Milestones

From an abandoned toothpaste factory to one of the best film schools in the world ...


The Australian Film Television and Radio School, in its successive metamorphoses, started life as the Film and Television School; FTS with the first intake of students into the 'interim training group' taking place in 1973 that included Gillian Armstrong, Philip Noyce

In 1976 the School became know as the Australian Film Television School; AFTS and was admitted as a full member of  the International Association of Film and Television Schools [Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinéma et de Télévision] CILECT.

In 1986 AFTS became the Australian Film Television and Radio School; AFTRS and the foundation stone was laid for a new building in North Ryde in Sydney adjacent to Macquarie University. In 2008 the School relocated to a state-of-the-art purpose built facility in Moore Park adjacent to Fox Studios its current home today.

All the milestones

1964

  • Working party formed to consider establishment of Film and television School [FTS]

1968

  • PM John Gorton calls for report on FTS
  • UNESCO recommendation for establishment of FTS

1969

  • Film Committee: Peter Coleman, Philip Adams, Barry Jones begin tour of international film schools
  • UNESCO resolution passed
  • Film Committee calls for Interim Council
  • PM John Gorton accepts recommendation
  • Interim Council appointed under Peter Coleman
  • First meeting of Interim Council

1970

  • John Martin-Jones appointed Acting Executive Officer
  • Film Committee tours international film schools
  • FTS moves into first premises at Spring Street, Chatswood, Sydney
  • First report of Interim Council tabled

1971

  • Relationship with CILECT [International Association of Film and Television Schools] begins
  • Second report of Interim Council tabled
  • PM John Gorton departs; future of FTS in doubt
  • Philip Adams resigns from Interim Council over continuing prevarication by Government on FTS

1972

  • Third report of Interim Council tabled
  • Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts Peter Howson announces establishment of FTS
  • Peter Coleman appointed Chair of FTS
  • Storry Walton appointed Interim Director of FTS
  • Labor Party elected into government

1973

  • Interim training Scheme commences at Help Street, Chatswood
  • PM Gough Whitlam's second reading speech
  • New Council members announced
  • First meeting of the Statutory Council under Chair Barry Jones
  • Jerzy Toeplitz appointed Foundation Director of FTS
  • Film and Television School Act passed by Parliament
  • Act given assent
  • Bill enacted to bring FTS into existence

1974

  • Open Program activities begin

1975

  • First Indigenous training course [radio]
  • Inaugural intake for three-year full time program
  • FTS opened at Lyonpark Road North Ryde, by PM Gough Whitlam
  • Liberal/National Party government elected
  • John Morris appointed Acting Chair of FTS

1976

  • FTS becomes Australian Film Television School [AFTS]
  • AFTS admitted as full member of CILECT
  • Training programs for women begin
  • PM Malcolm Fraser visits the School
  • Tom Jeffrey appointed Chair of AFTS Council

1977

  • National Graduate Diploma scheme [NGDS] launched
  • Inaugural one-year screenwriting course commences
  • AFTS Victorian Office opens

1978

  • First graduation from full-time program
  • Full-time course accredited as Diploma of Arts [Film & Television]

1979

  • AFTS Director Jerzy Toeplitz retires

1980

  • NGDS accredited with Graduate Diploma in Media
  • New building promised by PM Malcolm Fraser
  • Storry Walton appointed Director of AFTS

1981

  • Technical Trainee Scheme commences
  • First full-time radio course begins
  • New building design approved by Federal Cabinet

1982

  • Open Program active nationally
  • David Ferguson appointed chair of AFTS Council
  • AFTS hosts 21st CILECT Congress

1984

  • Full time program accredited with degree status: BA [Film & Television]
  • Specialist training commences in directing
  • On the job training scheme for women begins

1985

  • New building construction begins
  • Joe Skrzynski appointed Chair of AFTS Council
  • Anne Deveson appointed Director of AFTS

1986

  • AFTS becomes Australian Film Television and Radio School [AFTRS]
  • Foundation stone laid for new building in North Ryde

1988

  • One-year specialist extension course begins
  • Industry Training Fund for Women [ITFW] established
  • Pilot two-year TV directing course begins
  • New building in North Ryde opened by PM Bob Hawke
  • Queensland office opens

