icon icon

Talks @ AFTRS

Talks @ AFTRS is a series of free, live-streamed events for the screen and broadcast industry. Each Tuesday lunchtime, we’ll be hosting an inspiring chat with industry luminaries, who will talk about their current projects, careers, and inspirations. We’ll focus on creativity and great storytelling. The sessions will be moderated by top industry professionals, including some of AFTRS’ finest, and you’ll be able to submit your questions in realtime.

When: Every Tuesday from 21 April
Time: 1.00 pm – 2.00 pm AEST
Where: Live streamed on the AFTRS Facebook page

Recordings will be available for catch-up viewing on Facebook after the stream.


2 June w/ Kate Dennis and Jonathan Brough

Where are the laughs? In this week’s Talks @ AFTRS, Media Mentors’ Denise Eriksen talks to two of Australia’s top television directors Kate Dennis (Run, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Jonathan Brough (Rosehaven, The Family Law) about new directions in screen comedy. Focussing on the new wave of drama/comedy hybrids (think Fleabag, After Life, Sex Education) they’ll also talk about their careers and the projects they’re currently working on.

Kate Dennis

Kate Dennis has set-up seven television dramas in the US, UK and Australia including HBO’s Run (starring Domhnall Gleeson, Merritt Wever and Phoebe Waller-Bridge); CBS’s Tommy (with Edie Falco); NBC’s New Amsterdam (5 seasons); Network Ten’s Secrets & Lies; Offspring; Party Tricks, and BBC1’s Rescue Me. Offspring ran for seven seasons, garnering over 40 awards and nominations.

Kate’s episodic work in the US traverses comedy and drama and includes: The Handmaid’s Tale; GLOW; The Tick; Heathers; Strange Angel; Krypton; Damnation; I’m Dying Up Here; The Mindy Project; Preacher; Turn: Washington’s Spies; Fear The Walking Dead; Sleepy Hollow and Suits.

Kate began her career as a camera assistant and later script supervisor on Priscilla Queen of the Desert; Babe; At Play in the Fields of the Lord and Cliffhanger. Her Australian directing work includes Rake; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; The Time of Our Lives; Rush; The Secret Life of Us; and Love My Way. From 1997 to 2002, Kate was based in London and developed two features (with Polygram), co-wrote Superstition (Holland/UK) starring Charlotte Rampling, and directed 2nd unit on Gregor Jordan’s Buffalo Soldiers (starring Joaquin Phoenix).

Kate has been nominated for an ADG Award three times for her work on Love My Way (2007), Rake (2012) and Secrets & Lies (2015).

In 2017, Kate’s Handmaid’s Tale episode ‘The Bridge’ was nominated for an Emmy® for Outstanding Director for a Drama Series.

Kate is currently attached to the feature films Almost French (from Sarah Turnbull’s memoir) and All That I Am (from the novel by Anna Funder).

Jonathan Brough

Jonathan Brough is an award-winning director of film & TV, acclaimed for his work in comedy and drama. His television credits include The End, Rosehaven Series 1,2 & 3, Ronny Chieng: International Student, The Family Law, Sammy J and Randy in Ricketts Lane, The Time of Our Lives, Series 1 & 2, It’s a Date Series 1 & 2, Wonderland, Coverband, The Pretender, Spirited, The Insider’s Guide to Happiness, Trails of Napier, The Unauthorised History of New Zealand & Eating Media Lunch and Outrageous Fortune.

With a great affinity for working with comedians, he has won two Australian Directors’ Guild Awards for Best Director, Comedy for his work on Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane and again Rosehaven. He has also made several acclaimed short films including The Model (Official Selection Cannes Film Festival), Permanent Wave (London & Sydney Film Festivals), No Ordinary Sun (‘Best Short Film’ New Zealand International Film Festival 2005 / Official Selection Edinburgh / Hof / Slamdance) and Snowmen (in competition, Interfilm Berlin/ Pacific Meridian Film Festival).

