Seven creative teams have been selected for Australian script development programme SPARK 2004, developed by the Australian Film Commission (AFC) and the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).

Australian cinema has often been accused of neglecting its scripts and scriptwriters. Acting, camerawork and production design are usually first rate, while the script needs 'further work'.

SPARK concentrates considerable firepower on seven writer/director/producer teams who come with a feature draft. An intense one-week residential workshop in early February is followed by the funding of a new draft, further feedback on the final draft, plus financing and marketing advice.

This year's projects include The Hunter -- writer Wain Fimeri, director Daniel Nettheim, producers Vincent Sheehan and Anita Sheehan -- which has also been selected for the showcase Rotterdam CineMart Co-Production Market held later this month.

The Home Song Stories -- writer/director Tony Ayres, producers Michael McMahon and Liz Watts -- is from the team behind the moving feature Walking On Water (2002).

Footy Legends is a new project from writer/director Khoa Do, whose micro-budget first feature The Finished People, praised by Jane Campion, got an unexpected arthouse release in Sydney and Melbourne. The project team also includes writers Anh Do and Suzanne Do, and producer Megan McMurchy.

Actor John Brumpton is the writer of Kid Snowball -- director John Ruane, producer Trevor Blainey, who also produces the project Noise with writer/director Matthew Saville. Also included are Cloudcatching -- writer/director David Lowe, producer Miriam Stein -- and Initiations -- writer/director Sandra Lepore, producer Carolyn Johnson.

These teams will benefit from a heavy-hitting guest line-up of Australian and international advisors, including producer Geoff Stier (Sense And Sensibility), writer/director Greg Widen (Backdraft, Highlander), writer/script editor Joan Sauers (The Heartbreak Kid), producer/script editor Amanda Higgs (Praise, Angst), producer Lynda House (Ned Kelly, Muriel's Wedding), writer John Collee (Master And Commander) and US scriptwriting teacher David Freeman.

Carole Sklan, the Director of Film Development for the AFC, said: "the depth and range of experience offered by this terrific group of advisors will undoubtedly provide a creative environment at the SPARK workshop which will energise, challenge and inspire the selected teams."