SBS has announced the appointment of Julie Eckersley as its new Head of Scripted, to oversee an expanding slate of locally commissioned fiction content, and related industry initiatives championing inclusion in the Australian screen sector.
Eckersley (pictured above) is an award-winning creative producer with a career spanning more than 20 years. She brings extensive industry experience to the role at SBS, which has seen her work as a producer and in development across a range of genres, including drama, comedy, animation, documentary and children’s content.
As well as working independently, her experience includes nine years at Matchbox Pictures where she worked on award-winning Australian projects including the landmark SBS series, The Family Law, ABC drama series, Glitch, and Australia’s first kung fu comedy, Maximum Choppage, among others, driven by her passion for creating bold and distinctive stories, and supporting new voices.
She’s also worked across many elements of production throughout her career, developing and producing projects with Australian TV networks, as well as internationally with Netflix and NBCU International.
SBS has also announced that Donna Chang (pictured below) has been promoted to commissioning editor, scripted. Chang joined SBS in 2020 as development executive, scripted, from Lingo Pictures where she was head of development. Prior to that, Chang worked at Screen Australia as a development executive, and has also been a story development external assessor since 2015.
She previously spent several years working as a production executive with Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, in London. Working closely with Eckersley, Chang will take on an expanded role in developing and delivering SBS’s pipeline of commissioned scripted projects which reflect and explore an inclusive vision of Australia.
The appointments come as SBS’s focus on developing and showcasing under-represented talent has seen its scripted offering expand to not only include premium television series, but a growing collection of original short form content for SBS On Demand.
Also, in partnership with the broader industry, through initiatives RIDE and Originate, SBS is investing in the development of low budget feature films exploring uniquely Australian stories, and landmark initiatives like the Emerging Writers Incubator, which brings the sector together to support meaningful career pathways for screenwriters from under-represented backgrounds.
Marshall Heald, SBS’s director of content, television & online, said, “we have a fantastic slate of new scripted programming in development and production, and it’s an exciting time to welcome Julie to the team. We’re thrilled to have someone with her extensive experience and passion for our Charter to lead our Scripted offering, working closely together with Donna in a larger role that will fully recognise and utilise her exceptional talents.”
On her appointment, Eckersley said, “all Australians should feel seen on our screens and I’m thrilled to join SBS as they lead the way in achieving this. My focus will be on supporting talent, in front of and behind the camera, as we create stories that celebrate and explore our diverse perspectives and shared humanity. I’m looking for great stories that are entertaining, surprising and full of heart.”
Chang added, “at the core of our Scripted slate and industry initiatives is a commitment to making great local drama that showcases under-represented voices and talent. It’s a privilege to work in service of these stories at SBS, and I look forward to continuing this work with Julie.”
SBS would also like to acknowledge Penny Win, who has been acting as the head of SBS Scripted during this transitional period. Over the last six months, Win has played a critical role in the ongoing development of SBS’s fiction slate, and will continue to work with SBS to support the development of fiction projects into the future.
SBS’s upcoming scripted slate includes its most ambitious drama series to date, New Gold Mountain, a four-part revisionist Western telling the untold story of the Australian gold rush from the perspective of Chinese miners, with Yoson An and Alyssa Sutherland leading an ensemble cast including local breakout talent, Mabel Li; and Iggy and Ace, a short-form drama series exploring friendship, addiction and recovery through a queer lens, set to premiere on SBS On Demand and developed through the SBS, NITV, and Screen Australia Digital Originals initiative.
Julie Eckersley commences with SBS on 5 July 2021.
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