Archive for the ‘Filmmakers’ Category

AFTRS has a broad range of film, television and radio short courses in Melbourne and across Victoria over the coming months. Courses are taught by industry experts and presented at The Wheeler Centre, Melbourne and other venues in the region. Check them out!

Documentary Writing, Structure and Proposal Planning

This intensive one-day course with industry expert Alan Rosenthal is devoted to furthering the skills of filmmakers who are interested in narration-based documentaries such as drama docs, bio-pics and experimental docs. Sat 11 Feb (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Director’s Toolkit

A three-day intensive course designed for emerging directors. Gain practical experience in utilising the three basic tools every director should know in order to feel confident in directing drama: breaking down a script, improvisation and rehearsal techniques and cinematic tools for scene impact and story pace.
Thurs 16 – Sat 18 Feb (9am – 5pm, 3 sessions) The Wheeler Centre

Distribution, Exhibition and International Sales

In this essential workshop for all filmmakers, industry insider Tait Brady will demystify and provide keen insights into cinema exhibition, the international sales world and the Australian distribution business.
Mon 20 Feb – Wed 29 Feb, 4 sessions (6pm – 9.30pm) The Wheeler Centre

Writing Sci-Fi for TV and Film

Explore the art of creating stories for one of the most popular genres – science fiction. In this intensive, two day workshop with Luke Devenish you’ll examine the genre’s rules and expectations by analysing elements of some of Hollywood’s most recent Sci-Fi successes – and some of its failures. You will also gain the skills to assemble a ‘tool box’ for your ongoing Sci-Fi writing.
Sat 25 – Sun 26 Feb (9am – 5.00pm) The Wheeler Centre

The Assistant Director

All you need to know to become an AD. Presented by Paul Walton you’ll learn the importance of pre-production, how to coordinate a film set, the process behind developing a shooting schedule and utilising the latest scheduling software. Thurs 1 – Sat 3 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Final Cut Pro The Basics (Version 7)

Final Cut Pro, Apple’s most popular and powerful video editing application, is widely used by industry professionals around the world. This two-day course covers everything you need to get started editing with Final Cut Pro Version 7. Thurs 8 – Fri 9 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Introduction to After Effects CS5

A two-day introduction to desktop compositing for moving images with Adobe After Effects CS5, a program that allows new levels of creative freedom for designers, animators, art directors and editors. Sat 10 – Sun 11 Mar, (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Creating Success with your Short Film

Back by popular demand, Tait Brady gives you an insider’s guide to making the most of your short film and using it to kick start your career. This intensive workshop will teach you how to exploit every aspect of your short film – including how to make some of your money back! Tue 13 Mar (5.30pm – 9.30pm) The Wheeler Centre

Running Your Own Creative Business

This hugely popular AFTRS course is essential for anyone working in a creative field who wants to maintain their financial viability. Tutor Monica Davidson will look at the need for business planning, managing irregular income, tax and financing, contract and copyright basics and marketing. Thurs 15 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

The Audition Process for Directors

Ideal for directors who want to be sure they are getting the most from their audition process. Topics covered including choose the right scenes, casting against type and working with casting agents. Sat 17 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Michael Hauge’s Advanced Story Mastery: Creating Stories That Sell

Epiphany and AFTRS are pleased to co-present Michael Hauge in Melbourne for his exclusive one-day masterclass. Suitable for anyone with a keen interest in writing screenplays or novels, storyboarding or analysing scripts for film and television. The seminar is designed for those who are new to Michael Hauge’s approach, as well as those who have participated in any of his previous lectures or workshops. To book, head to the Epiphany website

Field & Segment Producing

This course provides a comprehensive overview of Field and Segment producing for non-drama television. You will learn all the critical elements required to create a magazine segment based program. Ideal for those with some experience and knowledge of TV production processes. Sat 24 – Sun 25 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre

Back to Basics: Camera and Sound Workshop

Ideally suited to those with limited camera and sound recording experience, this course will introduce you to the techniques and practical skills required to create high quality images and sound for documentary and drama.
Wed 28 – Thur 29 Mar (9am – 5pm) The Wheeler Centre



I’m  convinced that this film will rate well, receive strong reviews, and be a  landmark film in dealing with the issue of trafficking and slavery.  However, I am also motivated by the real  impact this film may have on the lives of young women and children in  developing countries.  As an educational  tool it can raise awareness about the deceits involved in luring children into  foreign travel.  Simply put, this film  has the power to save lives, to prevent the course of events that led to the  destruction of Ning’s childhood, and despite her courage and dignity, to her  relationship with her family and husband.  Ning is now HIV positive.  Most  children who are trafficked are dead by the time they hit their twenties, or  HIV positive.  1.2 million children are  sold into brothels each year.  The social  justice agenda is an important one for Stella and I.  However, we are primarily filmmakers, and Trafficked-The Reckoning is not a  didactic piece, any more than Trafficked was  or our films about East TimorIt is a powerfully told story with a   strong understanding of what television audiences want to see.

