Have your say – “Australian Academy” Industry Forums Announced

The industry consultation phase of the AFI’s major review, including a proposed “Australian Academy“, continues, and we are pleased to announce two AFI “Australian Academy” Industry Forums – one to be held in Melbourne on 29 June, the other in Sydney on 30 June.

The Industry Forums follow a series of consultative initiatives, and we encourage those who have not yet done so to participate in our online survey and thus have their say in the evolution of both the AFI and our industry.

A cross-section of survey responses received to date is posted below.

As indicated by these responses, our consultations have not only indentified strong support for the creation of an “Australian Academy”, but have also identified many innovative ways in which the AFI, through the Academy, can further enhance, engage and promote the talents of those working in Australian film and television.

We thank those who have taken the time to provide their feedback thus far, and encourage those who would like to participate in the Industry Forums to RSVP by 28 June.

We look forward to updating you on our next steps following the conclusion of our consultation period on 30 June 2011.

Some of the latest comments received on the consultation:

An Australian Academy of Screen Culture needs to promote Australian creative endeavour[s] for the big screen and small screen, including online. It should promote both our contemporary film and television culture and our significant screen heritage. I would also like to see an organisation that engages with members and the Australian and international communities to promote debate, analyis and the study of screen culture and issues. So the organisation needs a structural underpinning to provide resources such as a film, video and reference library for members and the general public alike (much like the AFI was many years ago). I would not like to see an organisation that is engaged with awards alone, as much as I appreciate the importance of celebrating through an awards presentation. Rather, an Academy needs to have some clout and weight within the Australian arts scene. It should be able to represent the industry and provide a valuable and respected source of opinion and views on Australian screen culture to the public at large and to governments.” Trevor Graham

“One word. ‘Fantastic’.   This is a constructive move forward.” Phil Avalon

“There’s no question the current models for industry representation and voting need to be reviewed and revised if the AFI is to evolve into a more inclusive professional structure. I’m hopeful the introduction of an ‘Academy’ is a much needed step in the right direction. But I also think little will be achieved by trying to reinvent the AFI brand. I’ve been a member of the AFI since the early 1990’s, and over that time I’ve watched it being slowly eroded by too much navel-gazing and an ongoing preoccupation with style over substance. The time and money wasted on trying to change the name of the awards to ‘The Lovelies’ some years ago is an obvious example. The separation of the AFI Awards into craft vs celebrity award nights is another. It may have secured broadcast coverage. But it has also been an ongoing insult to all the talented crew and production personnel who have been branded as less important to the AFI than TV starlets and their frocks. If the AFI is serious about creating a more inclusive structure, then it should respect the brand and instead of trying to change it, focus on its history of recognising, supporting and promoting the interests and talents of ALL of the people who contribute to creating Australian film and television.” Gina Roncoli

“I greatly support AFI moving to an Academy model. This will encourage greater audience engagement and acknowledgement of the tremendous talents of our Film and TV makers. The popularity enjoyed by our TV productions will have a greater chance of translating to cinema through the recognition an Australian Academy will engender.” Stephanie Mills

“Personally I like the idea of building an Australian Film and TV brand that becomes recognized worldwide. And also having Australians abroad, who work in the industry, help achieve this goal.” Alvaro D. Ruiz

“The Australian film industry is small, so every single opportunity to promote it,  i.e the Writers, the Directors, the Crew, the Producers is valuable. So too are the Actors that ensure that a production has a recognisable Australian on-screen presence. Our screen culture, be it large or small, can only be enhanced with a  stronger and passionate awareness of its existence.” Tina Bursill

“I feel this is an appropriate step to further enhance, promote and educate our industry. I also would hope that public perception and response to Australian film and television would be increased.” John Studley