In addition, he has directed over 40 episodes of television, including Legend of the Seeker and Power Rangers for the American market through ABC/Disney and Saban Entertainment.

9 June w/ Jeffrey Walker and Shelley Birse

Recent collaborators, director Jeffrey Walker (Modern Family, Lambs of God, Ali’s Wedding) and writer Shelley Birse (The Code, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) discus their work on STAN series The Commons and their stellar careers. They’ll be joined by AFTRS Head of Directing Rowan Woods, who also directed episodes of the series. Expect some thought-provoking insight.


Shelley Birse is sneaking up on 25 years of gainful employment as a writer, having penned more than 70 episodes of animation, young adult fiction and limited series drama. Writing has taken her to Germany, France, Singapore and the U.S.A. and her work has been acknowledged by AWGIE, AACTA, SPA, FIPA and NSW Literary Awards.

Both seasons of her political thriller, The Code, won Best Drama Series and the Major AWGIE awards in 2014 and 2016. Season Two won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Betty Rowland Screenwriting Prize and internationally, the series took out the Golden D’Or Screenplay Award at the FIPA Festival in France.

Shelley’s most recent work is the Stan series, The Commons, written under the mentorship of Graham Yost, writer of Speed, executive producer of Justified, Sneaky Pete and The Americans.

Shelley regularly writes with one hand and juggles a bush life and small, wild children with the other.


Jeffrey Walker started his career as an actor in the Australian film industry at the age of seven and was a lead in more than 200 episodes. In 1997, Jeffrey won the Australian Film Institute’s Best Young Actor Award for his title role in The Wayne Manifesto. Making short films on weekends and acting during the week, teenaged Jeffrey garnered the attention of prolific television producer Jonathan M. Shiff and he had become one of Australia’s youngest ever television directors at twenty years of age. For well over a decade, Jeffrey has helmed major Australian television productions incuding Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys for HBO, the period BBC mini-series, Banished, Riot for ABC Television, the Jack Irish TV movies starring Guy Pearce, and last year, Jeffrey sole-directed the widely lauded four part “gothic fairytale” miniseries for Foxtel/Sky, Lambs of God. Jeffrey and the project received universally glowing reviews and the project sold to over fifty territories worldwide and won an unprecedented 9 AACTA awards, including Best Director and Best Mini-series. Jeffrey began directing in the US in 2012, working on various television series including Modern Family, Bones and Difficult People, where he series directed and executive produced alongside Amy Poehler for three seasons. His most recent credit is the futuristic series The Commons released in December 2019 on STAN.

Jeffrey’s debut feature film, Ali’s Wedding, released in September 2017, received critical and audience acclaim. It won the Critics Award at the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Audience Award at Sydney Film Festival, and was awarded the Grand Prize at CinefestOz. Dance Academy marked Jeffrey’s second feature and has been reviewed to 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Both Ali’s Wedding and Dance Academy have been acquired internationally by Netflix. Currently, Jeffrey is attached to direct multiple feature films including The Portable Door for The Jim Henson Company.


26 May w/ Leanne Cartwright-Bradford and Marc Fennell

This session explores the world of storytelling via podcast. Leanne Cartwright-Bradford, Country Manager, Audible Australia and New Zealand and Marc Fennell, creator of one of Audible’s most successful recent podcasts, It Burns, talk with AFTRS Radio and Podcasting lecturer Tony Rasmussen about narrative audio and the burgeoning podcasting industry.

(If you aren’t an Audible member and haven’t listened to It Burns: The Scandal-Plagued Race to Breed the World’s Hottest Chilli, there is a 30-day free trial).

Marc Fennell

Marc Fennell is an Australian interviewer, journalist, documentary-maker, and author. He has been honoured by The Webby Awards, nominated for Europe’s prestigious Rose d’Or, and is a two-time New York Festivals award winner. Marc has worked with the BBC, Showtime, and Monocle. He currently hosts SBS Australia’s national current affairs program, The Feed, and long-running ABC radio series, Download This Show. Marc created Audible’s chart-topping global podcast hit, It Burns, and the forthcoming Nut Jobs.

