Learning the art of storytelling

1 blog storytelling

How Media Super helped the careers of three young Australians.

It's notoriously difficult to break into the arts and entertainment industries. A recent survey of our members found that 81 per cent of people under 30 felt compelled to work for free in order to advance their career or secure a paying job.

It's clear that young people need help breaking into their industries, to learn their craft, find mentors and build a future. Media Super works with industry partners to support talent development programs, and in 2016 several young Australians earned professional experience in diverse artistic areas. Let's meet three of them.

Chasing voters in America

Young Brisbane filmmaker Martin Ingle was awarded the inaugural Media Super Scholarship with The Chaser and so helped cover the 2016 US election with the popular, anarchic team. 'I've always wanted to see democracy in action. I'm looking forward to covering the US election too,' Martin joked before the two–week cross-country journey into America's heartland. Of the two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and his supporters, the so called 'Basket of Deplorables', were Martin's target. He was surprised by who he discovered.

'The highlight of the journey,' Martin said, 'was ... talking to actual Americans on the ground and at rallies, about their emotions surrounding the election. I learned that it's a beautiful nation filled with really friendly and intelligent people. When you talk to someone personally you get a clearer picture of them as a human than you do from a sound bite on the news or a Facebook meme.'

While the trip made sense of 'The Donald's' victory, it was a mash–up of surreal experiences for Martin as he works to realise his dream of a full–time career in scriptwriting and filmmaking.

'Professional development, networking, training and working with comedy writing masters was a once–in-a–lifetime opportunity. Charles Firth from The Chaser and James Schloeffel from The Shovel were fantastic mentors'.

You can catch Martin talking about his experiences, the people he met and his work at facebook.com/ChaserUSA

From the US election 'soap opera' to Neighbours

The Chaser style of entertainment is a long way from the goings–on at Channel 10's Neighbours. Yet thanks to the diversity of development programs, WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) graduate Anneliese Apps is about to experience working with Australia's longest running soap opera. She won the Equity Foundation's Neighbours Internship, which is supported by Media Super and FremantleMedia. Anneliese will spend a week discovering what's really served at Harold's Café and watch up close the classic Neighbours characters Toadie and ruthless local businessman Paul Robinson.

Her acting career began in Year 11, playing the not insubstantial role of Lady Macbeth. A naturally curious person, she felt at home learning ways to unravel and then express human nature, unafraid to ask the most basic, yet equally profound questions. Anneliese's love for storytelling was born.

'I see storytelling not just as an exciting or intriguing ritual but as a survival apparatus. Why do people do what they do?' she said. 'Why do we fall in love, act out, do funny things when we like someone? What makes us laugh when we want to cry, and vice versa?'

The Equity Foundation's Neighbours Internship is a chance to look inside a production that's watched by millions, globally. 'I am so excited to learn about all the elements including sound, scriptwriting, hair and makeup. The big goal is to be a sponge and soak up as much as I can.'

The intriguing world of deaf theatre

Young Australians like Anneliese and Martin share a passion for the simple art of storytelling. As does Jess Moody, although Jess is deaf, which makes her story all the more intriguing.

'My experience has been one of grit and timing,' Jess said. 'It's been difficult, but it's led me to people who are open–minded, kind–hearted and willing to help me out. I've had to improvise and discover ways I could showcase my work, as well as learn more about the craft.

Jess was one of 12 participants in Melbourne Fringe Festival's COMPASS Professional Development Program. It's a new skills development and mentorship program that helps young people experiencing disadvantage to enter the arts industry. It also gives new, diverse talent the chance to produce vibrant and eclectic new shows. Jess is one half of Deafferent Theatre, a bilingual theatre company working with both hearing and deaf or hard–of hearing people. They made the most of their opportunity at Fringe, winning the Best Emerging Producer Award.

'COMPASS was a really exciting initiative,' Jess said. 'Fringe was an experience that shaped Deafferent Theatre, and my craft, into one that was ... able to produce opportunities for work.'

Her work is an act of inclusiveness. She enables others to express themselves without hearing – to tell their stories, something that's taken for granted by most of us.

'Storytelling is a very human exercise. We are the only creatures that do so. In terms of advantage, deaf people have the power to impact an audience for various reasons. One being that deaf people seeing other deaf people on stage is a powerful moment. For non–deaf people, it's an impact that they are observing diversity in action.'

As for the future? 'COMPASS has ingrained me with practical knowledge that will be applied for future productions, as well as aligning our company to a sustainable business model. COMPASS came at the right time.'

It truly is possible to get your first big break. Thankfully, professional development programs give young Australians like Martin, Anneliese and Jess the chance to work hard, make connections and learn. Theirs is a common yearning to begin their career, and now this dream is closer to reality.