Producer and distributor Sue Maslin will step down as the president of the Natalie Miller Fellowship (NMF) later this week, after guiding the organisation for 10 years.
The Dressmaker producer is among the founding members of the NMF, with Chrissy Thomson, Annette Blonski, Jan Epstein, Jennifer Sabine, Zelda Rosenbaum and Heather Scott. In 2010, they got together informally and decided to raise funding towards an annual $10,000 fellowship named in honour of Sharmill Films and Cinema Nova founder Natalie Miller, awarded to aspirational women to pursue professional leadership.
Over the course of Maslin’s tenure as president, she has built relationships with the industry that would ultimately enable the annual fellowship to grow to $20,000. Current co-sponsors include Village Roadshow and Kojo.
Recipients of the NMF over the years have included Rachel Okine (managing director, Aquarius Films); Harriet Pike (head of production and development, WildBear Entertainment); Rebecca Hammond (post-production manager, Beyond Productions); Courtney Botfield (head of distribution and sales, Bunya Productions); Sasha Close (program manager, Gold Coast Film Festival); Kristy Matheson (director, film programs ACMI), Miriam Katsambis (legal counsel, Entertainment One); Anna Kaplan (producer and impact producer, Greenfield Pictures); and Pauline Clague (founder and artistic director of Winda Film Festival).
“I have now overseen the awarding of nine Fellowships since 2011 and am aware of the impact that it has had not only on the career journeys of the recipients, but all women who applied and went through a process of considering their career trajectory in a new way,” Maslin said.
“The requirement to seek letters of support from industry mentors meant that women were having serious conversations about their leadership ambitions with employers and industry leaders, and this alone has led to career advancement for many – something I am very proud of.
“The fellowship itself applies to women from any sector of the screen industry and I am pleased that it has been awarded to women from distribution, production, marketing, post-facilities and exhibition. A particular focus for me has been ensuring that women from the Indigenous community apply to the fellowship and we awarded our first Fellowship to an Indigenous woman, Pauline Clague, in 2019.”
Among the highlights of her time with the organisation, Maslin ranks the NMF Brilliant Careers Program. Funded via Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative, it aimed to aims to arm women with leadership skills.
“This was the first such program to offer women from around Australia an opportunity to build skills that specifically addressed leadership and was so ably managed by NMF Vice-President, Sandra Sdraulig AM and her team in 2017 and 2019,” said Maslin.
Maslin has decided to step down as president in the knowledge the organisation will be offer its 10th annual fellowship this year, has a strategic plan in place, an “energetic committee” and firm industry support to ensure that it will run for many years to come.
“I have been a direct beneficiary of the support of many in the industry who have enabled my own career to develop over the past 10 years and I am hugely grateful for that support.
” It is largely the result of my work with the NMF that I no longer consider career development as a haphazard journey of success and failure, but as something that can be developed strategically and mindfully with enough confidence, skills and support. The NMF has afforded this same discovery to many other women and I look forward to seeing that continue for many years to come.”