In 2019, Marc was named one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians. His interviews with celebrities and newsmakers like Al Gore, Tom Cruise, Julian Assange, Jennifer Lawrence have been watched over 30 million times. He has reported all around the world, covering everything from sex in Japan to survivors of ISIS torture. Marc can also be caught guest-hosting Network Ten’s The Project and SBS’s Insight & Dateline programs. He is the Creative Director of the not-for-profit group Media Diversity Australia.

19 May w/ Kriv Stenders and Jocelyn Moorhouse

This edition of Talks @ AFTRS features two of Australia’s leading directors – Kriv Stenders (Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Wake in Fright, Red Dog) and Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker, Stateless, Les Norton). In conversation with AFTRS Head of Directing Rowan Woods, they discuss their careers and projects and explore moving between the worlds of television and feature films.

Jocelyn Moorehouse

Upon graduating from AFTRS in 1984, Jocelyn worked in TV as script editor, writer and director and received a grant from the AFC to direct a short children’s comedy called The Siege Of Barton’s Bathroom which was adapted to a 12-part children’s series, The Bartons, commissioned by the ABC. Jocelyn wrote and directed her feature film debut Proof, starring Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe, which had its world premiere in Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991.

In 1994, Jocelyn moved to LA to direct How to Make an American Quilt (1995) starring Winona Ryder and Anne Bancroft, and A Thousand Acres (1997) starring Michele Pfeiffer, Jessica Lang and Colin Firth. She works closely with her husband PJ Hogan and worked as a producer on Muriel’s Wedding, Unconditional Love, Peter Pan and Mental. Jocelyn wrote and directed The Dressmaker, released in 2015, starring Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Liam Hemsworth. It took over $20m at the Australian Box Office and won AACTA Awards for Best Costume, Best Actress, Best Supporting actress, Best Supporting Actor and Audience vote for Favourite Australian Film of the Year.

Jocelyn directed her first play, Sex with Strangers at the Sydney Theatre Company in 2012 and had her memoir, Unconditional Love: A Memoir of Filmmaking and Motherhood published in 2019.

Her television credits include Wanted (Matchbox, Seven Network and Netflix), set up director Les Norton (Roadshow Rough Diamond and ABC), Stateless (Matchbox, Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and ABC) and set up director Wakefield (Jungle, ABC and BBC).

Kriv Stenders

Kriv Stenders is one of Australia’s most renown, respected and prolific film directors with numerous critically acclaimed and award -winning shorts, documentaries, music videos, television commercials, television series and feature films to his credit. His early feature films include Blacktown, The Illustrated, Family Doctor, Boxing Day, and Lucky Country.

His fifth feature, Red Dog, earned over $22 million at the box office, making it the eighth highest grossing Australian film of all time, and won numerous awards. Other feature film directing credits include Kill Me Three Times, Red Dog: True Blue and the Vietnam War epic, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan which was released theatrically across Australia in 2019.

Kriv directed Australia Day for Foxtel, Hoodlum and Icon Films which was the first film released on the Dendy Demand platform and his critically acclaimed feature-length documentary The Go-Betweens: Right Here premiered at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival.

Kriv’s extensive television credits include The Principal, a four-part television drama for SBS, the feature length documentary, Why Anzac with Sam Neill and Wake in Fright, Stephen M. Irwin’s contemporary re-imagining of the Australian classic which aired as a two-parter on Channel Ten.

That same year, he also completed production on Foxtel’s The Pacific with Sam Neill, a six-part documentary series which he co-directed with Sally Aitken. He is currently in post-production on feature documentaries about Slim Dusty’ wife, Joy McKean and racing legend, Peter Brock for Universal Pictures which are due for release in 2020.

