Creative Industries

Bold Mentor LA program to boost careers

SCREEN Australia and Australians in Film have launched their inaugural Mentor LA film industry career development program with the help of Hollywood-based mentors Bruna Papandrea, Stuart Beattie, Deborah Riley and Eden Gaha.

Mentor LA matches four early-to-mid-level practitioners who currently work in the Australian industry with the dedicated mentors, giving them the opportunity to gain international industry knowledge from people who have excelled in their field.

The inaugural mentors list is exceptional: producer Bruna Papandrea (Gone Girl, Wild); writer/director Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral); Emmy award-winning production designer Deborah Riley(Game of Thrones); and the president of unscripted television at Endemol Shine USA, Eden Gaha, who has been named one of the most influential unscripted executives by Variety.

The pairs will be matched for a 12 month structured program specific to their area of work, allowing the mentees to continue to develop their careers in Australia and build on their existing knowledge with their mentor.

Over the year, the mentors and mentees will meet on four occasions – three times online and once in person during a week of meetings in Los Angeles at the culmination of the program.

“AiF is in the perfect position to connect the Australian industry with the international market,” AiF president Simonne Overend said.

“Supported by Screen Australia, Mentor LA was created in the spirit of helping and supporting the next generation of Australian talent. It is all about investing information, ideas and experience back into the Australian market to make it more robust.”

Screen Australia’s head of business and audience Richard Harris said: “Mentor LA is a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming talent to be guided by some of the most experienced and successful Australians in the industry. Working with these mentors is an invaluable experience, and we look forward to following the trajectory of the successful mentees and seeing the impact of the very first Mentor LA program.”

The successful mentees will be selected based on their work experience, career trajectory in their chosen field, and their statement of purpose and goals.  The mentees must reside in Australia and have professional experience in a field of endeavour that is shared with a mentor. AiF will manage and coordinate the program and applications.


The Mentors:

Born in South Australia, Bruna Papandrea launched production banner Pacific Standard with Reese Witherspoon in 2012. Since its launch, Pacific Standard has acquired and produced bestselling books into films, including Wild by Cheryl Strayed which starred Reese Witherspoon and was directed by Jean Marc Vallee, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which was directed by David Fincher. 

Pacific Standard is currently producing Big Little Lies starring Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley for HBO. Papandrea also produced the Summit Entertainment box office hit Warm Bodies through her company Make Movies. Her producing credits also include Andrew Jarecki’s All Good Things,Noam Murro’s Smart People and Jonathan Teplitzky’s Better than Sex.Papandrea was also the executive producer on the highly acclaimed Milk from director Gus Van Sant.

Stuart Beattie began his career writing screenplays for Australian independent films, including the hit family film, Joey and the much-admired romantic comedy, Kick. He branched into Hollywood with the Oscar-nominated Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which went on to become one of the most successful franchises in movie history. 

Then came the Michael Mann thriller, Collateral, which he wrote as a ‘spec’ script. The movie starred Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx and became the highest grossing film Michael Mann ever directed. It was also nominated for two Oscars and won a host of other awards around the world.

A graduate from Queensland University and NIDA, Deborah Riley started her career as a set designer for The Matrix and later as assistant art director on Moulin Rouge. Riley was herself mentored by the production designer Brigitte Broch, for whom she worked as art director on Real Women Have Curves in Los Angeles and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams in Tennessee and New Mexico. 

In 2013, she was employed as production designer on season four on HBO’s epic medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones. Since then she has been awarded back-to-back Emmys and Art Directors Guild awards for her work on the show. She was invited to speak on Visual Storytelling at the Smithsonian Institute in 2015.

After starting his career as a presenter for Channel Nine in Australia, Eden Gaha is now president, Unscripted Television at Endemol Shine USA, one of world’s largest producers of unscripted television. 

Edemol Shine USA produces some of the top unscripted series in the US, including MasterChef (FOX), MasterChef Junior (FOX), The Biggest Loser (NBC), Restaurant Startup (CNBC), Hunted (CBS) and Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC). Gaha was recently named one of the most influential unscripted executives in Variety’s Reality Impact special report. 


Aust. movie comedy to star Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce

IT SEEMS LIKE an odd title for an Australian feature film – Flammable Children – but in that respect it perhaps follows so many other quirky and cleverly scripted internationally successful feature length comedies, including Crocodile Dundee and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Flammable Children – collaboratively backed by Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Screen Queensland – happens to have the star of Priscilla, one of one of the most successful comedic features in Australia’s history, Guy Pearce, again teamed with that film’s writer and director, Stephan Elliott. With the recent announcements of popular actors Kylie Minogue and Radha Mitchell joining the cast, big things are anticipated for the film. 

