By Zona Marie Tan

In response to the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s (AFTRS) announcement last week to suspend the Graduate Diploma in Production Design course in 2009, members of the industry have to written INSIDEFILM with much disappointment.

“This is very disappointing news as the industry has expanded and embraced a greater appreciation and role of Design in an evolving industry, here and internationally,” said production designer and art director Ro Cook.

“How does AFTRS view itself as reflective of a dynamic industry? It begs the question of how the students in other disciplines, including a large number of directing students, will fully appreciate the collaborative nature of the highly visual medium of filmmaking.”

While costume supervisor, Robyn Bunting wrote in to say: “I was shocked to find out from Jon Rohde the head of Design at AFTRS that there will be no design courses run by in 2009.”

“I am sure many will be as astounded as I am that design has taken such a low key role in the education process that is priming our next generation of film makers.”

Responding to these concerns, AFTRS director of Production and Resources, Peter Millyn said: “The decision not to proceed with the course this year was made only in response to the low volume and standard of applications. AFTRS is also very concerned about this result.”

Millyn explained that despite AFTRS having undertaken its largest media campaign ever and national Open Days, the Production Design course had disappointingly attracted eight applications. Only three of which were of suitable standard. However, he expressed confidently that the “school remains committed to the support and training of Production Designers and to the selection and development of high calibre applicants for our courses.”

“The School has already begun a process of consultation with industry and leading production designers to try to establish why this course has not attracted more interest and to generate some strategies to ensure Production Design remains a vibrant part of the tuition on offer at Australia’s national screen arts and broadcast school,” he said.

“The School recognises, values and celebrates the role of Production Design and will seek new and innovative methods of attracting the right students for 2010.”

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