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Meet the Creators @ AFTRS & ACMI

Meet the Creators @ AFTRS & ACMI is a series of free, in-person and live-streamed events for the screen and broadcast industry presented by AFTRS, ACMI, Film Victoria and Media Mentors Australia.

Hosted at AFTRS and ACMI with a small live audience, the events will feature inspiring discussions with industry luminaries and leaders, sharing insights into their current projects, programming, careers, and challenges.

WHEN
Second Tuesday of the month at AFTRS 6.00 pm AEDT
Fourth Tuesday of the month at ACMI 6.00 pm AEDT

WHERE
On-campus at AFTRS/ACMI or streaming live on the AFTRS/ACMI YouTube channel

Recordings will be available for catch-up viewing following the stream.

Upcoming events

26 October – Step Away from The Telly: Making Scripted Online

Time: 1pm (AEDT)

Looking for a home for your short, scripted project – outside of just popping it on your personal YouTube channel and hoping it will find an audience? Then you won’t want to miss this session.

Join Donna Chang, Commissioning Editor, SBS Scripted, Louise Cocks, Investment and Development Manager, Online at Screen Australia, Melbourne-based director Max Miller (Aunty Donna) and Richard Kelly, producer at 2 Jons production company as they discuss short scripted content with MC, Media Mentors Australia’s Denise Eriksen.

Following the discussion, there will be an audience Q&A.

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Past events

19 October – The Female Frame

Finally, female screen directors are starting to receive the creative recognition they deserve. Women have been at the forefront of filmmaking from its inception over a century ago, yet Chloe Zhao’s recent Oscar victory makes her only the second woman in history — and the first woman of colour — to win the top prize.

How do you tell your story, when you’re excluded from the frame? In this edition, Hattie Archibald speaks with fellow AFTRS alumni Gillian Armstrong, Samantha Lang, Vanessa Gazy and Unjoo Moon about their experiences bringing their vision to the screen.

They touch on some important and timely questions: is there a truly female perspective when it comes to telling screen stories? Do female directors bring female characters to the screen in unique ways? They also explore how the challenges, opportunities and issues confronting female directors have changed over time and what the future looks like for women in the Australian screen industries.

The panellists –

GILLIAN ARMSTRONG

Gillian Armstrong made her feature debut with My Brilliant Career (1979), launching the career of Judy Davis in the process. Incredibly, the film marked the first feature-length film directed by a woman in Australia for almost 50 years.

After My Brilliant Career won considerable acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, films such as Starstruck (1982) and High Tide (1987) followed—the latter starring a young Claudia Karvan.

Gillian made her Hollywood debut with Mrs. Soffel (1984), but it was Little Women (1994) that truly cemented her reputation in the United States. She later teamed up with Cate Blanchett on back-to-back films: Oscar and Lucinda (1997) and Charlotte Gray (2001). Her most recent feature was the documentary Women He’s Undressed, which premiered at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival.

The very first president of the Australian Director’s Guild, Gillian was awarded an ADG Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007, in recognition of her contribution to the film industry over a long career. She has also received an AM for services to the Australian film industry.

SAMANTHA LANG

Samantha Lang is a filmmaker and visual artist who has worked in Australia, France and the US over the last 20 years. Her feature films The WellThe Monkey’s Mask and L’Idole screened at major international festivals such as Sundance, Toronto, Locarno, and have received international recognition at the highest level, The Well competing at the Cannes Film Festival for the Palme D’Or. In Australia, her films have been awarded many times including – at the Australian Film Institute Awards and the Sydney Film Festival. In 2019 – her feature documentary It all started with a stale sandwich competed in the DAF awards at SFF.

Most recently she has made two VR films Prehistoric VR and Anthropocene VR in collaboration with Erth Visual and Physical and supported by Create NSW. These VR films form part of her creative practice doctorate (DCA). Her areas of research include the eco-feminine, the post-human, environmental humanities, ecopoetics, geopoetics, the Anthropocene, and non-traditional forms of screenwriting.

As well as being a creative practitioner, she has mentored, supervised and lectured emerging film directors in her capacity as Head of Directing at AFTRS (2010-2016), as well as at Create NSW and Screen Australia. In 2017 Samantha was co-leader of HIVE lab at AIFF 2017 where she facilitated twelve arts practitioners to reimagine their creative projects as works for the screen.

