Joanna fashions a career in research

Not to boast, but Monash is always proud of our incredibly talented students. Joanna Batsakis is a great example.

Joanna is working towards an academic career in undertaking a PhD in Film Theory, but is also a painter and jewellery designer for her own label.

Here is her profile…

Joanna Batsakis.

Name: Joanna Batsakis

Course: Bachelor of Arts (Alternative Exit in Business Management) and Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Campus: Caulfield

Year graduated: 2016 for Honours Degree in Arts (Film Studies)

Current position: PhD Student in Film Theory at Monash University

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

As I am in my first year of research, I’m currently spending my time split between my personal office at Monash and the library, researching my topic! The focus of my PhD is my all-time favourite artist, Dennis Hopper.

Not only am I a writer but I am also a painter and a jewellery designer for my own label. I organise my days around each of these activities, and depending on my mood I’ll devote more time to one than the other. It depends if I have pending assignments or a gallery exhibition coming up.

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Probably how to research any topic belonging to any discipline effectively, both in and outside the library. Because I began my undergraduate experience with a double degree of Arts/Business, I felt confident generally researching the different parameters of the arts (from film studies, philosophy to art history) because my personal life is so closely centred around these disciplines outside of university life. However with areas that I really had no clue where to begin and really needed extra help with (business management and statistics, microeconomics right through to accounting and commerce law), it was necessary that I learnt how to navigate the jargon and referencing systems so that I could be as successful as possible in my assessments.

I think this really was integral to how I research now in my PhD. My natural way of thinking and writing about films studies is to combine both film theory with art history theory – and because I learnt earlier how to juggle and weave together different systems and sources from opposing disciplines, I can now accurately translate my way of thinking to my writing, because it has become second nature rather than a time-wasting struggle to fulfil my proposed methodology.


When you were little, what was your dream job?

I always wanted to be an international luxury fashion designer. I had various labels I’d made up and designed for and devoted countless of notebooks to. I was always (and still am) extremely inspired by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen – their style and their entrepreneurial and curatorship skills.

What is your dream job now?

My pipe dream is to work as the creative director for Bulgari. But I’d also love to work in some way with The Dennis Hopper Art Trust and I’m not sure in what capacity, but I’d love to collaborate with Dolce & Gabbana and Delfina Delettrez.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

I’m not quite in the industry just yet, but my influences in life (generally speaking) are the same artists time and time again. It’s a big, big long list of people, and this really isn’t all of it…

But I always look up to Julian Schnabel and his son Vito Schnabel, Sofia Coppola, Wes Lang, Martin Scorsese, Dennis Hopper, Jack Kerouac, Joshua Tillman, Louis Garrel, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Taylor, Jose Maria Manzanares, Dylan Rieder, Patti Smith, Miles Teller, Maja Wyh. I also love the entire Skarsgard family, Marc Maron, Alessandro Michele, Gilda Ambrosio & Giorgia Tordini and Stefano Gabbana & Domenico Dolce.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

I keep in close contact with Amanda Barbour – she is the greatest! Not only is she inspirational in how entrepreneurial she is (organising film festivals is the tip of the iceberg), but she is a great supporter of my own work and localised film projects, and she always knows what is happening and where to be. Plus, she can speak French and is a translator! She’s helping me translate some movies with my favourite French film actor, Denis Menochet, because his films are hard to find and often are without English subtitles.

Do you follow any sports teams?

Actually no! I guess the way others devote attention and passion to sports, I devote to films, paintings and fashion. The excitement one feels over grand finals I experience at an exhibition opening, or at the opening night of a production or festival.

What’s your coffee order?

I don’t drink coffee at all! But I seem to always have either a Coca-Cola or Limonata in my hand – they are my preferred drink options, anywhere, anytime.


Jessica on the way to becoming a rom-com queen

A love of rom-coms, film and TV is turning into a burgeoning screenwriting career for Jessica Marshall.

It was at Monash where Jessica realised she loved film, and she has since worked on multiple Australian TV productions.

Here is her profile…

Jessica Marshall.

Name: Jessica Marshall

Course: Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Campus: Clayton

Year graduated: 2012

Current position: Screenwriter

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

Absolutely. You are told this constantly as an emerging writer so you have an expectation going forward, but the reality of it is much starker than you might allow yourself to believe in the beginning! Having said that you must be able to quickly prove yourself when opportunities present themselves. There is no use in being a great networker if you can’t immediately back yourself up with great work and a great attitude.

As for breaking into the industry, I don’t think it’s a matter of the one huge break from nobody to somebody that Hollywood likes to peddle. It’s a series of small breaks, opportunities and people that lead into other opportunities, and you must be tenacious and almost shameless in pursuing those to create momentum.

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

I am currently juggling life between development on my feature film with production company Sense and Centsability and work as a writer’s assistant and note-taker in TV writer’s rooms. I just finished up a fantastic stint on the second season of Channel 10’s The Wrong Girl. If I’m in a TV writer’s room, the days are very long but spent with other incredible writers talking and dreaming another world into reality. My job is to basically write down everyone’s ideas and thoughts during plotting sessions. I need to be across the series history and plot lines to be able to remind the writers of things we have done on previous series or even ideas that were floated and then tossed. At the end of each working day I then write up a working document that covers everything from the day into a legible and clear framework so we can move forward with the story. Some days I can write up documents that are over 20 pages long. I have to be able to juggle a lot of different threads and conversations to be able to produce a coherent document that is then used by everyone: writers, producers, network executives, etc. In a great room there is no ego amongst the writers which means, even though I am there as an assistant and not yet a credited episode writer I can contribute ideas and stories to the room and see those transform along with everyone else’s into making TV!

