The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) today announced the five finalists for AACTA Pitch: Focus in Partnership with Sony, a national short film development and production initiative for student filmmakers. Focus aims to give students the opportunity to create an original production with industry mentorship and funding support. The finalists will now shoot a proof of concept with state-of-the-art Sony equipment and present to a judging panel of esteem judges, who will determine the 2023 recipient.

During this final stage, each finalist will have the opportunity to meet with each of the judges, who will guide them through the final stages, including the production of their proof of concept and their final pitch. This year’s judging panel is comprised of Lyn Norfor, Director of Production and Technology at AFTRS and producer/co-founder of Emerald Productions, Riley Sugars (2022 AACTA Nominated Short Film HATCHBACK), Nicholas Colla (THE WIZARDS OF AUS, THE LEGEND OF BURNTOUT BARRY, NEIGHBOURS), Luisa Martiri (2022 AACTA Nominated Short Film THE MOTHS WILL EAT THEM UP) and Vonne Patiag (THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS, HERE OUT WEST, HALAL GIRLS).

Pitch Focus Judge Nicholas Colla (LateNite Films) said, “This is my second year as a jury member for AACTA Pitch: Focus, and I continue to be impressed by the exceptional quality and creativity demonstrated by the projects submitted. The ideas are innovative and thought-provoking, and I am excited to watch as they continue to develop.” 

The five AACTA Pitch: Focus in Partnership with Sony finalists and their loglines are as follows:

 –       Bye Bye Buddy – Emily Goddard (VCA), Haley Alea

When a brilliant country vet gets fired for having too much empathy, she sets up an at-home euthanasia service for pets, only to discover the real need for assisted dying is with their owners.

–       Fantasy – Lotte Sweeney (VCA), Isadora Sweeney, Riley Scott, Lucinda Corin, Maiah Stewardson

Fantasy is a short, surreal comedy about a disabled, love-sick teenager who must navigate a tense relationship with her mother, and her own vivid imagination if she ever wants to find real love.

–       The Long F*cking Road – Vidhi Vira (Collarts), Alicia Sutcliffe (Collarts), Ruby Taylor (Collarts)

In an attempt to reconnect, Frankie, an angry 26-year-old old drives her younger sister Poppy to their father’s wedding, where she must let go of her defences before it’s too late.

–       Skin Deep – Angie Kilsby (VCA), India Stanley, India Williams, Gracie Dephoff

A single mother who is trying to get back into the dating game fears she is ‘ageing badly’ and goes to extreme measures to improve her appearance, with unexpected consequences.

–       With Love, Lottie – Lily Drummond (Flinders University), Jeremy Lowrencev

When a disabled teenager fears she will never find love, she enlists her friends to become her mentors in the unpredictable world of dating and discovers that love can come in unexpected ways and different forms.

“We’ve seen an exceptional display of talent, creativity, and vision in the AACTA Pitch Focus entries this year. Our top 5 finalists represent the cream of the crop and highlight the potential that exists for the next generation of Australian filmmakers. We wish them the very best in this final stage and look forward to their unique voices coming to the fore,” said AACTA Awards & Industry Development Manager, Ivan Vukusic.

Sony Australia Demand Cultivation Manager, Nick Rowe said, “It is once again a great pleasure to support the AACTA Pitch: Focus initiative and the top 5 finalists are representative of the imagination and storytelling of Australia’s emerging film practitioners. We’re looking forward to viewing each pitch accompanied by their proof-of-concept film. We wish each finalist the best in this phase.”

The five finalists will now begin shooting a proof of concept with equipment provided on loan by Sony valued over $2500. The teams will then have to present their final pitch to the judging panel, with the recipient to be announced at Sony’s Catchlight Film Festival in late October. 

This year’s recipients will receive $15,000 in production funds toward their short film, a loan of Sony equipment kit (valued at over $20,000) to shoot their short film and receive complimentary AACTA Award consideration, invaluable feedback and guidance throughout the production process, ongoing mentoring opportunities, complimentary professional AACTA memberships and tickets to the 2024 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel Group.

 For more information, visit

Enjoying this article?

Subscribe here to get the latest updates sent to your inbox