AFTRS answers to the Senate Estimates Committee suddenly got very cute. Brevity was abandoned and some poor researcher had to pull together some lists in a manner which indicated endless triumph. Whoever decided to answer the question in this way should be …let’s think about that….!
You have to wonder whether relatively new CEO Neil Peplow might have had the wool pulled over his eyes when it was drafted up but never mind, the record is easily corrected. You need in fact go no further than this post on the Film Alert blog to work it out for yourself. But seeing that AFTRS wont put the information on the official record then it falls to the lonely blogger to have another crack at recording just where the once mighty national institution let itself down.
The question, just to explain to whomever it was that decided to get slippery and smart in compiling the answer, was clearly designed to winkle out information that indicated where AFTRS had begun to fail as it got the first dozen or so years of the 21st century.
Let’s pick it apart. Here’s the question lodged by Senator Catryna Bilyk (ALP, Tasmania).
The AFTRS’s record in graduating students who become feature film directors has declined substantially over the past 13 years. What is the reason for this?
So...here are the statistics derived from the last occasion that Film Alert was able to delve into them.
Feature films made by AFTRS graduates who graduated in the years between 2003-12
Alister Grierson – Kokoda, 2006; Sanctum, 2010
Dean Francis – Road Kill, 2009
Granaz Moussaui – My Tehran For Sale, 2010
Megan Riakos – Crushed, 2015
Compare this with the graduates who graduated in the previous decade and the films they have made
1993 to 2002 Graduates
Peter Duncan – Children of the Revolution, 1996; A Little Bit of Soul, 1998; Passion, 1999; Unfinished Sky, 2007
Daniel Krige – West, 2007; Inhuman Resources, 2012
Andrew Lancaster – Accidents Happen, 2009
Rowan Woods – The Boys, 1998; Little Fish 2005; Winged Creatures, 2009
Robert Connolly – The Bank, 2001; Three Dollars, 2005; Balibo, 2009; The Turning, 2014; Paper Planes, 2015
Sam Lang – The Well, 1997; Monkey’s Mask, 2000; L’Idole, 2002
Craig Monahan, The Interview, 1998; Peaches, 2003; Healing, 2014
Daniel Nettheim, Angst, 2000; The Hunter, 2011
Tony McNamara – The Rage in Placid Lake, 2003; Ashby, 2015
Warwick Thornton – Samson and Delilah, 2009
Anna Reeves – Oyster Farmer, 2004
Rachel Perkins – Radiance, 1999; One Night The Moon, 2001; Bran Nue Dae, 2009
Michael James Rowland – Lucky Miles, 2007
Mark Forstmann – Monkey Puzzles, 2007
Martin Murphy – Lost Things, 2004
Adam Blaiklock – Caught Inside, 2011
Ivan Sen – Beneath Clouds, 2002; Dreamland, 2009; Toomelah, 2011; Mystery Road, 2014, Goldstone, 2016.
Louise Alston – Jucy, 2001; All My Friends are leaving Brisbane, 2007;
Serhat Caradee – Cedar Boys, 2008
Kim Farrant – Strangerland, 2015
Cate Shortland – Somersault, 2004; Lore, 2012
Sean Byrne – The Loved Ones, 2009; The Devil’s Candy, 2015
Tony Krawitz – Dead Europe, 2012
Clare McCarthy – Cross Life, 2007; The Waiting City, 2009
Steve Pasvolsky – Deck Dogz, 2004
Catriona McKenzie – Satellite Boy, 2012
Beck Cole – Here I Am, 2011
Rupert Glasson - Coffin Rock, 2009; What Lola Wants, 2015
Here's part of what AFTRS sent in to the Senate. It would appear to me to quite deliberately miss the point of the question and fudge the issue.
Over the past 13 years (2003 – 2015), 58 graduates have directed one or more feature films, directing a total of 94 feature films, or an average of seven per year.
Editor’s Note: That’s funny. Film Alert can only find four. Ah, the other 55 were students who graduated before 2003! Whatever clever researcher decided this question applied to the entire history of AFTRS and not the period after 2003 as was asked, appears to have misled Senate Estimates here.
In 2003, graduates directed nine feature films; in 2015, six. Given the average number of films directed each year is seven, it is inaccurate to state that AFTRS’ record of graduating students who direct feature films has declined substantially over the past 13 years.
Editor’s Note: Not inaccurate at all. Answer the question asked. In the 13 years since 2003 Film Alert can only find four students who graduated to make five feature films. That’s 0.8 feature films per year.
4. Additionally relevant is that during this time period a large number of AFTRS graduates who have directed feature film have also directed high-end television drama (telemovies or series) including Jane Campion, Phillip Noyce (U.S productions), Peter Duncan, Chris Noonan, Peter Carstairs, Samantha Lang, Shirley Barrett, Kim Farrant, Catriona McKenzie, Tony Ayres, Shawn Seet, Rachel Perkins, Rowan Woods, David Caeser, Daniel Nettheim, Alister Grierson, Robert Connolly, Kriv Stenders, and Cate Shortland.
Editor’s Note: Not an answer to the question asked, but let’s look at the names - 18 of the 19 names graduated before 2003.
Much of this work has been both award-winning, and popular with audiences and consumers. In 2014 Fairfax media compiled a list of the most powerful and influential people in Australian television which included five AFTRS alumni; Anita Jacoby, Cate Shortland, Peter Andrikidis, Rachel Perkins and Tony Ayres. There are also a number of graduates who have directed television drama, yet have not directed a feature film.
Editor’s Note: Not an answer to the question asked, but let’s look at the names - 4 of those 5 graduated before 2003. The answer then goes on to report a long list of other work done by graduates done almost in its entirety by people who graduated before 2003.
All this list confirms is the fact that AFTRS has virtually stopped producing graduates who worked in the sector of film-making making our most prestigious movies (and television). Trying the hide the fact does the institution no credit at all and you hope that the CEO or whomever approved the answers might not fall for such smart arse sophistry in future.
More to come....