Students step into world of film and media

Published 3 December 2020
Danica Ainsworth, Bachelor of Digital Media student

As a flight attendant and cabin crew manager, Danica Ainsworth spent nine years travelling the world and creating short films in her spare time.

In 2016 the Gold Coast local decided to enrol in Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Digital Media part-time to pursue her long-term filmmaking dream, while continuing to travel the globe.

She remembers her layovers in Japan, Bali and Hawaii where she’d spend a few days filming and editing, and fitting in her online university study and assignments in whatever time zone she found herself in.

“I live in Tugun and chose to study at Southern Cross because I looked at the digital media degree structure and everything about it was exactly what I wanted to do. The different jobs I had been interested in across marketing, production and content creation - Southern Cross Uni’s degree aligned with those so well,” Danica said.

“Even though I study online, the Gold Coast campus is only a short walk away, and I love the smaller campus and class sizes rather than being at a bigger university, and the online support and teaching has continued to be incredible even with all the COVID changes and restrictions this year.”

When airline travel decreased dramatically in early 2020, Danica took on a full-time study load and applied for a mentorship program through Southern Cross University’s industry partnership with Screenworks. From 2020 Southern Cross University digital media students have had access to tailor-made, screen-related development and networking opportunities with some of Australia’s leading industry figures and free Screenworks membership.

“Our unit assessor Associate Professor Grayson Cooke encouraged me to apply for the mentorship program with some of the pieces I’d created for class assessments and travel videos that I’d put together, with a blurb about the industry I want to work in and why,” Danica said.

“I was so stoked to get the call that Screenworks and Southern Cross University selected me and one other student for the program. They paired up with Screen Queensland who put me in touch with Brisbane-based media company Kiosk and I was mentored by Sara Taghaode who has a long history in productions and directing roles in the media industry.

“I was able to spend a whole day with her on set with her on the Gold Coast to see the inner workings of an ad they produced for Lite n’ Easy with The Block contestants Deb and Andy – which is such a cool experience. She taught me a lot about working with people for short-form television commercials, and with industry knowledge and networking, which I found so insightful and helpful.

“I believe this industry offers so many opportunities for learning and creativity and while I’m still discovering my own creative niche I really enjoy working behind the camera, directing and editing, to turn my vision into a visually appealing story.”

Final-year digital media student Chris McGuiness was also selected to take part in a Screenworks mentorship program this year, after previously showcasing his work in local film festivals and creating a biographical documentary of a local Northern Rivers rugby league club.

“I’m especially interested in creating investigative documentary, short and feature-length dramas, and was able to take part in a creative factual storytelling weekly workshop series on zoom with Melbourne-based documentary-makers Denise Eriksen, and Esther Coleman-Hawkins – who were so enthusiastic and had a wealth of industry expertise,” Chris said.

“They gave us a workbook and solid teaching on how to develop our stories, and for me, living in Ballina in regional NSW, I loved having the opportunity to bounce my ideas off a small group of people who are really enthusiastic about documentary making – everything from camera work, to interviewing, scripting, storyboarding, location, and mostly about the investigation and getting the best out of the story.

“It’s a great partnership Southern Cross has with Screenworks, this year I’ve been able to sit in on panels hearing from multi-award-winning Aussies who work in Hollywood, big name scriptwriters and producers, including filmmaker Jocelyn Moorhouse of The Dressmaker, Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean and Collateral), composer Caitlin Yeo (Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan) and Daley Pearson (Bluey).”

For more information about studying the Bachelor of Digital Media at Southern Cross University visit scu.edu.au/study

Media contact: Media team scumedia@scu.edu.au