“Comedies are more than just a successful genre in Australia’s box office history; they form part of our national identity,” Becker Film Group managing director Richard Becker said. “Films like Priscilla and The Castle are embedded in our culture and serve to remind us of the self-deprecating humour that is the essence of our basic character.

“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing Flammable Children to audiences nationally and are thrilled that iconic Australian, Kylie Minogue, is now attached alongside Guy Pearce and Radha Mitchell to this colourful satire.”

The film is written and directed by Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and produced by Al Clark (PriscillaChopperRed Hill) and Jamie Hilton (BreathThe Waiting CityBacktrack). 

The storyline has that peculiar Australian quirkiness embedded.

It is 1975: the sexual revolution is in full swing; Saigon will fall; the first sounds of 2JJ are hitting the airwaves; Australia is in constitutional crisis; and in a sleepy beachside suburb, an extraordinary event will set in motion a crucial, comical and revelatory week for a teenage boy and girl. Something is about to go spectacularly wrong, and their lives will change forever.

Flammable Children marks the first time Ms Minogue and Mr Pearce have appeared on screen together since starring in Neighbours, early in their careers. As well as acting as an onscreen reunion for the two stars, Flammable Children will reunite some of the award-winning cast and crew from Priscilla.

The team joining Mr Elliott and Mr Clark includes production designer Colin Gibson, who recently won an Oscar and BAFTA for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road; and costume designer Lizzy Gardiner (Mission: Impossible II), who won an Oscar and BAFTA for her work on Priscilla. Other Priscilla ‘graduates’ include the score composer Guy Gross, who was BAFTA-nominated for Priscilla and Emmy Award-nominated film editor SueBlainey (LostMozart in the Jungle).

“We are so excited to be able to support Flammable Children,” Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said.

“In Kylie, Guy and Radha, the team has been able to secure some of Australia’s most established and iconic talents. The powerhouse in front of the camera is matched by the award-winning team behind it, who will bring our memories of 1970s Australia to life. Flammable Children is going to be smart and funny, with a distinctly nostalgic flavour that I think people will really connect with. Screen Australia is very proud to work with Screen NSW and Screen Queensland to support this film.”

Cameras will roll on the south-east coast of Queensland from early October.

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Viera said, “This production will benefit from Queensland’s depth of talented cast and crew and showcase our fantastic locations. It’s a great opportunity for the local industry and keeps the back-to-back production happening in Queensland. It is a winning outcome for our business in creating simultaneous stories and economic growth for the screen.”

Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson said: “We’re proud to support Flammable Children, a glorious romp through Australia’s beachside history, being brought to life by an absolute dream team – on the screen, behind the camera and in post.”

Cutting Edge will provide post-production facilities in both Queensland and New South Wales and are also investors in the film. The Becker Film Groupwill look after Australia and New Zealand distribution, with international sales by WestEnd Films.



Crowdfunding to restore classic Aussie movie, Proof

THE National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), based in Canberra, has launched its first crowdfunding campaign to restore the renowned 1991 feature film Proof.

The NSFA Restores program was launched last year to repair and preserve prints of renowned Australian films, making digital files so they may be screened in modern cinemas. 

NSFA Restore has enlisted movie critic Margaret Pomeranz as its ambassador and the current drive is to raise $25,000 to preserve Proof.

Proof won many international awards on its release and launched the careers of director Jocelyn Moorhouse – today known best for The Dressmaker – and actors Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving.

The program is a registered charity, offering tax deductibility for donations over $2. It has already restored several classic Australian movies, including the 1976 stand-out Storm Boy.

“I am making the first donation because I thought it was a bit rich to ask you guys to put money into this campaign and me just sitting back and saying. ‘Hey, why don’t you do it?’” Ms Pomeranz said at the launch of the program. “No. I am going to be part of this and I want to gather like-minded people around me. I hope you’re one of them.”


Creative Partnerships drive Australian arts

FIVE BUSINESS leaders have been recognised with Creative Partnerships Awards to mark their philanthropic contributions to developing the arts in Australia.

The Creative Partnerships Awards, presented in March at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, recognised those who have fostered enduring partnerships between the cultural and private sectors and encouraged the spirit of giving to the arts. 

