icon icon

Penny Smallacombe

Master of Arts (Film and Television): Documentary, 2003

Penny is a Member of the Maramanindji people from the Northern Territory. She completed a cadetship with the ABC before attending AFTRS, where she produced two documentaries, A Change of Heart and Roger. A Change of Heart was nominated for a Dendy Award and played at several international film festivals including IDFA.

Penny went on to work in the Indigenous Programs Unit at the ABC, where she produced and directed on Message Sticks. Her ABC stories Leila Murray and The Long-Grassers were nominated for Human Rights awards. Penny also produced the ABC’s highly successful Yarning Up and produced a series of shorts called The Forgotten Ones in 2010, directed by prisoners from the NT.

She later worked as a Senior Programmer for NITV (National Indigenous Television)—a division of SBS—before joining Screen Australia as Head of Indigenous. During her tenure, the agency supported series such as Total Control and Mystery Road and feature films including Spear, Sweet Country and Goldstone. Penny is currently a producer at Bunya Productions, working alongside fellow alumna Greer Simpkin.



I loved working with my fellow documentary students Sascha Ettinger-Epstein, Madeleine Hetherton-Miau and Marco Ianniello. We were super close, worked extremely hard and supported each other through our Masters degree. We were based out at North Ryde at the time, and while it was annoying to travel out there, there was nothing much else around, so we basically lived in each other’s pockets! Free food at 4pm every day from the AFTRS café was the daily highlight. Along with the writing students, the doco team was always there in full force fighting it out for the last Portuguese tart!



Lots of great moments. Every time I went to see the premiere of a film or show that the Indigenous Department at Screen Oz developed and funded, I felt big highs. I saw projects come into the department as early concepts, and I got to be a tiny part of their growth. Being at the Venice Film Festival with writers Steven McGregor and David Tranter and director Warwick Thornton for the Sweet Country world premiere was an absolute pleasure! Such a talented bunch of filmmakers. Being at the AACTAs when Total Control and Sweet Country cleaned up the awards was also truly fabulous! I worked closely with Darren Dale at Blackfella Films on Total Control, and just loved the show they created.