Young Australian filmmaker Yolanda Ramke will soon have her feature film script circulated to key industry players in Hollywood.

The Griffith Film School graduate’s film Cargo, which tells of a father’s quest to save his daughter’s life amid a zombie apocalypse, was unanimously chosen as the winner of the inaugural Gateway LA Script Development Program announced this week.

Yolanda says she feels incredibly honoured to be the very first recipient of the prize, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, high level mentoring support with industry professionals from the program, US networking access and a flight to the US.

“I’m also awed and humbled by the calibre of the judges and the staggering number of fellow applicants, which I think speaks volumes for the insane amount of creative talent emerging from Australia,” she says.

“Ben Howling and I have been chipping away on Cargo for two years now and we’ve been blessed to join forces with producers Kristina Ceyton, Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder, who all share our passion for this story.

“This accolade is a giant leap for all of us in a hugely exciting direction.”

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Film & Screen Media Production in 2005 and hasworked in a variety of fields on television dramas such as Channel 7’s Packed To The Rafters and Foxtel’s Spirited.

In 2012, her short script Shelter secured Metro Screen’s $15 000 Breakout Fund, with the resulting film going on to screen at the Oscar-accredited Palm Springs International Film Festival & Shortfest, Flickerfest and St Kilda Film Festival.


Cargo began as a short film written by Yolanda, which she co-directed with Ben Howling and co-produced with Marcus Newman. In 2013, it was a finalist at the Tropfest short film festival, and has now had almost 9 million views on YouTube, predicting its popularity as a feature film.

The project also experienced a successful international festival run (including seven Academy Award accredited events), and was nominated for the ‘Best Achievement In Screenplay’ award at St Kilda Film Festival.

Yolanda will now have the opportunity to further develop her material by having it circulated within the industry in the US, two months of complimentary hosting on The Black List, a free evaluation of each script, a complimentary copy of the latest version of Final Draft and phone meetings with the program judges.

Simonne Overend, President of Australians in Film and Co-Chair of Gateway LA Program, says Cargo is well-deserving as the winner.

“We’re really looking forward to helping Yolanda and all finalists make connections in the industry over here, and further develop their international writing careers,” she says.

The judging panel included Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon’s producing partner at Pacific Standard (Gone Girl, Wild); and US based agent at United Talent Agency Bec Smith, who represents Aussies such as David Michôd.


A scene from the award-winning short film, Cargo.

Australians in Film (AiF), the LA-based Australian entertainment industry guild, announced the news on 1 May.

The AiF network includes producers, development executives, the Board of Advisors and Board Members including Greg Basser, CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, writer/director Stuart Beattie, Peter Lawson, Executive Vice President of production and acquisitions at Open Road, Tracey Vieira, CEO Screen Queensland, and Ian Sutherland, Producer at Origin Productions.

Media Contact: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, [email protected]