Traditionally, there’s been two camps in our industry – those that work in “Unscripted” (current affairs, factual, doco, reality, entertainment) and those that work in “Scripted” (TV drama, narrative comedy, feature film). Crews, creatives, on-camera performers, producers – all stayed in their “box”. Some of the former want to move into the latter, but find it tough. Many of the latter diversify because of the reduced number of scripted hours being produced. At this month’s TV Talks we’ll meet some industry professionals who have made the move, and find out how they genre juggle. They’ll also share how they’ve grown and developed their careers.
Damian Davis: Head of Comedy & Entertainment, CJZ
Joel Slack-Smith: Writer/Director
Liliana Munoz: Producer
Lisa Matthews: Director/Writer
Jacqueline King: Production Manager
MC: Wendy Gray
Damian Davis is a director and producer and is the Head of Comedy and Entertainment at CJZ. As well as running a slate of scripted and unscripted development projects he is the EP and director of the ABC’s Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, EP of Mr Black and director of the sitcom Part-Time Private Eyes that recently went to air during Channel 10’s Pilot Week.
Growing up in the ‘90s at the ABC Damian had the good fortune to work with a veritable line-up of on-air and behind-the-scenes legends, producing and/or directing Roy & HG’s Club Buggery, McFeast, O’Loghlin and Studio 22 before creating the long running comedy panel show The Fat hosted by Tony Squires.
Since then Damian has directed sketch (Ronnie Johns Half Hours (s2), Comedy Inc (s5); co-EP’d ABC3’s You’re Skitting Me; co-created and directed the sitcom Street Smart; created and EP‘d the live anarchic entertainment series The Full Brazilian (SBS); directed documentary series Two on the Great Divide, Sleek Geeks (ABC) and Guerrilla Gardeners (Ten). Damian is also a published author with a Masters of Journalism.
A true genre agnostic Damian continues to work with comedians, writers and creatives to develop and produce projects. He is still waiting for the project that will have him expunged from the industry forever.
Joel Slack-Smith is a writer, producer and occasional director. He’s worked on a diverse range of programmes including sketch comedy (Comedy Inc. The Late Shift, Legally Brown, Orange is the New Brown), sitcom (Squinters, Street Smart, Mr Black), animation (Spongo, Fuzz & Jalapeña, Berry Bees, Space Nova), live action children’s series (As The Bell Rings, Drop Dead Weird, Random and Whacky), and reality/light entertainment (Little Big Shots, Australian Ninja Warrior, Hughesy We Have a Problem, Australia’s Got Talent).
Joel was recently Head Writer on sketch comedy programme Orange is the New Brown, which won the Best Comedy Award at the 2019 AWGIE Awards (his third AWGIE). He has also received AWGIE nominations in the Best Children’s and Best Animation categories. Currently, Joel is writing on Space Nova, a sci-fi adventure animation series for SLR Productions and has just started working on Pooch Perfect.
This year Liliana Munoz was presented the highly competitive Screen Australia’s Enterprise People grant in recognition of her creative endeavours and accomplishments as a next-generation producer of Scripted. Passionate about telling brave and honest stories, Liliana turned her attention to Scripted television after serving as a producer of Reality Entertainment for over 15 years with industry heavy weights Fremantle Australia and North America, Viacom’s MTV, Bunim Murray Entertainment and Sara Rea Productions, producers of Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s Project Runway and the Amazon Original, Making The Cut.
In 2015 Liliana launched production company Maximo Entertainment dedicated to fostering new voices for a global audience. The following year Liliana was selected as a “SPA Ones To Watch”. Very soon after, with a passion for ground-breaking storytelling and discovering new voices, Liliana created and produced RAW, a successful First Nations initiative focused on building creative development platforms for the next generation of Indigenous narrative writers. In 2017, RAW unearthed writer Enoch Mailangi and together with AACTA nominated writer Kodie Bedford, they have developed the original urban comedy All My Friends Are Racist which is currently in development with ABC Indigenous.