If I’m writing solo then I structure the day in segments and divide time between writing and things away from the computer/desk. Writing is not only actually writing, but also filling your brain and soul with other nourishing activities like reading, cinema trips, walks, yoga and drawing, so my days are varied. You have to keep your life full to be able to write. It’s kind of like filling your car with petrol. I’m currently writing a romantic comedy so I’m spending a lot of time revisiting the classic rom-coms of the ’90s and reading a lot of cultural memoirs and essays on current ideas and trends of marriage, singledom and relationships.

I also work a lot of odd jobs still to pay the rent. Work as a writer is transitory and cyclical so there can be long periods of unemployment/self employment. And writers aren’t paid particularly well at the best of times, so one must do what they need to survive when following your dream!

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Monash was the place that I realised I loved film. I’m not sure that I had any idea before then beyond enjoying watching films on the weekend. I knew I was interested in people and their stories, and so I thought the best use of that interest was psychology and to be a psychologist.  I was pursuing psychology when on a whim decided to do a ‘fun’ subject in the film department and from that first cinema studies class I was absolutely hooked. I realised that the same thing that drew me to psychology – empathy – was the same thing that cinema traded in. The staff of the Film and TV department were absolutely crucial in cultivating my love of cinema and television, and introducing me into worlds of cinema and story telling I probably would never have sought out on my own. And more so than any other subject, film studies taught me the value of critical thinking. The rest, they say, is history.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

Honestly, I would love to go back and tell Monash Jessica to just calm down a bit. I was so driven and terrified of failing that it might have been nice to have gone a little bit gentler on myself, and not expected perfection on every assignment and task. I think I would have ultimately learned a few crucial lessons earlier that way. I still struggle with perfectionism with my writing, which is such a wanky thing to say, but perfectionism is the death of all writing. You must be able to fail. And even more importantly be receptive to feedback and criticism – they and the people that deliver them are just as important to your writing as anything else. It would have been nice to have allowed myself that space during my time at Monash, and to have gotten involved in more on-campus activities, to have a bit more fun.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

Make films! Write them, direct them, put them together. Try it on iPhones, borrow a camera, do whatever you must to have a go. You quickly learn what looks and sounds good and there’s no better lesson in screenwriting than hearing and seeing your words in the hands and mouths of actors. It becomes exhilaratingly clear what works and what doesn’t when you see it on film.

Further study of your craft is always a good idea, but not always necessary. I completed my Master of Fine Arts in writing at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), and that was invaluable in terms of working on my craft and meeting like minded and industry people. It also taught me how to meet real world briefs and deadlines.

The (dreaded) networking is also a must. This isn’t as scary as you imagine. It’s good to know and remember early on, that people are just people. If you can approach them with the attitude that no matter how important or high up they are in the industry that they are exactly like you, honestly the worst thing they can do is say no. So say hello at events (not going to lie, that can be terrifying), say something genuine about their work, be friendly, engaged and upfront. Emails and phone calls are another great way to connect with someone, no matter their position. A lot of the opportunities I’ve received have come off the back of a genuine communication to someone that I don’t know to say hey, I like your work, can I buy you a coffee and ask you some advice? You’d be surprised by how often that works.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

I dreamt of being a veterinarian and spending all day every day with animals on a big farm somewhere. Now I have two boisterous cats in a tiny city apartment and just chase cute dogs around the neighbourhood for pats.

What is your dream job now?

To be a successful screenwriter/my generation’s Nora Ephron. I would also settle for Chief Cat Petter. If there was ever such a job to exist.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

I am lucky to have met and worked with incredible writers such as Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy), Alice Bell (Offspring, The Beautiful Lie), Judi McCrossin (The Wrong Girl, The Time of Our Lives) and producers Leanne Tonkes and Amanda Higgs. These women inspire and encourage me with their sheer passion, talent, generosity and fierceness. I have also long admired the writer Andrew Knight (Sea Change, Rake, Jack Irish, The Water Diviner, Hacksaw Ridge) and I was incredibly lucky to work with him on Jack Irish. He is as amazing as I imagined. He is one of the funniest people I’ve met and has an incredible ability to pull complex ideas and plot threads into riveting stories.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

I’m still great friends with several of my Honours cohort. There’s nothing like some serious academic pressure to bond people for life. My cohort has gone on to do some truly incredible and interesting things with their lives and I’m immensely proud to know them and to have shared such an intense time of our lives together.

What’s your coffee order?

Long black.


Education and screen culture combine for Sian

Sian Michell says she is working in her dream job, but wants to do it bigger and better.

For Sian, a senior lecturer in Film Studies at SAE institute and film festival director, Monash gave her the confidence to back herself in her career.

Here is her profile…

Sian Michell.

Name: Sian Michell

Course: Bachelor of Performing Arts (Major in Film and TV Studies), Doctor of Philosophy (Film Studies)

Campus: Caulfield/Clayton

Year graduated: 2012

Current position: Senior Lecturer/Film Festival Director

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

I guess I’m not in the traditional industry in ‘film/screen industry’ terms – i.e. I’m not a filmmaker or screen creative. Perhaps screen culture and education industry is a better way to phrase it. So for me it wasn’t about who I know to start a festival or get work in tertiary education. It’s definitely a ‘what I know’ to get a start and then extending on that knowledge and making connections/building relationships with others to build on that start and keep moving forward. Besides studying film and visual culture, I’ve also done further study in arts management and the cultural industries, so I’ve been able to apply the skills I’ve learned in all these qualifications to my educator role, as well as to establish a film festival.

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

Each and every day there is significant time in front of a computer. Checking emails from students, sending emails A LOT, researching and developing educational resources, research into something film related (a filmmaker or film usually), looking at film submissions, online meetings and sometimes getting out and meeting people like filmmakers and other screen culture people (that’s a good day!).

