Aiming to take your film industry career to the highest level? AFTRS’ Master of Arts Screen: Business is a course tailored to create Australia’s next generation of screen business leaders.
Couse alumni, Madman Entertainment co-founder/CEO Paul Wiegard remembers well the lead-up to his enrolment in Master of Arts Screen: Business in early 2015. An already accomplished film industry professional, he was keen to enhance certain areas of his knowledge-base, which proved to have a very real flown-on effect in his career.
“Professionally, I found that I’d gotten to a stage in my career where I don’t think I had a great appreciation around things such as public policy and other areas that are related to the broader industry,” he says.
“I was sort of just focussed on the business of what I was doing, but I thought, ‘we can’t just be working in our own little silo, as an independent business in the independent world, when all these industries are completely interconnected’.
“So there were a few areas, where I thought it could provide some lateral thinking and exposure to things I hadn’t thought of before while I was doing the day-to-day activities that I had in running an independent film distribution business. So that was the trigger at the time.”
Available face-to-face or fully online, AFTRS’ Master of Arts Screen: Business offers a high-level creative leadership program that also keeps pace with rapid changes in technology and screen business practice. Students gain entrepreneurial and finance skills across full-time (1 year) and part-time (2 year) formats.
AFTRS is uniquely positioned to offer a balanced delivery of theory and real-world practice for producers, developers, broadcasters, filmmakers, creative arts managers, founders, and screen sector entrepreneurs. For Wiegard, this aspect of the course was both educational and enthralling.
“It was a small group,” he says, “a concentrated group, and what was refreshing was the experts and professionals brought into the course to help provide masterclasses and discussions about their areas of expertise. It was really thought-provoking.
“The forum was very healthy in that people who were in the room providing insight into various areas were at the top of their respective trades and having an interactive discussion with these individuals and within the class was great.”
That shared experience is also heightened by the opportunity to gather with industry peers, who are also there to learn, but also have a wealth of experience to offer as it is.
“It’s as much about the people you’re learning with,” Wiegard says. “There were a few people that signed up to do that course at that point in time who were pretty impressive individuals. As peers, it was a very interesting group that went through at the time. People like Imogen Banks, who’d produced Offspring and a whole lot of episodic content.
“Professionally it was just a great way of coming together and spending time with other people. There was a lot there in terms of motivation.”
Following his course completion in 2016, Wiegard established the dedicated streaming platform DocPlay, placing a spotlight on some of the country’s most acclaimed theatrical documentaries.
“I used it as part of my thesis about specialised platforms, how they survive, what is their market and what is their relevance,” Wiegard recalls. “I established DocPlay at that time having written the thesis around it.
“AFTRS provided the learning ground I could specialise in before I went in and launched it. It certainly helped get DocPlay some airtime and I was able to, frankly, thinktank it with some of my colleagues.
“It’s interesting to sometimes be pushed into an environment where you have to explain what you’re doing that you realise what you do know and what you don’t know, and what more needs to be explored.”
As for what he would say to someone considering an application for the Master of Arts Screen: Business course, Wiegard – currently the President of the Australian Independent Distributors Association (AIDA) – is effusive.
“I think we should always be interested in further education, no matter who you are or what you do,” he states. “There’s no point in time when you stop learning or stop looking for new information, and it can be great to take the time out for this very specific sort of study.
“They can help you get to where you might find solutions or answers or sometimes propose things you never thought about before that you should probably be aware of. If you’re interested in thinking laterally about the business of screen content, it’s a solid course.”
Master of Arts Screen: Business has long been acknowledged as one of the best postgraduate programs in contemporary screen business and creative leadership in the world. Graduates have been hired in roles at Jungle Entertainment, Screen Australia, Madman Entertainment and SBSOnDemand.
2023 applications for Master of Arts Screen: Business close on January 22, 2023. For more details, head here.