“I think this is a really really great move – strong and bold. I think it’s imperative to the industry moving forward for the general public to get a better understanding of the Australia industry as a whole and hopefully break this [negative] ‘Australian Films’ thing in the process, which I think many Australians, particularly younger viewers, cringe at. Getting the public to recognise actors is great but in the States and the UK, the general public have, by and large, a good understanding of the top writers, producers and directors. Let’s face it, actors don’t need the help but the writers and producers, and to a lesser extent, the directors, need a big push. I think making more of a focus on these will give the audiences more opportunity to gain knowledge on our filmmakers and then our films in general. Australian cinema would greatly benefit from better representation and promotion, and I also think the “Australian Academy” idea would truly help promote Australian Cinema abroad. We don’t seem to have the same stigma with TV. Ratings are showing Australian TV drama [has] the reverse of what we see at the box-office for Aussie films. And so the onus falls on the content creators as well. We desperately need to move away from these dark, depressing, seemingly ‘worthy’ films that Australian filmmakers are inclined to make. From the audience point of view, they’re killing the industry. And it’s clear by box-office takings that no one wants to see them. There’s no less ‘art’ in comedy, although I know many people will argue the opposite. I greatly support the AFI’s proposal for the establishment of an Australian Academy.” Gian Christian

“The Awards model used by BAFTA in the UK would seem more suited to the AFI’s goals than the Academy model from the US. Additionally, it is essential to include Film Distribution personnel in any proposed new organisation going forward. I have over 20 years experience releasing both international and local films in Australia and having been an AFI member for 27 years wish to continue my involvement in the yearly awards process.”  Michael Atkins

“I think the AFI needs to have a specific focus. Film culture, while related to Television and now Digital Culture, has its own distinct and particular history. Part of the value of awarding excellence within film is acknowledging the development, production, post-production and distribution aspects of the particular field. An Australian feature film can be a $6000 shoestring film someone made with their own money and equipment, a $1 million film privately financed, or a massive international co-production. I think we rarely see such diversity (and opporunity for independence) on the Television stage. I would also recommend, if not already investigated, fostering strong connections with Australia’s wonderful film festivals, such as MIFF, SFF and so on. If it’s not already in place, could such participating festivals become Academy Qualifying, such that their inclusion in such festivals enables them to be automatically watched by voters for the AFI awards? Such a scheme could support a Special Mention category for a film worthy of recognition and support, but that otherwise might miss out on an award for specific excellence. I think it’s worth noting that while interest in awards programs might be declining, festivals such as MIFF are building their audiences and getting bigger and bigger. Overall, I agree with and support the idea of an Academy model. I also believe though, that if television is to be regarded as a moving image field within the AFI’s scope, then perhaps so should our excellent interactive-media and games artists!” Andrew Serong

“The Australian film industry boasts world class talent that is at home on any stage or set. But, Aussie talent is at it’s best telling stories about our own people and culture.” Bill Admans

“As an actor, I believe that gaining respect within our industry is as important as gaining work. It is even more important to gain that respect from outside the industry. Only through the combined strengths of union and guild, augmented by the unifying presence of the AFI (in the form of the proposed Academy), can that respect be gained and used to build an even stronger industry. We have the potential to create an industry that can remain true to our national identity, acknowledging our unique heritage and creativity, while still being accessible internationally. We need to explore the many possible avenues of production, finance and international cooperation beyond that which we now experience, while avoiding petty, divisive disputes and parochial attitudes which can only diminish our standing internationally. Good luck in your endeavours.” Peter Callan

“I like the idea of an Australian Academy! Something I would like to see, that hasn’t been mentioned, is a brand new award statue. The current one isn’t very appealing and doesn’t represent the film and television art forms like the BAFTA or the CESAR award trophy.” Edoardo Mesiti

“I love Australian film, including many of the genre types that others disparagingly use to describe our industry as out of touch. I have regularly ‘found’ amazing gems within the AFI screenings. I may be only one of a handful who would champion them… It is wonderful to think that steps could be made to reach greater audiences. I am grateful also for those who are able to publicly critique with intelligence and context and an understanding of career development AND audience appeal. An Australian Academy could widen the range of Australian films that many see, instead of the present few.  Please keep access available to wider Australia, beyond the key capital cities. New technologies may be the key to accessiblity and distribution.” Justine Smith