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Having confidence with what I do. Specifically though, it would be the confidence that comes from the ability to think critically and creatively, which is what I’ve learned in my time at Monash. Perhaps another way to think about it is the confidence to back yourself when you’ve made a decision even though you may cop some criticism or negativity. That doesn’t mean being stubborn or inflexible, but trusting that you’ve explored an idea, problem, approach and know you’ve made the right choice.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

Easy! Time management hands down. I remember throughout my time in undergrad and postgrad there were definitely distractions that meant I didn’t always use my time effectively with my learning. Subsequently, this meant submitting work I know could have been better and that I would have been more proud of.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

I think perhaps one of the key skills is good communication. Perhaps it’s a bit of a cliche answer, but anytime I’ve dealt with student concerns its always an issue with communication – someone hasn’t communicated something or someone has assumed something else and, of course, misunderstandings occur. You can’t really avoid working with other people, so having excellent communication skills will help with more productive, rewarding and creative projects in the end. This is particularly so when you have time sensitive tasks and deadlines and are relying on others to complete aspects of a project. If there are issues and concerns, they need to be communicated sooner rather than later.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

I wanted to be a librarian when I was super little. I used to get so excited going to our local library and getting books to read and films to watch. Imagine being there all the time as a job! Brilliant.

What is your dream job now?

I’m kind of doing it, but I want to do it bigger and better. Being a part of the Australian screen culture industries and working at the intersection of education and culture, which I’m doing now. It would be great to have a bit more time for research and writing with more outward facing outcomes, but that’s pretty easily attainable with what I do.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

At the moment, Sue Maslin, most recently known for producing The Dressmaker. However, her career goes back much earlier than this, of course; for example, as a founder of WIFT Victoria and more recently her involvement with the Natalie Miller Fellowship. Her industry work and her writing/talking around women in the screen industries is extensive, and the way in which she does it thoughtful, measured and with that sense of confidence I mentioned above. She is a real champion for women in positions of leadership and being able to take on any role they want to.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

For sure! In fact, three of my festival team are Monash alumni. So we keep in touch all the time for festival business, but that also inevitably leads to social stuff too – wine meetings are a fav’ of mine, talking about films, attending other festivals, collaborating on bits and pieces. I’ve also kept in touch with some other film studies postgrads who now lecture at Monash too.

Do you follow any sports teams?

Not really, although I like to check in with Barcelona in the soccer on occasion. This was after an awesome night watching them play Madrid on TV in a bar with locals in Barcelona a few years ago. The vibe was amazing, so I have fond memories of that.

What’s your coffee order?

Soy flat white, one sugar, preferably in a mug.


Amanda taking over the world, one film festival at a time

There are a lot of different career paths that our School of Media, Film and Journalism graduates go down after their time at Monash, but planning world domination is a new one.

Tongue-in-cheek answers aside, Amanda Jane Barbour is dominating with her two businesses, as a translator and director of the FEM&IST FILMS festival.

Here is her profile…

Amanda Jane Barbour.

Name: Amanda Jane Barbour

Course: Bachelor of Arts (double major in French and Film Studies)

Campus: Clayton/Caulfield

Year graduated: 2017

Current position: I have two businesses: one as a sole-trading translator (French/English); and another as the founding director of FEM&IST FILMS, an intersectional feminist film festival that uses cinema to celebrate and critically engage in contemporary feminist discourse.

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

It was a combination of what I know, and having the audacity to cold contact those within the industry and say, ‘by the way, I am amazing’. My first interpreting event was at Les Inattendus Independent Film Festival in France while I was on exchange; I translated Q&A sessions between English/Australian directors and the French public. Then I worked at Berlin Feminist Film Week, and that was my inspiration for launching FEM&IST FILMS in Australia.

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

Coffee, cigarettes, community liaison, emails and general planning of world domination.

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Having access to a university e-library is a godsend. Anything you ever needed to know is in there, and all you need to access it are login details and an internet connection.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

I would encourage the university to start blind assessments, to counter unconscious bias. Tropfest introduced blind judging this year, wherein film submissions would not have the name, gender, age or ethnicity of the applicants. The only information available to judges was the film, and the number of female finalists skyrocketed from 5% in 2016, to 50% in 2017%. While I have maintained good grades throughout my degree, I find submitting assignments under a student number (as opposed to a student name) a better way to assess an academic piece in its own right.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

For languages, find every native speaker you can and become their friend. If you’re not a social butterfly, reach out to exchange students and offer to do a linguistic exchange or mutually proofread each others’ work. For film, get in early and volunteer, and get to know absolutely every potentially useful contact you can.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

Vegetable farmer, not even kidding.

What is your dream job now?

Working in film (in any capacity) in France, with a liveable wage.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

For translation, probably Helen Scott. She was the interpreter for a series of interviews between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut in the 1960s, which would become the content of Truffaut’s book Hitchcock/Truffaut (1966) and Kent Jones’ 2015 film of the same name. For film criticism, Siegfried Kracauer is excellent and accessible. Gilles Deleuze is also excellent, but it takes a long time to understand what on earth he’s talking about.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

I saw Joanna Batsakis speak at the New Directions In Screen Studies II conference last week. She probably thinks its strange that I give her so many compliments, but she’s making some top notch contributions to cinema academia.

Do you follow any sports teams?

Richmond FC, my family bleeds yellow and black.

What’s your coffee order?

Skinny latte if I’m hungry, or a long black with soda water if I’m dead and need to be resurrected.


From screen to sound for Hayley

After completing her Honours in Film and TV studies at Monash, career success for Hayley Summers was just around the corner.

Hayley is now the Music Coordinator for the Corner Hotel and Northcote Social Club in Melbourne.

Hayley Summers.

Here is her profile…

Name: Hayley Summers

Course: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Film and TV Studies/Bachelor of Communication

Campus: Caulfield/Clayton

Year graduated: 2013

Current position: Music Coordinator for the Corner Hotel and Northcote Social Club

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

I would say a healthy combination of both – the ‘who you know’ certainly provides a platform for opportunities you may not otherwise have access to, but the ‘what you know’ will determine your staying power in any given role and provide you with the tools to go further.