In 2015 she was elected as President of the Australian Director’s Guild and in 2016 was on the taskforce at Screen Australia that rolled out the Gender Matters Initiative to redress gender and diversity imbalance in the sector.
Samantha’s current projects include screen adaptations of Kill The Messenger by playwright, Nakkiah Lui (Brilliant Stories initiative), and an eco-film called Brown Lake.

UNJOO MOON

Director and producer Unjoo Moon started off as a journalist at the ABC before studying at the school. Together with AFTRS classmate Dion Beebe, Unjoo founded production company Deep Blue Pacific upon graduation and moved to Los Angeles, where she attended the American Film Institute (AFI).

Her feature documentary The Zen of Bennett, a portrait of the singer Tony Bennett, was released in 2012, while her 2017 PSA video on gun violence, The Wrong Side of History, was shot by Beebe and has been viewed over 50 million times on social platforms.

Unjoo’s first feature film as both producer and director, I Am Woman, was inspired by the life of Helen Reddy and had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. She currently sits on the AFI Conservatory Alumni Council and is a board member of Australians in Film. She was recently awarded the inaugural Athena Breakthrough Award, sponsored by Netflix.

VANESSA GAZY

Vanessa Gazy is an award-winning Australian series creator/writer/director.

Her first television series Eden, an eight-part mystery drama, premiered in 2021 on Stan. I was picked up internationally by Spectrum (USA), Canal+, and others.

Vanessa is also the creator of an eight-part Netflix USA mystery thriller, Echoes (FKA Id), currently in production in the US.

Her short films have screened at over thirty film festivals internationally, including the BFI London Film Festival, Warsaw International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Palm Springs Shortfest and Fantastic Fest.

She is currently developing her ADG-Award-nominated short film Highway into a high-concept feature produced by Goalpost Pictures.

Vanessa completed her Masters in Directing at the AFTRS School in 2014, winning the school’s prestigious Kenneth B. Myer Award for Exceptional Talent upon graduating.

She is also a Sundance 2014 Short Film Audience Award-winning producer, for Matthew Lessner’s short film Chapel Perilous. In 2013 she co-produced Lessner’s feature film Automatic at Sea which had its US premiere at Slamdance 2017.

HATTIE ARCHIBALD

Hattie is an award-winning emerging director originally from rural NSW who  graduated from AFTRS with the Master of Arts: Screen in Directing in 2019. Her major project, comedy web series Gut Feeling was picked up by ABC iview and won numerous awards internationally, including the Audience Award at Melbourne WebFest and Minnesota WebFest. Since graduating, Hattie has directed branded content and music videos, and had attachment opportunities with Nash Edgerton on Season 3 of Mr Inbetween and David Gould on Home & Away. As an assistant director Hattie has worked on feature film Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), CJZ’s Rocky & Me for ABCMe DisRupted and most recently, Bunya’s new comedy sketch shot The Moth Effect for Amazon Prime. Alongside her creative work, Hattie has 10 years’ experience in documentary impact producing, marketing and distribution.

28 September – Saluting Wentworth

As Foxtel’s Wentworth ends its extraordinary 100 episode run, it’s time to salute a series that has delivered so much to its actors, crew and to its audiences around the world.

Join executive producer Jo Porter, writer Marcia Gardner, star Katrina Milosevicgo and director Catherine Millar as they go behind the scenes of one of Australia’s most successful dramas, and discuss how and why the series flourished.

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21 September – Determined Directors

Less than 40 feature films are funded in Australia every year. To get their stories in front of audiences (and to survive) directors must be innovative, determined and clever.

In this edition, directors Adam Elliot (Academy Award For Best Short Film (Animated) winner, Harvie Krumpet), Logan Mucha (AFTRS Graduate Diploma in Documentary, 2012) and Aaron Wilson (Little Tornadoes) share their stories of determination, passion and creativity – along with tips on how to get features funded and how to explore platforms other than the cinema.