Liliana’s passion thrives on producing Australian concepts for international audiences collaborating with equally passionate and hungry writers including Crystal Bear winner writer-director Elissa Down; award-winning writer of multi-award winning show Please Like Me, Tom Ward; writer of multi-award animation A Cautionary Tale, Erica Harrison, featuring Cate Blanchett and David Wenham; and Jack Yabsley, co-writer of Seven Studios new comedy series Fam Time featuring Michala Banas. Most recently, together with Executive Producer Mark Lazarus and Elissa Down, and the assistance of Screen Australia, they are developing the feature film Rising Ash, a spiritual fighting drama based on the life of Australia’s Muay Thai female champion, Ash Ryan.
Lisa Matthews started her career in Documentary as a Researcher in the UK on the series The Royal Collection for Channel Four. Returning to Australia in 1994 she made an award winning Short Film, Rosie’s Secret which launched a long and illustrious career in documentary. Her credits as Director and Writer include Our Century (26 x 30 min doco series for Channel 9), The Shadow of Mary Poppins (1 hr doc for ABC), Art House (4 x 30 min series for ABC), In Search of Bony (1 hr doco SBS TV), Who Do you Think You Are? (Jacqui Weaver, Shane Jacobsen), Ten Pound Poms and The Real Mary Poppins both one hour documentaries for the ABC and BBC.
Her first dramatised documentary was Rogue Nation followed by Australia on Trial – two series for ABC TV for which she was nominated for an ADG for “Best direction”.
Her first credit as a “drama” Director was Darwin’s Brave New World – 3 x 55 min Dramatised Doco for ABC TV. She has also directed 5 episodes of the docu drama series Australia – The Story of Us for Network Seven. She recently wrote and directed the series of Australia in Colour — one of the highest rating documentaries for SBS and is now in the midst of writing the second series.
Two years ago Lisa started directing TV scripted drama with the series Doctor Doctor, directing one episode of series 3 and two eps of Series 4. She is currently developing two feature film project and a TV drama series.
Jacqueline King began her career in 1988 having completed a Bachelor of Technical Production from NIDA, and pursued theatre work, touring extensively for all the major State Theatre and Commercial companies as a Stage Manager and Tour Manager. This helped springboard her start in film production with early projects such Noah’s Ark for Hallmark, going onto work with the likes of George Lucas and Star Wars, Warners Bros and the Wachowski Brothers’ The Matrix Series, Sony Columbia and Rob Cohen’s, Stealth and HBO/Playtone’s, The Pacific. Along with the many films she worked steadily in television and mini series including US movies of the week, such as Looking for Natalie Wood and Southern Star’s Love My Way, before moving into Production Management and Line Producing. From here she has Line Produced shows including; Southern Star’s Rescue Special Ops, Screentime’s Janet King and Wolf Creek and Playmaker’s Love Child to name but a few.
Apart from a consistent slate of drama production she also works in non-scripted television, particularly for Andrew’s Denton’s now defunct company Zapruder’s other films with the Elders Series, The Gruen Transfer and Randling, Endelmol Shine’s Shark Tank, Screentime’s How not to Behave and more recently the ABC/BBC’s Stargazing Live with Brian Cox and Julia Zemiro. She continues to work in the scripted arena, more recently completing Hardball for Northern Pictures and Seachange Re-imagined for Everycloud Productions.
MC Wendy Gray
Wendy Gray is the head of the Industry Program at AFTRS, which delivers all the Industry Short Courses, Industry Certificates, Youth courses and events like TV Talks. Wendy’s background is in television, and she jumped a lot of genres while working at the ABC, before specialising in Producing Children’s TV. After her first 12 years stint at the ABC she freelanced as a TV and Website producer, before returning to the ABC to work with New Media on the launch of ABC 2. After producing 73 TV talks she thought it was time join the conversation.