A Progress Report from Alison Plasto on her Director Pathways experience.

I first heard of Screenworks when the call for applicants for The Athena Project went out across Australia in late 2016. A shooting director in factual, my sights were firmly reset on drama.
There’s no easy pathway to directing series drama in Australia but with Screenworks and Create NSW’s support, I am finding my feet. In 2017, I assistant directed and completed a Director’s Attachment on the feature The Merger with Mark Grentell. The experience of setting and filming a story regionally was invaluable and led to shadowing on Wentworth with Fiona Banks in 2018.
In 2019, along with Clare Sladden, I was selected for the Screenworks Director Pathways program which is offered in partnership with the Australian Directors Guild. What a difference it has made this year.  They helped line up Kevin Carlin as a mentor, who I am shadowing on SeaChange.
Mentoring Advice: When you’re ready for a mentor, choose someone who is educational as well as visionary. That way, even on the most difficult of days, you’ll keep learning and can laugh about it later!
There are no guarantees in the screen industry and to progress (and survive!) you need another string to your bow. For me, it’s shooting and producing in factual and media. The writers, producers and directors I have met through Screenworks have nurtured the ups and downs of this industry. I make every effort to keep these connections alive so we hear these important regional voices.
There’s still a long way to go to directing series drama full-time but I’m on the way thanks to Screenworks. My goal this year is to direct a full episode of multicam television via the ADG’s drama placement program. With the dual focus of developing our own series and directing television drama together with the team and members at Screenworks, I know I’ll get there.
The latest Directing opportunity from Screenworks is the 2-day Directing Intensive with Kriv Stenders August 24& 25th in Byron Bay…more 
You can explore Alison’s work at

Directors Selected for Screenworks 2019 Director Pathways Program

Alison Plasto from Albury, Southern NSW

A Shooting Director based on the NSW and Victorian border, Alison is passionate about giving rural and regional Australians a voice, especially those who have lost their voice. Last year Alison completed a Director’s attachment on the feature The Merger and this year shadowed on the Wentworth TV series.
Alison is currently developing a drama series with co-creators Georgina Jenkins and Sue McPherson and will use the Director Pathways opportunity to direct her first TV drama episode through the ADG’s TV Drama Shadow Directing Program. When she’s not behind a camera, you’ll find Alison in the mountains … usually with some skis on. Pride Out West is Alison’s fifth broadcast film.

Clare Sladden from Broken Head, Northern Rivers NSW

Clare is an award winning writer/director with a passion for thematically resonant, female-driven stories. Her first feature-length screenplay, Always the Dressmaker, was a finalist in the prestigious Cinestory Fellowship in 2014, and since then she’s won and placed in various international screenwriting competitions, and her short films have won awards, and screened at Academy-accredited film festivals. 

Clare’s screenplay, Broken Head, won the inaugural Byron Bay Film Festival International Screenplay Competition, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowship; her debut short film, Consent, which she wrote, directed & produced, has screened nationally and internationally; and most recently, Clare was nominated for an AWGIE for her writing on Freudian Slip, her web series which has over 50K+ views, which she wrote, directed & produced.


Screenworks Director Pathways Program is a professional development program, delivered in partnership with the Australian Directors Guild (ADG) and with the support of Create NSW. The program provides bespoke career development opportunities to two emerging and early-career directors living in regional NSW.

It is designed to increase the participating directors’ skills and industry experience by supporting a tailor-made career plan and providing relevant screen industry introductions, that will ultimately assist the participating directors to build viable and successful careers. Screenworks will invest $3,500 in implementing each of the selected participants’ career plans.

The program is open to directors of all genres, including (but not limited to) TV drama, documentary and children’s television. This program would best suit early-career directors who are genuinely committed to building their skills as a professional director and need support and opportunities to further their career. Through this program, as participants enhance their directing skills they contribute to the growth of the screen industry in regional NSW.



Two directors will undertake the following program:


As part of the application process, applicants are required to submit a draft career plan with proposed activities to the value of $3,500 (excluding GST). Career plans may be made up of any combination of the following (or other relevant career enhancement opportunities):

  • Professional development training and courses
  • Attachment or mentorships with a recognised director
  • Preparation of director’s notes and relevant documents to support funding applications for the project.


Successful participants will be required to deliver a written report to Screenworks on their involvement in the Director Pathways Program and to present to local Screenworks members about the outcomes from their involvement in the program (at the completion of the program).


Screenworks, the Australian Directors Guild and a panel of professional screen directors will be involved in the assessment process to select the two early-career directors to take part in the project.

