From writing to producing. Niki Aken’s tips for the Emerging Producer Placement

Niki Aken

Niki Aken

Thinking of applying for the Emerging Producer Placement? 2018 recipient Niki Aken, talks us through her successful application.

In 2017 you were selected for the Create NSW Emerging Producer Placment (EPP) – can you tell us why you applied?

When I first started in the industry I produced a short film, but ultimately made the decision to focus my energy on writing. Nonetheless, producers cottoned on to my interest in the production side and would invite me to sound spots and casting meetings and to set. I was just observing and asking questions, but it was a wonderful complement to learning the craft of writing, which can be isolating at times. After ten years of script departments and freelance writing, it felt like the right time to go full circle. I won’t abandon writing completely to become a full-time producer. But the more we embrace the ‘showrunner’ model in Australia, the more we need writers to understand the ins and outs of producing.


What would you say to someone who wants to apply but isn’t sure their application is strong enough?

It’s probably stronger than you think. I only had one short film credit, so I was close to not applying. But the application process made me realise that I had picked up transferable skills over the years. It’s also about what your goal is, and how the EPP can help you ‘level up’ – it’s not necessarily a hunt for who is the most accomplished emerging producer. Also, if you are pipped by someone else, your name will be more familiar the next time you apply.

Create NSW executives take pride in knowing what people are up to – and your application can help speak to this in a way that will compliment your existing work.


Do you have any tips for people who are thinking of applying for this year’s EPP?

Be honest with what you want to get out of the experience – don’t guess at what you think Create NSW wants to hear. I articulated the skills I had, but was also upfront about my knowledge gaps, and clearly explained how being in-house at Create NSW and attached to a production company would help close the gap between where I wanted to be and where I was. Also, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and talk to the support officers at Create NSW about your application if there’s a particular part you’re stuck on.

As part of the EPP you worked at Lingo. How has this benefited your skills?

I continue to benefit enormously from working with Helen Bowden, Jason Stephens and Tess Novak at Lingo. During the EPP I worked across Lingo’s booming production and development slate, including The Ropes (SBS) and Lambs of God (Foxtel). The Ropes was four weeks out of pre when I started, and Lambs of God was two weeks out from shoot. There was a lot going on!

Working across a Production Funding Round lifecycle at Create NSW gave me valuable perspective on how competitive funds are, but also how finance plans are constructed. Working at Lingo gave me insight to the other side – the ongoing conversations with funding bodies, networks, international distributors and co-partners. You have to be very resourceful and resilient to lock down a finance plan. You have to keep the dialogue going.

What other projects are you working on now?

I am co-writing a miniseries for Closer Productions and SBS, called The Hunt, with Matthew Cormack. I’m also story producing Lingo and Foxtel and SKY UK’s co-production, Upright, starring Tim Minchin.


What other tips do you have for emerging producers?

Don’t feel like you can’t be a producer because you don’t know it all yet. Film and television are collaborative mediums – you will find people with complementary skill sets. Mitigating risk naturally comes in to the work of a producer, there’s no denying that. But at some point, you have to just dive in. You can’t send emails forever, you have to make a decision, back yourself, and be agile and open-minded as things progress.

About the 2018 Emerging Producer Placement (EPP)

The 2018 EPP targets emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander producers with a track record in short form content.

The EPP will provide producers with an opportunity to gain experience with NSW screen production companies, in addition to working with the Sector Investment team at Create NSW (screen).

In this round, two candidates will be selected and paid to undertake a six-month customised program. Most time will be spent with production companies, with additional spent at Create NSW and attending key industry events.

The EPP aims to fast-track career opportunities by matching highly experienced screen industry practitioners with undiscovered emerging producing talent.

Applications are open now and close on Monday September 10, 2018 at Midnight.

Details here:

Published: 6 September 2018