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

I work as the music coordinator for two live music venues in Melbourne. Generally speaking, I liaise with promoters, agents, bands and managers who have booked shows at the venues I work with to ensure they have all of the relevant information they need. Alongside that I ensure that the venues are well equipped and informed regarding the bands and artists scheduled to come through. My job involves coordinating playing times, dealing with contracts, handling hospitality riders and production specs, administrative tasks when booking in shows, and organising gig guides that go out to the media and music industry.

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Organisation and forward thinking are two pretty key factors in my job. A large portion of my time is spent communicating information in a timely and professional manner, and making sure that logistically all bases are covered when it comes to the night of a show, for both the band and the venue. My time at Monash certainly gave me the foundations to succeed in doing this professionally.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

Probably not – there’s always going to be those classic student regrets of late night exam cramming and pretending to do all of the readings in tutes, but I feel pretty satisfied with my time overall. If anything I’d say getting involved in more campus activities.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

It’s tricky terrain, as when you’re studying it’s often difficult to incorporate volunteer work or practical unpaid experience, and this tends to be what everyone suggests you do to get ahead. Being proactive, willing to learn and doing your best to be confident and kind is how I try to go about things.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

I was a bit flighty as a kid, so I dappled in a few dream jobs – fashion designer, musician, writer. I was and still am drawn to occupations where I can flex my creativity or surround myself with creative people.

What is your dream job now?

I still hold a bit of a torch for fashion to be honest – maybe a fashion social media mogul? I still feel pretty privileged and lucky to be working within the music industry to be honest – I feel good about helping bands and artists chase their dreams.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

I’ve found in my time in the music industry thus far that most people tend to be invested in what they’re doing in some sense – we are all working towards similar goals. As with all industries though, there’s still plenty to be done to make the playing field fair and even for everyone involved and it can be a tough slog. I admire the people who use their voices to elevate those who can’t, and I try my best to do the same.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

I have – a handful of wonderful people I met at Monash I still consider to be great, lifelong friends of mine.

Do you follow any sports teams?

That’s a pretty strong no from me. Although, I attended a few of the women’s AFL games this year and they were phenomenal!

What’s your coffee order?

Currently soy latte. As I mentioned, I’m flighty, so I tend to change things up every now and again to keep them guessing.


Curiosity and critical thinking propels Anders’ career

For Anders Furze, studies in Film and TV  has led to varied career outcomes. But fostering curious and critical thinking was the key lesson learnt at Monash.

Anders has a lot to say and it shows in his career choices; he applies that valuable critical thinking as a Journalist, Communications Officer and podcast co-host.

Here is his profile…

Anders Furze.

Name: Anders Furze

Course: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Film and TV Studies

Campus: Clayton

Year graduated: 2012

Current position: I do a few different things: most of my time is taken up as a Cadet Journalist at The Citizen, but I’ve freelanced for various outlets including Meanjin, The Age and Crikey; I co-host a film review podcast and I do a few hours a week as a Communications Officer.

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

It’s very much a combination of both. The media industry is, as they say, a ‘highly networked’ industry, so everybody knows everybody, or at least knows somebody who knows everybody. So networking is a fact of life. But it doesn’t have to mean showing up at business breakfasts and making awkward small talk about the game on the weekend, a lot of my contacts I’ve made through sharing my passion for film and journalism on social media. That being said, you absolutely have to back it up with good work. People do pay attention: good work gets you noticed (and bad work gets you noticed as well).

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

It’s quite varied! This is absolutely the best thing about being a journalist; you get to meet all kinds of people and visit all sorts of places. Last week I interviewed a film critic, a festival director, a cinema manager and a couple of programmers for a story that I’m currently working on. I also talked with a China Studies expert for another story, and an interior designer who specialises in home offices for something else. I also recorded voice-over translations for a Mandarin-speaking expert my colleague interviewed for a podcast. I mean in what other job do you get such variety?

So I’ll do some interviews, then transcribe them (the most boring part of being a journalist is definitely typing up your interviews), then I’ll start weaving the material together into a story. I’ll liaise with my fantastic editor about where it’s going, and he’ll help me whip my stories into shape.

The other great thing about work is that I’m based at Melbourne University’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, and there’s a lot going on here. Just yesterday we had a two hour workshop on podcasting given by an NPR radio producer. It’s pretty great to have the opportunity to learn new things here.

After work you can probably find me at the movies. I co-host a movie podcast, Cultural Capital with Eloise Ross, the president of the Melbourne Cinematheque, and Andy Hazel, who works at The Saturday Paper. So I’m often watching movies with them to review for our podcast, or for other reviews.

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

Two things in particular come to mind: the value of being curious, and the value of critical thinking.

When I started my film degree, I had a somewhat conventional idea of what a film should be. So when I took the Alternative Film and Video class in second year, my whole outlook on life changed. That subject taught me that the dominant, Hollywood mode of filmmaking is just one way of making movies! There are so many other exciting things you can do with a camera.

Now I go into every film I review with this truism in the back of my mind. Nine times out of ten I’m disappointed, but when the exception to this rule starts flickering in front of you, it’s totally worth it.

As for critical thinking, well the world needs more critical thinkers, particularly right now. It’s very easy to coast through life accepting the conventional wisdom, but what kind of life is that? Monash taught me the value of thinking for more than two seconds about everything around us, and I employ this skill every day.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

The best thing about Monash was that I didn’t put pressure on myself to do everything ‘the right way’ – I only chose subjects that sounded interesting, and I let myself make mistakes.

