NCIS: Sydney Script Department Program Selects Participants


The NCIS: Sydney season one script department program, supported by Screen Australia in collaboration with Paramount ANZ, CBS Studios and Endemol Shine Australia, has selected six participants.

Writers Rachael Alford, Ella Cook, James Cripps, Siobhan Domingo, Josh Sambono and Clare Sladden will participate in the ten-week full-time paid program and become immersed in all areas of the script department and development process.

Alford is a writer and actor who received her Master of Screenwriting from the Victorian College of the Arts. She also received VicScreen’s Key Talent Writing Placement on Neighbours, where she went on to work as script coordinator, then trainee editor/storyliner. She wrote her first episode for Neighbours in its final weeks. In recent months, Alford has been notetaking for Fremantle’s Rock Island Mysteries and Endemol Shine’s RFDS, as well as developing her own projects.

Cook is a screenwriter, script editor and producer with a background in drama development. Her short film The Exit Plan, starring Paapa Essiedu and Marcia Warren, premiered in 2021 at Flickerfest and played at festivals internationally. The film won best international film at Norwich International Film Festival and best drama at Women Over 50 Film Festival.

Cripps is a screenwriter and script editor who previously served as Screentime’s drama development coordinator. He was involved in shows such as Wolf Creek (Stan), Pine Gap (Netflix) and Underbelly Files: Chopper (Nine Network). His script editor credits include Informer 3838 (Nine Network) and Janet King 3 (ABC). His comedy-drama series High Rotation was developed with support from Screen Australia and recently won the 2021 Australian Writers’ Guild Monte Miller Award (Long Form).

Domingo is a screenwriter and director whose first short film, Double, screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2017. In 2021, Domingo received funding to develop an original television series, How To Lose Weight and Survive the Apocalypse, in partnership with Screen Queensland and Wattpad Studios. In 2022, Domingo was chosen to participate in the Impact Australia development program to write and develop their original series The Almost Insufferable Burden of Being a Talented Woman.

Sambono, a Jingili man, is an action and horror writer who has written several short films that have screened at festivals across the world. His First Nations horror short Suspect premiered at Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN) in Korea in 2020 and won best Australian short at Sydney’s A Night of Horror International Film Festival. He has been in many writers’ rooms for television shows developed by Bunya Productions and Blackfella Films. His television writing debut came in 2021 on Warwick Thornton’s AMC+ vampire hunter series Firebite.

Sladden is a Meeanjin/Brisbane-based screenwriter and director. After finding success on the festival circuit with her short films and online with her AWGIE-nominated web series Freudian Slip, Sladden moved into the narrative audio space, where she wrote, directed and produced the Audible original podcast Winding Road and wrote on Audible’s Wentworth spin-off series, The Fall Girl. Sladden earned her first television credit on Stan original series Eden, and she developed her original project Pathological as a participant of Screen Queensland’s Bradford Winters Lab.

The six writers will work on NCIS: Sydney, produced by CBS Studios in association with Endemol Shine Australia. It is the first iteration of the hit NCIS series outside of the U.S. It will be available exclusively on Paramount+ and Network 10 in Australia.

Grainne Brunsdon, Screen Australia’s head of content, said, “We were blown away by the volume of applications for this initiative, showcasing the breadth of screenwriting talent we have around the country and a testament to the NCIS global brand. A huge congratulations to the successful participants. Screen Australia is proud to support early to mid-career writers to take part in a global series and not only gain knowledge and experience in the script department of a renowned drama but also bring their authentic perspectives to the Sydney iteration of NCIS.”

Rick Maier, head of drama and executive production at Paramount ANZ, said, “Emerging writers thrive on collaboration and mentorship, hence our excitement for this brilliant initiative. This seat at the table could turn out to be a winner for everyone. Jot down these names for future reference. I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a lot more.”

Peter Newman, chief executive officer of Endemol Shine Australia, added, “The caliber of applicants was extraordinary, which is a strong indication that the future of Australian screenwriting is secure. Working alongside established screenwriters, the six recipients will contribute to the scripting process, therefore adding their creativity and storytelling talent to the Australian iteration of this iconic franchise.”