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14 September – Podcasting Powerhouses

Thousands of hours of podcasts are produced each week around the world, and the art form is evolving rapidly from the standard “two people have a chat on a topic they love” trope. Podcasters are diversifying their content across platforms and finding new, creative ways to engage their audiences.

In another lunchtime edition of Meet the Creators, Walkley award-winning cross-platform creator Marc Fennell (SBS host, Stuff The British Stole, Nut Jobs, It Burns), Jesse Klass, Head of Digital Content at Fremantle Media (and co-executive producer of Chasing Charlie), and independent podcaster Marlee Silva (Tiddas 4 Tiddas, Always Was, Always Will Be Our Stories, Chicks and Balls The Podcast), discuss all things audio storytelling with AFTRS Radio alum Alex Mitchell (Digital Product Manager, LiSTNR).

The panellists –

Marc Fennell

Marc Fennell is a Walkley-winning journalist, interviewer, author and documentary maker. Marc has been honoured internationally by The Webby Awards and twice nominated for Europe’s prestigious Rose d’Or. He is a recipient of America’s coveted James Beard Foundation Award, an Asian Creative Academy National Award, plus gold and silver world medals at the New York Festivals. The Times (UK) even declared him to be the “cheerful Aussie version of Louis Theroux”.

Currently the host of Mastermind Australia (SBS) The Feed (SBS) and Download this Show (ABC), Marc also created the hit podcast documentaries It Burns (Audible), Nut Jobs (Audible), and the chart-topping Stuff the British Stole (ABC).

Jessie Klass

Jessie Klass is Head of Digital for Fremantle Australia, creators and distributors of world-leading content. Fremantle operates in 26 countries globally making over 480 new shows per year. Jessie was the Co-Executive Producer for Chasing Charlie, Apple’s Podcast finalist of the year 2020, with over 1m downloads internationally.

Other producing highlights include documentaries Eddie Izzard Is Running for Comic Relief and Girls Aloud Passions, reality shows, Grand Designs, Australia’s Got Talent, The X Factor, The Great Australian Bake Off, Celebrity Apprentice, Farmer Wants A Wife and dramas, Neighbours and Wentworth.

As the Digital Executive Producer, Jessie has been responsible for creating award-winning campaigns, content and podcasts across Australian and UK networks with over 8 million combined social media audience members. She manages 50+ channels/pages/sites for Fremantle and its major network partners and sponsors.

Marlee Silva

Marlee Silva is a published author and podcaster from Dharawal Country, south of Sydney. She started her audio career in 2018 with her first podcast, Tiddas 4 Tiddas which featured inspiring conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, produced by the Mamamia Network. Since then, as an independent podcast creator, she has developed Always Was, Always Will Be Our Stories and currently co-hosts weekly show, Chicks and Balls the Podcast, “a sports podcast by women, about more than women’s sport”, which features analysis of the biggest headlines in sports media and conversations with some of Australia’s best athletes and sports insiders.

Alex Mitchell

Alex Mitchell is a graduate of the AFTRS Graduate Diploma in Radio, he has had a multi-award-winning career in commercial radio and in podcasting as the Executive Producer for Branded Content at LiSTNR (previously PodcastOne).

Alex has since combined his audio entertainment expertise and love of technology to lead the evolution of LiSTNR as a Digital Product Manager, specifically in the IoT (CarPlay, Android Auto, Connected TVs, Watches, etc) and Voice (Google, Alexa, Siri) space.

24 August – The Rise and Rise of the Mini-Series

This edition explores the mini-series as a format and how to make it a hit, with leading producers, Joanna Werner (Netflix’s Clickbait and Surviving Summer, ABC’s The Newsreader. Foxtel’s Secret City), Corrie Chen (SBS’ New Gold Mountain, Five Bedrooms, Sisters, SeaChange, 2019), and SBS’ Head of Scripted Julie Eckersley.

In conversation with Media Mentors Australia’s Denise Eriksen, the panellists will share stores behind these series – how they were devised, written, produced and pitched – and discuss what makes a mini-series a satisfying experience for audiences.

 

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10 August – Passion Projects

In this bumper lunchtime edition of Meet the Creators, Annabel Crabb, Stamatia Maroupas, Jane Castle ACS, Tiriki Onus and Alec Morgan will speak to Anita Jacoby about their exciting new works, and the challenges documentary makers face when choosing to work on their passion projects.