Four Awards were presented on the night, with the 2016 Creative Partnerships Awards ceremony being held in conjunction with the Culture Business Sydney Conference, of which Creative Partnerships Australia is a principal partner.

Sydney’s Peter Wilson received the Emerging Philanthropy Leadership Award, Julieanne Alroe and Richard Goyder shared the Business Arts Leadership Award, Mary Jo Capps received the Arts Leadership Award and Naomi Milgrom received the Philanthropy Leadership Award.

Creative Partnerships Australia chief executive Fiona Menzies said the awards embraced the legacy of the former Australia Business Arts Foundation Awards, which celebrated excellence in partnerships and private sector support for the arts for more than a decade.

Private support for the arts has almost doubled in the past 10 years, she said, increasing by 98 percent to $221 million. Private support now accounts for 10 percent of all arts funding in Australia, with cultural and creative activity contributing $86 billion or 6.9 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year.

Arts Minister Mitch Fifield said, “They are inspirational leaders whose achievements exemplify the benefits of strong, mutual partnerships between the artistic and private sectors. I thank each of the winners for their exceptional contributions to Australia’s cultural life.”

Ms  Menzies said this year’s award winners had demonstrated commitment to the arts, and displayed leadership in their advocacy for supporting the arts to create a strong, sustainable future for Australia’s cultural sector.

“Each of these leaders is committed to championing giving to the arts and promoting the value of supporting the arts to the broader community. I congratulate all our Award winners and know that they will continue to inspire others to engage with and support artists and arts organisations,” she said.

Previous Leadership Award winners were invited to nominate individuals for this year’s Awards, with winners determined by the Creative Partnerships Australia Board.



Peter Wilson – Emerging Philanthropy Leadership Award: Sydney’s Peter Wilson is the managing director of Greenhill Australia and chair of Playwriting Australia, the peak national body supporting new writing for theatre. A director of Belvoir St Theatre and a member of the finance council of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict, Mr Wilson has held board positions with numerous other community organisations. In 2010, he and his family supported Jane Bodie’s This Year’s Ashes in a co-commission with Griffin Theatre. Playwriting Australia’s donor co-commissioning program has three further projects under development through with Belvoir St, Griffin Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company.

Julieanne Alroe, Richard Goyder (joint winners) – Business Arts Leadership Award: Julieanne Alroe is CEO and managing director of Brisbane Airport Corporation. Under her direction the company has developed partnerships with several arts organisations including Queensland Ballet, Brisbane Writer’s Festival, La Boite Theatre and Camerata of St John’s. She recently initiated the Artist in Residence program at Brisbane Airport appointing artist Robert Brownhall. The airport boasts one of the country’s largest collections of public art with more than 100 pieces valued at more than $10 million commissioned or acquired by the airport to date and displayed throughout the precinct. Since Ms Alroe’s appointment in 2009, Brisbane Airport has also won numerous awards, including the 2014 Skytrax World Airport Awards third place ranking for airports servicing 20-30 million passengers. Ms Alroe was named Business Person of the Year at the 2014 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards. She is currently overseeing the $1.3 billion parallel runway project, one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Australia.

Perth’s Richard Goyder, AO, is managing director of Wesfarmers. He holds several board positions and is a director of the Business Council of Australia. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2013 for distinguished service to business through executive roles and corporate sponsorship of the arts and Indigenous programs. As Wesfarmers CEO Mr Goyder has forged numerous high profile and long-time arts partnerships, including a $1.2 million fellowship scheme with the National Gallery of Australia to boost Indigenous arts leadership. Wesfarmers supports bodies including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the West Australian Ballet, Bell Shakespeare Company and the Perth International Arts Festival.

Mary Jo Capps – Arts Leadership Award: Sydney’s Mary Jo Capps has worked in the Australian cultural industry for more than 30 years. She is CEO of Australia’s oldest independent professional performing arts organisation, Musica Viva, and is particularly concerned with arts education, both live and digital, and providing professional development for emerging musicians, composers, classroom music teachers and arts administrators. She holds several board positions including chair of the advisory board of the faculty of the VCA and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. For the past decade Ms Capps has worked towards broadening access to and understanding of fine music in Australia.

