Vale Jenny Woods, a champion of Australian cinema

06 August, 2019 by Don Groves

Jenny Woods.

Friends and former colleagues are paying tribute to Jenny Woods, a long-time executive at Film Finances Australasia, as a consummate professional and champion of Australian films and documentaries.

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Woods, who died on July 31, aged 75, retired last year after more than five decades in the screen industry, the last 25 years as the documentary representative at Film Finances.

A former general manager of the New South Wales Film Corp., she joined the completion bond company in 1993 at the invitation of then head Sue Milliken and supervised the delivery of more than 400 documentaries.

“In all my years as a distributor we had one film, a feature documentary, which went seriously astray and the investors left responsibility to me to bring in the completion guarantor,” Ronin Films MD Andrew Pike tells IF.

“The guarantor was represented by Jenny and she was fabulous – she guided me through the whole difficult process with humour and wisdom that I had never expected in such a muddled situation.

“Jenny and I had never met but in the many phone conversations we had at this time, I felt she had become a true and compassionate friend. On later occasions when we had contact it was immediately like an old friendship re-awoken. I had huge respect for her skills, not only as a negotiator and business adviser, but as a counselor who knew how to defuse volatile emotions.

“To me, she was a most remarkable woman whose legacy needs to he honoured and treasured. And what a distinctive voice: she could have been a highly successful blues singer.”

Her screen industry career began in the 1970s producing TVCs for Fred Schepisi and Tim Burstall in Melbourne and she later worked in production on films such as Mad Dog Morgan, The Devil’s Playground and The FJ Holden.

In 1997, she took time out from Film Finances to produce the feature film The Sugar Factory for director Robert Carter.

For 10 years she served as general manager of the NSW Film Corp, supporting films such as My Brilliant Career, The Night the Prowler, Careful, He Might Hear You, The Odd Angry Shot and Newsfront.

Tony Buckley produced Jim Sharman’s The Night The Prowler and Ray Lawrence’s Bliss . Neither film would have happened “without Jenny’s caring and careful manipulation of her board,” Buckley tells IF.

“Jenny Woods ‘humanized’ the public service bureaucracy of the NSW Film Corp. and the financing of ‘difficult’ films,” Buckley said. “We have lost a true and loyal maverick of Aussie film. Long may she be remembered.”

Milliken believes neither Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career nor Phil Noyce’s Newsfront would have happened without the backing of the NSW Film Corp and Woods.

“As general manager from 1977 she supported the great Australian films of the era as a constructive, helpful and quite remarkable bureaucrat,” Milliken says.

“When I was able to get her to come to work for Film Finances I was lucky indeed. She became a legend a second time, to her documentary clients. Her dry sense of humour and her generous nature will be greatly missed.”

Essential Media Group’s Chris Hilton said: “Jenny was an industry stalwart, always helping with her husky voice at the other end of the phone, using old fashioned but wonderful terms of endearment like ‘love’ and ‘darl’. The industry is not the same without people like her.”

She is survived by Jim Sepping, her partner of 30 years. The funeral service will be held at Mannings Funeral Home Chapel, 87 Victoria Road, Rozelle, this Friday, starting at 12 noon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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