Annabel Crabb and Stamatia Maroupas recently brought Ms Represented to our screens, with some very personal stories from our female politicians.

Alumni Jane Castle ACS’ new film, When The Camera Stopped Rolling, tells the story of her mother, Lillias Fraser, one of the pioneers of Australian cinema.

Tiriki Onus, with co-director Alec Morgan, explores his grandfather Bill Onus’s legacy (including the fact that he might have been the first-ever Aboriginal filmmaker) in Ablaze, premiering at MIFF.

The panellists –

Alec Morgan

Alec Morgan is a multi-award winning filmmaker with productions that have screened at over 50 film festivals, in cinemas and on television in many countries. His documentary credits include the landmark production Lousy Little Sixpence, which first exposed the story of the Stolen Generations and Admission Impossible, which exposed the secret history of the White Australia Policy. His innovative hybrid feature Hunt Angels won 8 awards including 3 AACTA Awards and the prestigious Joan Long Award for contribution to Australian film history. He recently wrote and directed episodes of the ground-breaking factual series Australia In Colour, one of SBS’s highest rating productions. He collaborated with Tiriki Onus to make his latest production the feature documentary Ablaze.

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a multi-platform, Walkley-award-winning writer and presenter for the ABC, currently on-screen as presenter of the original series Ms Represented and the pan-ABC data project Australia Talks. She has been a political reporter and writer for two decades, and is the author of several books including this year’s Well Hello, co-written with ABC colleague and Chat 10, Looks 3 podcast co-presenter Leigh Sales.

 

Jane Castle

AFTRS alum Jane Castle ACS is a multi-award winning filmmaker whose work as a director includes the documentary Sixty Thousand Barrels and the short drama Roadside Café. She is also an award-winning cinematographer and the second-ever woman to be accredited by the Australian Cinematographer’s Society. She has worked extensively in the US and Australia shooting feature films, documentaries and commercials, as well as music videos for performers such as Prince, U2, Mary J Blige, Usher and INXS. Jane has combined her filmmaking with her environmental activism, making a range of campaign videos for groups such as Greenpeace and the Total Environment Centre. When the Camera Stopped Rolling is her first feature-length documentary.

 

Stamatia Maroupas

Stamatia Maroupas is a Sydney based director and producer who – over a 20-year career at the ABC – has directed and produced countless hours of television content ranging across factual, comedy, entertainment, arts and live broadcast events.

In 2017, she directed her first documentary series, the landmark The House with Annabel Crabb, which uncovered the secrets of Parliament House, Canberra.

Over several seasons of the popular ABC series Kitchen Cabinet, Stamatia shot inside the homes of Australian politicians around the country, earning an AACTA nomination in 2015. She also directed When I Get A Minute, the ABC iview series featuring Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb.

A committed fan of live and contemporary music, Stamatia in 2018 directed and conceived the innovative “house party” execution of The Set, the ABC’s return to contemporary music TV programming. The Set is now in its third season.

And in 2021, she teamed up with Annabel Crabb to execute Ms Represented, a four-part political history documentary telling women’s stories from 100 years of serving in Australian parliaments.

 

Tiriki Onus

Tiriki is an opera singer, playwright, educator and filmmaker. He picked up filmmaking skills by assisting on the production of, and appearing in, a number of documentaries including Lin Onus: Bridge Between Cultures, Moomba: What’s in a name? and Kwaya’s Uganda Music Project. He also worked with award-winning Indigenous filmmaker Richard Frankland on Yinga-Bul: Stories of a Song Man. He wrote and acted in the critically acclaimed musical drama, William and Mary, about the love affair between his grandparents, William and Mary Onus. He also studied to be an opera singer. For Deborah Cheetham’s Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer, he created the character of ‘Uncle Bill’ based on his grandfather and played that role. He has also appeared in theatre works Der Vampyr and The Tenderland. Tiriki’s directing debut on the feature documentary Ablaze, announces a career move from theatre to film on a subject close to his heart – the astonishing true story of his charismatic grandfather, the first Indigenous filmmaker William Bill Onus.

