Yesterday, Screen Australia’s First Nations Department and Instagram Australia announced the return of the Instagram First Nations Creators Program, with 2023 applications now open.
Now in its third year, the Instagram First Nations Creator Program is an action-oriented intensive that provides in-person training, mentoring, and practical production support to its recipients. The educational experiences and fostered growth that comes of the program is an opportunity for up to 15 First Nations emerging digital creators to establish a long-term career in social media and content creation.
B&T sat down with Screen Australia’s head of First Nations, Angela Bates, and Meta’s ANZ creator partnerships lead, Kirsty Wilson, to hear first hand about the program.
Can you tell us about the meaning behind the program?
AB: [At the Screen Australia’s First Nations Department] we’re supportive of amplifying the voices of our mob as well as supporting programs and initiatives where our mob are consuming content. So it’s great to be in partnership with Meta and to do this with Instagram Australia.
We see this program as a way of identifying talent and creating pathways into film and TV because that’s what we do at Screen Australia’s First Nations department; we fund film and TV. I think there are similarities and crossovers between social media, and film/television. I look at the creatives on social media and see what we call “below-the-line creators” like photographers, cinematographers, makeup and artists. And also key creators too, like writers and directors.
KW: The value of the program for us [at Meta] is really amplifying the diverse voices we have on the platform, and giving opportunities to content creators to tell their stories on Instagram. And particularly for young creators, it’s giving them a pathway to other career opportunities that can move them forward.
What exciting work have you seen come out of the program?
AB: In our first pilot program in 2021, there was a creative called Naarah from Tasmania. She went onto successfully apply for the Screen Australia, NZ on Air and TikTok’s “Every Voice” initiative in 2022. One of her pitches was quite successful, it’s called Bad locals, it’s a 10 part travel documentary series, which features Naarah and her friend Ella adventuring around Tasmania.
Another creative is Jahvis Loveday who was in last year’s program. He’s gone on to do an attachment with Netflix’s Heartbreak High as a location manager. We think he’s got a great career in key creative roles in the future; he’s a real talent and really good at creating content.
KW: It’s just really exciting to see the creators use this program as a springboard. It’s great to see them going into content roles, but also making a career out of this. On the first program we saw four or five participants signed to an agency and moving to a place where they’re earning their salary for being content creators. So it’s gone from being a bit of a side hustle to full time job and a viable career path, which is super inspiring.
Could you describe some of the educational and growth opportunities involved in the program?
KW: In the first year, because of COVID, it was done in modules during a 10 week program. But last year we were able to do it in person for the first time with a two and a half day workshop here at Meta HQ, which was just incredible.
There are a lot of different sessions run by both the First Nations Department of Screen Australia, and by us at Instagram. We have everything from internal sessions around monetising our platform, how the algorithm works, understanding content and insights; basic things of how to succeed on our platform. We also bring in inspiring creators for things like panel sessions to get their do’s and don’ts.
It’s also the community that the cohort builds together. Something we often talk about with creators is that, a lot of the time you’re seeking inspiration by yourself. So for them to come together as a group and be able to share with one another and support each other’s careers; that’s really nice to see.
AB: One of the other sessions [the First Nations Department of Screen Australia] ran was pitching, and teaching creators how to make a good pitch that will hopefully lead to success. We also organise Indigenous, cultural and intellectual property rights, and it’s important for our creators to know this cultural knowledge, especially on social media, which is so unregulated.
Finally, what words would you like to share with First Nations creators about applying for this program?
AB: I would strongly encourage all Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander creators [over the age of 18] who have an interest in social media, and who are creative to apply. Don’t think that this isn’t for you. And if anyone has questions to contact one of our investment managers direct.
KW: It’s not necessarily about having the most amount of followers, it’s about being brave enough to put yourself forward. It’s for many diverse verticals, and everyone has a story to tell; we’ve had photographers, artists, chefs, beauty creators, fitness creators. We want to find new talent with this program, and to see different types of creators come through.