12 MAY w/ Sarah Walker and Michael Robotham

This instalment features two of Australia’s leading most prolific creators and writers of both shows and books we love – Sarah Walker and Michael Robotham. They have most recently worked together on Ten’s new hit drama The Secrets She Keeps, but each have an incredible back catalogue of household-name work from All Saints and Winners and Losers to the novel which became Oranges and Sunshine. In this conversation they discuss their latest project, as well as the how we tell psychological drama-stories in a world on edge.


With over 340 produced screen credits as a writer on prime-time Australian television, and over 1,500 as a Script Producer/Story Consultant, as well as Co-Creator credit for a primetime one-hour drama series, Sarah Walker is one of the most prolific screenwriters in Australian television. She’s worked in freelance development with most prestigious production companies, including Matchbox, Aquarius, Essential Media, Fremantle, Roadshow/Rough Diamond and Jungle. As Script Producer of the one-hour prime-time medical drama All Saints for four years, she plotted over 160 episodes and wrote 24 episodes, including “The Sign”, which was nominated for an AFI Award. She developed the hit one-hour comedy-drama series Winners & Losers for Network Seven and worked as a Development Script Executive for Fremantle Media, including Wonderland, for Network 10, for which she was co-creator, script producer and writer. She was Script Executive on Season 1, and Story Consultant on Season 4 of the hit series Wentworth for Foxtel and lead writer and Script Producer on the Lingo limited six-part TV series The Secrets She Keeps, which recently premiered on Network 10. She has written a limited 6-part TV series A Life in Men by Denver & Delilah and UCP in the US, which has been optioned by Netflix, has been commissioned to write a feature adaptation for See-Saw and is currently writing a US pilot and series adaptation for Jessica Biel and Iron Ocean.

Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham’s psychological thrillers have been translated into 25 languages and sold more than seven million copies around the world. He began his working career as a journalist and went on to write for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America before becoming a ghostwriter and collaborating with politicians, pop stars, solders and adventurers to pen their autobiographies.

In 2015, Michael’s novel, Life or Death, won the coveted UK Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger award for the year’s best novel, beating Stephen King and Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) who were on the shortlist. He has also twice been shortlisted America’s top crime writing prize, the Edgars, and twice won Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel.

A six-part TV series based on The Secrets She Keeps recently screened on Channel 10 with an international cast.

5 MAY w/ Vicki Madden and Louise Fox

This edition features two of Australia’s leading supernatural creators and writers – Vicki Madden and Louise Fox. With Media Mentors Australia’s Denise Eriksen, they dig deep into the worlds of Glitch, Gloaming and The Kettering Incident to uncover the secrets of successfully writing about the paranormal – and how it feels like we are in an episode of a supernatural thriller right now.

Vicki Madden

Victoria Madden is a Producer, Writer and Showrunner with over 25 years experience in the television industry both in Australia and overseas. She has worked as Writer and Showrunner on such shows as Halifax f.p. (Aus) The Bill, (UK), Trial & Retribution (UK) The Clinic (Ireland), Water Rats (Aust) and K9 (UK) to name a few. She was also the writer of Blood Brothers, a 90- minute true crime telemovie for the 9 Network and Playmaker media.

Vicki runs her own Production Company, Sweet Potato Films, a small boutique film and TV company in Tasmania, her home state, and co-created, co-produced and wrote the critically acclaimed TV series, The Kettering Incident and followed recently by The Gloaming.

The Kettering Incident was a $15 million elevated supernatural-thriller for Foxtel, set in the dramatic landscape of Tasmania and is the first adult TV drama to be set there. Critics worldwide have described it as ground breaking, bold and confident storytelling that subverts and elevates the crime genre.

TKI has enjoyed stunning award success both in Australia and overseas, winning the Special Jury Prize at the prestigious Series Mania Festival in Paris, with David Chase (Sopranos) as head Juror, four AACTA awards, the SPAA award for most outstanding telemovie or mini-series and two LOGIE awards for outstanding telemovie or mini-series. Madden was short-listed for an Australian writer award (AWGIE) for excellence in writing and for the prestigious NSW Premier’s Literary Award.