7 July – So, You Want to be a Writer!

Everybody thinks they have a book, a film or a TV series in them – but this edition’s guests have real runs on the board. Learn how they gained successful careers as writers in this live-streamed panel.

In this edition, author, actor, podcaster and much-loved comedian, Kitty FlanaganBAFTA and International Emmy Award-winning journalist-turned-screenwriter David Hannam (Nowhere Boys, Wentworth, Dance Academy, Secret Bridesmaids) and Peter Mattessi (EastEnders, Neighbours, The Heights) discuss their work, success and all things writing.

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8 June – Te Ao Māori: Making ‘Cousins’

This edition of Meet the Creators features the filmmakers behind New Zealand film, Cousins: producer and co-director Ainsley Gardiner and writer, co-director and actor Briar Grace-Smith.

From the producers of Boy and The Breaker-Upperers, Cousins is an adaptation of Patricia Grace’s eponymous novel and features an all-Maori female cast and key creative team.  Tikanga Māori (Māori cultural practice) is an integral part of Māori culture and is at the heart of the Cousins’ story. Filming in Rotoiti at Te Waiiti Marae under the care of Muriwai Ihakara and the local Ngāti Hinekura and Ngāti Pikiao people meant the film was grounded in Te Ao Māori. Aunties, uncles and cousins all played a role, some as actors and others lending a hand to the production.

Join Gardiner and Grace-Smith, in conversation with academic and writer Amy Thunig, as they discuss their work on the film, the process of adapting the novel and their decision to co-direct the film.

The panellists –

AINSLEY GARDINER

Ainsley Gardiner (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Whakatōhea) has produced more than a dozen short and feature films, documentaries and television drama series. Notably Gardiner produced the short films Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu written and directed by Oscar-winner, Taika Waititi. She went on to collaborate with Waititi on his feature films, Eagle vs Shark in 2005 and his  (original) No. 1 Box Office hit, BOY in 2009.

Gardiner has produced other features including The Pā Boys with writer/director Himiona Grace, as well as drama for television. Her first short film, Mokopuna, had a successful festival life, winning Gold at the Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival. Gardiner also works as an external script assessor and mentors a number of emerging Māori writers, directors and producers. In 2015 Gardiner founded Miss Conception Films with Georgina Conder. Their production company is focused on female-lead character-driven projects with female key creatives, including the feature film The Breaker Upperers, documentary She Shears and the upcoming thriller Reunion, to be released later in 2020. In 2017, Gardiner joined a team of women directors and writers to create the critically acclaimed feature film Waru. Gardiner is also a producer on the upcoming Canadian-New Zealand co-production Night Raiders. In 2018, she was named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to her work in film and television, and in 2019 Gardiner received the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship with Briar Grace-Smith.

BRIAR GRACE-SMITH

Briar Grace Smith (Ngåti Hau, Ngāpuhi)  is an award-winning director and screenwriter for the page, stage and screen. Her screenwriting credits for film include Fresh Meat and The Strength of Water, which earned her Best Feature Film Script at the NZ Scriptwriters Awards. Her plays have toured both nationally and internationally and won multiple awards, with her first play Ngā Pou Wāhine earning her the Bruce Mason Playwriting award, and Purapurawhetu winning Best New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Grace-Smith’s extensive television writing credits include The Big Chair, Taumata, Mataku, Being Eve, Paradise Cafe, Kaitangata Twitch, Billy, When We Go to War and Fishskin Suit (Best Drama Award at the NZ Television Awards). She has director credits on two feature films, the critically acclaimed Waru and Krystal. In 2000, Grace-Smith received the Arts Foundation Laureate award, and in 2018 was recognised for her services to theatre, film and television, appointing her Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2019, Grace-Smith won the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship with fellow filmmaker Ainsley Gardiner.