Naomi Milgrom AO –  Philanthropy Leadership Award: Naomi Milgrom is the Melbourne-based owner, executive chair and CEO of the Sussan Group comprising fashion brands Sussan, Suzanne Grae and Sportsgirl. She has been recognised as one of Australia’s top 25 business leaders and played a pivotal role in promoting Australian retail and fashion industries to the world. She is a passionate supporter of the arts and has shaped landmark alliances between local and global partners. She recently established the Naomi Milgrom Foundation to initiate bold public art, design and architecture projects including Melbourne’s MPavilion. She was recently appointed as commissioner for the Australian representation at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017.


The 2016 Creative Partnerships Awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the Culture Business Sydney Conference of which Creative Partnerships Australia is a principal partner.



Aussie creatives Alt.vfx meld gaming with TV

BRISBANE-based electronic gaming group Alt.vfx is creating worldwide interest with its latest development on a hybrid action-adventure that combines gaming and television.

The Alt.vfx visual effects team, which has worked its post-production magic on the hybrid action-adventure game Quantum Break, is in the process of opening studios in Sydney and Los Angeles. 

Quantum Break blurs the line between gaming and television, with players able to unlock television episodes, starring Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings and X-Men actors at the completion of the gaming achievement levels.

The expertise that Alt.vfx team has delivered enables the digital landscape to collapse, shatter and reassemble throughout the entertainment experience.

Alt.vfx burst onto the post-production scene in 2011 with the celebrated, award-winning ‘Tooheys Extra Dry Nocturnal Migration’ commercial featuring night-clubbing deer, and then the follow-up ‘Tongue’s Quest’ ad starring a runaway, beer-loving tongue.

“That put us on the map globally and the rest is history,” said Alt co-founder Takeshi Takada.

“We were six friends working in Brisbane – all passionate artists. I don’t think there’s another visual effects company like us in Australia. At Alt.vfx we tend to be collaborative, forward-thinking and risk-taking.

“We believe creativity can change behaviour. We launched our company in Brisbane, but we were able to lure clients from Sydney, Melbourne and now overseas.

“We’ve won National and State Exporter of the Year awards and just returned from Adfest 2016 in Thailand with silver and bronze awards, making us undefeated over the last four years in the highly-coveted visual effects category.”

Mr Takeda described Quantum Break as a “very effects-heavy” project.

“It was shot in Prague with all the scale of a feature film. Our VFX supervisor and co-founder, Colin Renshaw took a team to Prague to supervise the shoot,” Mr Takeda said.

“Col engaged with the director and production company at an early stage to ensure that we captured all of the plates, elements and measurements required to create the visual effects and achieve director, Michael Spiccia’s vision.”

Like fellow Brisbane start-up success story Tanda – a group of QUT students whose cloud-based payroll system is taking off world-wide – Alt.vfx credits Brisbane with helping it to success.

Mr Takada said, “If we had set up this business in Tokyo or China, we might not have been as successful.

“Our home base allowed us to be a standout in the market. It allowed us to be who we are without being smothered – and we’re in the hub of Asia, in a perfect time zone.”

He said Brisbane’s proximity to the Asia Pacific and world-renowned beaches on the Gold and Sunshine coasts made it easier for Alt.vfx to lure talent from Europe, the UK, Asia and elsewhere around the world.

“It’s a constant challenge to find great talent wherever you are based,” Mr Takada said. “We’ve got some of the best creative artists from all over the world at Alt, in part because Brisbane is such an attractive city to live and work in.”

With 55 full-time staff and a number of other big visual effects projects in production to be released this year, Alt.vfx has expanded its Brisbane head office and is in negotiations to secure space in Los Angeles.




NIDA opens graduate school

AUSTRALIAN creative industries received another shot in the arm in December with the opening of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) Graduate School in Sydney.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is also the Arts Minister, officially opened the NIDA facility, which he described as “a much needed creative and cultural hub for mid-career and upskilling artists”. 

“The Graduate School will lead Australia into a new era of training in performing arts ensuring we remain productive, creative and competitive in a global market,” Mr Turnbull said.

The Federal Government provided $6.8 million in capital works funding to NIDA, which included support for the Graduate School. This funding was complemented by business and philanthropic support leveraged by NIDA.

“NIDA is one of Australia’s seven national elite performing arts training institutions and is regarded as one of the world’s top 10 actor training schools,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We expect the best of our artists and arts organisations and to help them succeed and compete internationally we must ensure they have access to the infrastructure they need. The NIDA Graduate School directly ensures Australia invests in our artistic talent and helps develop our next generation of actors, policy makers, festival and artistic directors.

“NIDA has produced some of Australia’s most successful and recognised performing artists, whether on our screens and stages, or taking leading roles behind the scenes.”

