/News 20.03.23


The Cutting Edge Features & Television team welcomed 2023 with open arms and is excited about the new content it has acquired. However, this month they’re taking a moment to celebrate the people who make it all possible, the hard-working individuals who have become integral members of the Cutting Edge family and consistently demonstrate leadership, patience, and professionalism across the board.

In light of International Women’s Day, which highlights the need to bridge the gender inequality gap and celebrate female leadership, we want to shine a spotlight on two outstanding women who exemplify these admirable qualities: Nicole Hargreaves, Executive Assistant who oversees operations across Sydney, Gold Coast, and Brisbane, and Jo Spillane, a Senior Online Creative who has become one of the best in her field, working on high-end feature films, television series, and documentaries.

If you’ve worked with Cutting Edge before, chances are you’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Nicole or Jo, or both if you’re lucky. Despite their different roles, they share a passion for their craft and a commitment to achieving common goals.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Nicole and Jo and hear their thoughts on what it’s like working in post-production.

First off the bat, Nicole Hargreaves…

For those who don’t know you, would you mind introducing yourself?

I’m Nicole Hargreaves, the Features & Television Executive Assistant to the Head of Features & Television, Marcus Bolton. I work alongside him and our senior production team to ensure everything runs smoothly between the Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane studios. There is never a dull moment! 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I am privileged to be involved from the initial concept and quoting stage to the final delivery.

Collaborating with the Cutting Edge and Production teams throughout the pre-production, production, and post-production process is rewarding. I love the relationships I can build. I love when a client feels comfortable enough with me that they can pick up the phone and have a chat.

What a payoff to see the finished work on the screen! The only thing better is seeing the team’s faces light up when they see their work on the screen. It is a magical feeling. #PROUDMUM

What is your most memorable moment?

Recently, I accompanied Marcus (Bolton, Cutting Edge’s Head of Features & Television) on a couple of business trips to Los Angeles. Being a part of those meetings in one of the most exciting places on the planet is thrilling. I’m in my element supporting Marcus during those fast-paced days. You never know what is around the corner!

Amongst the hard work, I always find a moment to consider what I’m grateful for. For example, during our last trip to LA, I was standing on the rooftop of the Chateau Marmont for the pre-Oscars party. Looking out over the LA cityscape was a pinch-me moment. It reminded me of the projects we deliver to the world stage. That Australia, as a Post & Visual Effects powerhouse, so clearly punches above its weight and delivers creativity as good as anywhere.

And then there are the shows, of course! Thirteen Lives with Ron Howard is a project close to my heart. I mean, Ron Howard! What a career highlight. I also built strong relationships with the production team, including Line Producer Sharon Miller. She steers a tight ship and is a pleasure to work with. And the DOP Sayombhu Mukdeeprom and DOP for 2nd Unit Andrew Rowlands.

Thirteen Lives. Image courtesy of Vince Valitutti / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

What is it like supporting the team in both Queensland and New South Wales, trying to be in two places at once?

About three years ago, I relocated from New South Wales to Queensland. Of course, New South Wales will always have a special place in my heart, given I lived there for such a long time. But establishing myself in a new state has been a welcomed challenge.

One highlight (amongst many) of being based on the Gold Coast is having the opportunity to surround myself with other influential women in the industry. Lynne Benzie, President of Village Roadshow Studios, always shows strong leadership. She has such a fantastic career and garnered the respect of her colleagues and peers, and rightfully so. Gabrielle Jones, previous Film & Television Advisor for the City of Gold Coast, is also a wealth of knowledge.

And within the Cutting Edge Features & Television family, our senior creative talent, such as Jo Spillane, who shows strength and calmness under immense pressure, delivers on our diverse slate. Last but not least, Sally Wortley, Features & Television Producer, is an absolute powerhouse and can juggle producing while raising a young family.

And the list goes on. So many amazing women I work with every day, from our producers to our amazing creative team.

L-R: Lynne Benzie (President of Village Roadshow Studios), Marcus Bolton (Head of Features & Television at Cutting Edge) and Nicole Hargreaves at the Ausfilm Aussie Oscars nominees event.

With that said, we are fortunate to continue the conversation with Senior Flame Artist, Jo Spillane.