Once the two directors have been selected, Create NSW, Screenworks, the Australian Directors Guild and a professional director will review, refine and approve the selected participants’ career plan.


To be eligible for Screenworks Director Pathways Program you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  1. A screen industry director that has achieved Initial Success* in the industry. (* refer to the definition below)
  2. Demonstrate that you have been living in Regional NSW * for a minimum period of 12 months prior to submitting your application. (* refer to definitions below)
  3. Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  4. Be a Screenworks member
  5. Complete all sections of the application form and submit the application prior to midnight Sunday November 25th 2018.


1. A  completed online application form that includes:

  • An outline of your achievements as a director, as well as your creative and career goals for the next three years; and
  • A career plan that outlines the barriers you face in achieving your career goals and potential ways of overcoming the barriers for example, consider potential mentors, attendance at conferences/markets to help overcome the difficulty of access to highly experienced professionals and making industry connections.
  • The career plan should identify your proposed activities up to the value of $3,500 (excluding GST).

2. A sample of your work (via URL)

3. Details on your current project (including title, short synopsis, format etc)

4. An up to date resume/CV

5. A letter of support from a screen industry professional who has known you for more than 12 months and/or is familiar with your work

6. Proof of your regional NSW residency


The following selection criteria will be considered when assessing applicants for participation in Screenworks Director Pathways Program (all criteria areas are equally weighted):

  • The potential effectiveness of the career plan to help the applicant build relevant industry skills, overcome identified career barriers to living and working regionally with defined outcomes that help achieve future creative and career goals.
  • The skills, achievements, experience and track record of the applicant(s) and the quality of their previous work. Applicants must clearly demonstrate how they meet the “Initial Success” eligibility criteria.
  • The potential of the applicant to contribute to and enhance the growth of screen production in regional NSW demonstrated by the quality of current projects, previous works and letter of support provided.

Applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability, culturally and linguistically diverse people and people living in remote areas of Australia are strongly encouraged.

Screenworks is strongly committed to ensuring equal access to this project – if you require assistance with your application, please contact Screenworks on: Telephone: (02) 6681 1188.


Assessment Process:

All applications will receive an initial eligibility, quality and relevance assessment by Screenworks staff.  Shortlisted applications will be sent the assessment panel comprised of ADG and Create NSW

The assessment panel will consider how well the eligible applicants meet the selection criteria (see above).

Applicants will be notified by early December 2018 in writing of the outcome of their application.

Application Deadlines:

Applications must be submitted using the online application form available via Screenworks website. No late entries will be accepted, no extensions will be granted. Incomplete applications will be deemed ineligible.

Screenworks will advise all applicants in writing of application success or otherwise. No specific feedback will be given on individual applications.



Initial Success” – To demonstrate Initial Success, applicants are asked to identify one of the following:

  • a director credit for a dramatic or factual film or screen work that has achieved broadcast, theatrical release or been commissioned or acquired by a major online content provider; or
  • a director credit for a dramatic or factual film or screen work that has been included in a curated festival, with preference given to the festivals profiled on the Screen Australia website
    (http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/connect-with- audiences/festival-profiles) or on the 88th (2016) Academy Awards Short Films Qualifying Festivals List (https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/88aa_shorts_festival_list.pdf).
  • a director credit for a dramatic or factual film or screen work that has attracted an online audience of 500,000 or more views.

A director may also be considered eligible if they have had recent success in projects currently in development that may meet one of the above criteria.

“Regional NSW” – Regional NSW includes the Central Coast, Hunter and Illawarra and is defined as the areas or regions outside of Sydney and Western Sydney. Please refer to this document for clarification.


Screenworks’ Director Pathways Program is supported by
 Create NSW and the Australian Directors Guild

Create NSW

Create NSW is the statutory authority established to assist, promote and strengthen the screen industry in NSW so as to promote Australia’s cultural identity, encourage employment in all aspects of screen production, encourage investment in the industry, enhance the industry’s export potential, encourage innovation and enhance quality in the industry.


Australian Directors Guild

The Australian Directors Guild (ADG) is a registered industry association representing the interests of film, television and digital media directors, documentary makers and animators throughout Australia.

ADG works to promote excellence in screen direction, to encourage communication and collaboration between directors and others in the industry and to provide professional support for its members.

ADG is proud to represent the key creative elements of the Australian independent production sector and maintains its high profile in a cultural and policy role by addressing issues affecting the industry from a broad perspective.


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