TKI has been Foxtel’s highest rating drama ever and been critically acclaimed in Australia and is currently showing in the US and the UK to rave reviews. BBC worldwide has distribution rights.

The recently released supernatural crime series, The Gloaming set once more in her beloved state of Tasmania has been an 18 million-dollar production in collaboration with John Molloy from 2Jons, STAN and ABC Studios US/Disney.

The Gloaming was released on STAN in January 2020 to excellent reviews and is being distributed world-wide by ABC (US)/Disney. Madden is represented by Ted Miller at Creative Artists Agency in the US and Georgina Carrigan at United Agents in the UK.

Louise Fox

Louise Fox was a core member of the writing team on Fast Forward and Full Frontal. She then wrote for the children’s dramas Genie From Down Under and Round The Twist. She then moved into adult drama, working on shows such as Always Greener, Fireflies and Rush.

She was a core member of the writing team on Love My Way (winning the AWGIE for Episode 8 of Series 1), Camelot (Starz network), The Kettering Incident, and wrote an episode for the acclaimed ITV drama Broadchurch. Louise spent two years working as a core member of the team writing for Lucas Film on the Star Wars live action television series.

She was the co-creator and showrunner of the AACTA and Logie-winning Glitch, and also wrote the screenplay for Dead Europe, for which she won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Her plays have been performed at the STC, Malthouse and the QTC.

28 April w/ Tony Ayres and Sheila Jayadev

This edition features Australian producers Tony Ayres (Clickbait, Stateless, The Slap) and Sheila Jayadev (StatelessAli’s Wedding) in conversation with AFTRS’ producing lecturer Robbie Miles about creating the series Stateless, and their current slate of projects.


Sheila Jayadev is a producer with a background in entertainment law, having represented some of Australia’s leading producers across television and feature film. She has worked as a producer with Matchbox Pictures since 2015, producing the award-winning feature film Ali’s Wedding (2017, Madman Entertainment), which won awards at all the major Australian film festivals before being acquired by Netflix. Most recently, she produced the acclaimed ABC series Stateless (2020) for Matchbox Pictures and Cate Blanchett’s production company Dirty Films. Sheila has also worked across the Matchbox Pictures’ features slate as development producer and currently has a slate of high-end television series in development with Matchbox. She has previously worked in development at Scott Free, Ridley Scott’s London-based production company through Screen Australia’s Talent Escalator program, and also as a Development Executive for Create NSW and Screen Australia. She is a company director of the boutique film production company Emerald Productions, established in 2009, a company that works with some of Australia’s most exciting emerging writers and directors, with a particular focus on telling ground-breaking diverse stories.


Tony Ayres is an award-winning Australian showrunner, writer and director, and is one of the founding members of internationally renowned Australian production company Matchbox Pictures, now owned by NBCUniversal Studios. In 2018 Tony established his own production company Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), developing and producing feature films and television for global audiences and international marketplaces. Tony was the showrunner on International Emmy and BAFTA-nominated series, The Slap and an EP on its US remake. He co-created and was Executive Producer on multi-award-winning series Glitch (3 seasons). He was also an executive producer on International Emmy nominated Wanted (3 seasons), and multi-award winning series The Devil’s Playground, Old School, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, and The Straits. He executive produced comedy series The Family Law (3 seasons), Bogan Pride and Maximum Choppage. He produced miniseries Barracuda and the multi-award-winning Seven Types of Ambiguity. He directed the multi-award winning TV movie, Saved. In children’s TV, Tony created and executive produced the International Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Nowhere Boys and the telemovie based on the series, Nowhere Boys: The Book of Shadows. The series is internationally acclaimed, winning the AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series, two Logies, three Kidscreen Awards, a Rockie, and a Prix Jeunesse Award. In feature films, Tony directed Cut Snake (2015), The Home Song Stories (2007) winner of 24 international and Australian awards, and Walking on Water (2002), which premiered at the Berlinale. He also EP’d feature films Ali’s Wedding and Lou. Currently, Tony is the showrunner for upcoming US Netflix series Clickbait, and co-created and EP’d the Matchbox/ABC refugee detention centre drama Stateless alongside Cate Blanchett and Elise McCredie. Stateless stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Dominic West and Cate Blanchett.

