City of Adelaide and Mercury CX are excited to announce the four recipients of the inaugural Hothouse Creative Residencies. 

In partnership with the City of Adelaide through their Cultural Strategic Partnerships Program, Mercury CX’s Emerging Hothouse Scheme provides two emerging screenwriters, a producer and a cinema programmer/projectionist with a 12-week, flexible residency.  Following an extensive callout and review of applications, four creatives have been selected to be the initial Hothouse Creative Residents.  The inaugural 2021 Hothouse Residents are: 

DYLAN COLEMAN – Screenwriting 

Award-winning novelist, First Nations academic and social justice activist, Dylan Coleman is working on a screenplay adaptation of a novel manuscript that won the black&write Writing Fellowship, to be published in the near future. 

SALLY HARDY – Screenwriting 

Award-winning playwright and children’s author Sally Hardy is working on an adaptation of her play Night Light scheduled to be performed in 2023. 

CRAIG JACKSON – Producing 

Transitioning from a career as a cinematographer to producing, Craig Jackson is developing a factual television series, whilst also producing one of this year’s Mercury CX Quicksilver production fund short films. 

AIMEE KNIGHT – Cinema Programming & Projection 

Film critic and The Big Issue’s small screens editor Aimee Knight brings an understanding of contemporary cinema to the programmer and projection residency and is currently programming the final session of Adelaide Cinematheque for 2021 with a focus on ‘difficult women’. 

Hothouse Residents Group Photo
Back row L-R: Craig Jackson, Sally Hardy, Dylan Coleman, Mentor Ruth Estelle, Aimee Knight Front Row L-R: Karena Slanenka, CEO Mercury CX, City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor

Attracting diverse creatives and projects  

In announcing the recipients, Karena Slaninka, CEO Mercury CX spoke of the exceptional candidates who applied. “We’ve had an excellent response to the program in the first year and are thrilled to have such talent seeking to be part of this year’s residencies.” 

“Transitioning from one area of creative industries to another, or seeking to elevate one’s career, can benefit from mentoring, structure, and a supportive environment in which to achieve creative outcomes to set goals and to develop craft and contacts. Hothouse facilitates that while providing resources and the structure to be able to work toward a specific creative outcome.” 

“Hothouse is a unique initiative in supporting artists and creatives who are developing and advancing in their creative practice is an important part of our vision for Mercury CX to be a national centre of excellence for story,” Slaninka said. 

“Adelaide is one of the most liveable and creative cities in the world with artists, makers and festivals at its heart,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“The City of Adelaide is working in partnership with our arts and culture sector to support artists and create opportunities for them. We are curating a city filled with dynamic arts and cultural experiences for people to enjoy.”  

The Hothouse Residencies provide the opportunity for creatives to focus on specific works in a supportive environment surrounded by resources and mentors to help take their projects to fruition. The flexible program allows for each participant to draw on both the resources of Mercury CX as well as mentoring and industry connections to further their projects. 

Screenwriting resident Dylan Coleman said the appeal of the program was in the idea of the hothouse. “As the word suggests, Mercury CX provides an opportunity to grow quickly and to develop the skills in a warm supportive environment that might otherwise take years or even decades to reach. The alchemists of old turned mercury to gold, that’s the chemistry at work here.” 

Creating connection through immersion in the screen industry 

In addition to mentoring and access to Mercury CX facilities, the residency program included the 2021 MCX Screenmakers Conference, providing unique access to industry leaders and the opportunity to pitch their projects. 

The opportunity for residents to deepen industry connections can be a defining step for their projects. Playwright and screenwriter Sally Hardy secured additional industry meetings about her project through the conference.  

“This year’s MCX Screenmakers Conference was a godsend. As well as hearing from people at the top of their game in the industry, I was able to discuss my feature film with festival programmers, producers and distributors” she said. 

Producer Craig Jackson said that MCX Screenmakers proved to be a valuable part of achieving the goals of his residency. “So much of the development process involves getting feedback from others as a project progresses and having ongoing access to informed and experienced professionals is invaluable to shaping an effective treatment and pitch,” said Jackson. 

Mercury CX Script Executive and screenwriting mentor Ruth Estelle knows from experience the importance of dedicated space for the development process. “Writers need space and support, and at Mercury CX we are well-placed to provide both. The results, I’m sure, will speak for themselves when we see their work on the big screen!” she said. 

Discussing the opportunities afforded by the residency Sally Hardy said, “As a playwright adapting my own play into a feature film, the opportunity to work closely with experienced and talented mentors like Ruth Estelle is invaluable.”  

“It’s incredibly helpful having access to Ruth’s knowledge of structure, audience and genre, as I deconstruct my story and create it anew for the medium of film. It’s also priceless to have a creative workspace available 24/7 for the duration of the residency, where I am free to write away from domestic distractions!” 

Bringing a different lens to stories on screen 

In explaining why she chose to apply, Dylan said “I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to work with a trusted local organisation who has supported First Nation writers and filmmakers and mentorships in the past. Being able to share our stories as First Nations writers is so important. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to spread my wings.” 

The third residency focus area is Cinema Programmer + Projectionist, an underexplored field in the screen industry.  

Aimee Knight spoke of how this rare opportunity complements her work writing about screen culture “enriching my critical perspectives on cinema by learning the intertwined art of film curation.” 

There is more to cinema programming than just choosing films. The residency will help Aimee gain a practical understanding of the big-screen distribution process. ”All that nitty-gritty administrative stuff that comes with contracts, budgets, marketing, and promotion. I’m particularly keen to spend time in the hallowed projection booth, where the alchemy of exhibition happens.” 

Knight’s curation will draw on her background in film criticism and include putting a series of difficult women on the big screen as part of the new Adelaide Cinematheque program from 1 to 10 November.