That was until my Honours year. Then I put intense pressure on myself to succeed, and to write ‘the best thesis ever’. I thought my thesis would be the ultimate reflection of myself and my ability and I put enormous pressure on myself and this turned out to be a huge mistake! So I’d tell 2012 Anders to chill the hell out a bit.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

It’s a cliche for a reason but writing skills are a must. Academic writing skills are absolutely not the same as journalistic writing skills. Some people think that clear and concise writing is dumb, which is an attitude that I find genuinely offensive. Get the academic jargon out of your system and learn how to write clearly. I have a lot of time for journalists who can convey complex information in an accessible manner. It’s what I aspire to in all of my work.

I’ve also had to learn how to take feedback on my writing. Life will be very difficult in this industry if you are too attached to it. You need to be able to get along with editors and realise that you’re not the sole authority on what makes good writing. A good editor saves you from yourself.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

My two dream jobs were being a journalist at The Age, and being a movie director.

What is your dream job now?

Being a director still resurfaces from time to time! But I’d probably say a professional book writer. I fell in love with long-form journalism in my Honours year – I started reading non-fiction books as down time from the dense film theory I was digesting. It’s a style of journalism that I have a lot of time for, when it’s done well.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

There are several but I’ll give you two. Anwen Crawford is one of my favourite Australian critics – her book on Courtney Love and Hole’s album ‘Live Through This’ is required reading. It’ll take you a day to read and it’ll teach you how to do cultural journalism.

My former boss (and newly appointed Monash academic) Margaret Simons is another. Her work ethic is legendary: she just. does. it. How many people can juggle managing a research centre, writing Walkley award-winning journalism for The Monthly, organising conferences, teaching subjects and writing a book on gardening all at the same time? She inspires me!

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

I do! I’m still friends with a few of my Honours cohort. I still go to the movies regularly with a few of them. I also lived on campus at Mannix College, and many of my fellow residents are still my closest friends today. We’re now at a stage where people are getting married and we all see each other at weddings and reunions and moan about how old we are even though we aren’t really but also we’re not eighteen any more (it’s a weird time).

Do you follow any sports teams?

I’m a super casual Western Bulldogs fan.

What’s your coffee order?

Strong flat white, no sugar.


Film students check out comedy pilot Behave Yourself

The Behave Yourself panel.

MFJ Film and Screen Studies staff and students visited the ABC Studios in Elsternwick on April 18 to be part of the studio audience for new Channel 7 comedy pilot Behave Yourself.

The students rubbed shoulders with panel guests Arj Barker, Guy Sebastian and Claire Hooper.
Film and Screen Studies students enjoy the comedy pilot, Behave Yourself at the ABC studio in Melbourne.
Film lecturer Dr Tessa Dwyer said the visit also included a Q&A session with the production coordinator and a producer, as well as a studio tour.
Film and Screen experts Claire Perkins and Whitney Monaghan.
“It was a great opportunity for staff and students to see behind-the-scenes and experience first-hand the ‘magic’ of television,” Dr Dwyer said.
Film and Screen experts Belinda Smaill and Claire Perkins.


Monash alumni launch new Australian women in film festival March 2017


MFJ academics play key part in Screening Melbourne

Dr Tessa Dwyer.

Screening Melbourne, an exciting conference  and events program, was held in the the CBD recently, which involved moving attendees through the city to experience its history, materiality and contemporary complexity.

Participating city venues included RMIT University, Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne laneways, the Treasury Theatre, Deakin Edge at Federation Square, the Capitol Cinema, State Library of Victoria, Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the Limelight Department Studio at the Salvation Army Heritage Centre.

Monash University’s film and screen lecturer Dr Tess Dwyer was one of the main organisers of Screening Melbourne. Sean Redmond and Toija Cinque, from Deakin, and Glen Donnar, RMIT,  also organised the event.

Dr Dwyer presented at the conference as part of a workshop on Transnational Screen Traffic (with Liam Burke, Ramon Lobato and Mark Freeman) and put together the Monash sponsored panel event ‘Crime on the Streets: Homicide to Jack Irish‘.

Other FSS presenters included:


  • Keynote presentation by Lesley Stern (Professor Emeritus, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD)and Monash Adjunct).
  • Con Verevis introduced the keynote speaker Lesley Stern.
  • Deane Williams chaired the panel event ‘Crime on the Streets: From Homicide to Jack Irish’.
  • Con Verevis and Deane Williams co-presented a paper on ‘Before and After ACMI: Researching, Curating and Advancing a Cultural History of, and Future for, Melbourne’s State Film Centres’.
  • Olivia Khoo was an invited speaker for the panel event ‘Difference: Screening Diversity’.
  • Whitney Monaghan presented ‘Please Like Me: Queering happiness in suburban Melbourne’. 
  • Kirsten Stevens presented her paper ‘Film Festivals and the City: Locating celebrations of film within the Melbourne’s urban history’.
  • HDR student Belinda Glynn presented a paper ‘On the (Hot Frankston) Beach: Ava Gardner and Melbourne in the 1950s’.
  • HDR student Simon Troon presented ‘Metro Trains and Melancholy: Daniel Crooks’ Post-Cinematic Mapping of Melbourne’.


Other MFJ presenters included:

  • Tony Moore presented a paper Screening Bohemia: Melbourne from the margins’.

  • Mark Gibson presented a paper ‘Freeplay and the Field – Independent Games Production in Melbourne’.

    Crime on the Street panel presented at the Screening Melbourne conference.

    Screen media form the connective tissue of Melbourne’s cultural life. From key moments in early cinema, such as the production of the world’s first feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang, to the broadcast of national events like the Melbourne Cup and AFL Grand Final, to early video game developers such as Beam Software setting up in the city, there is barely a section of Melbourne that is not illuminated by screen culture.

    The symposium has been designed to rediscover all the elements which make Melbourne a city steeped in screen history.


Kirsten Steven to launch Australian Film Festivals

Dr Kirsten Stevens.

