Press release from AFTRS

John Doyle, one of Australia’s best-known and popular entertainers, has been named recipient of the AFTRS Honorary Degree (MA), at the 2010 student graduation ceremony held Tuesday 30th November at Carriage Works, Eveleigh.

Doyle joins previous recipients such as Dr George Miller, Baz Luhrmann, Ben Gannon and Jan Chapman in recognition of his exceptional achievements and contribution to radio, television and theatre over a career spanning 25 years.

This degree is not an annual dedication, and so remains one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on a creative screen arts and broadcast practitioner.

His career speaks for itself, coming to prominence in 1986 as ‘Rampaging Roy Slaven’, the other half to Greg Pickhaver’s ‘HG Nelson’ on Triple J’s “This Sporting Life”, and going on to create some of the best sports commentary TV shows around the Sydney Olympics, as well as writing award winning TV series “Changi” and “Marking Time” to name a few.

Doyle provided an exceptional example to the 2010 AFTRS graduating class of persistence, talent, and in his own words the results of always honouring the ensemble nature of the entertainment business.

Providing the keynote speech for the event was Rhys Muldoon, renowned actor, director and published author, who gave his own words of wisdom, encouragement and version of reality of the creative industries the graduating students would now be entering.

Muldoon began proceedings with a quote from renowned Australian “poet” Ronald Scott, and his immortal words “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll”’ before going on to describe the “blessed, horrifying, privileged life” of the creative artist that the students could now look forward to, which sometimes resembles an “awesome nightmare”.

Both of these highly acclaimed entertainers spoke in front of 800 highly appreciative students, families and friends, industry peers and teachers as they celebrated the achievements of all graduates at Australia’s national screen arts and broadcast school.

Annually, AFTRS bestow an array of rich and practical awards to a selection of outstanding students, with several awards this year bestowed to two recipients instead of the traditional one.

The AV Myers Indigenous Award for exceptional talent was presented by Andrew Myer to Carly Wallace (Graduate Diploma Radio Broadcasting) and Ella Bancroft (Open Program), both receiving a grant of $20,000.

Carly is AFTRS first indigenous Radio graduate, and has already been snapped up by ABC local radio and Triple J for 2011. Ella Bancroft is a promising and talented filmmaker who joins other notable alumni such as Warwick Thornton and Rachel Perkins to champion the indigenous voice in Australia.

Andrew Myer also presented The Kenneth B Myer Scholarship for exceptional Talent which in 2010 went to two recipients, Alexander Murawski (Graduate Diploma Directing) and Ben Mathews (Graduate Diploma Directing), both receiving $20,000 to support them in their first year out of school.

The Kenneth B Myer Scholarship for Project Development also went to two recipients, the Producing team of Pete Mether, Brad Smith and Shannon Wilson (all Graduate Diploma Producing) and Leonie Savvides (Graduate Diploma Directing), with grants of $20,000 going to both recipients.

Benjamin Mathews was also the recipient of the Shark Island Foundation Award for Documentary, donated by the Shark Island Production Company and presented by Susan Mackinnon. His documentary “Chrysalis” was held in high regard for its championship of social change, outreach and education.

The FOXTEL Scholarship for Exceptional New Talent was presented by FOXTEL CEO Kim Williams AO to Jennifer Leacy (Graduate Diploma Directing), bringing with it a $30,000 grant to support development of a project in her first year after graduation.

Each year AFTRS partners with a different European country to present the European Union Travelling Scholarship. In 2010 Romania has joined forces with the school, granting two awards in commemoration of two stars of the Romanian cinema, Director Cristian Nemescu and Sound Designer Andrei Toncu, who both passed away in 2006.

Presented by His Excellency Dr Mihai Stefan Stuparu, Ambassador of Romania, John Peters (Graduate Diploma Directing) and Rachael Smith (Graduate Diploma Sound) received return flights, accommodation and invitations to attend several European film festivals, including the partnering festival, Bucharest International Film Festival.

These proceedings were accompanied by a welcome from AFTRS Chairman Michael Smellie, whose advice to the 2010 AFTRS graduating students was succinct: “Constantly engage your imagination, be persistent and resistant, and look out for niches you can own”.

AFTRS CEO Sandra Levy believes “our students are an amazing combination of talent, skills and vitality. Each of them will have a different journey, and the adventure they are about to commence will unravel in different ways. Our slogan in 2010 was ‘Dare to Try’, and these are the words that I would send these exceptional practitioners out into the world with”.

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