“I think there needs to be acknowledgement and support for the field of film education which takes place in many formal and informal ways across a wide variety of demographics and socio-economic circumstances. Whilst I applaud the concept of an Academy it’s the word ‘inclusive’ that got my attention. Presumably this move is a response to the dire straights the Australian film industry finds itself in. I am not going to wade into the whole debate about that here, but I would say that, as you know, there is a lot of moving image content being produced independently without formal institutional support, finance or recogntion, that  does not see itself as being validated by the formal structures and institutions that represent us as the Australian film industry. Many of those groups are young people who see these institutions as out of touch, defensive, introspective and elitist. They are simply ignoring them the way they ignore most Australian content. Despite this, they are crying out for information, mentorship and support to produce stories that speak for them in their terms. Recognition of those groups and the people who work/mentor/teach with them, often under crippling conditions and often at the expense of their own film making careers, would be an overture of mutual respect that would resonate with these disaffected groups. But that’s not going to be easy or comfortable for many people. It would require the recognition and redefinition of moving image content that is currently still on the fringes.” Sean Okeeffe

“As an industry practitioner in directing, writing and acting, I am thrilled by the proposed changes and hope we can all embrace the future with enthusiasm. Indeed, the new Academy embraces the changing needs of cinema and television. As AFI Patron Dr George Miller puts it, this model for adapting the AFI to an academy ‘adapts successful elements of the world’s leading screen organisations to local traditions’. Perhaps also, the industry can lead the cinema-goer through education. Already, this site has comments reflecting this need in secondary schools to address ‘our future audience, and future practitioners’ (Vidler). I certainly agree. As the forum points out there is a need to adopt successful models from other countries, and one of these is the manner in which audiences are generated by awareness at an early level of education. However, more could be done here, which involves tertiary education and the industry itself.  I suggest we could bridge the gap between the practicality of the industry and our ability to analyse it. We have the benefit of living in a country which embraces highly accomplished filmmakers and crews. We also have had thirty years of higher education in Cinema. Could we do more through the new Academy to embrace this further?  One model for this from the past was the Cahiers du Cinema group, whose dedication to redefining the nature of cinema (through both theory and practice) made huge progress in the development of film art. Of course the era of the singular auteur has been and gone, but is there a way in which these two fields could come together in Australia and lead the world in this integration? I suggest that the professional fellowships such as Kennedy Miller Mitchell/Byron Kennedy Award are an avenue for this development. The AFI has traditionally supported the development of practical skills and education through such schemes. These schemes, as Director of the Australian Production Designers Guild George Liddle explains, ‘help raise the public profile of the local industry’. Could the excellence he describes also be helped by the integration of research and practical television and filmmaking skills on all levels?” Dr Ian Dixon

  •  To read the previously posted comments on the Industry Consultation, see this earlier post.
  • Have you responded to our survey and made your own comments? Click through to answer the questions.

Or, add your comments below on this blog. Comments will be subject to approval.

AFI Announces Exciting New Changes

Introduces the idea of an ‘Australian Academy’

Now in its 53rd year, the Australian Film Institute (AFI) is announcing a period of consultation with its constituents and the wider community as we prepare to embark on a period of significant development.
Building constructively on more than half a century of AFI heritage, achievement and acknowledging the growing success of our talented creative community, the Australian Film Institute is reviewing its strategic aims and programs with a view to building a refined and more inclusive professional structure, which will result in the establishment of an ‘Australian Academy’.

AFI Patron Dr George Miller says  “The importance of community, screen culture and the pursuit of excellence, driving forces of the AFI for over 50 years, cannot be underestimated.  These factors were pivotal to our industry’s acceleration from the late 60’s and are certainly no less important today.  The 21st Century offers immense opportunities and the AFI’s proposed development of an “Australian Academy” cleverly adapts successful elements of the world’s leading screen organizations to local traditions. This unifying of common purpose and effort makes such good sense. It’s a very exciting proposal.

A significant step in the change will be the move after a decade of the awards held in Melbourne, to Sydney. In a landmark three year deal with the NSW Government, the move coincides with what is shaping up to be an exciting new decade for the Australian screen industry, AFI sponsors and partners.

AFI Advisor Greg Coote who has been instrumental in developing the proposed vision says,   “Since the 1970’s renaissance the Australian screen community has grown exponentially and its potential is undoubtedly immense.  More than ever it’s critical that a national and international Australian screen community is nurtured.  With a long and rich tradition, the AFI Professional Membership is well placed to be developed into a more universally recognizable and understood model, an ‘Australian Academy’.  The establishment of an ‘Australian Academy’ is not just overdue, but eminently possible and extremely useful”.

