Quality Is Never An Accident

By November 24, 2015 Blog
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Guest writer Anthony Waddington, Producer and Metro Screen tutor.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” John Ruskin

As three immensely rewarding years as a Metro Screen tutor conclude with the imminent closure of this esteemed body, now seems an apposite time to reflect on a unique and much-loved film school, facilities house and cultural nexus: a rare troika indeed.

One of the fundamental points stressed at the beginning of new diploma groups is that in our online world, it’s easy to watch ‘how to’ videos to seek instruction in many things.  As recent festival and Academy Awards attest, a smart phone and laptop software have democratized the necessary tools for filmmaking. While not dismissing the value of online learning, there are at least two fundamental aspects of a training room environment that stand apart in terms of adding unique value. In observing fellow tutors at work over these recent years, I have no hesitation in declaring that Metro Screen can proudly claim to have delivered on both the following fronts.

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Antony at FICCI FRAMES convention, India’s key media and entertainment sector trade event.

First and foremost from a tutor’s perspective, if we can inspire a desire for independent learning in students, then we are meeting arguably the most fundamental aspect of our responsibility. Education whether formal or informal, is essential for realising our intellectual and creative potential. The intimacy of Metro’s classroom not only offers a supportive environment in which students may consider and contest ideas, it’s also an arena in which we’re introduced to the work of the masters who’ve established the métier we hope to enter as emerging talent. The great movements in European, American, Japanese and Australian cinema are exhilarating to explore and take inspiration from. These influences are critical for cinematographers, designers, producers, directors, writers to absorb, and in turn, redeploy as they animate their own work. Emulate the masters as we learn by all means, but equally so, we must not be intimidated by them. If we can achieve a position of genuine rigour and humility in our work, we might one day be motivated to challenge those very same experts. Ah yes, I’m acutely reminded that the best way to learn is to teach: docendo disco – okay, this writer is working on the humility front.

Secondly, environments such as Metro Screen offer the succor of a professional social network that not only offers support throughout the enrolment of a particular course, but subsequently, such networks can grow in reach and usefulness in a post-graduate space. Stories recounted from past students who draw on and contribute to these alumni resources attest to this valuable amenity.

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Antony congratulates Metro Screen graduates.

Film and television are demanding. I’ve heard producer Jonathan Shteinman offer encouragement on more than one occasion when willing us to dig deeper – If it was easy, everyone would do it. The necessity of balancing that delicate equation of art and commerce, so germane to filmmaking, is tricky. We see the best of people and at times, the opposite, when under exceptional pressure. Surely the most important thing to remember is that the work comes first and foremost as we pull potentially conflicting interests together behind a coherent vision. Learning to separate the personal from the professional is essential for any of us to progress in this creative industry and the film school environment offers people an opportunity to comprehend them by placing ourselves within intense work environments. Essentially, we all have a choice in our occupations to operate from a position of informed reason as opposed to emotional prejudice. Apart from acquiring competency in applied skills and aesthetic theories, the film school allows us to develop emotional maturity and, dare I say, wisdom.

Like the arts at their best, Metro Screen welcomes practitioners of differing background, age, ethnicity and gender. All that matters is that we can deliver in our field – beyond that it’s come one, come all: what a decent core business!

It’s with great appreciation that l add my voice to the chorus of past and present students, teachers and administrators in acknowledging the passing of a beloved institution. Bravi Metro Screen – what a curtain call you deserve.

Antony Waddington spent the 1980s to 90s working as a producer at Paper Bark Films as a producer on training films and making music videos for Sony Music, WEA, EMI and Mushroom Records. At the same time he was an actor with (amongst others), Sydney Theatre Co., State Theatre Co. of South Australia and The New England Theatre Co. Antony was executive producer, and co-writer of the documentaries Spirits of the Carnival, Tides of Passage and Photographers of Australia. Antony developed and produced Fred Schepisi’s multi-award winning 2011 feature adaptation of Patrick White’s novel, The Eye of the Storm (starring Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling and Judy Davis). He has several features and documentaries in development including, The Madman’s Tale, Gus, Powder and Belonging. Antony lectures in Producing, Production Management, Business Communication and Cultural Studies; his qualifications include an M.A. Performance Studies (Syd. Uni.) and a B.A. Communications (UTS).