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Mandy Walker, Nerida Tyson-Chew and Glenn Daniel Receive AFTRS Honorary Degrees

Acclaimed cinematographer Mandy Walker, internationally renowned composer Nerida Tyson-Chew and highly respected radio journalist, the late Glenn Daniel, have been conferred AFTRS honorary degrees.

Ms Walker and Ms Tyson-Chew were awarded Doctor of Arts, Film and Television and Mr Daniel received a Master of Screen and Broadcast (posthumous) at AFTRS’ annual graduation ceremony held last Friday. The ceremony saw 155 students graduate from the 2021 academic year.

Glenn Daniel was a multi-award-winning journalist and broadcaster who reported on and presented news that shaped our world for four decades. He was the news director of four major Sydney radio stations, winner of the Brian White Memorial Award, and co-host of Smooth FM breakfast in Sydney. He was well known as a champion for young radio professionals getting a start in the industry and was a guest and mentor at AFTRS since 1995.

Receiving the degree on behalf of Mr Daniel was his son, Mark Daniel, who said: “My father was so proud of his work at AFTRS and spoke so highly of his experience as a teacher. His impact on radio and radio newsrooms was significant and his legacy is further solidified with this honorary degree.”

Nerida Tyson-Chew is an Australian composer, conductor and orchestrator, principally working in screen music, with a prolific career of unmatched longevity and creativity across a diverse portfolio of work spanning feature films, television dramas, children’s productions, documentaries and wildlife films. At the APRA AMCOS – AGSC 2020 Screen Music Awards, she was acknowledged for her Distinguished Services to the Australian Screen for her long-term career as a composer in diverse forms including film, TV dramas, children’s programs and documentaries.

Accepting her degree in person was Ms Chew, whose compositions were used throughout the ceremony, said: “I’m so thrilled to receive this incredible acknowledgement of my body of work and for this profession, which I love so passionately. It’s simply wonderful that our nation’s most prestigious film school is recognising a career in music scoring.”

Mandy Walker is a cinematographer who has been working across TV, documentary, commercials and feature film since 1989. She has more than 30 screen credits including Mulan, Hidden Figures, Parklands, The Well, Lantana, Australia and Elvis. She is on the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Society of Cinematographers. She’s a Hall of Fame honouree of the Australian Cinematographers Society and was made Member of the Order of Australia in 2021. She has made a significant creative contribution to Australia as well as paved the way for future generations of Australian women cinematographers.

Ms Walker, is working in London and requested that her degree be accepted by her dear friend and mentor, long-time Technical Stores Officer at AFTRS, John Whitteron, who read some words on Ms Walker’s behalf: “I’m more than excited, humbled and incredibly proud to receive this honorary doctorate and to share this honour with previous honourees, whom I’m proud to count among my friends and colleagues.”

AFTRS Chair Russel Howcroft said: “An AFTRS honorary degree recognises the exceptional achievements of distinguished individuals, and it is one of the highest honours that can be conferred on a creative screen arts and broadcast practitioner in Australia. Mandy, Glenn and Nerida have each been exemplary leaders in their respective fields as well as inspirational mentors to those to have followed them on a creative path.”

Previous recipients of an AFTRS honorary degree are here.

The AFTRS Graduation ceremony began with a Welcome to Country by AFTRS Elder-in-Residence, Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor and graduating Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production student Skye Leon spoke on behalf of her cohort. While in her second year at AFTRS, Skye Leon produced the CILECT CAPA Prize-winning film, Sunnies, which went on to make its world premiere at Sydney Film Festival. A Lardil Yangkaal and Worimi Aboriginal woman with English, Welsh and Chinese ancestry, she is drawn to stories that explore Australia’s past and present from diverse perspectives.

AFTRS CEO Nell Greenwood, said: “Graduation is a significant and profound moment in our School year where we celebrate our students’ learning. I couldn’t be prouder of our graduates and our School’s achievements, despite the overwhelming challenges of the last two years. AFTRS is here to serve and support the Australian industry and upskill our graduates to make work that entertains and connects audiences at home and around the world. With this batch of graduates, we can be confident that the future of our sector is in good hands.”

Preceding graduation, AFTRS held its inaugural First Nations graduation event to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of First Nations students. The event brought together First Nations graduates, their families, friends and community to celebrate Indigenous excellence. A smoking ceremony by Natch Tong Noonga led by Community Leader Dean Kelly opened proceedings, which included a Welcome to Country by AFTRS Elder-in-Residence Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor and her daughter, artist Professor Nadeena Dixon. The event featured keynotes by AFTRS Director of First Nations and Outreach Dr Romaine Moreton and fellow AFTRS alum, and acclaimed filmmaker Erica Glynn, as well as a performance by award-winning singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara.

“The inaugural First Nations graduation ceremony is an expression of the ambition and intention of AFTRS to engage with First Nations communities in a way that centres the needs and values of those communities, an exemplar of a whole-of-school approach, in alignment with AFTRS First Nations Strategy, which draws on the fundamental truth that we stand on the unceded territories, lands, and Countries of First Peoples, and supports First People’s storytelling autonomies, economic rights, and self-determination,” said Dr Moreton.

This last fortnight also saw the annual AFTRS Graduate Showcase, a hybrid of both in-person and virtual programming with screenings, information sessions, networking, exhibitions and more, with graduating students presenting their works to leading Australian industry representatives, including broadcasters, producers, acquisitions and development executives.