Sophie Hyde on Screen Representation and ACMI’s Goddess Exhibition

As part of ACMI’s Goddess Exhibition there is the one-day conference Being Seen On Screen.

Award winning Australian director Sophie Hyde is one of the speakers talking about equality, representation, and diversity.

Nadine Whitney has a brief chat with Sophie about what that means to her.

Nadine Whitney: I will begin with a simple and complex question. What does being seen on screen mean to you?

Sophie Hyde: I think it’s about countering the idea that there is one singular or common experience or way of being.  We have seen a fairly narrow vision of the “experience of being human” presented on screen and so it’s simply a desire to expand this to include more perspectives I think.  Part of that might be things that intersect with me and my experience that I may not have seen before.

NW: You are not just a film and television director but also a producer through your company Closer Productions. You have supported the work of Maya Newell. Through Closer Productions you have helped bring queer, indigenous, and works highlighting ability to life. How does it feel to assist authentic storytelling from other people?

SH: I’ve worked with Maya Newell across two major projects now (In My Blood it Runs and Gayby Baby) and we are onto our third and I love to be able to support what Maya does, which is work deeply with people to tell their stories, alongside them, and to present those to the world in a way that enables those watching them, to feel deeply and to take action about things that inspire them from those stories.  She works in a way where the people in the films are really co-authoring the work and certainly driving the purpose of it.  It’s a very fulfilling thing to be part of and my role in it is a small part of a big team of wonderful people all working together.  That’s still the most exciting thing about making, the various people that come together to realise a film and release it and the way the audience can interact with it.  So as a director, I need to be consumed in what I’m doing.  As a producer I can help enable more stories from more perspectives.

NW: What are you looking forward to about the Goddess Being Seen on Screen Conference?

SH: Being in a room with people in the industry I haven’t seen for some time (or ever met) and thinking about and discussing ideas. There are people like Rachel Maza speaking who I always just want to listen to and could (and will) for hours.

NW: What do you think are essential changes the Australian (and international) screen industry must undertake?

SH: As an audience I want more stories from a wider range of perspectives and that means working out who is often excluded from the making of films and TV (or who is sidelined by budget, marketing, acclaim etc) and working out how to ensure those voices, those perspectives are being nurtured and encouraged.  Are nurtured and encouraged the right words even?  Allowed?  Given space?  Given resources?  Basically, why are people excluded and what can we do about it?  Part of that is paying attention to who is making the things you watch and seeking out perspectives that might be missing.  Part of that is championing that in our professional lives.  A lot is systematic and that means drawing attention to it, listening to the people excluded and making shifts we can make step by step.

Sophie Hyde has directed three feature films; 52 Tuesdays, Animals, and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.

Nadine Whitney

Nadine Whitney holds qualifications in cinema, literature, cultural studies, education and design. When not writing about film, art or books, she can be found napping and missing her cat.

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