The incoming CEO of the South Australian Film Corporation is keen to continue supporting a diverse range of projects across multiple platforms and to foster indigenous filmmaking in the State.
Currently director of production investment at ScreenWest, Annabelle Sheehan will take up the post in mid-February, succeeding Richard Harris.
“It’s important to have a diverse slate of content across film, TV drama, documentaries and online,” Sheehan tells IF. “We also need to strike a balance between supporting emerging and established players and looking to see where the new talent is coming from.
“I am looking forward to understanding South Australian stories and how we can activate those stories further and expand them. I also want to connect with the indigenous community and help them look for filmmaking opportunities.”
Sheehan has known Harris, who is returning to Sydney as head of Screen Australia’s business and audience department, since 1996 when she was curriculum manager of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and he was her assistant.
She is full of praise for the SAFC’s successes during Harris’ tenure, particularly in the past few years with the emergence of filmmakers such as Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays) and Hugh Sullivan (The Infinite Man) and the growth of production companies including Julie Ryan’s Cyan Films, Hedone Productions (Kate Croser, Sandy Cameron), Closer Productions (Rebecca Summerton, Sophie Hyde, Matt Bate, Bryan Mason), Triptych Pictures (Kristian Moliere, Jennifer Jones, Julie Byrne) and Projector Films (David Ngo, Daniel Joyce, Nick Matthews, Craig Behenna).
As CEO and senior agent at RGM Artist Group for 10 years until 2013, she repped Mia Wasikowska, Ben Mendelsohn and Adelaide-based talent including Hugh Sheridan, Erik Thomson and theatre director Benedict Andrews, who will make his feature directing debut in the UK this year on Blackbird, an adaptation of David Harrower’s Olivier-winning play, starring Rooney Mara and Mendelsohn.
Sheehan went to ScreenWest last February on a two-year deal and says she would have happily continued in that role if the opportunity to run the SAFC had not arisen. She much enjoyed working with ScreenWest CEO Ian Booth and his team.
She began her career in post-production, working as ADR supervisor on The Piano, Lorenzo’s Oil and The Portrait of a Lady and as dialogue editor on Dead Calm, Fearless and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, before serving as head of the film and TV division at AFTRS for six years.
After departing ScreenWest at the end of January she will have a one-week handover with Harris. She adds, “I am looking forward to talking to South Australia’s filmmakers to find out how they see their future, and to the board and staff before deciding if we need to adjust any programs.”
SAFC chair Judy Potter said: “Annabelle is highly regarded in the industry and her appointment is fantastic for South Australia. She will continue to build on the reputation of the SAFC, and in particular the recent successes, to benefit the local industry.”
Arts Minister Jack Snelling said: “It is great to see someone of Ms Sheehan’s calibre come to South Australia to take on this important role.”