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AFTRS Launches Talks @ AFTRS Podcast: Candid Conversations with Leading Australian Creatives

The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) today launched Talks @ AFTRS Podcast, a series sharing insights and inspiration from industry some of Australia’s top creative practitioners.

This 11-episode series brings together some of our country’s leading directors, producers, podcasters, scriptwriters, and radio makers to talk careers, creative choices and making great work. The lineup includes directors Daina Reid and Emma Freeman and creative teams writer Tony McNamara and producer Marian Macgowan and Helen Bowden and Tim Minchin, as well as VR pioneer Lynette Wallworth, actor/martial artist/stuntwoman Maria Tran and Triple J Hack host Avani Dias.

“For anyone interested in the screen or broadcast industries, this series is a must. The conversations provide a rare, fascinating glimpse into how our best creators make the brilliant work they do. It’s intimate, entertaining, inspiring as well as really practical,” said AFTRS CEO Nell Greenwood.

Top, L-R: Lynette Wallworth, Daina Reid; Bottom, L-R: Maria Tran, Kate Dennis

The episodes, now available here, are:

Episode 1: Directing TV & Film with Jocelyn Moorhouse and Kriv Stenders
Acclaimed Australian directors, Kriv Stenders (Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Red Dog, Network 10’s miniseries Wake in Fright) and Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof, How to Make an American Quilt, A Thousand Acres, The Dressmaker) talk to AFTRS Head of Directing Rowan Woods. The episode explores their careers and their movement between the worlds of television and feature film. They offer insight into their screenplay analysis process, how to modulate tone, and how to develop a “director’s instinctual muscles.”

Episode 2: Podcasting with Marc Fennell and Leanne Cartwright-Bradford
Leanne Cartwright-Bradford, Country Manager at Audible, commits to creating compelling audiobooks and exclusive podcasts. Enter author, journalist, documentary maker, and interviewer Marc Fennell with It Burns, a story which takes listeners from the Australian Coast to South Carolina in a race to breed the world’s hottest chilli. In this episode, Leanne and Marc are in conversation with Tony Rasmussen, Senior Lecturer in Radio at AFTRS, discussing what constitutes compelling content for Audible and the genesis of the globally acclaimed It Burns. Marc talks about his approach to the craft, the importance of challenging audience expectations and the power of music in regard to binding characters and experience together around a theme.

Episode 3: Experiential Storytelling with Lynette Wallworth
Lynette Wallworth is an Emmy and AACTA award-winning Australian artist/filmmaker (Coral, TENDER, Collisions, Awavena) and the first Artist-in-Residence at AFTRS. In this episode, she talks to AFTRS CEO Nell Greenwood about the importance of an artistic perspective, how her stories find their form across documentary, immersive installation and her new explorations with audio narrative. She sheds light on the challenges and artistic possibilities of being a true tech pioneer. And, Lynnette reflects on the unique relationship she has with her audience through her interactive storytelling and the power of story and art to enact social change.

Episode 4: Writing & Producing TV Comedy with Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope
Gristmill production company is recognised for its distinctive brand of narrative comedy (The Librarians, Upper Middle Bogan, Very Small Business, The Inbestigators, Little Lunch). In this episode, comics and Gristmill founders, Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, share stories of their careers with co-founder of Media Mentors Australia, Denise Eriksen. They talk about handling rejection, what drew them both to comedy, the inspiration behind The Librarians, how they cast Upper Middle Bogan, and what it’s like working with Netflix.

Episode 5: Radio Presenting & Journalism with Avani Dias
Avani Dias is the host of Hack, Triple J’s current affairs show for young Australians. She has been a multi-platform reporter for ABC News across TV, radio and online in Sydney and Darwin. Avani was a finalist in the Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year Award for her reporting of a blotched case in which a UNSW student was wrongly accused of terror offences in 2019. In this episode of Talks @ AFTRS, Avani speaks to AFTRS Head of Radio and Podcasting, Fyona Smith, about the making of Hack, the importance of having a heightened sense of curiosity, creating opportunity through outreach and the power of authenticity.

