Evaluation of Back-to-Back Theatre film internship program

A/Prof. Angela Dew1, Dr Kevin Murfitt1, Ms Monica Wellington1, Ms Eden Menta2, Mr Bruce Gladwin2

1Deakin University, Australia, 2Back to Back Theatre, Geelong, Australia

Employment is important to economic security, social inclusion, physical and mental wellbeing, and sense of identity. Back-to-Back Theatre received an ILC grant for paid internships for people with intellectual disability to create a film. Deakin University evaluated the internship program.

Eight interns and 10 mentors, involved in all aspects of the film making, completed pre and post surveys or semi-structured interviews (including embedded Likert scale items). Ten other staff involved in the filming were interviewed about the process and intern roles. Thematic analysis was used.

The evaluation provided strong evidence of the success of the film internship program to achieve its aims to increase interns’ skill development, confidence, aspirations and networks towards ongoing employment. Interns reported learning skills and developing confidence across a diverse range of filming roles. Most felt well supported and appreciated adjustments to the environment and tasks to match individual needs. Mentors acknowledged COVID-19 restrictions limited time and opportunities to meet interns face-to-face prior to filming. Staff recognised the need for prior training and role clarification, and planning around space and activities for interns during filming downtime. At the conclusion of the internship, further employment opportunities were identified for interns.

The evaluation identified benefits gained by all those involved in the program despite COVID-19 challenges. The evaluation provided valuable evidence on the benefits and challenges of a film internship program for people with intellectual disability aspiring to work in the film industry, and made recommendations for extending these benefits across the arts sector.


Angela Dew is Associate Professor Disability and Inclusion at Deakin University. Eden Menta, an intern at Back-to-Back Theatre, is an emerging artist working across mediums. Bruce Gladwin is Back-to-Back Theatre Artistic Director and has toured the company’s works to preeminent international contemporary arts festivals.