21 APRIL w/ Daina Reid and Emma Freeman

The first Talks @ AFTRS featured Australian directors Daina Reid (The Handmaids Tale, Romper Stomper, Sunshine) and Emma Freeman (Stateless, Glitch, Secret City) in conversation with AFTRS Head of Directing Rowan Woods. They shared their experiences of directing top-flight local and international TV.


Daina Reid began her film career as a comedy writer and actor, before making the move behind the camera. Daina’s US episodic work includes The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) and David Makes Man (OWN/Warner Television) which was recently nominated for Best Drama Series at the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards. Daina’s recent credits also include the upcoming thriller The Outsider (HBO) and the half-hour comedy Upload (Amazon). In 2015, she directed Hunters, produced by Gale Anne Hurd (Syfy). Her UK credits include The Spanish Princess (Starz). Daina’s episode “Holly” of The Handmaid’s Tale, received an Emmy and a Director’s Guild of America nomination. In Australia, Daina directed the series remake of the classic Australian film Romper Stomper, (Roadshow Rough Diamond/Stan) and Sunshine (Easy Tiger/Carver Films/SBS). Sunshine, a 4-part miniseries set in Melbourne’s South Sudanese community, won the 2017 AACTA award for Best Telefeature or Miniseries, and Daina won the Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Direction of a TV Miniseries. Her other Australian credits include The Wrong Girl, as well as the final seasons of The Dr Blake Mysteries and Offspring. She directed and co-produced the mini-series adaptation of The Secret River by Kate Grenville, which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival, and screened at the FIPA (Festival International De Programmes Audiovisuels) in Biarritz, France. Daina is a frequent collaborator of award-winning producer John Edwards, their projects include Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo and Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, both of which received AACTA award nominations for Best Direction. Following the success of The Birth of Cleo, Daina directed the follow-up Paper Giants: Magazine Wars. In 2013, she directed Nowhere Boys which won the Best Children’s Television Series AACTA Award. Daina’s other television credits include: Never Tear Us Apart; The Untold Story of INXS; Ready for This; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; Rush and City Homicide to name a few. Her first feature film, I Love You Too, about a commitment-phobe and a New Ager who buddy up to win the women of their dreams starring Yvonne Strahovski and Peter Dinklage. In 2017, Daina received the Michael Carson Award at the Australian Directors’ Guild Awards, in recognition of her excellent contribution to TV Drama Directing. She currently has a feature in development with Carver Films as well as a couple of television projects.


Emma Freeman is one of Australia’s leading directors in television. Her work includes Stateless, Glitch, Secret City, Sisters, Tangle, Puberty Blues, Hawke, Love My Way and Secret Life of Us. A graduate of Victorian College of the Arts, her short films Blood and Ash, Daphne and Ollie and 2002 Tropfest Best Film and Best Screenplay, Lamb have screened at numerous Australian and International film festivals including London, Locarno, New York, Cork, American Cinémathèque and Palm Springs. In 2010 Emma was nominated for an AFI – Best Direction in Television for her work on Tangle and Hawke, for which she won the award. Hawke was also awarded the AFI for Best Telemovie or Mini-Series and won the ADG award for Best Direction in a TV Mini- Series or Telefeature. Emma most recently won the award for Best Music Video at the St Kilda Film Festival for Child Bride (CocoRosie) and the ADG awards for Best Direction in a Television Drama Series for Secret City, Best Direction in a Television Drama Series for Glitch and nominated for Sisters. Emma is the set-up director of the critically acclaimed ABC/NBCU six-part series, Stateless created and produced by Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie. She most recently directed the upcoming Netflix Original, Clickbait produced by TAP, Matchbox Pictures and Heyday Films and will be directing two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Season 4 for Hulu and MGM.