For the 2011 calendar year, the first significant change is to move the awards ceremony from December 2011 to late January 2012.  This allows the industry to include many more projects from 2011 in the awards and brings the Australian film and television awards in line with the international system and buzz around the Golden Globes, Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards.

At this important time the AFI is delighted to announce two new board members.  Sigrid Thornton, one of Australia’s leading and best loved actresses, and Jennifer Huby, partner at TressCox Lawyers. They replace retiring members Peter Thompson and Todd Sampson.

“As the AFI undertakes this substantial and promising review we welcome the arrival of Jennifer Huby and are delighted Sigrid Thornton has returned to the AFI.  Peter Thompson made many fantastic contributions over four years and whilst a director for a briefer period Todd Sampson’s support was also invaluable. I sincerely thank them both. We are determined to make the AFI relevant to all sectors of our very broad Industry and we are looking forward to working to achieve this”  says AFI Chair Alan Finney.

2011 presents an opportunity to further elevate the AFI and the awards to a new level of leadership and support of our film and television industry.

To review the proposed changes, and contribute to the AFI industry consultation please visit www.afi.org.au/consultation


The Lantern Group
Victoria Buchan   T. (02) 9383 4033    E.  victoria@lanterngroup.com.au
Niki White            T. (02) 9383 4038      E.  niki@lanterngroup.com.au

Bill Hunter, the big Australian

Vale William John “Bill” Hunter,  1940 – 2011

Bill Hunter, Mel Gibson & William Anderson at the AFI Awards in 1981

Bill Hunter, Mel Gibson and William Anderson at the AFI Awards in 1981, where Hunter won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for 'Gallipoli'.

“(Acting) is a job. It is a craft, but there’s no art involved. Anyone who says there’s any more to it than that, is full of bullshit. That upsets the purists but never mind, they don’t work as much as I do.” – Bill Hunter

The Australian Film Institute mourns the loss of AFI Award winning actor Bill Hunter on Saturday 21 May 2011. He was aged 71. AFI Chair Alan Finney says: “It was my honour to work with Bill Hunter on many films and whether big or modest productions, he was always a professional.  His passion for our Industry and his strong personality has made him a powerful influence on us all. He played a most significant part in the success and credibility of our films over many years.”

Here Sarah Finney remembers and celebrates a great actor and a mate to many.

A stalwart of the Australian screen, Bill Hunter appeared in over 100 film and television productions over the past fifty years.

One of Australia’s greatest actors, Bill Hunter personified the Australian character. In a prolific career he starred in some of Australia’s most celebrated films and television series, creating some of the Australian screen’s most enduring and iconic characters.

While younger audiences will be most familiar with Bill Hunter from his roles in Strictly Ballroom, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding, Hunter got his start in 1959 with a small role in Stanley Kramer’s adaptation of Nevil Shute’s classic novel On the Beach which starred Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and Ava Gardner.

Hunter then appeared in a number of TV series in the 1960s and early 1970s, most notably Spyforce, Division 4, Homicide and later Prisoner (1979).

At the forefront of the Renaissance

Hunter was at the forefront of the Australian cinema renaissance, appearing in Esben Storm’s 27A (one of his first leading roles), The Man from Hong Kong, Eliza Fraser, Mad Dog Morgan (his first AFI Award nominated performance), Backroads and In Search of Anna before taking on the role that would make him a star.

In 1978, Hunter played the starring role of Len Maguire in Philip Noyce’s Newsfront. Newsfront is set in the late 1940s and follows Cinetone newsreel cameraman Len and his colleagues during a time of great political and social change in Australia. Considered by many to be Australia’s finest film, Newsfront won 8 AFI Awards that year including Best Film. Hunter received his second AFI Award nomination and first win for Best Actor in a Lead Role.

Hunter went straight back to work, appearing in Hard Knocks (1980) and …Maybe This Time (1981).

