AACTA calls for ten new awards following controversial nominations

20 December, 2012 by Emily Blatchford

Local industry demand has prompted AACTA to launch a campaign to create 10 new AACTA Awards.

This comes after the 2013 AACTA award nominations created much controversy amongst industry professionals, who in particular suggested inconsistency across award categories.


The academy, formerly titled the Australian Film Institute but renamed the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in 2011 to better recognise television production, has itself has admitted that some crafts working in television are not properly recognised in the current Awards structure.

AACTA Chief Executive Officer, Damian Trewhella, says, “While we do cover a lot of ground – feature films, short films, documentaries and TV to a point, I do agree… there is a real gap.

“Particularly for the craft categories in TV, (there is a situation) where only half the team gets recognised.

“It’s a tough thing to resolve. We recognise, we philosophically agree with them all. But we can’t wave our magic wand and make it happen.”

Trewhella says the evolution of AFI into AACTA was a work in progress and, while more awards for work in television have always been on the agenda, financial difficulties have stood in the way.

“We would have liked to have introduced the TV craft awards last year but weren’t in a position to do so.

“At the end of the day we are a not-for-profit foundation. We try and raise as much money as we can, and that money mostly comes from the non-screen sector.

“We need screen sector support.”

Further controversy surrounded the Award nominations when Michael McKay was nominated for Best Director in Television for his work on reality series The Amazing Race Australia.

General Manager of the Australian Directors Guild, Kingston Anderson, says many directors opposed the nomination on the grounds they didn’t believe reality television could be fairly judged against dramatic work.

“Our objection all along is we do not believe you can judge something from one genre, such as drama, against another genre such as reality,” he says.

“I certainly think Michael is honoured to be nominated – it’s an outstanding show for TV. (But) they are two different types of directing. How can you say one is more deserving?”

To that end Trewhella admits, “in an absence sense that makes sense,” but also says judging any project against another will always have its difficulties.

“Some people define direction as directing people, they can be trained actors or otherwise, but when you start getting literal (about it), I think there are degrees of vagaries there.

“We are already comparing children’s television to drama to comedy. I think there are bananas and pineapples in that basket.

“Nothing is exactly the same. Whilst we have a single category we’d rather be inclusive than exclusive.”

He also praised McKay’s work on The Amazing Race Ausrralia and says the inclusion of a reality series in the Awards was an indication of the evolving industry.

“The industry has looked at his work and thought ‘that’s really great’ and nominated him,” he says.

“It’s an amazing achievement. The Amazing Race received incredible international recognition. The show itself took out international Emmy. I think it’s redefining what’s possible in that genre.

At this stage, Trewhella stated AACTA’s priority was to campaign for the ten new awards which would primarily focus on recognising achievement in television. A separate category for directing in reality television is not currently on that shortlist.

“I think before they (the ADG) got a new director category, you’d need to have a recognition for other crafts,” he said.

The full list of proposed new award categories, which also include new awards for documentary, features films and an entirely new category of new media, can be found below.

AACTA is also conducting a survey on the matter, which can be found at their website: http://www.aacta.org/

Television Craft Awards
• Best Cinematography in Television
• Best Editing in Television
• Best Sound in Television
• Best Original Music Score in Television
• Best Production Design in Television
• Best Costume Design in Television
• Best Hair and Make Up Design in Television

Feature Film
• Best Hair and Make Up Design

• Best Original Music Score in a Documentary

New Media
Screen Content Innovation or All Media Award