Encore’s Power 50, 2011

For the second consecutive year, Encore has chosen a select group of screen professionals who have achieved new heights in 2010/2011, whose decisions influence and shape Australia’s audiovisual industry, and whose work has stood out from the crowd. These are our Power 50.

1. Emile Sherman – Producer

Last February, Sherman became the first Australian producer to receive an Academy Award for Best Picture, alongside his See-Saw Films partner Iain Canning, and Bedlam Productions’ Gareth Unwin. It also won at the BAFTAs and the Producers Guild of America, in addition to the many other honours for its cast and crew.

While technically a UK production, the Australianness of the film is undeniable – and so is its success; with a modest U$15m budget, The King’s Speech has grossed more than $405m worldwide – one of the most successful independent films of all time. Read Emile Sherman interview

2. Baz Luhrmann – Director, writer, producer

There’s no Australian filmmaker as controversial as Baz Luhrmann. It’s not just his films that polarise opinions; it’s everything he does or plans to do. How many words have been written about his next project The Great Gatsby before the cameras even start rolling? From his decision to shoot the New York classic in Sydney and in, oh blasphemy, stereoscopic 3D, to the debate over the ‘Australianness’ of the project and its eligibility to receive financial incentives, there’s no denying Baz is one of the most important artists and businessmen the country has seen.

3. John Edwards – Producer

Offspring, Spirited, Tangle, Rush, Paper Giants (and its upcoming follow-up, the Kerry Packer World Series Cricket revolution mini-series); no other television producer currently has this many successful projects across FTA and subscription TV. With a developed sense of what audiences want, Edwards’ partnership with Southern Star Entertainment has certainly been prolific. Next up for Edwards, the Beaconsfield telemovie.

4. Ruth Harley – CEO, Screen Australia

Harley cops constant criticism and very little praise for her achievements as head of Screen Australia, of which there are plenty. Knowing that it’s impossible to please everyone, the agency recently introduced the All Media Fund – a new funding model for “small screens” – and many of its recommendations for last year’s industry review have been implemented as part of the Federal Government’s budget. Screen Australia also presented its Beyond the Box Office report, urging filmmakers to look at their projects’ life outside their theatrical run and find ways to capitalise on all distribution platforms. She’s got quite possibly the hardest job in the industry, but Harley is not about to give up.

5. Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten – Managing directors, Transmission Films

Their names have become synonymous with successful distribution of Australian and art house films, as well as with strong partnerships with Paramount Pictures (an alliance that has been renewed for a further three years) and sister company See-Saw Films. This year, they turned The King’s Speech into a massive $30m hit in Australia/New Zealand, and while critically acclaimed titles such as Griff the Invisible and Mad Bastards didn’t live up to their box office potential, Transmission hasn’t stopped believing in filmmakers that take risks. Later this year Transmission will release Sleeping Beauty after its Cannes debut, as well as The Eye of the Storm and Burning Man.

6. George Miller – Medical doctor, director, producer

Happy Feet 2 is just around the corner and likely to become one of the year’s biggest animated hits. Although Dr. Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road was once again delayed – allegedly because its NSW locations were ‘too green’ for the desert-like landscape the production requires – the project has still managed to provide Broken Hill with a film studio (which Kennedy Miller Mitchell has leased for two years, with an extension clause for further tenancy if required). Even with such delays, the Mad Max brand is still very much alive, with a magazine recently running a Mad Max car design celebration. And while Miller has a very busy slate, he still finds the time to support new generations of filmmakers; he’s just mentored Amy Gebhardt on the short film she’s created for this month’s Sydney Film Festival.

7. Bob Campbell/Des Monaghan – Executive directors, Screentime

The heads of one of the busiest independent production companies in Australia. Not only have they continued to develop the Underbelly brand – with three telemovies and a fourth series set in the 1920s, currently in production – but Screentime has also successfully brought to life Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet and is now working on Crownies (ABC) and Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms (Ten). Additionally, as a new member of the board, Monaghan is also set to help the South Australian Film Corporation as the state develops its television attraction strategies.

8. Gary Hamilton – Managing director, Arclight Films

Nine years after its foundation, Arclight Films has grown beyond its origins as a leading sales agent by moving into the development, production and financing of films with international potential. The company is behind the first Australia/Singapore co-production Bait, Stephan Elliott’s new Australian film A Few Best Men, and the upcoming P.J.Hogan project Mental, starring Toni Collette – all of them achieving healthy pre-sales at a time when pre-sales are almost extinct. Outside Australia, Arclight’s achievements are equally impressive, with the upcoming adaptation of the musical Bombay Dreams and a new William Tell film, in addition of its activities in China.

