Digital Careers: 2015 TasICT Conference, Andrew McPhail transcript

Who is Screen Tasmania?
Screen Tasmania is the government arm basically is a government agency major remit is to increase production, screen production activity in the state.

Why does Government get involved in film?
Two reasons one is yes they want Tasmanians to be able to tell their stories the world but the other is the economy, the economy, the economy and the economy because when people make films here or when they actually get involved in screen production they spend an enormous amount of money making those shows we just had The Kettering Incident in here and it was a fourteen million dollar show but they spent six million dollars in Tasmania over five months from everything from hammers and nails to hamburgers to rent-a-cars to accommodation, so it’s an immediate injection in the economy and we invest in those shows and hopefully if the show does well and at the moment there’s a bit of a stir happening overseas, a few bidding wars over the show, we may even actually make some money back.

How did you get into the film business?
I’m not a government person, I’m a film producer by trade and I produced a number of films and I ended up in this position to coming to Tasmania to see whether I could assist in building the screen industry and as we’re all aware twenty years ago screens with TVs in cinema screens but of course today screens are everywhere there everything from your iPad to your iPhone to your mobile devices to your ATM at the bank who are even advertising to you there, so things are changing and changing rapidly but I’ll give you a little bit of an idea of how I started in the screen industry because in some ways it’s really really similiar to the ICT industry. I went to university I didn’t complete my degree which seems to be there I have a commonality with the ICT industry the guys from Savage. I finished two years of my degree before I went out the work force and lied to a bunch of people telling them I had a degree just to see whether any get me a job, it got me the first interview and I got a job at the ABC, so I then went and attempted to do my degree part-time, I did let the guy now look I lied I don’t really have a degree, he said don’t worry you would have been over qualified anyway.

Where does film and ICT have parallels?
So I started at the ABC and through that I met a bunch of geeks a bunch of guys who went out surfing on the weekends in Sydney I was raised in Sydney they weren’t playing sport they were hanging out in darkened rooms with heavy velvet curtains and cameras doing time lapsed photography, they were pasty faced, they were geeks, they were the equivalent of the geeks. I knew they were geeks, I knew they weren’t just filmmakers but I knew they were geeks because one of them walked into the darkened room one day and said check out this new board game its called Dungeons and Dragons. Now this was back in the early 80’s before computers had really taken off but these guys were just mucking around in film and I got involved with those guys and I actually started to help them produce their films, but their film’s weren’t making any money but there was something happening in the economy where by they needed their expertise. They didn’t take their expertise because they were just good but the capitalist machine the economy needed their services and this particular industry needed them more than any other industry and that was the record industry and they needed these guys to make music videos for their bands, so they could sell more records, so there was the music video industry, MTV had just started in the 80s and so these guys with this particular skill set found themselves being in demand at a particular industry that needed to sell product which was records, CDs OK, so it was the economy that gave these guys the break and it’s really important that you understand at the moment of course the new economy, ICT is God, ICT skills are in demand and they’re going to not only want your skills, they’re not just going to grab you because you’re good, but because the economy needs your services in order to sell more product.

Why is Screen Tasmania interested in ICT?
Why we’re interested in the ICT industry as I said screens are everywhere but the thing that really really interests us okay in the world of STEM, Science Technology, English and Maths, which
you’ve all heard, we think there’s one vital letter missing from that, that you guys need to be aware of and that is S for Storytelling. Storytelling is the most compelling way of finding an audience.

What is the future of storytelling?
So Screen Tasmania, we’re about the idea of the marriage of code with narrative storytelling, ok, that’s what we’re about and that’s why we’re here today to let you know it’s not just about the code, well it is that’s the base craft, ok, but that code is the basis for the modern day storytelling, ok? We all started around a campfire, it was the oral tradition we all told stories to one another around the campfire that then developed into a whole variety of different arts from plays to what have you now to movies, ok, and in the last 20 years what’s beginning to happen we no longer have to sit and watch a hero in a movie do their thing, which is sometimes great to do, but what’s beginning to happen now gaming and ICT, ok, is making you the hero of your own interactive story, ok and that mark my words is going to be the future of storytelling over the next fifty years.