.
For all inquires email us.
Megan Riakos bio
Megan Riakos is a dynamic filmmaker bringing a distinctive female lens to the world of genre filmmaking. Her debut feature as writer/director/producer of the thriller Crushed received strong reviews with The Australian calling it “a tense, bloody mystery thriller” and Dread Central noting its “beautiful cinematography and some exceptional performances”. Crushed completed a successful festival run, a strong limited theatrical release in Australia and acquisitions by Channel 10 and Qantas.
Megan’s sophomore feature was Australia’s first all-female horror anthology Dark Whispers - Volume 1. Megan combined forces with ten other women directors as creator and producer, while also writing and directing the wrap-around segment. Dark Whispers was selected for Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Cinefest Oz Film Festival and MonsterFest and is now available on streaming services. Bringing with it a formidable feminine vibe to the horror anthology genre, it has been hailed by Killer Horror Critic as “A shining example of horror anthology film done right…” and Screen Hub calling it “bursting with ideas and energetic visual approaches”.
More recently, Megan wrote and directed an episode of the horror anthology Deadhouse Dark produced by Enzo Tedeschi. The series of six short episodes premiered at Canneseries and was picked up as a Shudder Original. She was nominated for an Australian Directors’ Guild Award for her episode, "No Pain No Gain.".
Megan’s screenplays have also garnered acclaim. Her mystery period feature The Last Reprieve was awarded the Grand Prize in the Greater Philadelphia SIP Screenplay competition. Her political drama Victory and Defeat made the semi-finals in the Final Draft Big Break Competition and was shortlisted for the Nate Wilson Award at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Megan earned her BA Communication (Media Arts & Production) at University of Technology, Sydney, and a Graduate Diploma in Directing from the prestigious Australian Film Television and Radio School. She also completed the Professional Screenwriters Program at UCLA.
Megan compliments her creative output with her work in advocacy, including as the co-founder of Women in Film & Television (WIFT) Australia. She merges these two fields via her company Hemlock & Cedar Films, which focuses on amplifying female voices.
Sign up to the Hemlock & Cedar Films mailing list here to keep in touch with Megan's projects.
Briony Kidd bio
Briony Kidd grew up in Tasmania and is a graduate of VCA School of Film & Television. Her short gothic melodrama The Room at the Top of the Stairs screened internationally and was licensed by Shudder. Her short thriller Watch Me (written by Claire d'Este) is part of Dark Whispers - Volume 1 (Briony was associate producer and contributed to the curation process).
Briony also works in theatre, beginning with plays for Melbourne Fringe and Short and Sweet, before writing and directing her first full-length play, Death By Television, for Tasmanian Theatre Company's Associate Artists Program in 2011. More recently, she was director of three experimental horror radio plays produced for Dark Mofo in 2016 and 2017, working as part of the Radio Gothic collective, including one which she also wrote, Episode 1 - The Pit. Consisting of Briony, sound designer/composer Heath Brown, playwright Alison Mann and playwright/actor Carrie McLean, Radio Gothic is an ongoing exploration of sound-based processes for theatre-making, including foley, live looping and other story-specific techniques.
With feature film projects that have been funded for development by Screen Australia, Screen Tasmania and VicScreen, Briony is developing a diverse slate of projects with a focus on horror, thriller, black comedy and melodrama (all the more intense genres!), including the post-apocalyptic psycho-biddy thriller The Motel at the End of the World (working with producer Catherine Pettman) and Daughters of the Everlasting Lustre, a hallucinogenic giallo-style slasher film.
Also a screenwriting teacher, script editor and consultant and creativity coach, Briony has a particular interest in providing opportunities for writers to receive critical feedback and support, and enjoys helping them interrogate their processes, strengthen their ideas and connect to industry and peers. She is also passionate about championing newcomers and marginalised filmmakers. Briony was the co-founder and director of Stranger With My Face International Film Festival (2012-2017), a celebration of underrepresented perspectives in horror and adjacent genres. The influential event was named one of the world’s 15 best genre fests. The festival proper is on hiatus but the brand continues as a platform for promoting and supporting filmmakers and developing projects, and hopefully the event itself will return when the time is right.
Briony also has a strong interest in film-based activism and advocacy and was also a founding board member of Women in Film & Television (WIFT) Australia. She is also a member of the organising council of the Tasmanian Filmmakers Alliance (TaFA).
Sign up to Briony's mailing list here.