9. Julia Leigh – Writer, director

It’s not easy to shock the Cannes audience, but Sleeping Beauty managed to do so, premiering in the Official Competition – an achievement for any first-time director – to a mixed reaction. Novelist Julia Leigh has certainly managed to get the world’s attention with her first film, which had previously made the Hollywood black list of unproduced films in 2008. An adaptation of Leigh’s novel The Hunter was also made this year, directed by Daniel Nettheim; Leigh’s career in the industry is indeed promising.

10. Christopher Mapp – Managing director, Omnilab Media Group

Mapp may not be our #1 screen professional this year, but other than that he’s got nothing to complain about as Omnilab keeps going from strength to strength. Their biggest gamble with a purely local film paid off as Tomorrow, When the War Began became the highest grossing Australian movie of 2010, with very healthy DVD sales and a sequel in the works. Their next film Killer Elite has secured a significant US release via the new distributor Open Road Films later this year, and the group’s companies have continued to grow (with Digital Pictures and Iloura expanding into Sydney, and the Cinema Services division reaching a virtual print fee agreement with major film studios).

11. Shaun Tan – Director

The Melbourne author and illustrator shared this year’s Oscar for Best Animated short with co-director Andrew Ruhemman for their work on The Lost Thing – based on Tan’s book. His world, however, is not one of glamour; he felt like a fish out of water at the awards ceremony and he’s not about to move to Hollywood. Tan is now planning to divide his time between books and film. His next project, an adaptation of his graphic novel The Arrival, will reunite him with producer Sophie Byrne.

12. Bevan Lee – Network script executive, Seven Network

The mastermind behind Seven’s drama Packed to the Rafters has managed to maintain the success of the show for four years now, creating a TV history moment with the ‘Death of a Rafter’ episode in late 2010. Originally a mathematician, and also a firm believer in pilots and testing, Lee finds inspiration in real life – his latest hit for the network, Winners and Losers, was born when Lee took part of the panel of SBS’s Insight and heard a woman speak about a high school reunion.

13. Troy Lum – Managing director, Hopscotch Films

Now that Hopscotch Films has been acquired by distributor and sales agent Entertainment One – for a reported $20.07m in cash and shares – Lum and the rest of the Hopscotch Films management team (Frank Cox and Sandie Don) are expected to remain in place, working with the resources of a larger international group. Hopscotch Features, the production arm of the company, was not included in the deal. With a two-year first deal with Universal Pictures, the company is expected to go into production of its first project within the next year.

14. Tim Worner – Head of programming, Seven Network

A strong personality in the TV industry, Worner is one of the major reasons behind Seven’s ratings leadership. Considered to be David Leckie’s future successor – following James Warburton’s move to Ten – Worner is expected to re-sign in the coming months.

15. Chris Lilley – Writer, producer, actor

Few shows have been as hyped by the ABC as its co-production with BBC and HBO, Angry Boys. The reason: its creator and star Chris Lilley. A man who likes to stay away from the spotlight while off character, Lilley certainly takes his time between projects… but when they’re ready, they become cultural phenomenons – whether people understand the clever satire, or take the content at face value.

16. Rachel Perkins / Darren Dale – Directors, Blackfella Films

Perkins and Dale recently joined the board of Screen NSW and received Screen Australia’s Enterprise funding to grow Blackfella Films’ slate of documentary, television drama and features – they’re already planning, respectively  The Tall Man, Redfern Now, and The Comet, a romance set in 1788’s Sydney.

17. Brendan Dahill – Controller, ABC1

The former director of television for BBC Worldwide Channels scored, in his own words, “the best-est job ever” as controller for ABC1; a position created after Auntie’s recent restructure. Dahill is not afraid of commissioning edgy content that lives up to the channel’s philosophy; under his direction, the channel has been rebranded as the home of intelligent entertainment, and has delivered hits such as Angry Boys.

18. Tracey Robertson and natham mayfield – Directors, Hoodlum

Multi-platform is the word in everyone’s mouths, and Hoodlum is in a privileged position of expertise and international recognition. In addition to its work for international productions such as Salt, Hoodlum’s series for Foxtel SliDE, “a truly multi-platform production” as claimed by Hoodlum, will premiere later this year, and the company is also working on the cross-media strategy for the $13m Movie Network series Conspiracy 365.

