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.