For more see the Creative Industries section.


Google backs Skip Ahead screen initiative


GOOGLE and Screen Australia are to provide all five Australian Skip Ahead initiative winners with the funding and production resources to create unique online content to engage new audiences around the world.

Google has agreed to contribute funding and resources and will support the successful applicants to travel and work at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles in November.

“Considering that Skip Ahead is only in its second year, we were thrilled with the range and originality of content that Australian creatives pitched to us this year,” said Screen Australia’s investment manager Mike Cowap. 

“We’re really confident the 2015 recipients will not only deliver great content, but will demonstrate Australia’s creative ingenuity internationally.”

Comedy trio SketchShe will deliver Traffic Jam – The Musical, while French SungaAttack and The Roundabout Crew will collaborate on tongue-in-check series Australiana Hostel.

In factual programming, Draw with Jazza plans to create a documentary The Tale Teller about animated storytelling whilst How To Cook That’s Ann Reardon will go on tour to find (and make!) The Sweetest Thing – said to be Australia’s most extreme dessert.

The team from Aunty Donna will deliver absurdist webseries 1999 based on the computing Y2K panic of last century.

Skip Ahead fosters the next generation of Australian storytellers by providing funding, education and support for the production of new online content,” Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Maile Carnegie said.

“The first round winners created fantastic online series and we think that this second wave of funding will help even more Australian voices to reach global audiences.”

All Skip Ahead applicants had to satisfy the initiative’s criteria which included proof of existing audience, concept creative strength and the financial viability of the project.

“I am beyond ecstatic to have received the Skip Ahead,” said Josiah Brooks of Draw with Jazza.

“For me YouTube has been an incredible resource to deliver work directly to my fans, and Skip Ahead gives me the boost I need at this stage in my career to take my work to the next level.”


The 2015 selected projects are:



An old travelling storyteller enters a city with nothing to his name but the stories he has spent his life gathering, which he wishes to pass on before he dies – and a three-part documentary series about the past, present and future of animated storytelling.

Channel: Draw with Jazza (402,326 subscribers • 22,758,977 views)
Creators: Josiah Brooks
Genre: Animation & Documentary
Format: 4 x 10 mins



The SketchSHE girls inadvertently cause a frustrating fender bender on a busy freeway resulting in a frenzy of road rage. Through song and dance they teach commuters how to get along.

Channel: SketchShe (686,411 subscribers • 70,498,143 views)
Creators: Shae-Lee Shackleford, Madison Lloyd, Lana Kington
Genre: Musical comedy
Format: 4 x 6 mins



An absurdist sketch webseries loosely following a professional business in the lead up to New Year’s Eve 2000, as the employees prepare for the dreaded and unfathomable Y2K.

Channel: Aunty Donna (63,533 subscribers • 7,137,237 views)
Creators: Max Miller, Mark Samual Bonano, Zachary Ruane, Broden Kelly, Sam Lingham, Tom Armstrong.
Producer: Nel Minchin
Genre: Comedy
Format: 10 x 3-5 mins



From fabulous liquid nitrogen ice-cream, to gold-leaf chocolate bombs, to candy balloons filled with helium that literally float above the dinner table, food scientist and pastry chef Ann Reardon will uncover the weird, wild and wonderful world of extreme desserts and cakes as she travels around Australia.

Channel: How to Cook That (1,882,673 subscribers • 218,450,660 views)
Creators: Tom Maynard, Ann Reardon, Sophie McGill
Genre: Documentary
Format: 4 x 10 mins



A narrative comedy series featuring an ensemble cast of YouTube personalities who are working at a rundown Sydney hostel on the brink of closure due to a string of unbelievably bad online reviews.

Channel: Frenchy SungaAttack (174,914 subscribers • 28,274,291 views) and The Roundabout Crew (57,481 subscribers • 5,075,910 views)
Creators: Benjamin French, Tom Armstrong
Genre: Comedy
Format: 4 x 5 mins

Skip Ahead was first announced in 2013, with the inaugural funding awarded in March 2014 to five recipients who have since gone on to deliver their content:

Axis All Areas by Axis of Awesome (musical comedy);

Lend Us A Ride by Mighty Car Mods (doco-comedy);

Neighbours Zombie Edition by Louna Maroun (dramedy);

Fernando’s Legitimate Business Enterprise by Sexual Lobster (animation);

Reinventing Education (episodes 2 and 3 to come) by Veritasium (documentary).


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