Q&A With Jody Dwyer

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I’m a writer-director-producer with 25 years experience in TVC, prime time TV production and feature filmmaking. In the process I’ve been screened in over 40 international festivals, winning an array of awards in both advertising and long form drama.

My debut feature DYING BREED premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and went onto be sold worldwide (distributors: Hoyts Aus & Lionsgate USA).

Prior to that, I directed a suspense drama for Australia's Channel Nine (Bryan Brown’s TWO TWISTED, episode entitled FINDING FRANK).

My screenwriting has also been nominated for an AFI award.

What inspired you to work in TV and Film?

My love for TV & Film actually originated from a passion I had for both theatre and photography. Growing up in London, I was exposed to some of the best live theatre in the world, yet I also loved the creativity of the image. Filmmaking seemed the natural path therefore to combine the two art forms.

I consider myself to be a storyteller first and foremost – whether it be 30 seconds or 90 minutes in duration. It’s about communication, eliciting the right emotions from the viewer and finding a visual treatment that compliments these needs.

It’s incredibly exciting how the media-scape is evolving so fast. Each new platform offers new possibilities and I love the challenges this presents.

How did you get your first break?

Editing in London. I worked in the cutting rooms on a mixed bag of material, from TVC's, documentaries and drama, including a period on Kubrick's 'FULL MEDAL JACKET'.

In my opinion, there is no better training for filmmaking/TV production than editing. It teaches storytelling, efficiency and the language of sequences. And I had a great teacher, cutting at that time on 35mm film! (God, that dates me).

As an ex-editor, it was inevitable therefore that my forte would become story telling and VFX. In fact my understanding of the post process ensures a smooth shoot when dealing with complex technical issues.

What paths have you taken to get to where you are today?

I’m currently settled in Sydney, Australia, but the path was not an expected one. I simply followed opportunities as they arose.

I was trained in London, honed my editing skills in Hong Kong, and then settled in Sydney where I made the transition to directing. I now work globally, shooting multi-national campaigns for such clients as Coca-Cola.

I often think ‘where would I be if I hadn’t got on that plane to Hong Kong all those years ago? Pursuing the same dreams, but with a broader British accent and no Bondi Beach tan perhaps. Sliding doors – now there’s an interesting concept.

What advice about the do's and don'ts would you give to someone wanting to get in to the film industry?

Wow, now there’s a question and one I’d answer differently depending on the person and where they wish to go with their career.

Be realistic about the business side of the industry, not just the artistic expression. Be patient and tenacious! Network, network, network. And for those budding feature filmmakers….don’t forget the sales side of the business: the sales agents, distributors etc. These guys ultimately dictate what is seen and where, so any connections you make early on will be invaluable later.

One thing is certain, the career path won’t follow a designated route and you have to be adaptable to keep goals in focus.

Oh, and be nice to that mega rich aunt. You never know where that investor will come from for your next indie zombie flick.

Tell us about what are you wanting to achieve next in your career?

I have a broad range of experience in both creative and executive roles, so I’d like to find a position that utilizes these skills, producing and developing product of varying kinds.

Personally I’d like to shift away from freelancing work and concentrate on more long-term goals with an established company. I’m interested in joining a supportive but also inspiring infrastructure – a family, if you like, to commit to and grow with.

Jody Dwyer

Ricky Mutsaers