Anne Bruning

Unit Production Manager


I started in the business as a secretary at Grundy Television [one of Australia’s television production giants in the 1970s and 80s] when it was a commercial production house. From television production through to the large features I’m working on now, it’s been all about on-the-job training.

I always thought doing big features might be a nice idea and was given the opportunity to work on Bruce Beresford’s Paradise Road, which led to work on Mission: Impossible 2. In fact, Paradise Road was one of the most significant films I worked on. It was about real people surviving in an unreal situation, and it made you realise how lucky you are. The producers, Bruce Beresford and Sue Milliken, knew that.

In my role as unit production manager, it’s all about the ability to remain flexible and adaptable and have a broad understanding of what all the departments need. Problem solving on the fly is one of the most rewarding elements of the job. That said, I do the budgeting for films and the studios want certainty, so incentives are what drive where a film is made. They need to know exactly the deal you say you’re going to give them. In the past few years I’ve been unit production manager on San Andreas, Ghost In The Shell in New Zealand, and now Aquaman. You have to go where the work is.

The internet and increased communications has changed everything enormously, giving us the ability to be more mobile. That means I can spend more time on set and that’s going to become even more apparent in the next few years.

I try to go to the U.S. every 12-18 months to connect with everyone I know there. It’s very important to do that networking and keep tapping into your relationships. I connected with Rob through a mutual colleague at New Line in Los Angeles, which got me the role on San Andreas.

Working on Aquaman with Rob, there’s a shorthand that exists the second time around. Rob is very thoughtful and clear about what he wants. On Aquaman, we’re often working 14-hour days and his experience is extraordinary.

My advice to women considering entering the film business is get a mentorship – organisations like Screen Queensland have great intern programs to get on-the-job training. There are now more women in the technical roles that used to be male-dominated. Women shouldn’t feel limited by those opportunities not being there. Be brave, take on those challenges and do the networking.

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Rob Cowan

Executive Producer