Hunter soon followed up Newsfront with a pivotal role in another iconic Australian film Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (1981). Hunter played Major Barton, appearing in perhaps the most memorable final scene in Australian film history, for which he won his third AFI Award nomination and second win for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

Gallipoli was followed by a string of film and television roles including Far East and he teamed up again with director Philip Noyce on Heatwave and The Dismissal. The Dismissal heralded the era of the great Australian mini-series and Hunter went onto appear in many of them including Scales of Justice, The Last Bastion, Eureka Stockade and A Fortunate Life. (Indeed it was this flourishing of television production in the early 1980s that led to the establishment of the AFI Awards for Television in 1986. In 1989 Hunter starred in the telemovie Police State, receiving his fourth AFI nomination and third win, for Best Lead Actor in a Telefeature that same year. Around this time Hunter was also in Rikky & Pete and Mull. Next came Esben Storm’s Deadly, mini-series The Leaving of Liverpool, Phoenix and Police Rescue.

A beloved fixture in the 1990s

In 1992 Hunter appeared in two of the most high profile Australian films that year, Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous (for which he was nominated for an AFI Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role) and Baz Lurhmann’s Strictly Ballroom.

Hunter was next seen in Broken Highway, Shotgun Wedding, The Custodian and mini-series Stark. Hunter then shot two films back-to-back, Stephan Elliott’s The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and P.J. Hogan’s Muriel’s Wedding. For some it’s the ABBA songs and similar ‘grotesque’ style that links these two films. For me it is Bill Hunter. In Priscilla, he played mechanic Bob, a fair dinkum Aussie bloke eking out an existence in the Outback. In Muriel’s Wedding, Bill played Bill Heslop, the big man in a small town who has little time for his wife and children.

Not surprisingly, Bill Hunter was again nominated for an AFI Award for his performance in Muriel’s Wedding. (The 1994 AFI Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role went to Hunter’s contemporary Max Cullen for Spider & Rose.)

As always, Hunter continued to work in film and television. He appeared in Blue Murder, Everynight… Everynight, River Street, Frontier, Road to Nhill, SeaChange and The Violent Earth to name a few.

Fittingly Hunter appeared in Russell Mulcahy’s television remake of On the Beach, in the small role of Prime Minister Smeaton.

The voice behind the face

In 2003 Hunter starred in Crackerjack, Bad Eggs and Horseplay and was one of the few Australian actors to ‘be heard’ in Pixar’s Finding Nemo.

Indeed, if Hunter is one of the most recognisable faces of the Australian screen, he is also without a doubt one of Australia’s most recognisable voices. Over the years Hunter has lent himself to many an advertising campaign, most famously as the face of BHP ‘the Big Australian’, the Keating Government’s Working Nation campaign, ALP campaigns and most recently for the AFL.

More film and television roles followed throughout the 2000s notably Tom White, The Square, Australia, The Pacific and most recently he lent his voice to the animated feature Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.

And we haven’t seen the last of his roles…

Hunter will be next seen in the soon to be released Kriv Stenders’ Red Dog, Simon Wincer’s The Cup (playing another legend, trainer Bart Cummings) and Amanda Jane’s The Wedding Party.

Hunter’s contribution to the Australian film and television industry was immeasurable. Constantly working, Hunter was one of the country’s most in demand  actors. A big man with a big heart, he will be greatly missed.

Bill was a big man with a big heart and he was a natural storyteller. I grew up watching him on screen, where he embodied the Australian character. I was privileged to know him a little. Under that gruff, sometimes intimidating exterior, he was warm, funny and kind. Hooroo Mate.

Sarah Finney

AFI Awards Note: To date, Hunter has won 3 AFI Awards and been nominated 6 times.

To see clips of Bill Hunter’s work on screen, visit this excellent collection on Australia Screen, the NFSA’s online resource.

A full list of Bill Hunter’s credits can be found here on IMDB

A memorial service for Bill Hunter will be held at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre on Thursday 26 May at 2pm.

Do you remember Bill Hunter, personally, professionally or just as a film and television watcher? The AFI welcomes your anecdotes, comments and thoughts below this post.