19. Martha Coleman – Head of development, Screen Australia

Another misunderstood Screen Australia executive that is often blamed by the masses for the underperformance of certain Government-funded films, but if Coleman should be blamed for anything, it’s for being behind one of Australia’s most diverse slates in years – covering a wide range of genres and a number of projects with considerable market potential. The execution of that potential, unfortunately, is beyond the agency’s control.

20. Geoff Brown – Executive director, SPAA

The head of SPAA is always busy lobbying for better conditions for producers; ways to help them achieve financial and audience success and, above all, sustainability for their companies. Two of his main priorities are the creation of co-production treaties with strategic partners such as India, and the introduction of the Producer-Distributor Film – a one-off Federal Government initiative of $60m over three years, in a loan fund to stimulate distributor investment in mid-range features.

21. David Mott – Head of programming, Network Ten

Ten’s had a tough year following the sudden departure of CEO Grant Blackley, but its problems are certainly not to blame on the network’s programming. Mott is the man responsible for Australia’s favourite reality show, the record-breaking MasterChef Australia. He’s also responsible for the healthy relationship between Ten and the independent community sector, having commissioned projects such as Offspring, Rush, Undercover Boss, The Biggest Loser, The 7PM Project, the upcoming Renovators and many others.

22. Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby – Directors, Zapruders’ Other Films

After a three-year production cycle, Zapruder’s Australian Federal Police series AFP finally premiered on Nine, and its experimental cross-platform ‘project next’ Hungry Beast reached a new level of maturity in series three. In addition to its television work (which includes the new ‘shit-stirring’ Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson chat show for Ten, Can of Worms), Zapruders’ was also involved in the crowd-funded torrent release feature The Tunnel. Nobody can say these guys are not thinking – and working – outside the box.

23. Al Clark – Producer

The veteran producer didn’t find gold in Red Hill, but as executive producer he did find a Goddess in Mark Lamprell’s romantic musical starring Ronan Keating, Laura Michelle Kelly and Magda Szubanski.

24. Tony Forrest – CEO, Movie Network Channels

Movie Network may not have the resources its American counterparts have used to create the most acclaimed television series of the last decade, but that certainly hasn’t stopped Tony Forrest from trying. His latest commission, the entirely privately funded Small Time Gangster, broke the network’s records for a home-grown series, and the upcoming $13m multi-platform family series Conspiracy 365 is likely to be another hit. Forrest is also supportive of emerging talent through the DigiSPAA competition, and the new web series initiative Webfest.

25. Mikael Borglund – Managing director, Beyond International

Borglund’s decision to appeal Screen Australia’s decision to deny the Beyond documentary series Taboo a Producer Offset certificate on the basis of the Significant Australian Content test brought new attention to an age-old dilemma, how do we define what’s Australian for screen incentive purposes? After unsuccessfully appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the next step is Federal Court, and the whole industry will be watching.

26. Stuart Beattie – Writer, director

Beattie couldn’t have hoped for a better result for his directorial debut; the success of Tomorrow, When the War Began brought him international recognition, and while he’s still committed to the Tomorrow series (with a sequel planned for the last quarter of the year), he’s also set to make his first US film, I, Frankenstein.

27. Zareh Nalbandian – Managing director, Animal Logic

Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole didn’t set the global box office on fire, but it allowed Animal Logic to reach a new stage in its development, and attract and retain key management and creative staff that will allow the company to continue production of original material alongside international work for high profile films such as Sucker Punch, or the challenging Walking with Dinosaurs. For his work in turning Animal Logic into one of the world’s leading visual effects companies, Nalbandian also received the Byron Kennedy AFI Award last December.

28. Kim Williams – CEO, Foxtel

The head of Foxtel is already thinking ahead, with plans for a hybrid broadband/broadcast set top unit with IP-centric technology, making it easier for subscribers to watch internet-delivered content. The pay TV provider is also set to undergo a major rebrand,  with a “renewed sense of energy”.

29. Mark and Carl Fennessy – CEOs, Shine Australia

The brothers behind Shine Australia have continued to deliver programming for commercial and public networks, including the upcoming The Renovators (Ten) and The Family (SBS), as the company prepares to take over the valuable MasterChef brand from FremantleMedia.