AMY THUNIG

Amy Thunig is an academic in the School of Education at Macquarie University, where she is also completing a PhD in education with a focus on Sovereign Indigenous women in academia. A Gomeroi/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi woman, Amy began her journey into formal education as a Primary School teacher, attaining a Masters Degree in Teaching before moving into her academic role. In 2019 Amy was invited to give her TEDx talk ‘Disruption is not a dirty word’ and was named ‘Emerging Leader in the Public Sector’ at the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards. In 2020 Amy signed her first book deal for her forthcoming collection of personal essays titled Tell Me Again with University of Queensland Press (UQP) and launched her podcast Blacademia: yarns with First Nations/Indigenous academics. A freelance media writer and panellist, Amy regularly appears on television programs such as ABC’s The Drum and writes for publications such as Buzzfeed, Sydney Book Review, IndigenousX, The Guardian, Junkee, Women’s Agenda and more. A mother and active community member, Amy resides on the unceded Awabakal land.

1 June – Celebrating Collaboration

Director Beck Cole and Writer Samuel Paynter have just finished filming their chapter of an anthology feature film Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply (entitled Ngā Pouwhenua in Aotearoa New Zealand). Teams from both countries worked together to develop a cohesive film.

Producers Aaron Fa’Aoso and Paul Walton teamed up for Strait to the Plate – an exploration of life on the Torres Strait islands through an entertaining and vibrant cooking show for NITV and SBS.

In this edition, all four talk about their experiences of those shows – and many others from their long and successful careers – and how to get the best out of teams to make great programming.

27 April – Hitting It Out of the Park!

Focusing on shows that are ostensibly about sport but appeal far more broadly than just to sports fans, panellists Sam Pang (The Front Bar, Eurovision, Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever, Have You Been Paying Attention), Luke Tunnecliffe (Head of Content for JamTV; Making Their Mark on Amazon Prime) and Nicole Minchin (Lowdown, The Record on Amazon Prime) share insights into how they produce shows with wide appeal.

In conversation with Media Mentors’ Denise Eriksen, the panellists will discuss their careers, experiences and how they got into the business and why they stay there, along with the need for more industry creatives to keep up with the demands of big productions.

13 April – From Concept to Broadcast

Television showrunners have an extraordinary job: to take a raw concept and usher it through the brains and hands of hundreds of people, to finally make a piece of entertainment for Australians. Shows can begin with a throw-away comment in a conversation, or through a format deal – but they always involve the meeting point of creativity and crazy logistics.

This edition of Meet the Creators features some of Australia’s most accomplished television creatives positioned at this intersection, in conversation with MC Andrew Garrick.

Join Eureka’s Rikkie Proost, Screentime’s Deb Spinocchia and ITV’s Majella Wiemers as they discuss bringing the biggest shows on TV to our screens, from concept to broadcast.

The panellists –

DEB SPINOCCHIA

Deb Spinocchia has over 20 years’ experience as a television professional, producing shows with crews ranging from 2 to 200. Kicking off her career on The Movie Show with Margaret and David on SBS she was given a thorough apprenticeship and eventually left the program as producerShe has a diverse background across a variety of TV genres but has spent most of her time in unscripted and reality. She is currently Executive Producer on SAS Australia for Seven and recent EP credits include: Zumbo’s Just Desserts, The Mentor, Back with the EX, Seven Year Switch, Bride and Prejudice and House Rules.

Deb spends a lot of her time in format development and had success with Back with the Ex which is now screening across the globe via Netflix. She has also been a Network Executive overseeing shows such as First Dates (Warner Bros.) and The Single Wives (Eureka) both for Seven. Prior to EP-ing Deb was a Series Producer for several years as well as producing in both field and post. Her credits include Undercover Boss, Don’t Tell The Bride, AGT, So You Think You Can Dance, MKR, Biggest Loser, The World’s Strictest Parents, Beauty and the Geek, Fat Pizza and JTV. On top of this, she ran her own production company and produced an ABC Doco commissioned through Arts and Screen Australia, Skimpy.

MAJELLA WIEMERS

There are very few television genres ITV Australia’s Head of Entertainment Majella Wiemers hasn’t made. Her credits include Love Island, studio sensation The Voice, heartwarming transformation series This Time Next Year, The Cube, Takeaway, Shark Tank, The Great Australian Spelling Bee, Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, No Leave No Life and Aussie Pickers.

Queensland born, Majella began her television career as a news and current affairs presenter, reporter and producer, working on landmark Australian programs such as Today, A Current Affair, Nine News, Sunday, Nightline, RPA, Good Medicine, Changing Rooms and Getaway.