Introducing the team: Helene Carter, AFI Awards Manager

In a new series on the blog, we’ll be introducing members of the AFI team. In this, our first installment, we talk to one of the busiest people in the office, Helene Carter, the AFI Awards Manager. Always calm in the eye of the storm (and it must be said, always stylish and perfectly groomed!) Helene’s job involves overseeing the entire Awards process. This includes reviewing the Rule Book and Awards Policy, calling for entries, organising and chairing the jury meetings, producing our screenings cinema trailer and nominations clips packages, overseeing the Awards content for these events, right on through to working with our show’s Producers on the pre-production of the AFI Awards Ceremony and broadcast. On the big night of nights, Helene works back stage ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Employment history: Helene came to the AFI Awards team in April 2008 from a commercial production background. Having studied a Bachelor of Arts at Deakin University, Helene started her television career as a scriptwriter and producer at WIN Television in Ballarat, working on everything from TVCs to producing live sporting outside broadcast.  After four years, in 2000 the bright lights of Sydney beckoned, as she took on the role of Production Manager of Medal Ceremonies for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. A career highlight, working under the watchful eyes of the world’s media as part of the Ric Birch, Ceremonies team was a truly a remarkable work experience. Following the Games, Helene moved back to Melbourne and back into advertising production, taking the role of Senior Television/Radio Writer and Producer at THE BRAND AGENCY, working on retail accounts such as Red Rooster, Bunnings Warehouse, Toyota and more. From here Helene’s career has included some freelance producing with H2 PTY LTD on shows such as In:Entertainment hosted by Antonia Kidman, and a full time position as Senior Commercial Producer at 9mm for the Nine Network. Advertising clients here included The City of Melbourne, L’Oreal Paris, Cadbury Schweppes and more. Passionate about large scale special events and television production, the annual AFI Awards are a rewarding challenge.

Talking to Helene about the Job:

Q: Can you tell us briefly about the shape of the year in the Awards department?

I would say it is a circle – that seems to speed up as the year progresses!

AFI Awards ready to be presented to the winners

AFI Awards ready to be presented to the winners

OK seriously, we operate under a very process driven calendar in the Awards department, each process feeds directly into the next.

We conduct an annual review of the Awards Policy & Rule Book and Call for Jurors and Entries in the first quarter.

We then process all of these entries, build our juries and distribute materials for judging. The meaty task of facilitating the judging process in over 13 jury meetings occurs across April – October.

Parallel to this we produce [along with our Events Manager] the AFI Awards Screenings program in Melbourne and Sydney, screening all of the Feature Film contenders, along with the nominated Short Fiction Film, Short Animation and Feature Documentaries.

We move through Screenings, manage member voting [with our Membership department and KPMG] and slide into Nominations Announcement territory. This is rapidly followed by the annual AFI Awards celebrations.

We grab a glass of champagne, catch our breath, and then take off again!

Q: Who are the people in your Awards team, and what are their roles?

It’s girl power in the AFI Awards department; we are comprised of three full time staff:

Our Assistant Awards Manager,  Sofie Ham, has been with the AFI since August last year. Incredibly capable, Sofie is gearing up to welcome our 2011 entrants as she works hard to put the finishing touches on our updated online entry system for the year.

Our team is completed by the effervescent and extremely competent Awards Coordinator – Vanessa McKeddie. Vanessa has been with the Awards department since May 2009 and has worked with me on preparing the policy review, in readiness for entries in 2011.

As a small team we work very closely together and interchangeably throughout the course of the year. As an entrant, it is likely that you will get to know all three of us.

Q: What are the most exciting and satisfying parts of your job?

Witnessing the effect that gaining an AFI Award nomination or win has on the individuals and teams that work so hard to produce their productions.

This, coupled with seeing the broadcast come together each year, as it is a cumulative celebration and stock take of our production successes across all genres.

Q: If there was one thing you could remind people about entering the AFI Awards and filling in the applications, what would it be?

It is nice to know that no matter how accomplished someone has become in their career, recognition and acknowledgement by your peers and your industry, is always meaningful.

To start it early and double check everything before you submit it, please. We’d hate you to leave someone out!  

Q: What’s it like to be up close and seeing a person win an AFI Award? What’s the significance to a career to win an AFI Award?

Some moments in the Ceremonies will stay with me forever; I think these have been the moments of pure surprise, elation, delight or responses from winners that have been simply overwhelmed.

Some examples off the top of my head: I was moved by how genuinely surprised Catherine McClements was last year to win her AFI Award for Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for Tangle. That was a really beautiful moment for me.