1989

  • John O'Hara appointed Director of AFTRS
  • AFTRS/TAIMA three-year video production course begins

1991

  • Robin Hughes appointed Chair of AFTRS Council

1993

  • ATSI strategy commences
  • Full-time Koori TV Course implemented
  • Federal review of AFTRS begins
  • Kenneth B Myer Trust established to fund annual scholarships for AFTRS

1994

  • Lucienne Joy appointed Head of Radio
  • Federal review is positive

1995

  • Composer in Residence Scheme initiated
  • Inaugural SummerSkill program held in Sydney

1996

  • Rod Bishop appointed Director of AFTRS
  • Digital Training Centre opened by Senator Richard Alston

1997

  • Post graduate accreditation: Graduate Diploma, MA and MA [Hons]
  • Documentary Unit established
  • Annabelle Sheehan appointed Head of Teaching
  • Tristram Miall appointed chair of AFTRS Council

1998

  • SummerSkill program implemented nationally

1999

  • Graduate Diploma in Television Producing [Non-Drama] offered for first time
  • The Cyberport Research project, the first online course, launched

2000

  • Daniel Gilbert appointed Chair of AFTRS Council
  • Annabelle Sheehan appointed Head of Film & Television
  • Steve Ahern appointed Head of Radio
  • SummerSkill program begins in Tasmania

2001

  • Harvey written/directed by Peter McDonald first AFTRS film to screen at SIGGRAPH

2002

  • AFTRS Honorary degree is established with the inaugural recipients being:
    Jan Chapman (producer)
    Don McAlpine (cinematographer)
    Freda Glynn (co-founder CAAMA)
  • Dojo written/directed by: Nicholas Price first AFTRS short shot on High Definition [HD]
  • A.V. Myer one-year Indigenous Scholarship launched

2003

  • AFTRS short Inja written/directed by Steve Pasvolsky, nominated for an Academy Award®
  • Malcolm Long appointed as Director of AFTRS
  • Screen Composition established with Martin Armiger as Head of department
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipients: John Maynard and John Seale

2004

  • AFTRS student film Birthday Boy, written/directed by Sejong Park wins: Best Short Animation at SIGGRAPH, a Dendy Award (Sydney Film Festival), an AFI Award, a BAFTA award and is nominated for an Academy Award®
  • Graham Thorburn appointed Head of Film, Television & Digital Media
  • Macquarie Bank Indigenous Scholarship for emerging indigenous filmmakers commences for a three-year period
  • AFTRS commences application process to become a Higher Education Provider
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient: John Clark AM

2005

  • Australian Government grants AFTRS permission to relocate to a central Sydney location
  • AFTRS approved as a Higher Education Provider, allows students to access FEE-HELP
  • The Centre for Screen Business [CSB] established. David Court appointed as Head. Officially launched by Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp
  • The Laboratory of Advanced Media Production established
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient: Anthony Buckley.

2006

  • FOXTEL scholarship for Exceptional Talent established
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient: Ben Gannon
  • AFTRS First Indigenous Fellow: Wayne Blair

2007

  • Peter Ivany AM appointed Chair of AFTRS Council
  • AFTRS student film The Saviour written/directed by Peter Templeman is nominated for an Academy Award®
  • Part-time Graduate Certificates are offered in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
  • Minister for the Arts and Sport, Geroge Brandis delivers key note address at gala dinner
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient: Dr. George Miller
  • Macquarie Bank Foundation funds Indigenous training courses for three years
  • Sandra Levy appointed CEO of AFTRS

2008

  • AFTRS relocates from North Ryde to the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, adjacent to Fox Studios - the new building is officially opened in May, by Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient is Baz Luhrmann
  • Review of Award Course Program commences
  • Research & Education Division established. Professor Katherine Blashki appointed Director of Division.
  • Friday On My Mind; a free weekly public program commences
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg visits the School.

