AFTRS and Screen NSW have joined with Bus Stop Films to foster pathways for people with disabilities to work in the Australian film and television industry.
Jamie Brewer, the American actress best known for her roles in the Emmy award winning hit TV series American Horror Story, will speak at a special Screen NSW and AFTRS event on May 25 to draw attention to the need for more diversity and inclusion in the screen industries. Jamie is an advocate for creating positive role models for people with disability, and in February 2015, became the first person with Down syndrome to walk the catwalk at New York Fashion Week.
The event An Evening with Jamie Brewer, to be hosted at AFTRS, with a keynote address by Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson, is designed to encourage more discussion amongst production companies, casting agents and the wider community on how the Australian film and television industry can best move forward in creating roles, both on and off screen, for people with a disability.
Screen NSW CEO Courtney Gibson said: “It’s time all of us in the screen sector focused on creating opportunities for under-represented groups, including disabled cast and crew, in order that a multiplicity of visions and voices are seen and heard. We’ll have a stronger industry with richer content if we make it a priority.”
While in Sydney Jamie will also participate in an acting workshop for filmmaking students with disabilities being run by Bus Stop Films at Sydney Community College.
According to Genevieve Clay-Smith, co-founder of Bus Stop Films, a non-profit dedicated to facilitating a film school experience for students with disability, the Australian film and television industry has a long way to go in casting characters with a disability authentically. Jamie will star in the next Bus Stop Films production titled ‘Kill Off’, a new short film being made by with students with a disability, to be filmed in Wollongong.
“Australia is behind when it comes to authentic casting, we simply don’t have high expectations of actors who have disabilities, we need to start challenging that, to look for ways to cast actors with disabilities in roles where the character shares the same disability. We also need to advocate for pathways for people with disabilities to get more involved in production.
“Jamie Brewer’s presence in Australia will, I hope, shed light on the abilities of people with a disability to be involved in the film industry,” said Clay-Smith.
Bus Stop Films and AFTRS working together
As well as hosting this event with Jamie, AFTRS has also committed to research with Bus Stop Films to create an accessible film studies curricula that can be shared with educators of disadvantaged students and other marginalised groups Australia-wide.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support that AFTRS is giving us! Bringing our students with an intellectual disability into AFTRS for our classes, will be extremely transformative and impacting. It will give our students access to resources that will bring dignity, professionalism and excellence to their learning,” said co-founder, Genevieve Clay-Smith.
This new program initiative is aimed to encourage the development of more inclusive and diverse filmmaking practices at AFTRS and the wider film industry, in addition to giving Bus Stops Films’ students a chance to be officially part of the film school world.
“AFTRS is very pleased to support the philanthropic work of Bus Stop Films to enable greater access and professional filmmaking resources for students with disability. There is so much we can learn from researching this new course and it will be instructive be to see the students’ visions and insights on screen,” said AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow.
An Evening with Jamie Brewer
5.30pm, Wednesday 25th May
AFTRS – Building 130
The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park