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Open Day: First Nations at AFTRS Panel

At our Virtual Open Day on Saturday 8 August, we held a First Nations at AFTRS panel, where current students and alumni shared their AFTRS experience with AFTRS Indigenous Project Coordinator Joseph Cardona and AFTRS Elder in Residence, Sonia Smallacombe. Find out why they applied and why you should too.


Bronte Nener (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, current student)
Georgia Coles (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2019)
Grant Maling (Graduate Diploma in Radio, 2018)
Ismail Khan (Master of Arts Screen, current student)
Keelan Betts (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, current student)
Maddison Coles (Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production, 2019)

2020 virtual open day

Bronte Nener

Bronte Nener is currently completing her third and final year of the Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production. She began her journey at AFTRS in 2018 with the intention of becoming an editor, however, her experiences on-set and behind the camera have helped her to discover a passion for cinematography.

For Bronte, being at film school means the opportunity to find your creative voice and to create profound films alongside the boundlessly creative nature of other authentic individuals. She aspires to bring the voices of minority groups into the mainstream spotlight through documentary-filmmaking.

Georgia Coles

Georgia Coles is a proud Indigenous Woman from the Wonnarua Nation and is passionate about dedicating her career as an Indigenous Storyteller to raising the voice of her people and giving them a platform to share their stories. At 24 years of age, she has recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Screen Production at AFTRS and has worked mostly in documentaries; directing works for NITV such as Muna Garrugaray – Salt Water Woman (2019) and Between Worlds (2016). She has also produced film work for Indigenous youth projects like Young Black and Deadly (2018) and has been a Volunteer Coordinator for the last two years of Winda Film Festival.

Grant Maling

With six years of community radio experience, a two-year internship at the Nine Network and a Bachelor of Journalism, Grant began the Graduate Diploma of Radio, firmly knowing that media is what he wanted to pursue. Grant received the SCA Fellowship Award and moved to Shepparton in country Victoria for six weeks. Not long after that, he was snapped up by Grant Broadcasters and found himself driving 14 hours to Port Augusta in South Australia, becoming their newest News Reader and Daytime Announcer. It wasn’t long before he started to feel very homesick, and as it would seem the stars aligned. An Operations role had opened in Muswellbrook, just three hours north of his hometown of Sydney. Grant headed across the country again and is now the Operations and Promotions Manager and Workday Announcer at Radio Hunter Valley.

Ismail Khan

Ismail is a Wailwan man from Central NSW with Pakistani heritage, born and raised in Southwest Sydney on Dharawal country. After spending a number of years in the finance and investment industry as an Investment Analyst, Ismail began to pursue filmmaking full-time. He completed his BA Communications with Distinction (Media Arts & Production) from UTS. His short film, Samuel, was selected for the University Showcase in 2016 and screened at regional festivals across Australia. In July 2017, Ismail joined Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department as Development Associate and was later promoted to Junior Investment and Development Manager.

His primary filmmaking interests lie in the development and direction of feature films. He is currently completing the Master in Screen Arts: Directing program at AFTRS and is in preproduction for his AFTRS major work, a short drama titled Sunnies.

Keelan Betts

Keelan is a first-year student at AFTRS studying the Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production. Keelan’s passion for film sparked from his love for theatre as a young high school kid. He participated in external drama classes, high school musicals and was even fortunate enough to extra on several television productions filmed around rural NSW.

Maddison Coles

Maddison is a First Nations filmmaker from the Wonnarua Nation. As an Indigenous woman, she grew up knowing the importance of storytelling, and the power of a voice within a community. She has worked in the film industry for 4 years and is a recent graduate of AFTRS. Along with working as a film tutor at Bus Stop Films, Maddison works for Winda Film Festival; the first Australian Indigenous film festival. She has co-directed ‘Our Stories’ – two documentaries for NITV, and the Brown Skin music video by Philly, along with many Indigenous youth projects alongside her twin sister, Georgia Coles.