2009

  • Michael Smellie appointed Chair of AFTRS Council
  • New award course program implemented: Beginner Level (Foundation Diploma), Intermediate Level
    (Post-Graduate Certificates), Advanced Level (Post-Graduate Diplomas), Master of Arts by Research
  • Mark Collier appointed as Director of Radio Division
  • The first issue of LUMINA the Australian Journal of Screen Arts and Business is self-published and distributed
  • AFTRS student film Dead Boring written/directed by Dave Edwardz is the first 3D student film shot in the world
  • Major collaboration between AFTRS and the National Institute of Dramatic Art [NIDA] on a feature-length film, Before the Rain takes place.
  • Official launch of Tjamu Tjamu 'artwall' by Jackie Kurltjunyintja Giles Tjapaljarri
  • Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett delivers keynote address at graduation

2010

  • Inaugural AFTRS Creative Fellowship awarded to Lynette Wallworth
  • The Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) graduate program for Foundation Diploma graduates commences
  • Wim Wenders visits the School

2011

  • Professor Catherine McConaghy appointed Director of Education Division
  • Three-year partnership with New York University/Tisch School of Arts commences
  • AFTRS Television Industry Research project commences
  • Neil Peplow appointed as Director of Screen Content Division
  • Creative Fellowships awarded to Angelica Mesiti and Christopher Frey
  • Redesigned Open Program implemented Liz Hughes appointed as Director of Division
  • Television Unit established to meet the skills and training requirements of the industry, focusing on non-fiction programs
  • Three students and the Head of Cinematography Kim Batterham participate in the Brother Win Cup International Originality Design contest - trekking across the Gobi desert in China
  • AFTRS Honorary Degree recipient: John Edwards
  • Minister for the Arts The Hon. Simon Crean delivers keynote address at graduation

2012

  • Master of Screen Arts introduced
  • Friday on My Mind commences in Melbourne
  • Kim Williams AM provides The David & Joan Williams Documentary Fellowship provided to AFTRS to enable a masterclass by acclaimed international documentary-maker, Joe Berlinger
  • Cinéma des Antipodes, a free non-competitive program for the general public, at Cannes includes a dedicated session for AFTRS shorts comprised of:
    Moth,
    co-written/directed by Meryl Tankard (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2010) Playground, written/directed by Ricardo Skaff (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2010) Emily, written/directed by Ben Matthews (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2010) Inferno, written/directed by Stephen McCallum (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2011) The Last Match, co-written/directed by Julian Shaw (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2011) The Love Song of Iskra Prufrock, written/directed by Lucy Gaffy (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2009)
  • Julianne Schultz AM FAHA appointed Chair of Council
  • AFTRS student film Emily written/directed by Ben Matthews (Graduate Diploma Directing, 2010) selected for 2012 Student Academy Award®
  • AFTRS ranked in industry bible The Hollywood Reporter's list of top 25 film schools in the world, the only Australian institution, of any kind, to make the list.

2013:

  • Francine Finnane appointed Director of Education Division
  • The Minister for Communications The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull delivers keynote address at graduation
  • Creative Fellowships awarded to Carl Firth and Damian Power
  • Phil Noyce awarded AFTRS Honorary Degree

2014:

  • Ben Gibson appointed Director of Degree Programs
  • Martin Brown appointed Director of Specialist Program
  • Bachelor of Arts (Screen) developed
  • AFTRS alumnus Jane Campion heades up 2014 Cannes Jury
  • The Hollywood Reporter ranks AFTRS as #13 out of 20 top international film school in the world
  • AFTRS alumnus Patrick Clair wins an Emmy for the titles designs on True Detective
  • Creative Fellowships awarded to Amiel Courtin Wilson and Melissa Anastasi

2015:

  • First intake into the Bachelor of Arts (Screen)
  • Part time and flexible Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas in the specialist craft areas commence
  • Del Kathyrn Barton and Sari Braithwaite awarded AFTRS Creative Fellowships
  • Rachel Perkins awarded Indigenous Creative Fellowship
  • Neil Peplow appointed CEO of AFTRS
  • The Hollywood Reporter ranks AFTRS as one of the best 15 international film schools in the world
  • Student film Kangaroo Guy wins Jury Prize at Montreal Film Festival.
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Image: Proof sheet from the photo archives. Photographer not known.

Last updated September 22, 2015

Acknowledgement

The Australian Film Television Radio and School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.