Australian Film Festivals: Audience, Place and Exhibition Culture is the first book to offer an in-depth examination of the history, operation, and growth of film festivals as a cultural phenomenon within Australia.

Tracing the birth of film festivals in Australia in the 1950s through to their present abundance, it asks why film festivals have prospered as audience- driven spectacles throughout Australia, while never developing the same industry and market foci of their international fellows.

Drawing on over sixty-years of archival records, festival commentary, interviews with festival insiders and ephemera, this book opens up a largely uncharted history of film culture activity in Australia.

The School of Media, Film and Journalism presents the launch of a new title by Dr Kirsten Stevens, teaching associate in Film & Screen Studies at Monash University.

Please join us on Thursday 23 February when Michelle Carey (Artistic Director, Melbourne International Film Festival) will launch Kirsten Stevens’ Australian Film Festivals: Audience, Place and Exhibition Culture.

Date: Thursday 23 February

Time: 7.30pm

Location: Loop Project Space & Bar, 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne


Belinda Smaill launches her book Regarding Life

Monash Film and Screen Studies’ Associate Professor Belinda Smaill has produced a book, Regarding Life: Animals and the Documentary Moving Image, which has been published by SUNY Press.

Associate Prof Smaill contends that the narrative and aesthetic qualities of the documentary genre enable new understandings of animals and animal/human relationships.

As indicated by the success of such films as March of the Penguins and Food, Inc., the documentary has become the preeminent format for rendering animals and nature onscreen.

In Regarding Life, Belinda Smaill brings together examples from a broad array of moving image contexts, including wildlife film and television, advocacy documentary, avant-garde nonfiction, and new media to identify a new documentary terrain in which the representation of animals in the wild and in industrial settings is becoming markedly more complex and increasingly more involved with pivotal ecological debates over species loss, food production, and science.

Associate Professor Belinda Smaills.

While attending to some of the most discussed documentaries of the last two decades, including Grizzly Man; Food, Inc.; Sweetgrass; Our Daily Bread; and Darwin’s Nightmare, the book also draws on lesser-known film examples, and is one of the first to bring film studies understandings to new media such as YouTube.

The result is a study that melds film studies and animal studies to explore how documentary films render both humans and animals, and to what political ends.

Emeritus Professor David Desser, author of American Jewish Filmmakers, said Associate Prof Smaill’s book was “a brilliant, cogent, and timely look at the intersection of animals, the environment, food, and the people who enjoy and consume them”.

“This is the most solid book on film I have read in quite a while, and it will be taken up with much enthusiasm by documentary scholars, animal-rights activists, eco-warriors, and a broad public that is interested in one or another—or all—of the subjects covered here,”  Professor Desser said.

Belinda Smaill is Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University in Australia. She is the author of The Documentary: Politics, Emotion, Culture and the coauthor (with Olivia Khoo and Audrey Yue) of Transnational Australian Cinema: Ethics in the Asian Diasporas.


New book reframes women’s indie filmmaking

ir-coverSenior lecturer in Film and Screen Studies, Dr Claire Perkins has co-edited an exciting new book reframing American women’s independent cinema. Independent films by women constitute a vital and multidimensional cinema distinct from both Hollywood and the popular ‘indie’ sector. This book is dedicated to highlighting the work of a range of these women, whose fresh, feminist voices we need more than ever in this political climate


A groundbreaking collection, with an all-star feminist cast of editors and contributors, Indie Reframed taps the many benefits of examining women’s agency in the production and distribution practices of independent cinema. Theoretically savvy and up-to-date, the volume satisfyingly redresses the gender imbalance of earlier indie film scholarship.’ — Catherine Grant, University of Sussex


With the consolidation of ‘indie’ culture in the 21st century, female filmmakers face an increasingly indifferent climate. Within this sector, women work across all aspects of writing, direction, production, editing and design, yet the dominant narrative continues to construe ‘maverick’ white male auteurs such as Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson as the face of indie discourse. Defying the formulaic myths of the mainstream ‘chick flick’ and the ideological and experimental radicalism of feminist counter-cinema alike, women’s indie filmmaking is neither ironic, popular nor political enough to be readily absorbed into pre-existing categories. This collection, the first sustained examination of the work of female practitioners within American independent cinema, reclaims the ‘difference’ of female indie filmmaking. Through a variety of case studies of directors, writers and producers such as Ava DuVernay, Lena Dunham and Christine Vachon, contributors explore the innovation of a range of female practitioners by attending to the sensibilities, ideologies and industrial practices that distinguish their work – while embracing the ‘in-between’ space in which the narratives they represent and embody can be revealed.


FSS applauds Janice’s outstanding contribution to its program ahead of her Monash departure

Monash’s School of Media, Film and Journalism applauds the work of Dr Janice Loreck, who has made an impressive contribution to the discipline of film and screen studies since 2010.

Dr Jan Loreck.
Dr Jan Loreck.

Dr Loreck, who was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy in cinema studies in 2014, has been recognised by the Dean of Monash Faculty of Arts, Professor Rae Frances, for her innovation and outstanding performance in teaching.

Dr Loreck has won two Dean’s commendation teaching awards, and in 2009 won the Australian Postgraduate Awarded for her exceptional research as an HDR scholar.

She has taught film and screen studies units, including ATS1304 Introduction to Television Studies, ATS3531 Watching Film and Television, ATS2535 Storytelling in Film and Television, and ATS4002 Honours Research Methods Seminar.

Dr Loreck’s PhD thesis, Difficult Subjects: Women, Violence and Subjectivity in Distinguished Cinema, has been published as Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and has been acclaimed for its outstanding contribution to art cinema.

Janice Loreck's book, Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema was released.
Janice Loreck’s book, Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema was released.

