On teaching Australian film in Australia...
With Frank Schepisi (and wearing his hat!), 2018
What's the best thing about teaching Australian film in Australia...??
Having Fred Schepisi (and other fabulous Oz industry people) come to class to talk to my students.
When I was a student at UCLA, I used to love listening to people like De Niro talk about their practice. So when I first got to teach film in Australia (at VCA, Melbourne University) I had local maverick Paul Cox come to speak to students. He has, sadly, since died. But I loved his wit and wily reflections. Below is a poster for the conference I helped organise to get students engaged in his work and legacy. I remember the excitement students showed when Cox spoke, and the ways they responded to his passion for film. At Deakin I engage filmmakers in a similar way. I ask them to come and talk and let students know, first hand, what it means to make Australian film.
My class explores film practitioners who impact generations of makers, audiences, and students. I look back at films like Jedda just as I explore representations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women, and immigrants today. I engage students in our national film industry. I prompt future generations to think about and remain mindful of our sometimes overlapping, always rich and kaleidoscope of creative and cultural histories.
What's the best thing about teaching Australian film at Deakin?
Being able to draw on the expertise and creative work of my colleagues.
I regularly ask, for example, award-winning director Donna McRae and producer Liz Baulch to speak to the class about their experience of making the micro-budget horror feature film, Lost Gully Road. Winner of multiple awards, the subject of critical acclaim, and made with the support of regional and national financing, the film is a brilliant example of contemporary independent filmmaking.
I also invited Lienors Torre to speak to us about Australian animation. Lienors is one of our national experts on animation and author of Australian Animation: An International History .