Graduate Diploma (Film & Television) - Directing, 1997; Master of Arts, Hons (Film, Television & Digital Media) - Writing and Directing, 2006
Darlene Johnson’s career as a writer-director began with 1996’s Two Bob Mermaid, inspired by her Aboriginal mother’s experiences growing up under the assimilation policies of the 1950s. The short was the first Indigenous Australian film to screen at the Venice Film Festival.
Darlene subsequently wrote and directed the documentary Stolen Generations, which was nominated for an International Emmy Award and an AFI Award. She also worked as an attachment on Rabbit-Proof Fence with fellow graduate Phillip Noyce and directed the behind-the-scenes documentary Following the Rabbit-Proof Fence.
Noyce also featured in the Logie-nominated Gulpilil: One Red Blood, a one-hour portrait film that Darlene wrote and directed. Her other documentary work includes River Of No Return, about a remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, and The Redfern Story, for which she received an Australian Directors Guild nomination for Best Direction in a Documentary.
Darlene’s short narrative film Bluey premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in 2015, winning the Event Cinema Award for Best Screenplay and Best Direction in a Short Film at the ADG Awards. The following year she worked as a second-unit director on network drama The Secret Daughter. Her other television credits include Home and Away, The Heights, Neighbours and Born to Spy.
She is currently writing drama series Irreverent for Matchbox Pictures and Netflix.
It was great to be part of a community of filmmakers where I could expand on my life experience and work in an academic and creative environment. AFTRS gave me a certain grounding, which helped to prepare me for future filmmaking endeavours.
Continuing to develop my creative voice and sensibility and building on my own cultural heritage in filmmaking. Part of you is in everything you do; your spirit, who you are at that time. And being able to make films that have an impact on other people’s lives – the ability to start a dialogue or effect change in others – is the ultimate reward. That’s hugely exciting.