Wayne Blair and Metro Screen
Director of The Sapphires & Metro Screen Alumni
“Juggling stage-acting gigs, he found time to take special classes, one at NYU and the other designed for emerging indigenous filmmakers at Sydney’s Metro Screen” Variety Magazine
For over 30 years Metro Screen has been championing the Australian film and content industry with funding, mentoring, networking, training and facilities support providing real pathways to success – Wayne Blair is an outstanding example of how far people can go with a head start.
Wayne’s first feature film ‘The Sapphires’ won 11 of 12 nominations at the2013 Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts [AACTA] awards. In almost a clean sweep the film took home awards for Best Film and Best Director (Wayne Blair), Best Lead Actress (Deborah Mailman), Best Lead Actor (Chris O’Dowd), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Mauboy) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Keith Thompson, Tony Briggs).
Wayne started his screen career at Metro Screen when he received funding, support and mentoring for his first two films ‘Fade 2 Black’ and ‘Jubulg’. Metro Screen has mentored and developed more than 100 emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian filmmakers to date through funding programs and training scholarships with guidance provided by Aboriginal Elder and Metro Screen patron Lester Bostock.
“Since its inception Metro Screen has been committed to providing opportunities for emerging Aboriginal filmmakers. We support diverse and courageous story-telling and we continue to be blown away by the creativity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian filmmakers who come through our program” says Christina Alvarez, Metro Screen CEO.
‘The Sapphires’ is Blair’s directorial feature film debut and follows an Indigenous Australian troupe of entertainers who perform for US troops in Vietnam in 1968.
The film has been enjoying tremendous success premiering at the Cannes Film Festival 2012 and earning $2.3m in its opening weekend at the Australian box office.
Wayne has also been basking in the well deserve spotlight being named GQ Magazine’s Creative Force of the year 2012, featuring in Variety as one of the 10 Directors to watch in 2013 and winning the Bob Maza Fellowship at the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival 2011.
In August 2012 The Australian reported, Wayne Blair’s feature film The Sapphires earned $2.3m in its opening weekend at the Australian box office – the best debut for a locally made film since 2010. A fantastic achievement in an age when box offices are being hit across the board by many different factors including downloading.
During his early career, Wayne Blair spoke with Filmink’s Erin Free about his experiences with Metro Screen’s Indigenous Australian Mentor Scheme program:
Looking back, how important do you think the scheme has been in the evolution of your filmmaking career?
“Very important. It gave me an opportunity, and more importantly an opportunity where I would be trained. I had the story in me. Metro Screen just provided me with a chance to put my story onto the screen.”
Above photo: Wanye Blair and Christina Alvarez, Metro Screen CEO.
Below photo: Minister Collins, Minister Crean, actresses Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman and director Wayne Blair taken at Parliament House