30. Joe and Ken Connor – Executive producers, Renegade Films

Renegade Factual was listed in RealScreen’s Global 100 list of factual content production companies, partly because of their successful doco cross-platform series for SBS Immigration Nation: the Secret History of Us. The Connors scored another hit when Renegade Drama sold the Wilfred format to US pay-TV network FX; the remake attracted high-profile talent and will premiere this month. Hopefully, it will mark a new beginning for Australian drama formats in international markets, leaving behind the bad taste of mouth left by the American Kath & Kim.

31. Ewan Burnett – CEO, Burberry Entertainment

A legendary figure in Australian television, Burnett not only continues to produce content in both Australia and New Zealand through his company Burberry Entertainment, but he also understands the importance of mentoring younger producers and help them get a foot in the door. As executive producer and co-producing with Boilermaker he was instrumental in the commissioning and development of Small Time Gangster, as well as last year’s Dead Gorgeous with Coolabi Productions.

32. Sally Riley – Head of the Indigenous department, ABC TV

During her time at Screen Australia, Riley played an important role in the success of Indigenous filmmakers, and her commitment to the development of new talents and the presence of black faces on Australian screens remains intact. Riley’s priorities in her role at the ABC include an Indigenous primetime drama series, higher budget long-form documentaries and comedy series.

33. Erica Glynn – Head of Indigenous, Screen Australia

Glynn recently received the Cecil Holmes Award (sharing the recognition with her predecessor Sally Riley) presented by the Australian Directors Guild, for her work in giving Indigenous directors a voice. Glynn continues to support Indigenous talent and their career progression – the latest example, Wayne Blair, will soon direct his first feature The Sapphires.

34. Jeffrey Walker – Director

The former child actor is one of the youngest and most promising television directors currently working in Australia; in the last year Walker has helmed episodes of the successful and critically acclaimed series Dance Academy, Rake, Small Time Gangster (where he had the opportunity to direct all eight episodes) and Angry Boys, and is now shooting Wild Boys, as well as planning his feature film debut.

35. Mark Sarfaty – CEO, Independent Cinemas Association of Australia

Sarfaty’s priority is to look after the interests of ICAA members to ensure the survival of the independent sector in an increasingly difficult exhibition market. As the head of the Independent Cinema Association of Australia, Sarfaty has been a key player in the digital conversion for independent cinemas. Sarfaty and ICAA partnered with their New Zealand counterpart to represent more than 600 screens, giving its members a new negotiating power. And, after years of negotiations, ICAA reached an agreement with Omnilab Media Cinema Services to supply members with digital cinema systems at a reduced cost, as well as manage and administer the virtual print fee.

36. Richard Moore – Head of screen culture, Screen Queensland

Moore left the Melbourne International Film Festival after a successful stint and moved to a state that had been successful at attracting international productions, but whose own screen culture left a lot to be desired. Moore’s earliest efforts to revitalise the neglected Brisbane International Film Festival by moving it to November proved successful, and this year will see the launch of a new documentary prize as well as a number of programming alliances with other festivals. Moore is on the right track to turn Queensland’s screen culture from ugly duckling to attractive swan.

37. Nelson Woss – Producer

Woss had not produced a film since 2003’s Ned Kelly, but the eight year gap didn’t stop him from delivering one of the most commercial Australian projects in years, Red Dog. Woss also managed to achieve what others had failed to do: receive financial and logistical support from mining giants Rio Tinto, Woodside and WestTrac, without turning Red Dog into a product placement extravaganza. If Red Dog proves successful, smart producers like Woss will be able to find partner brands that will see the potential of local films with international appeal.

38. Michael Taylor – CEO, Rising Sun Pictures

The Harry Potter saga might be over, and although Rising Sun Pictures will miss working on the series, the company will be quite busy. With a recently appointed executive vice-president and head of business development, Rising Sun now has a permanent presence in the US market, and is working towards the long-term goal of developing original content.

39. Kriv Stenders – Director

His new family film Red Dog may have been pushed back to an August release, but those who have seen it agree in its charm and box office potential. Working with limited resources – and an impossibly charming dog – the director managed to create a film that looks spectacular and provides that heart-warming entertainment that audiences love. Stenders may have a career-making hit in his hands.

40. Enzo Tedeschi/Julian Harvey – Producers

Their crowd-funding effort did not raise all the money they had originally hoped for, but the worldwide publicity Tedeschi and Harvey generated for their low-budget thriller The Tunnel is priceless. It is the first Australian project to partner with BitTorrent for a free online release, allowing users around the world to share the film, but Tedeschi and Harvey also secured a DVD release via Paramount, and a pay-TV premiere on Showtime. The industry will watch this valuable distribution experiment very closely.

