Our annual Women in Media Awards are around the corner, and we’re getting super excited. But really, what’s better than taking some time to celebrate the inspiring women in this industry?
For this reason, we’ve decided to profile the recipients of the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) Commercial & Content Directing Mentorship program – which supports the promotion of female directors in a male-dominated industry by pairing them up with mentor companies!
This program perfectly aligns with what the Women in Media Awards is all about; making sure women in this industry get recognised for their efforts, as well as a fair shot, and a seat at the table.
This year, eight up-and-coming female directors were paired with top commercial production companies. Read more on that here.
Our first profile was on the very excited Stef Smith, who’s been paired up with Photoplay. And so has this week’s mentoree, Aimee-Lee Curran!
How did you become involved with the program?
I applied through the Australian Director’s Guild. It was a process that involved sending in my showreel, CV, a personal pitch-to-camera video, and a reference from an industry professional.
Which company/who have you been mentored with?
What are you most looking forward to about the mentoring program?
The mentorship with Photoplay is like being invited to an exclusive party full of clever people with brains I might otherwise not be able to pick.
I mean, I’m sure I’d find a way eventually, because that’s just me, but it certainly makes it easier being selected to come along rather than having to beat down the damn door.
What are you excited to gain from having a mentor?
I’ve been very lucky to have some truly excellent mentors in my film career so far, like Kim Farrant who I did a Directing Attachment with on the feature film Strangerland (Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, Joseph Fiennes) and producer Su Armstrong (Good Will Hunting, Queen of the Damned, Ella Enchanted).
There really is no way of quantifying or predicting what you stand to gain in knowledge and experience, by working alongside someone who is ten, twenty, thirty years ahead of you in the field.
My mentorship with Photoplay is particularly exciting because the commercial industry is where I have the least experience, as my background is mostly in drama and music videos. The Photoplay team have so far been totally 100 per cent committed to my learning and excelling in the industry.
Do you think the program will help your career? Why?
I wouldn’t have applied for it if the answer was no!
What was the best advice you’ve ever received?
Specific to this mentorship, so far the best advice I’ve received is from a Photoplay director, Lance Kelleher. I was shadowing him on a Powerball ad of epic, Great Gatsby proportions and we were running overtime.
I asked him how he deals with the pressure of having to shoot so quickly when the clock – and the budget – are against him. He said as a director, there’s no greater disservice you could possibly do to yourself than not taking the time that you need to shoot what you’ve spent so many months preparing for.
He pointed out that the ratio of time he gets to spend actually directing is minuscule compared to the amount of time spent waiting around for all the other moving parts on set – so if you want to go for another take, go for it.
At the end of the day, the people who are pressuring you to rush through things will be the same ones looking at you in the edit and asking why you didn’t get this or that didn’t turn out like such. That is advice I will take with me on everything I shoot – drama, music video, or commercial.
What advice would you give to young, aspiring women?
Support the shit out of each other. And don’t be afraid to speak up or stand up for yourself.
So many of us women are trained to be small, quiet, “polite”, – whether consciously or not, it’s unfortunately ingrained in there somewhere. Forget that, don’t listen to that.
And do what you can to empower others to feel the same, regardless of their gender.