Her role as Head of Entertainment sees her overseeing ITV Studios’ biggest brands in this market, from casting through to show delivery, including social and digital arms of the formats.

RIKKIE PROOST

Rikkie Proost is universally respected by the Australian production community as one of the world’s finest and most experienced unscripted producers. Proost has a unique background having developed and produced award-winning television shows across a wide range of genres including reality, light entertainment, factual entertainment and game shows.

Prior to joining Eureka as the Chief Content Officer, Proost held various senior positions at the Seven Network from 2008 to 2019 including Head of Reality Television, Head of International Production and Development and most recently Head of Unscripted Production. During this time, he was the co-creator on two of Seven’s most successfully stripped reality formats; My Kitchen Rules (Seven) and House Rules (Seven). He not only oversaw development and production of these franchises in Australia but was heavily involved in format sales and local adaptations for numerous territories including the USA, UK, the Netherlands, Israel and Germany. In this role, Proost oversaw a raft of original formats and local adaptations for Seven including First DatesBeauty and the Geek, Instant Hotel, Zumbo’s Just Desserts and Seven Year Switch.

Before joining Seven, Proost worked extensively on Wipeout (Nine), Gladiators (Seven), Big Brother (Ten) and The Amazing Race (CBS). His early experience extends across TV, Film and TVC’s, including running his own production company where he created a number of original children’s programs and game shows.

23 March – Every One’s A Winner

“Success” is up for discussion as the screen industry starts to flourish again.

In the first Melbourne outing of Meet the Creators @AFTRS & ACMI – live at ACMI and online around Australia – we are joined by four people who deliver some of Australia’s most successful programming: Tony Ayres, Laurence Billiet, Marty Benson, Naomi Higgins.

With MC Denise Eriksen of Media Mentors Australia, the panel will talk about their secrets of success, explain how they create the hits – and how they keep them coming.

Read more about the event and panellists here.

9 March – Celebrating Women

In celebration of International Women’s Day, writer/director Corrie Chen, factual executive producer Debbie Cuell, director/writer/actor Leah Purcell, documentary producer Laurie Critchley and producer/writer Samantha Strauss discuss their recent projects and share insights into their exceptional careers with legend-in-her-own-right, AFTRS alumna Anita Jacoby AM.

The Panellists –

CORRIE CHEN

Corrie Chen is a highly sought-after, award-winning writer and director whose work spans comedy and drama. She is currently directing New Gold Mountain, a ground-breaking Goalpost Pictures and SBS miniseries set in the Australian gold rush from the Chinese-Australian perspective. Most recently, she directed the latest season of Wentworth for FremantleMedia and Foxtel.

Her other episodic work includes Five Bedrooms (Hoodlum/Network 10); Sisters (Banks, Endemol Shine and Network 10); the ratings hit remake of beloved Australian drama SeaChange (Every Cloud Productions and Nine), and all three series of International Emmy-nominated Mustangs FC (Matchbox Pictures and ABC).

Corrie received an ADG Award nomination for Best Direction in a Children’s TV Drama for Mustangs FC. She directed and executive produced the SBS series Homecoming Queens, a semiautobiographical comedy-drama, which has been nominated for multiple awards including the AACTAs and the Australian Directors’ Guild.

Corrie is naturally drawn to stories that explore the themes of identity and belonging. Perhaps it’s something to do with her intercontinental background. She’s still trying to figure it out.

DEBBIE CUELL

Debbie Cuell is a creative, visionary, Emmy winning Executive Producer and Head of Genre with more than 20 years’ experience specialising in Factual and Entertainment genres in Australian TV, public broadcasting and subscription TV.

In her current role at Endemol Shine Australia Debbie looks after the slate of factual programs, bringing her integrity, and proven storytelling skills to every project, resulting in entertaining and enlightening programs, that successfully engage a broad audience. Her recent series Old Peoples Home For 4 Year Olds, broadcast on the ABC in 2019, was not only a huge ratings success for the ABC but it touched the hearts of Australian viewers and shone a light on our often-forgotten older Australians. The series was critically acclaimed both in Australia and internationally touching the hearts of viewers across the country, and winning the International Emmy Award for Best Entertainment Program, AACTA for Best Documentary or Factual Program, New York TV and Film Festivals Documentary – Social Issues and the 2020 C21 International Format Awards for Best Factual Format.