Trafficked – The Reckoning Premiere Screening at Bella Union – Level 1, Trades Hall Corner of Victoria & Lygon Streets Carlton South (enter off Lygon Street). Tuesday 13th September 2011. Doors open at 6.30pm film starts at 7.30pm  Tickets on sale @ Bella Union Includes a Q & A with the Filmmakers following the screening

This is a very important project for a  number of reasons.  Stella Zammataro  (co-producer) and I have worked closely on the issue of sex trafficking since  1995.  Trafficked was the first Australian film, of any genre, to confront sex slavery in Australia.  Film Australia, SBS, and Stella and I, can be  very proud of that film.  As a direct  result of it’s screening it led to the first case in history, anywhere in the  world, of a slave receiving victim of crime compensation.  It is also the highest rating Storyline Australia documentary for SBS  which proved to the many sceptics we’d encountered in Australian broadcasting  that slavery does rate, certainly in the minds and hearts of the Australian  people, and certainly when it happens on a turf.   So this sequel, this second part, is a film  that as a director, and as a producer, I am passionate about.

I first met Ning in 2004.  But I had known her story since 1995 when I’d  read about a thirteen year-old Thai girl being pulled from a Sydney brothel and  deported.  There was no police  investigation, even though both the NSW police and the AFP were aware of the  incident.  Subsequently no arrests were  made in Australia.  Anti-slavery laws did  not exist in 1995 but the prostituting of a minor was a crime, and the NSW  State Police could have acted.  They  didn’t even though the Surry Hills police attended the raid and the King’s  Cross police were advised by Immigration that Ning was a minor.  I met Chris Payne soon after Ning was  deported.  Payne,  then an Australian Federal Police officer, was ‘pissed off’ that Paper Tiger, a  rogue operation that he’d started to combat sex trafficking, had been shut  down.  He’d been ordered not to  investigate Ning’s case. But he still went to the Immigration offices where  Ning was being interrogated before she was deported.  He was deeply moved by what he saw; a young  child, crying and shattered by the horrific rapes she’d endured.  That image haunted Payne for nearly ten  years.

We started to collaborate  on a documentary on Ning’s story and it took nine years for it to happen.  In 2004 Chris and I, and a crew, travelled to  Thailand to find Ning, and to understand how it was possible for a child from a  remote part of Thailand to end up in a brothel in the heart of Sydney.   We had no leads; no name, no address, no  access to Australian or Thai immigration or police records. We didn’t know if she was alive.  It was a remarkable act of faith on the part  of SBS Television and Film Australia to finance the film. We started in Bangkok and finally, after a  breakthrough from one of the Thais, then still in jail, who had trafficked her  to Sydney, we found Ning in a small town in Thailand’s northeast.  Her harrowing story was made into the documentary Trafficked, the first Australian film about sex slavery.

Ning was a young mother in 2004;  fragile and struggling to hold her life together after several suicide  attempts, drug and alcohol abuse, and an abusive relationship.  Her life fitted the pattern of most sex  trafficking victims.  When I returned to  Australia after meeting Ning I filmed the exterior of the Blackburn Street  Brothel where Ning was sold.  I felt an  immense rage that nothing had been done to find the man who ran the  brothel.  This was because Stella and I  now knew Ning.  She was part of our lives  and we became determined to do something to help her, and to get justice for what had happened to her in our country.  So we spent two years, together with Melbourne Senior Counsel Fiona  McLeod, researching and preparing a victim of compensation claim for Ning in  the state of NSW.  This was a difficult  process that involved three trips back to Thailand to organise statements and a  psychiatric evaluation for Ning.  In 2007  Ning became the first slave in history to be awarded victim of crime  compensation.  This was a landmark  decision, and it happened in Australia!  The award made a significant difference to Ning’s life financially but  it also convinced her that she was a victim and that the guilt and shame she  had felt for years after her time in the brothel was unjustified.

