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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Australia’s world famous AFTRS celebrated the 40th Anniversary of its founding last Friday night with the results of a survey of its graduates, who identified networking as the single most important factor in their career progression. They said that AFTRS had helped create and provide these networks.

Hosted by the school at its purpose built facility within the Entertainment Quarter (adjacent to Fox Studios, Sydney), the event presented a summary of the survey, which is published in full in the 10th edition of Lumina, the school’s thought provoking periodical. The 10th issue is the first to be available free as a digital download from iTunes, as well as in its usual hard cover format. The presentation in the school’s well equipped theatrette was followed by drinks and canapés, to which all its 3,000 alumni over 40 years were invited – and about 1,000 made it.

The survey also showed that 71% of graduates believe their AFTRS qualification is well regarded in the industry and 73% believe it has opened doors for them in their chosen fields. 

This survey provided a snapshot of what it takes to forge a career in the screen arts sector, an industry that is defined by unpredictability, with 41% of respondents stating their current employment status as freelance, with 52% stating that they have had at least one period (from 2 months up to 2 years) working outside of the industry.

"passion, rather than money, is a driving factor"

It is also clear that passion, rather than money, is a driving factor in pursuing a creative career, with the motivating factor ‘satisfying creative vision’ given a 91% response as being ‘very important’, while ‘making a lot of money’ was only ranked as ‘very important’ by 11% of respondents. Around half of those currently working (49%) had an annual income of less than $60,000, however more than 71% stated that they had been paid for more than 60% of their work in the industry.

When asked about their futures, AFTRS alumni in general were optimistic with 44% anticipating they would be working in their chosen field with moderate success in three years time, and 56% believing they would be working in their chosen field with a lot of success in 10 years time.

AFTRS celebrated the event with some of their most lauded alumni, including, Jane Campion (Oscar winning screenwriter and director The Piano), Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Little Women), Don McAlpine (BAFTA and Oscar nominated cinematographer (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) and Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae, Mabo).

AFTRS reminds us that some of the world’s leading filmmakers have graduated from AFTRS, including Phillip Noyce (Salt, Clear and Present Danger), Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah), Robert Connolly (Balibo), Tony Ayres (The Slap), PJ Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding), Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore), Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof), Chris Noonan (Babe) and Dion Beebe (Oscar winning and nominated cinematographer Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago) among them. 

Celebrations will continue into 2013, marking 40 years since the first intake in 1973. 

History - Snapshot
In 1972 the Federal Government officially established the FTS (Film Television School), with the first intake of students in 1973 and Jerzy Toeplitz appointed as Foundation Director. The School’s first home in Lyonpark Road, North Ryde was opened by PM Gough Whitlam in 1975. Radio was added in 1986 and the School was renamed AFTRS. In 1988, PM Bob Hawke officially opened the School’s second home at North Ryde, on the Macquarie University grounds.

In 1975 the first Indigenous training course (radio) ran, and in 1984 the first job-training scheme for women started. The AFTRS Honorary degree was established in 2002 with inaugural recipients being Jan Chapman (producer), Don McAlpine (cinematographer) and Freda Glynn (co-founder CAAMA).

The first AFTRS student film nominated for an Academy Award was in 2003: Inja from writer/director Steve Pasvolsky. Sejong Park was nominated in 2004 for Birthday Boy followed by The Saviour in 2006 written directed by Peter Templeman. 

In 2008 AFTRS relocated to the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett officially opening the new state-of–the-art facilities. The same year AFTRS launched Friday on My Mind, a weekly program of talks by industry practitioners. In 2009 the School produced its inaugural issue of LUMINA, a dedicated Screen Arts and Business Journal. The same year, AFTRS collaborated with the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) to produce the School’s first feature length film Before the Rain, and directing student Dave Edwardz created the world’s first ‘Film School student’ 3D film, Dead Boring.

2010 saw the AFTRS Creative Fellowship launched in support of screen artists, awarded to Lynette Wallworth. In 2011 AFTRS welcomed the first crop of students from New York University/Tisch School who completed a module within the Foundation Diploma, marking the beginning of a three year partnership. 

Some milestones recorded in its 40th year (2012):
AFTRS first Masters of Screen Arts 

Friday on My Mind commenced in Melbourne

Six student films selected to screen at a dedicated AFTRS session at the Cinema des Antipodes, a free non-competitive program as part of the Cannes Film Festival

AFTRS short Emily, written/directed by directing student Ben Matthews first AFTRS film to be nominated for a Student Academy Award

The three-year Louis Lumiere exchange for cinematography in Paris begins

Published June 28, 2012

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