David Black interviews David Tiley from Screen Hub for the Australian Short Film Network Journal
Whether you are a producer, director, cast or crew, the key to survival in the Australian film industry is the ability to find opportunities. Today I’m chatting to David Tiley from Screenhub. Their facebook page describes themselves as “insider information for the Australian television and film industry.” Today, I’m going to dig deep to find out what it’s all about.
DB – Hi David, thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. Can you tell us more about Screenhub and your role within it?
DT – A pleasure because it has recently changed. I have ‘retired’ from a regular salary so I am taking my own time, writing bits and pieces and looking for chores.
Screenhub has a huge brief to cover the screen sector primarily for screen makers, which I had a key role in evolving for sixteen years. Over that slab of time the online world changed hugely, we moved to younger generations and roles became blurred. In some ways the age of specialism is over, or at least groups of skills are being reconfigured. So Screenhub is evolving to meet the changes, and combining a greater audience focus with the insiders’ point of view.
DB – You came to Screenhub with a wealth of experience in the Australian film industry David.
You’ve been a researcher, writer and director in documentary, community and corporate education, and for a science magazine show for television, both in Australia and the UK, as well as script editing in fiction. You’ve worked for Film Victoria, the former Australian Film Commission, CSIRO, Open Channel, AFTRS and Melbourne University. That is an amazing variety of roles.
Can you tell us a bit about some of them and how they have helped you with your current work at Screenhub?
DT – Ah. I eventually learnt to call myself a writer who works with screen media, because my verbal output is based around visual experiences and the relationship between pictures and verbal language.
I went off into journalism because so much of my work was about research, but the shape of what I write is still driven by documentary rather than print journalism forms. One example: the meaning of the word story is very different between the two domains.
DB – How did you break into the film industry itself, and what advice would you give to anyone that is just starting out?
DT – I came in at the renaissance accidentally created by Generation Zero in the screen sector around 1973.
I started in Adelaide and hung around the South Australian Film Corporation which was kind to me in the way people tolerate kittens with a slight palsy. As soon as I had the money I left for London and worked on educational and science films. That trajectory is no longer possible, but the system has changed to much more comprehensive media education.
What I say now is this: the writer/director roles that people want are highly skilled jobs and you need a lot of production roles first. You have the most fun early in your career, and most of it will be spent climbing the ladder or mixing ambition with earning, and you need to make sure you enjoy every stage. Also, if you can find another craft space which absorbs and expresses you, grab it. The glamorous roles are the most exploited.
DB – Is there one particular moment in your long career in the film industry that you feel was monumental? One that changed how you viewed everything, or has it been a steady path of going from one success to the next?
DT – I went to the Australia Film Commission in 1996 as a co-ordinator and then project manager. At the age of 46 I did what most people do when they are 23 – I got a job. And I found the nuts and bolts of what really matters and it changed my life.
DB – Where do you feel that the industry is headed David, and can you tell us of any future plans to stay ahead of the curve?
DT – No-one knows really, though I am sure of one thing – we need to be cosmopolitan and judge ourselves by world standards and aim fanatically for excellence. That is the only thing we can do to deal with change.
Oh, and abandon the search for fame. That has gone. Slog for a decade, see a show disappear into streaming. Get no recognition – the arts are now completely ephemeral. We are all fish and chip wrappers even though we don’t have newspapers any more. Pessimistic? Only if we are egomaniacs.
DB – Where can our readers follow your work?
DT - At the moment on Facebook. That will change soon. The archive is all on http://www.screenhub.com.au