Ning, however, did not feel that justice had been done.  I agreed with  her, as did Chris Payne.  So we started a  new project, Trafficked-The  Reckoning.  The objective was to find  the man who operated the brothel that prostituted Ning and to assist in  bringing either criminal charges or a civil action against him.  Fiona McLeod again offered to represent Ning  pro-bono.  Screen Australia came on board  followed by SBS, and then Film Victoria.  We didn’t have a name or an address for the man.  We knew that he was from a Chinese background  from what Ning had told us.  But we had  no idea whether he was still in the country.  Nonetheless, on the surface this appeared to be a more straightforward  investigation than our search for Ning.  We at least had a place to start, the brothel at 1 Blackburn Street in  Surry Hills.   However, the investigation  proved to be a lot harder than Ning’s and took nearly twelve months from when  the research started.  It took us to  Thailand, to Tasmania, and to the back streets of cosmopolitan Surry Hills,  where the crime happened.

We found the man through a combination  of public records, information given to us by people who knew him, some of which will not go on record, and endless surveillance.  It was a slow, painstaking process that often  ended in despair.  I am relentless when  making a film and determined to get a result.  I was the only one in 2004 who never lost faith that we would find Ning.  But this investigation reached a point where  I felt that the man might never be found.  We discovered his name, William Lo, early on from public records, but we  couldn’t track him down, find an address or an image of him.  We were told that he still ran the Blackburn  Street brothel but our surveillance, and that of the private investigators we  hired, turned up nothing.  Lo, aka Hong Kong Willie, left few tracks.  He didn’t  appear in any Google search, and certainly wasn’t on Facebook.  Finally, a breakthrough led us to Lo.  We did a company search on an associate who  had once owned property with Lo, a woman called Bee Hong Ong.  We discovered that she had very recently  become the lessee on a property in Riley Street, Surry Hills.  This property was infamous as the site of  Sydney’s best-known bordello, A Touch of Class.  But it had been closed down for several years.  Now Bee Hong Ong, a woman connected to Hong  Kong Willie, was the new lessee.  But  William Lo’s name did not appear on any of the documentation for A Touch of  Class.   Surveillance established that staff vehicles associated with the Blackburn Street brothel were appearing at A  Touch of Class.  We then observed and  filmed a man, at the lane behind A Touch of Class, that fitted the description we had of William Lo.  We showed these  images to the property’s former landlord and he identified the man as William  Lo, as the man he’d dealt with directly in relation to Blackburn Street for  twelve years. We then confronted Lo,  filmed him again, and showed the images to Ning who positively identified the  man as the brothel operator.

Ning, together with  Melbourne Senior Counsel Fiona McLeod, will now try to bring a civil action  against William Lo.  If successful this  will be an historic case, as was Ning’s Victim of Crime compensation ruling.  Chris Payne has also written a report, which  he sent to the NSW Police in Surry Hills.  William Lo could still be charged for what he did to Ning in 1995.  The reckoning is not complete but we have
made a good start.

Trafficked – The Reckoning Premiere Screening at Bella Union – Level 1, Trades Hall Corner of Victoria & Lygon Streets Carlton South (enter off Lygon Street). Tuesday 13th September 2011. Doors open at 6.30pm film starts at 7.30pm  Tickets on sale @ Bella Union Includes a Q & A with the Filmmakers following the screening

Luigi Acquisto – Producer/Director


Director/Producer Luigi Acquisto

Luigi Acquisto has worked as a filmmaker for twenty years.  He has produced over thirty short films, directed television drama and is one of Australia’s leading documentary producers. His work is committed to exploring confronting social justice issues in an original and cinematic way.  It is often groundbreaking.

Acquisto’s first film, Spaventapasseri, was one of the first of a new wave of films made in the 1980’s that explored post war migration from Europe.

Trafficked was the first Australian film to deal with sex slavery in Australia.  It is the highest rating ‘Storyline Australia’ program for SBS TV.

Acquisto has made four documentaries about East Timor since the country’s historic vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999.  The three part series  East Timor:  Birth of a Nation – Rosa’s Story & Lu Olo’s Story (2002) and Rosa’s Journey (2008), is the first longitudinal documentary series tracking the emergence of a new nation.

His next film project will be A Guerra Da Beatrice.  Luigi has co-written and will co-direct it with East Timorese partners. A Guerra Da Beatrice will be East Timor’s first homegrown feature film.  It will lay the foundations for a future Timor Lester film culture and industry.