I consider it an honor to have seen Dr Reg Grundy win the AFI Raymond Longford Award in person. He was deeply touched. It is nice to know that no matter how accomplished someone has become in their career, recognition and acknowledgement by your peers and your industry, is always meaningful.

Seeing Chris Lilley receive the Byron Kennedy Award and AFI Awards for Best Performance in a Television Comedy and Best Comedy Series in 2008 for Summer Heights High, was also another really special moment; he was so unassuming about his wins.

Being on side of stage as the Ledger family received Heath’s posthumous AFI International Award for Best Actor for The Dark Knight in 2008, was one of the most moving moments of my life. It still brings a tear to my eye on recollection.

I don’t think it is for me to say what the significance of an AFI Award win can mean to an individual, as this will vary for every single AFI Award winner. (I sincerely don’t mean any offence to all of the many other AFI Award winners that I have witnessed, by singling out these few examples).

Helene rehearsing for the AFI Awards Ceremony

Helene (in red scarf) rehearses on stage with presenters Nick Giannopoulos and Alex Dimitriades

Getting to know Helene on a personal note…

We asked Helene to fill in our Quick Quiz Questionnaire.

The AFI version of the Bernard Pivot* Questionnaire

  1. What is your favorite word? Onomatopoeia
  2. What is your least favorite word? No
  3. What turns you on? Imagination and the deepest dark brown eyes that you can dive into and drown in…
  4. What turns you off? Anger
  5. What sound or noise do you love? The sounds of a working TV studio and crew, just about to record.
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? Construction early on a Saturday or Sunday morning.
  7. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Entertainment law
  8. What profession would you not like to do? Horse trainer
  9. The last film or DVD you watched? Buitiful
  10. The film that changed you, and why? Oh, so this is really embarrassing, but I will answer honestly. Dirty Dancing!  As a 12-year-old, I skipped and danced all the way down the street after seeing that film. I knew at that point that I wanted to work in the film and television industry; there was never anything else. I was mesmerised by the magic of the moving image and music.  Can I remind you that I said I was 12…?
  11. Your guilty television pleasure? There are so many, currently The Good Wife.
  12. Complete this sentence:  The thing I love about working in the Australian film and television industry is… all of the dedicated, talented, skilled, creative, solution orientated people that you work with and meet.
  13. Three key mentors who’ve inspired or helped you? Two of my secondary school teachers: Mick Dowlan and Paul Richardson. I would not have had the courage to follow my dreams and aim for my chosen career path without their passion and influence. Also, my Mum, Cynthia, is always inspiring and helping me.

AFI Awards Note: Some key dates are looming large on this year’s AFI Awards calendar. Be on the alert for our Call for Jurors on 12 April, and Call for Entries later in the month. Make sure you’re subscribed to our free e-news for updates.


Driving the Zippy Little Car: Welcome to the AFI Blog!

What is a blog anyway? You may be surprised at how many people still ask this question (and some of them are Generation Y, believe it or not). For those who don’t consider themselves ‘online natives’, the best way of explaining it is to say that a blog is website that’s updated regularly, like a diary. Small, fast and cost-effective, it’s like a zippy little car that speeds past the lumbering truck that is a website. As much as we love our AFI website (and it remains a wonderful resource), it really is a bit of a beast, especially when you’re trying to drive fast or take a sharp corner. And to stretch the metaphor that little bit further, it doesn’t take passengers or allow for feedback from you, our dear readers.

Which brings us to the AFI blog. Operating as an add-on to our website, we’re going to use this space to bring you fresh content in a way that’s interactive, personal and hot off the presses. We’ll be gradually migrating a lot of our fortnightly e-news over to the blog, which will be updated several times a week, with stories, interviews, reviews and clips from the Australian screen world. Over the coming months, new segments will be introduced, like the ‘Why I Adore’ series, inviting fans and experts to rave about their favourite scenes or characters in Australian film and television. There will also be the opportunity for guest posts from key players within the industry, film festival reports, and a behind-the-scenes diary demystifying the annual AFI Awards process.

So welcome to the AFI Blog. We’re still testing out the gears and revving up the engine, but we look forward to having you drive with us.

Rochelle Siemienowicz
AFI Editor