In her previous role in 2017 as Head of Entertainment at the ABC she led a large national team and managed the production, and delivery of a mix of original content and formats, working closely and collaboratively with either in house production teams or co-production partners. Her expertise in factual and entertainment television has seen her in Executive Producer roles on series including The Great Australian Spelling Bee, Coast Australia for the History Channel on Foxtel and BBC2, The Gruen Sweat, The Gruen Transfer and many more.

LAURIE CRITCHLEY

Laurie Critchley is a leading executive in the highly competitive Australian media industry. As founder and CEO of Southern Pictures, which she established in 2009, she has successfully delivered 100+ hours of original blue-chip screen content to global audiences. Her many broadcast partners include the ABC, SBS, BBC, Nine Network and Discovery, as well as free-to-air and cable broadcasters and distributors around the world.

Laurie’s credits include six seasons of the Logie-winning history format, Dynasties (ABC, BBC, BSkyB, NHK); the AACTA-winning Hawke: The Larrikin and the Leader (ABC); the New York Television-awarded series, The Mosque Next Door (SBS, TRT, Discovery Asia); Slim and I, winner of best feature film (2020, Gold Coast Film Festival); and the top-rating documentary on Australian television in 2020, Miriam Margolyes Almost Australian (ABC, BBC; Discovery).

Laurie began her 30-year career in radio and print media and was a commissioning editor with Penguin Books and The Women’s Press in London, where she worked with leading authors across a diverse slate of award-winning fiction and non-fiction, and successfully re-launched its Young Adult imprint.

LEAH PURCELL

Leah Purcell is an internationally acclaimed director, writer and actor.

Leah’s play, The Drover’s Wife (in which she also played the title role), premiered at Belvoir Theatre in 2016. The play won numerous prestigious awards including Best New Australian Work, Best Play, Best Direction and Best Sound Design at the 2016 Sydney Theatre Awards and Best New Australian Work, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Play at the 2017 Helpmann Awards and many more.

In 2016, she was the start-up director on the hit Seven Network/Screentime series The Secret Daughter, and in 2019 she was the start-up director on My Life Is Murder for Network Ten/CJZ. Leah directed episodes of Goalpost Picture/Pukeko’s critically acclaimed series Cleverman which aired locally on the ABC and on the Sundance Channel in the US and BB3 in the UK.

Leah was a writer for the Logie nominated ABC3 TV series, Ready for This, writer and director of the Foxtel documentary Who We Are: Brave New Clan, writer and director for episodes of the AACTA award-winning Redfern Now, series 1 and 2, and writer of an episode of the ABC series, My Place.

Feature film The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson was written and directed by Leah. She stars in the leading role of film and is a co-producer through her production company Oombarra Productions.

SAMANTHA STRAUSS

Samantha wrote, created and executive produced upcoming 10-part series The End for Foxtel and Sky Atlantic, produced by See-Saw Films. The Guardian has described The End as “devastating TV that shows what makes life worth living.” The Times reviewed it as “extraordinary and devastating” as well as “sharp and unlike anything I’ve seen.”

As an emerging writer, Sam created teen phenomenon and break-out Australian series, Dance Academy, which screens in over 160 countries and ran to 65 episodes. The series was nominated for two International Emmys, won the Outstanding Children’s Series Logie awards in 2012 and 2013 and has won or been nominated for multiple AACTA awards, Asian Television wards, Sichuan Festival Golden Panda awards, Banff Television Festival and New York Festivals awards.

Sam’s upcoming projects include the feature film, The President’s Astrologer, for Fox Searchlight and Film 4, directed by John Madden and produced by Damian Jones.

She’s one of the writers and executive producers on a television adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Nine Perfect Strangers, starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy, produced by Made-Up Stories, Blossom Films and David E Kelley.

She has several exciting passion projects in development (yet to be announced) through her new company, Picking Scabs, which is a co-venture with See-Saw Films.

Sam has been nominated for seven Australian Writers’ Guild Awards and won three times.