Stella Zammataro – Producer


Producer Stella Zammataro and Ning

In 1997 Stella co-founded Abracadabra Films with Luigi Acquisto.  Since then, she has produced many documentaries about some of the most critical social justice issues of our time.

The Life & Times of Malcolm Fraser was an engrossing portrait of Australia’s most controversial prime minister but also an indictment of Australia’s policies towards asylum seekers, aborigines and the decision to enter the Iraq war.

The two-part epic for ABC TV, East Timor: Birth of a Nation told the story of the 21st century’s first sovereign nation through the eyes of Rosa Martins, East Timor’s ‘Mother Courage’.  The film received an unprecedented five AFI nominations and won the major award for an Australian documentary at the 2002 Real Life on Film Festival.

In her twenties Stella Zammataro travelled and worked in South and South East Asia and formed a love for a part of the world that  features in many of the films she now produces.  Trafficked grew out of Zammataro’s abhorrence of the sex slavery she had witnessed during this time.  Stella was instrumental in securing victim of crime compensation from the NSW Attorney General’s Department for Jetsaporne Chaladlone, a thirteen year old Thai girl trafficked to a Sydney brothel.  This was an historic decision, the first recorded case in history of a slave receiving compensation.

In 2006 Stella returned to South East Asia for the third instalment in the East Timor series, Rosa’s Journey.  In 2008 Stella production co-ordinated the feature film Balbo.  It was the first foreign feature film to be shot in East Timor. In 2010, Stella’s determination to continue to tell the story of East Timor led to the formation of Fair-Trade Films.

Her next film project will be A Guerra Da Beatrice.  It has been co-written and will be co-directed and produced by East Timorese partners and will be East Timor’s first homegrown feature film.  It will lay the foundations for a future Timor-Leste film culture and industry.

Nick Calpakdjian – Film Editor

Nick Calpakdjian is currently researching and writing THE BEER DETECTIVE for Fair-Trade Films. He wrote and directed the 6-part series, PRO JUICE, for Animus Industries which has just been sold to ABC ivies.  He has edited TRAFFICKED – THE RECKONING for Fair-Trade Films.  He has worked in the film and television industry as an editor since 2000 where he began editing television factual series in Perth, Western Australia. Since relocating to Melbourne in 2002, Nick has worked as a Director of music videos, sports magazine television segments and Edited documentaries, drama and educational videos. Nick was recently nominated by the Australian Screen Editors Guild as “Best Non-Drama” Editor for his work on the factual Lifestyle Channel series, BILL’S HOLIDAY (Dir. Bruce Permacel).

Nick has edited two previous documentaries for Fair-Trade Films aka Abracadabra Films, SURVIVAL SCHOOL (ABC, 2007) and ROSA’S JOURNEY (SBS, 2008).

Trafficked – The Reckoning Premiere Screening at Bella Union – Level 1, Trades Hall Corner of Victoria & Lygon Streets Carlton South (enter off Lygon Street). Tuesday 13th September 2011. Doors open at 6.30pm film starts at 7.30pm  Tickets on sale @ Bella Union Includes a Q & A with the Filmmakers following the screening


 Director Gini Reticker (left) and Producer Abigail E. Disney (right)
Photo Credit: Greg Kessler


Gini Reticker (Director) is one of the world’s leading filmmakers on women’s issues.  She produced Asylum, the 2004 Academy Award®-nominated short focusing on the story of a Ghanaian woman who fled female genital mutilation to seek political asylum in the U.S.; and was the producer/director of 1994 Sundance Award-winning Heart of the Matter, the first full length documentary about the impact of HIV on women in the U.S. She produced and directed the 2005 Emmy Award-winning documentary Ladies First for the PBS series WIDE ANGLE, which focuses on the role of women in rebuilding post-genocide Rwanda. For WIDE ANGLE she has also directed The Class of 2006, which spotlights the first fifty women in Morocco to graduate from an imam academy in Rabat.

Reticker’s other credits include: Producer: A Decade Under the Influence, a look at the heyday of 1970s filmmakers, winner of a National Review Board Award and an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary; Director: In the Company of Women, IFC’s spotlight on women in Hollywood; Co-Producer: The Betrayal, Nerakhoon, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phravasath’s brilliant portrayal of a Laotian refugee family’s epic tale of survival and resilience, 2009 nominee for both an Academy Award® and Independent Spirit Award; Executive Producer: Live Nude Girls Unite, Julia Query and Vicki Funari’s raucous look at the successful union organizing efforts of San Francisco-based strippers.