“Boldly setting in motion several somewhat entrenched debates around art cinema, transgressive women, and generic hybridity in contemporary cinema, Janice Loreck’s book produces an enlargement and nuancing of our understanding of gendered subjectivity in cinema through the figure of the violent woman,” University of Otago’s Associate Professor Catherine Fowler said.

Dr Loreck has made significant research contributions to Monash and the discipline of film and screen studies internationally.

We congratulate Dr Loreck for her outstanding work and we wish her well in her future endeavours.


‘Let’s wash the eyes’ film screening & seminar

14890484_1094230420694540_7766560763087962193_oHazara Australian filmmaker Abdullah Ferjad screens and discusses his short film ‘Let’s wash the eyes’.

Film synopsis: Hamid is a photographer. He sees everything as black and negative in Afghanistan.

Hamid has been prosecuted by the Taliban regime because he does not have a beard.

A Talib commander who himself sports a sophisticated beard has made a gash on Hamid’s face.

The gash becomes a constant reminder, a bitter remembrance and a persistent accompaniment to his current life.

Click here for details 

CWADRN film screening and seminar
Friday, November 4, 11am-12:30pm
H2.22, Monash University Caulfield Campus


Public Lecture: Professor Michael Renov

The School of Media, Film and Journalism, with thanks to Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, presents:

Documenting the Arctic Sublime
Public Lecture: Professor Michael Renov

50ed382e_9279_f61b_00c2b28c28e40bad_originalThis talk examines how the notion of the sublime has come to be so strongly associated with human encounters with the far north while offering a framework – historical and conceptual – for understanding the documentative urge that has arisen from and is tied up with those encounters. How, this talk asks, does the mixture of awe, rapture and terror associated with the sublime of 19th century European romanticism and the writings of Burke, Kant, Wordsworth and Coleridge, come to have a particular connection to the experience and representation of the far north? It maps out this notion of the arctic sublime as a quite specific context for and instance of what I have elsewhere called “documentary desire,” that unquenchable drive to record and meditate on the sounds and images of the world. To that end I sketch out the role of artists, photographers, filmmakers and videographers as agents of an Arctic-based documentative urge culminating in a brief look at one film, Skagafjörður (2002-2004), produced by American experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton.

Michael Renov is the Haskell Wexler Chair in Documentary and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is the author of Hollywood’s Wartime Woman: Representation and Ideology and The Subject of Documentary, editor of Theorizing Documentary, and co-editor of Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices, Collecting Visible Evidence, The SAGE Handbook of Film Studies and Cinema’s Alchemist: The Films of Peter Forgacs. In 1993, Renov co-founded Visible Evidence, a series of international and highly interdisciplinary documentary studies conferences and is one of three general editors for the Visible Evidence book series at the University of Minnesota Press.

Professor Michael Renov is an ACJC Dr Jan Randa Visiting Scholar.
He is at Monash to participate in Rethinking Holocaust Paradigms – Dr Jan Randa Aftermath Conference 2016

Date/Time: Mon 19 Sep / 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

LocationH238, Building H, Caulfield Campus


Introducing the FSS Film Society!

The brand-new and exciting Film and Screen Studies (FSS) Film Society is hosting a series of film screenings where people from FSS can share the movies they love, love to hate or just want to have a really good chat about. Every movie screened will be selected by someone from FSS and will be followed by a discussion about the film. This screening series provides the perfect opportunity for people from FSS to share their research and favourites films with like-minded colleagues, inspire great discussions with intelligent people and (as a bonus) eat lots of popcorn.images-3

The first screening will be in the Caulfield Theatrette  (B537) from 4pm on Thursday September 22nd. Dr Janice Loreck will be introducing Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014) and will be hosting a Q&A session following the film. 

We are looking for Film and Screen Studies people to nominate movies for the screening series to run in 2017. To request a film screening or to register your interest in being part of the film society, email, or

We look forward to seeing you there!


The future of film studies in the age of media studies

Independent scholar Dr Noel King (from left), University of Melbourne’s Professor Angela Ndalianis, University of New South Wales’ Professor George Kouvaros, Monash University’s Associate Professor Therese Davis, New York University’s Dana Polan and Associate Professor Constantine Verevis.

Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism ran a workshop, The future of Film Studies in the age of Media Studies, at the Monash Media Centre at Caulfield on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.


Prof. Dana Polan (New York University),

Assoc. Prof. Therese Davis (Monash University)

Dr. Noel King (Independent scholar)

Prof. George Kouvaros (University of New South Wales)

Prof. Angela Ndalianis (University of Melbourne)

Conveners and chairpersons:

Assoc. Prof. Constantine Verevis (Monash University)

Assoc. Prof. Deane Williams (Monash University)

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When we – Noel King, Constantine Verevis and Deane Williams – put together our ARC-funded, Australian Film Theory and Criticism (1975–1985) project to document the development of film studies in Australia, we were also thinking about how events of that period informed and shaped the current state of film studies in Australia (and elsewhere).

Now, with the discipline of media studies ascendant and digital media formats proliferating across various platforms, it seems timely to bring together a select group of academics – ­Dana Polan, Therese Davis, Noel King, George Kouvaros and Angela Ndalianis – to ask if and how film studies can remain a distinct discipline, with its own unique history and methods, or whether film studies is nowadays simply one of several areas in a larger field of media studies.

Among the questions raised for discussion at this workshop are:

1. What place does film studies have in contemporary media studies?

2. How can scholars bridge the cinematic emphasis of their research and training with the amorphous structure of both contemporary media and media studies?

3. Is there a regional specificity to film studies? Does Australia’s proximity to Asia influence film studies here? What of our relationship to the Northern hemisphere?

4. How have recent shifts in on-line publishing affected the discipline? Has writing about film – and the methods of film criticism – changed as a result?

