FIRST NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: CREW AND ABOVE THE LINE

In partnership with our members Ausfilm endeavors to support, celebrate and advance the understanding of First Nations peoples. This Spotlight features First Nations crew and Above-the-line figures working in the film and TV industries, in order to share their stories, experiences and visions for the future.


Travis Akbar, Josh Trevorrow & Nara Wilson

South Australia’s screen industry was in the international spotlight at Cannes this year, with Adelaide Film Festival leading a delegation of 10 South Australian filmmakers, including First Nations creatives Travis Akbar, Josh Trevorrow and Nara Wilson.

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CATRIONA MCKENZIE

Catriona McKenzie is a Gunai/Kurnai woman, who was born in Sydney and now splits her time between the US and regional New South Wales.

Across her career, Catriona has earned a reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting and versatile filmmakers, working across genres on acclaimed series including The Walking DeadThe Boys and Marvel Studios’ Echo.

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KELLI CROSS

Kelli Cross is a Nyoongar/Malgana/Wadjela woman from the Fremantle/Walyalup area of Perth/Boorloo.

Since writing and directing her first short film The Turtle through SBS and the then Australian Film Commission (now Screen Australia)’s ‘Bit of Black Business Initiative’ in 2007, Kelli has balanced filmmaking with raising a family.

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KAYLENE BUTLER

Kaylene Butler (Buwabuwa) is a proud First Nations Australian, South Sea Islander and Chinese (Umbie) woman from Queensland, Australia. Having honed her skills as a writer, director and producer over 24 years Kaylene has made important cultural contributions to many homegrown and international projects.

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DYLAN RIVER

Dylan River is one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming creatives, with notable acclaim across the crafts of directing, writing, and cinematography.

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MICHAEL HUDSON

Michael Hudson is a proud Bangarang and Yorta Yorta man from northeast Victoria and an award-winning filmmaker. His short film, Ties That Bind, won the short screenplay award at Sydney Film Festival in 2019. Last year he undertook a directors’ attachment on the Garth Davis sci-fi feature, Foe, as well as First Nations horror film, The Moogai.

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GEORGIA STONE

Georgia Stone is an emerging writer and producer from lutruwita/Tasmania with a passion for First Nations storytelling. On top of founding her own production company in 2021, Georgia has worked as an Indigenous Attachment for the NITV children’s animated series Big J and Little Cuz, as well as working in crew roles on recent Tasmania based productions Deadloch and Alone Australia.

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STAR SANDFORD

Star Sandford is a Ngarrindjeri woman living on Kaurna Country in South Australia. She talked to the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) about her recent experience completing a Producer Attachment on Warwick Thornton’s new feature film The New Boy.

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TYSON PERKINS

Tyson Perkins is an award-winning Arrernte and Kalkadoon director of photography based in Sydney, Australia. From commercials to music videos, Perkins has been in demand since his work on the award-winning feature documentary Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra

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GARY HAMAGUCHI

Meet Gary Hamaguchi, a talented Japanese/Aboriginal filmmaker from Djugun-Yawuru country in Western Australia. Gary has directed acclaimed dramas, docos, and upcoming projects that shed light on the rich culture and history of his people. Gary’s passion for filmmaking and dedication to representing First Nations narratives have made him a rising star in the screen industry.

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ERIC MURRAY LUI

Meet Eric Murray Lui, an esteemed cinematographer hailing from Australia’s Kulkulgal nation, North Queensland. Discover his remarkable journey, his contributions to the film industry, and his commitment to authentic Indigenous storytelling.

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DANIELLE MACLEAN

Meet the remarkable Danielle Maclean, a screenwriter and producer from the Luritja and Warumungu communities in the Northern Territory. Her unique content is elevating First Nations voices and captivating audiences worldwide.

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ADAM THOMPSON

Adam Thompson is a rising First Nations Pakana creative talent in Tasmania’s film industry. He co-established the first Tasmanian Aboriginal production company, Kutikina with Screen Tasmania’s admiring support. Adam discusses his transition to screenwriting and how Kutikina aims to tell First Nations stories authentically.

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BECK COLE

Beck Cole is a Warumungu and Luritja woman and a writer, director, and producer from Victoria, Australia. Cole discusses the joy of working with filmmakers from other Indigenous nations and the reaction of audiences around the world to her projects. She hopes that her eight-part anthology of shorts from First Nations filmmakers​​​​​​, We Are Still Here will be screened all across Australia and beyond.