Reticker started her career as an editor on renowned documentaries such as Michael Moore’s Roger & Me; Deborah Shaffer’s Emmy-nominated Fire From the Mountain; and The Awful Truth: The Romantic Comedy, for the PBS American Cinema Series.

Abigail E. Disney (Producer) is a filmmaker, philanthropist, and scholar. She has produced a number of  documentaries focused on social themes including the award-winning Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Family Affair, Playground, and Sun Come Up.

Her ongoing film work continues to incorporate her longtime passion for women’s rights and peace. Abigail is now working on the 5-part television series currently in production, Women, War & Peace, co-produced by WNET and Fork Films for broadcast on PBS in 2011. Women, War & Peace, the most ambitious global media initiative ever mounted on the roles of women in war and peace, challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain and places women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security. Through unreported and deeply moving stories of women in Bosnia, Columbia, and Afghanistan, the ground-breaking  series will focus on women’s strategic role in the post-Cold War era, where globalization, arms trafficking, and illicit trade have intersected to create a whole new type of war.

The daughter of Roy Disney and grandniece Walt Disney, the co-founders of the Walt Disney Company, Abigail turned to the family business of filmmaking in 2006, when she met Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and was inspired to bring attention to the unknown but remarkable story of the small band of women dared to challenge the barriers of gender and politics in Africa to end a century of civil war. Abigail’s film career began with that film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008), which she made with Academy Award nominated, Emmy Award-winning director Gini
Reticker. The film won Best Documentary Prize at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, the Silverdocs Witness Award, the Jackson Hole Audience Award, and was the first film to be shown at The World Economic Forum at Davos.

With her focus on women’s engagement and leadership in politics and society, Abigail frequently travels abroad to host screenings and workshops aimed at practical ways to help foster peace in the world’s conflict zones. In 2008, following the groundswell of interest in Pray the Devil Back to Hell, she launched Peace is Loud (, an organization that supports female voices and international peace-building through nonviolent means.

Continued interest in Pray the Devil Back to Hell also led Abigail to organize a 2009 Global Peace Tour, which brought the film to hundreds of community screenings in churches, living rooms, community spaces, and forums in the U.S. and abroad, sharing the inspirational story of the women of Liberia.

As a philanthropist, Abigail has played a key role in a number of social and political organizations for more than 20 years. Along with her husband, Pierre Hauser, Abigail is co-Founder and co-President of the Daphne Foundation, a progressive, social change foundation that makes grants to grassroots, community-based organizations working with low-income communities in New York City. Since 1991, the Daphne Foundation has given millions of dollars in grants in areas ranging from women’s rights to AIDS advocacy, children’s health, labor conditions,
incarceration and community organizing.

Currently, Abigail serves on the boards of the Roy Disney Family Foundation, the White House Project, the Global Fund for Women, the Fund for the City of New York, and Peace is Loud, as well as the advisory boards of a broad range of organizations working in the areas of poverty, women’s issues, education and environment.


By Gini Reticker

 When Abby Disney first approached me to direct Pray the Devil Back to Hell, I had some trepidation. All the stories coming out of Liberia had been so bleak, the violence against women appalling, the forced conscription of child soldiers heart-wrenching. I wondered if I could immerse  myself in that material for the length of time it takes to make a documentary. And then, we met Leymah Gbowee, one of the main characters portrayed in the film.  All of my trepidation turned instantly into unfettered enthusiasm.  I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to be able to tell the extraordinary story of these women who had joined together to bring peace to their devastated country. Their remarkable accomplishment had been virtually ignored by the press and was on its way to being forgotten. Being part of ensuring that their story shines has been an absolute privilege.


Director Gini Reticker interviewed during the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 where Pray the Devil Back to Hell had its world premiere and won Best Documentary.

Producer Abigail E. Disney interviewed during the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008


FILM SCREENING: Pray the Devil Back to Hell

WHEN:  Thursday 14th July 2011

WHERE:  Basement @ Donkey Wheel House

ADDRESS: 673 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000 (near the corner of Spenser Street)

TIME: 7.30pm Doors open at 7pm

TICKETS: $20 tickets available online through Greentix Seats are limited so BOOK NOW!

The Good Brew Company will be back to supply beer and wine @ basement prices. Free soft drinks and nibbles.