Stephen Cleary has been a film and television professional for over twenty years, working in Europe, North America, and Australasia, with occasional forays into Asia. He has worked as a feature producer, television producer/director, educator, and screenwriter.
He has developed many feature films from inception to production, and many have won international festival prizes. In recent years he developed the Venice Golden Lion-winning feature Sweet Country from conception to production, and was the lead consultant on the Emmy Award-winning feature documentary What Happened Miss Simone? He conceived and produced Filmlab in South Australia, a program designed to develop a base of local production companies. The initiative resulted in five low budget locally generated features, all of which secured domestic theatrical distribution. Two premiered at the Sundance film festival, one at the Berlin film festival, one at SXSW. Three of the features secured a US theatrical release. Filmlab filmmakers won best international director at Sundance 2014, the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and other international awards.
From 2016 to 2017 he ran a TV drama series development initiative for Canal Plus Europe, developing series from conception to the final bible and pilot episodes with selected writers and producers from across Europe. And from 2015 to 2017 he was senior consultant of the Danish Film Institute and Nordic Film Fund’s Polar Bear initiative, developing TV drama series with TV professionals from Scandinavia.
Previously he ran Arista, Europe’s largest private story development agency for 11 years, providing a range of short and long training courses in all aspects of film and TV writing and development. Arista was designated a “Centre of Excellence” by the European Commission. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at the film school of the Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne, lecturing and running seminars for students four weeks a year. He is a regular lecturer at the Danish Film School, the National Film School of the UK and AFTRS. All on aspects of story development.