41. Mario Andreacchio – Producer

Andreacchio is already ahead of the co-production pack; his film The Dragon Pearl had a strong $3.62m opening in China, and his experience making it led him to start the SPAA Australia-China Screen Alliance to facilitate film and television co-productions between the two countries. He’s now a pioneer in a market that is set to grow exponentially in the next decade.

42. Brian Beaton – Executive producer, Artemis International

The Perth-based factual TV production company has delivered a fourth series of the Logie Award-nominated Australian version of Who Do You Think You Are, and continued to create socially-relevant content such as Bridge Between Two Worlds – which won the 2010 United Nations Media Awards Special Commendation in the category ‘Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Children’s Rights and Issues’.

43. Jason Bath – Executive producer, Fuel VFX

Fuel VFX was not one of the major vendors for the Marvel Studios blockbuster Thor, but their achievements did not go unnoticed; at a time when VFX are a dime a dozen and audiences take them for granted, many critics praised the design and execution of Thor‘s ‘Bifrost’ effects which Fuel contributed to. Now that the PDV Offset has been raised to 30%, Fuel’s solid relationship with Marvel – which continued on next month’s Captain America: The First Avenger – is likely to pay off with further work on 2012’s The Avengers, and a growing profile among Hollywood studios as evidenced by their being awarded work on Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

44. Greig Fraser – Cinematographer

Celebrated in his own country, the latest recipient of the Milli Award for Australian Cinematographer of the Year for his work on Bright Star has been working overseas, partnering with director Andrew Dominik for the crime thriller Cogan’s Trade (starring Brad Pitt) and Rupert Sanders on Snow White and the Huntsman (starring Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron).

45. Katrina Sedgwick – Director, Adelaide Film Festival

Sedgwick has turned the Adelaide Film Festival into one of the major events for Australian film, not only because of her belief in investing in talented people rather than specific projects, but also due to her ability to do so through the AFF Fund and a supportive state Government. Her other passion – cross-pollination between different art forms – is also becoming a reality; the festival has taken its experimental lab The Hive to a practical level, partnering with ABC TV Arts & Entertainment to create a $200,000 production fund for arts-based films and documentaries.

46. John Collee- Writer

Best known for his Happy Feet and Master and Commander screenplays, Collee is busy working on the $65m adaptation of the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs, as well as the big-budget UK/Australia co-production The Drowner. Collee is also getting ready to make the transition from screenwriter to director, with Black Honeymoon, based on his original story.

47. Allanah Zitsermann – Director, Dungog Film Festival

Against all odds, Zitserman has grown the profile and sponsorship of the festival, with benefits for both the local industry and the Dungog community. The festival now includes a school education program, and the In the Raw script development program has seen its first major achievement with one of its graduates, Sleeping Beauty, premiering in competition at Cannes, and 33 Postcards debuting at the Sydney Film Festival. The initiative, which emphasises the importance of testing, has now been expanded to Sydney.

48. Peter Castaldi and Anupam Sharma – Directors, An Australian Film Initiative

The director of PackScreen, Peter Castaldi, is a well-known figure in the world of distribution, exhibition and programming, while Films and Casting Temple’s Anupam Sharma is the man everyone goes to when it comes to Indian/Australian productions. Together, they’ve created An Australian Film Initiative, to market, promote and distribute Australian screen culture in emerging and non-traditional markets. Their first effort was a film festival in Mumbai (in conjuntion with the Indian conference FRAMES), and they’re now looking at territories that our country has traditionally neglected: the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe. They’re pioneers in new lands, and they might discover opportunities that nobody had bothered to look for.

49. Andrew Lesnie – Cinematographer

Academy Award-winning Andrew Lesnie hasn’t worked in Australia since Bran Nue Dae (shot in 2008), but he continues to push the envelope in cinematography. Currently shooting The Hobbit in New Zealand, Lesnie ACS ASC is no stranger to either huge Hollywood blockbusters or the Tolkien film franchise – although this time he’s shooting at 48 frames per second on the new RED Epic camera, a decision supported by director Peter Jackson.

50. Dany Cooper – Editor

The winner of last year’s Australian Screen Editors Awards – for her work on Beneath Hill 60 – Dany Cooper has a new film out this month, the UK/Australia co-production Oranges and Sunshine. Cooper is an experienced editor, working across film and television, both in Australia with December Boys, Candy and Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger, and on US television series such as Bionic Woman and Battlestar Galactica.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.