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The Sydney Morning Herald

No business like show business

Author: Keeli Cambourne
Date: 03/01/2011
Words: 863
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Education
Page: 15
Whether you seek the spotlight or want to work behind the scenes, a career in film and TV takes dedication. Keeli Cambourne talks to students who have achieved their dreams.


She's now a household name but little more than five years ago, Lisa Gormley was making one of the biggest changes in her life - ditching a job she enjoyed to follow her passion for performing.

After graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2009, Gormley was snapped up quickly by Channel Seven's Home and Away to play the role of Bianca. And although acting is her first love, one of the main reasons behind auditioning for NIDA was so she could secure teaching work in drama schools.

"I had done a lot of community theatre when I was younger and had learnt the technical aspects of the industry," Gormley says.

Gormley auditioned twice for entry into NIDA when she was 17 and 18 but didn't get accepted into the performance degree. Instead, she took another direction and secured a job as a flight attendant for Qantas, based in Britain.

"I love people-watching and psychology," she says. "I learnt a lot about people and their behaviour as a flight attendant."

And it also inspired her to try her luck again at fulfilling her dream, so at 23 she auditioned for NIDA again and this time made it.

"When I first auditioned I was too young," she says. "This time around I had the maturity and life experience.

"It was a rigorous and demanding course. The first year is all about physicality and vocal training and learning about acting techniques. The second and third years is putting those things in practice but we're warned it usually takes three to six years to really be able to use all that we learnt properly."

Gormley says although she was able to secure a job soon after graduating, she still likes to get back into the classroom and teach, which was part of her original plan.

"I taught drama all the way through NIDA. You learn so much from your students and more about performing," she says.


Josh Flavell traded in his architect's tools to get behind a camera when he was 26 and in November he took his career to the next level, graduating from the Australian Film Television and Radio School's (AFTRS) graduate diploma of cinematography.

He's now building up a body of work from documentaries, TV commercials, short films and corporate work, with the aim of working in feature films.

"Before I studied cinematography I was working as a camera assistant on feature films, documentaries, TV series but I wanted to take the next step and become a cinematographer myself and the pathway to that was to study at AFTRS," he says.

Flavell says the program allowed him to learn from the ground up through securing funding to work with organisations such as Film Australia.

"They're called attachments and it allowed me to learn about camerawork and the technical side of the industry. I wanted to be involved in a creative capacity and, as a cinematographer, you get to make decisions about composition, lighting, camera movement and work with the director to set the tone and mood of a film," he says.

The one-year intensive diploma covered everything from operating a camera to lighting, shooting for visual effects and 3D.

"We also completed two major projects, working with students studying other aspects of the industry," Flavell says.

"I'm now calling myself a freelance cinematographer and have been shooting more short films, two documentaries and doing some corporate work.

"I have a strong interest in feature films and that is where I would like to work but that is still a little way off. In the interim, I would like to do more documentaries and TV commercials because they are a great way to hone your skills with resources similar to that of a big-budget film."


An old home movie her grandfather shot inspired Maija Howe.

"I always had a passion for film and an interest in the media and it wasn't until I found my grandfather's home movies that I developed an interest in amateur film," Howe says. "It developed organically from there."

She had completed a bachelor of arts in media and communications (honours) through the University of NSW and was embarking on a PhD in film studies when she became involved in the home-movie summit, a round table on amateur film organised in co-ordination with the Library of Congress in the US.

"As part of that I helped to organise a home-movie day where people could bring in their old movies. Archivists had been concerned that these were disappearing from the community," Howe says.

"When I finish my PhD I hope to move into academia and start teaching, because I think it is important to bring amateur film into university curriculum.

"I am also hoping to help set up an amateur film archive in Sydney because there is not one in Australia like in the US.

"I will continue working with festival programs and doing film criticism; really I just want to be able to work in anything film related."

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