Jo has an impressive career and an expansive IMDB to match. She is dedicated to her craft and has become a trusted pair of hands for many clients.

What is it like being a Senior Creative and Flame Operator in a usually male-dominated field?

The culture is different from when I first started, the creative team was very male-dominated.

Looking back, I remember it giving me extra motivation to succeed! But, of course, today, there’s more mutual respect and value for what a female creative can bring to the team. Gender aside though, the industry is competitive, and it takes a lot of dedication and drive to carve out a place for yourself.

Is there a benefit to being a woman working in this field?

This role’s fast-paced and demanding nature means I often have a varied technical and creative workload. Therefore, approaching projects pragmatically and having the sensibility to add a creative eye is essential to achieving a successful result for the client—one which meets their creative brief and deadline.

What do you find the most rewarding part of the job?

Being involved in a project in its finishing stages is honestly the most rewarding part. It’s great to collaborate with colleagues and clients to complete and deliver the project to technical and creative expectations.

Being in the final stage often brings challenges with time frames & budgets, so it’s incredibly rewarding when we achieve a delivery that meets the client’s creative vision & one that we are all incredibly proud of. In addition, the trust the clients put in us to bring their projects to fruition is very humbling & rewarding.

What are the most memorable projects you’ve worked on?

Every project is memorable!

A highlight earlier in my career was having the opportunity of finishing Top of the Lake for See-Saw Films. Jane Campion has always been an inspirational director and working on a project with such amazing production values and award-winning performances was genuinely thrilling.

I’ve also worked with Rachel Perkins on Total Control and, more recently, The Australian Wars for Blackfella Films. These were standouts for different reasons.

Total Control was a refreshing & exciting take on politics that seemed courageous, but highly relevant.

The Australian Wars came together strongly and is an important documentary that informed and moved me.

The chance to work with Greer Simpkin from Bunya Productions on Mystery Road and True Colours was also fantastic. Her heartfelt and infectious passion for bringing a project to life in post is exciting to be a part of.

But I also want to mention Benita Carey, one of the biz’s most passionate & dedicated Post Producers. It’s been great having the chance to work on some fantastic projects with her & Lingo Pictures with Helen Bowden & Jason Stephens – Upright, The Secrets She Keeps and The Messenger most recently, to name a few.

A particularly proud moment was working on I Am Woman, a film about Helen Reddy, a trailblazing Australian female who broke through the glass ceiling in the US music industry. Having this film premiere at TIFF before going onto a worldwide release is truly epic.

I am Woman. Image courtesy of Goalpost Pictures/Stan.

Providing and delivering creative service for and to the world stage and markets, makes me realise how proud we are as a company to deliver internationally.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It’s an honour to contribute & help finesse these projects and deliver them to the world stage.

I plan to continue this passion and craft & inspire other women that a creative role is not only possible and achievable! I feel blessed to work in a company that shares and enables my passion.

Where do you see the women in the industry in 5 years?

Women in the industry will continue strengthening and becoming more relevant. We are at an exciting moment where the industry has bounced back from the Covid downturn, and more opportunities are arising with more productions underway or in the pipeline.

I hope to foster a new generation of female Flame artists and make them feel optimistic about the future when it has felt uncertain for a few years. At Cutting Edge, we are lucky to have a strong female team both in production & creative, and I’m sure that will continue for many years to come.

Cutting Edge FTV 2023 Women.
Nicole Hargreaves and Lynne Benzie

If you would like to check out some of the films and shows listed in this article, you can find the titles here at their respective Streamers or Broadcasters:
1. Thirteen Lives – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) & Amazon Prime Video
2. Top of the Lake – Binge, BBC Worldwide, Sundance TV, UKTV & Arte
3. Total Control – ABC TV & Endeavour Content
4. The Australian Wars – ABC TV
5. Mystery Road – ABC TV, Acorn TV & All3Media International
6. True Colours – NITV, SBS & About Premium Content
7. Upright – Entertainment One, Foxtel, Sky UK, Sundance Now
8. The Secrets She Keeps – Sundance Now, Paramount+ & DCD Rights
9. The Messenger – ABC TV & All 3 Media
10. I Am Woman – Stan & Netflix