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LILLA BERRY

Lilla Berry is a Yankunytjatjara artist and award-nominated film producer living on Kaurna Country in South Australia. In this great First Nations Spotlight take a look at Lilla’s career, including thoughts on storytelling, working on Black Empire and working with her sister, filmmaker Pearl Berry.

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DARLENE JOHNSON

Darlene Johnson, of the east-coast Dunghutti people in New South Wales, is an Award-winning Writer, Director and Producer. Her screen credits include Stolen Generations, Stranger in my Skin, Following the Rabbit-Proof Fence, Gulpilil – One Red Blood, Home and Away, The Heights and Neighbours. Get to know Darlene in this month’s great First Nations Spotlight.

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JUB CLERC

Jub Clerc is a multiple award-winning Nyul Nyul/Yawuru woman from Western Australia’s Kimberley region, and the recent recipient of TIFF’s NETPAC award for her film, Sweet As. Jub has over 15 years of industry experience in writing, directing and casting. Screenwest deliver a wonderful Q&A with this very talented First Nations woman.

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DEAN GIBSON

With over 15 years of experience in the screen industry, Queensland-based Dean Gibson is a multi-award-winning Aboriginal (Guugu Yimithirr) Filmmaker and multi-disciplined creator currently directing across multiple projects.

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STEVEN MCGREGOR

Steven McGregor is an inspiring and award-winning First Nations Writer and Director from Northern Territory’s capital, Darwin. Steven has a great attitude and enthusiasm in his work that shines through.

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JAMES HENRY

Melbourne-based sound designer and composer James Henry talks about carving his own path in the music industry, his early influences, what he finds exciting in his work, as well as his hopes for more First Nations voices on screen.

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S MAYA COOMBS, ADAM GALEA AND DAMIEN WANGANEEN

Three rising South Australian First Nations crew members, Maya Coombs, Adam Galea and Damien Wanganeen are gaining their first feature film credits as Heads of Departments on award-winning director Rolf de Heer’s upcoming feature film The Mountain.

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AARON FA’AOSO

Meet Aaron Fa’Aoso, a Torres Strait Islander Actor, Screenwriter, Director and Producer based in Cairns in Far North Queensland. Aaron talks about his career to date and the benefits of the soon-to-be-built Screen Queensland Studios: Cairns development.

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IVAN SEN

Ivan Sen is one of Queensland’s top First Nations’ Filmmakers as well as being an accomplished Director, Writer and Composer. We hope you enjoy this wonderful Q&A with a very talented First Nations Filmmaker.

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KIM WEST

Noongar man and talented editor Kim West of the Kimberley region in Western Australia discusses how he got into the film industry and his desire to see more First Nations representation within it.

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KEITH GILBEY-WARRIOR, KIARA KARPANY-DAY & THIBUL NETTLE

Three rising South Australian First Nations talents talk about their career aspirations, their love for film and experiences in the film industry, working with their role models, like Warwick Thornton on Firebite.

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HEATH BAXTER

With an impressive portfolio of work such as Top End Wedding, High Ground and upcoming Barrumbi Kids. Northern Territory-born, Heath Baxter never gave up on his dreams to work in the Australian screen industry and it is paying off.

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SUMAH HURLEY

Meet the talented Sumah Hurley; a 3rd Assistant Director working in Melbourne, Victoria and a proud Goreng Goreng woman. Film Victoria talked to Sumah about why she moved to Melbourne from Goreng Goreng, her family’s traditional country in Queensland, her inspirations and mentors, her favourite gigs to date and more.

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LEAH PURCELL

Leah Purcell is a proud Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman, a multi-award-winning author, playwright, actor, director, filmmaker, producer, screenwriter, showrunner, and a legend of the stage and screen in Australia.

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GEORGIA CROFT & JAMIE LIPSHAM

Just as NAIDOC week in Australia rolls around, Industrial, Light & Magic’s Sydney studio talked to Production Assistants and Indigenous Australians Georgia Croft and Jamie Lipsham about their careers, about diversity in the VFX industry and how important it is to remember Australia’s black history all through the year.

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ALLAN COLLINS

Reconciliation Week launches in Australia from 27 May – 3 June 2021. Reconciliation Week is about strengthening relationships between First Nations peoples and non-indigenous peoples for the benefit of Australia. Ausfilm had the opportunity to chat with Allan Collins about life as a First Nations Director of Photography hailing from Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

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