5. How has globalisation, and the circulation of films and other materials affected the discipline? How have on-line delivery methods, web chatter, Facebook, etc. impacted viewers and audiences of world cinema?

Each panelist will prepare a short (10-minute) response, which will be followed by open discussion with invited participants.

Participants include: R. Butler (Monash), S. Bye (ACMI), R. Caputo (La Trobe), A. Danks (RMIT), J. Davey (Monash), M. Dutto (Monash), T. Dwyer (Monash), D. Fairfax (Yale), ), L. French (RMIT), S. Gaunson (RMIT), O. Khoo (Monash), R. Letizi (Monash), R. Lobato (Swinburne), W. Monaghan (Monash), S. Rios (Monash), G. Russell (Monash), B. Smaill (Monash), K. Stevens (Monash), Mia Treacey (Federation), S. Troon (Monash HDR), J. Vassilieva (Monash), K. Warren (Monash).


New books examine violent women and queer girls on screen

Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism has recently celebrated the launch of two exciting new titles in film and screen studies: Dr Janice Loreck’s Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema  and Dr Whitney Monaghan’s Queer Girls, Temporality and Screen Media: Not ‘Just a Phase’.

Dr Loreck and Dr Monaghan are assistant lecturers at Monash and graduates of the Film, Media and Communications HDR program.

Associate Professor Belinda Smaill and Dr Claire Perkins launched the books, which have both been published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.


book cover

Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema explores the exciting challenge posed by women who kill through six films released over the last 20 years: Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009), Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001), Baise-moi (Coralie Thinh Thi and Virginie Despentes, 2000), Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994), Monster (Patty Jenkins, 2003) and The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008).

Exploring how these films play with cultural ideas of ‘typical’ feminine behaviour and the challenges presented to these by homicidal women, this daring work takes up a unique focus on the depiction of violent women in contemporary art and critically-distinguished films.

Exploring the appeal that violent women hold for spectators within this viewing context, Loreck opens up the discussion of how cinema responds to the cultural construction of the violent woman as a conundrum and enigma.


book cover

Queer Girls, Temporality and Screen Media: Not ‘Just a Phase’
offers a key intervention into the growing scholarship and increasing visibility of queer characters in films and television series around the globe.

Taking up the queer girl as a represented and rhetorical figure within film, television and video, this book analyses the terms of the queer girl’s newfound visibility.

Monaghan’s clear critical perspective argues for a temporal logic that underpins many representations of queer girlhood.

Examining an archive of screen texts that includes teen television series, teenpics, art-house, queer and independent cinemas as well as new forms of digital video, she expands current discourse on both queer representation and girls’ studies by looking at sexuality through themes of temporality.

The first full-length study of its kind, this book draws on concepts of boredom, nostalgia and transience to offer a new perspective on queer representation in contemporary screen media.




Getting to know … Tessa Dwyer

Dr Tessa Dwyer.
Dr Tessa Dwyer.

Dr Tess Dwyer joins the Film and Screen Studies academic team at Monash University, based at Caulfield campus.

Dr Dwyer teaches long-form television, which is a new offering in the department.

Getting to know …

Name:  Tessa Dwyer

Title: Dr

Faculty/Division: Arts/School of Media, Film and Journalism

Dept: Film and Screen Studies

Campus: Caulfield

How long have you worked at Monash?: Six weeks on the job!

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?: I worked as a lecturer at the University of Melbourne and I did some research work at Swinburne University, in the Swinburne Institute for Social Research.

What do you like best about your role? I’m teaching a really fun course on long-form television at the moment that is brand new, so I’ve been able to shape it how I wish.

I’m really enjoying teaching TV and hearing from students about a subject that they are really informed about and engaging with regularly in their everyday lives.

Why did you choose your current career path? My career path hasn’t been exactly straight, although once I decided to return to postgraduate study after a break of about five years, I really committed to it, and my current career developed from there.

Prior to commencing my PhD, I had worked in the Arts for a stint, with two years as director of the Centre for Contemporary Photography. It was under-funded, challenging and fun work, but I really missed doing in-depth research and academic writing.

First job? Dimmeys deparment stores in Richmond – a cutural institution! When I first started there, just out of school, it still had a flying fox set-up that linked to all the cash registers across the store, so cash could be shot up to a central upstairs office.

Worst job? Shift work at Media Monitors. I had to stay up all night cutting and copying news articles to deliver to slick city offices the next day! Often I had to do the delivery myself. It was unpleasant in many ways.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve? I am looking at ways in which people around the globe are engaging with screen media via networking platforms such as video sharing sties and social media.

These behaviours are starting to migrate from online spaces to more traditional venues like cinemas that, in some parts of the world (such as China and Japan), are holding special screenings where audience texting is encouraged and displayed on the cinema screen for all to view.

I am also researching the role that language and accent play in the ways that screen media travels, is consumed and produced.

What is your favourite place in the world and why? So hard to chose… but one of my local, favourite places is Mt Buffalo. I’ve been going there for family holidays since I was very little and I love it. Its incredibly beautiful with amazing, other-worldly rock formations and clean, crisp air that’s invigorating,

What is your favourite place to eat and why? I love eating and nice places to in which to do so. Japanese bars like Izakaya Den in the city are great, as are places like Supermaxi in North Fitzroy that are relaxed and welcoming.


What is the best piece of advice you have received? Dance instead of going to the gym.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know? I’m not a bad roller-skater.


Shweta Kishore appointed lecturer in Vietnam

Shweta Kishore.
Shweta Kishore.

Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism’s HDR candidate and sessional lecturer, Shweta Kishore, has taken up the position of lecturer at the Centre for Communication and Design, RMIT Vietnam in Saigon South, Vietnam.

Shweta submitted her PhD thesis on July 12, 2016, and flew to Saigon five days later to commence her new appointment.

The School of Media, Film and Journalism wishes Shweta the very best for her new position.