Episode 6: Directing TV ‘Dramedy’ with Kate Dennis and Jonathan Brough
In this episode, Denise Eriksen of Media Mentors Australia talks to two of Australia’s top television directors Kate Dennis (Offspring, The Handmaid’s Tale, Run) and Jonathan Brough (Rosehaven, Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane, The Family Law). The trio discuss new wave of drama/comedy hybrids including Fleabag, Afterlife, and Sex Education and how the dramedy is the home for raw, devastating human experience played for laughs. Kate and Jonathan offer insight into what they are looking for in a script, how they frame comedy and tragedy differently, the benefits of learning the language of each actor, and how to create a safe environment on set.

Episode 7: Producing & Writing Hit TV Show The Great with Tony McNamara & Marian Macgowan
Academy Award-nominated, BAFTA-winning writer Tony McNamara (The Favourite, Ashby, The Rage in Placid Lake, The Great) joins producer Marian Macgowan (Two Hands, The Rage in Placid Lake, South Solitary, The Great) to discuss their careers and collaborations with AFTRS Head of Screenwriting Pieter Aquilia. With film and TV credits that span decades and many joint ventures together, they stress the importance of being on the same page tonally for successful collaborations. They also offer insight to emerging writers on how to pitch projects and identify entry points for writers in Australia.

Episode 8: TV Drama with Tim Minchin and Helen Bowden
In this episode, Tim Minchin and Helen Bowden talk with AFTRS Senior Lecturer in Screenwriting Caroline Grose about the conception, development and writing of their television series Upright. Tim Minchin is an Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician, composer, lyricist and director best known for his comedy and stand up shows, as well as his success as musical theatre composer and lyricist (Matilda the Musical, Groundhog Day). Helen is one of Australia’s most prolific and highly awarded drama producers (The Slap, Soft Roots, Devil’s Playground, Lambs of God) and is managing director of Lingo Pictures. Tim and Helen offer candid and amusing insights into the making of Upright.

Episode 9: Directing & Stunts with Maria Tran
Actor and martial artist Maria Tran (Fist of the Dragon, Maximum Choppage, Tracer) is credited with developing the martial arts action film genre in Australia through her shorts Hit Girls, Gaffa and Enter The Dojo. In this episode, Maria speaks to AFTRS Senior Lecturer in Directing, Pearl Tan, about finding your voice and creating your own work and space in the screen sector. As the recipient of the Create NSW Western Sydney Art Fellowship award, Maria established the female-led film and art collective Phoenix Eye based in Western Sydney. She talks about building her career through community, the importance of having a mentor and seizing every opportunity in the pursuit of goals.

Episode 10: Visual Storytelling with Mitch Torres
Actor, writer, director, producer and documentary filmmaker Mitch Torres shares her insights into the media industry with Joseph Cardona, Project Coordinator in the AFTRS Indigenous Unit. Mitch is a Djugun, Jabirr Jabbir, Yawuru, Gooniyandi, and Walmajarri woman from Broome and has been in the media industry for over 30 years. In this Talks @ AFTRS episode, she discusses career transitions; from presenter (SBS, ABC) to journalist (GWN’s magazine program Millbindi) to broadcaster (Goolarri, WAAMA 6NR) to producer (ABC Kimberley) to filmmaker (Jandamarra’s War, Whispering In Our Hearts). Passionate about visual storytelling, she explains the power of the medium and the importance of cultural safety and the fundamental need to treat all stories with respect.

Episode 11: Directing TV with Daina Reid and Emma Freeman
Australian Directors Daina Reid (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Secret River, Sunshine) and Emma Freeman (Stateless, Glitch, Secret City) sit down with AFTRS Head of Directing Rowan Woods to share their experiences of directing local and international television. They talk about how they got their first break and what’s important to them in terms of collaboration and inspiring creativity in others. They also share their ultimate rehearsal strategy and tips on how to get the best performance from an actor.