I graduated from VCA and sent my showreel out to a number of TVC production companies.  At the same time I raised money for a charity spot TVC as well as winning a job writing and directing a short film for the then AFI awards to be screened as part of the ceremony. On the back of that I got my first job at a production company.

1.  How did you get your start as a Director?

A regular day when I’m directing is lots and lots of meetings, reading and discussing scripts and location reccies prior to shooting.  As it gets closer to the shoot those meetings include more rehearsals and then shooting begins.  A regular shoot day is chasing on average 7 to 8 minutes of screen time a day, dealing with the curve balls pre-production couldn’t predict and laughing and working hard with my cast and crew.  A regular editing day is enjoying the process of finessing and exploring all the footage gathered and enjoying fresh eyes on your work.

2.  Can you describe a regular ‘day at the office’ for you?

Practically, I’d say finding ways to make money while you build a body of work that can sustain your career.  Emotionally, I’d say learning how to lead your cast and crew to success under any and all circumstances.

3.  What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to get to

     where you are now?

I worked on a TVC very early in my career where the DOP decided on the shoot day to refuse to shoot the storyboards.  That was ridiculous, but I learned a lot.

4.  They say whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. What’s the most

     ridiculous thing that’s gone awry while you were on a job?

© REELArts 2016 www.reelarts.com.au

Sian most recently directed the new Shaun Micallef comedy series for the ABC, THE EX-PM, which went to air on ABC in October 2015. Sian’s other work includes the ABC TV drama series THE TIME OF OUR LIVES, starring Justine Clarke, Claudia Karvan and William McInnes; and MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES which stars Essie Davis and has sold into more than 120 territories and is broadcast in the UK, USA and France.

Sian directed three episodes of comedy / crime series MR AND MRS MURDER for Network Ten and Fremantle Media and also wrote an episode of the series, THE NEXT BEST MAN. Her other television directing credits include episodes of television series OFFSPRING, RUSH, WINNERS AND LOSERS and SATISFACTION.

Her short films have screened at numerous festivals around the world. PINATA, written and directed by Sian and produced by Yaman Films, had its world premiere at MIFF in 2009. POETRY, written and directed by Sian, was funded by Film Victoria and produced with the assistance of Melodrama Pictures and premiered at MIFF in 2007. Sian’s VCA graduate film BLACKOUT screened at Cannes and Clermont Ferraud.

Sian worked with BIG hART on an SBS series KNOT AT HOME in 2004 and was instrumental in setting up and directing the omnibus feature project LITTLE DEATHS which Jason Byrne produced and Giula Sandler wrote and which won best independent feature at DigiSPAA. Sian has directed TVCs with Exit Films, Black Cat and Zealot.

Sian was born in the UK and moved to Perth as a teenager before training as a director at VCA.  Sian teaches in her spare time at institutions including Swinburne University and VCA and was a participant in the 2006 MIFF Accelerator programme.

Sian’s Bio

The Ex PM was my favourite.  I directed the whole series, had a dream cast and crew and working with Shaun Micallef was one of the most rewarding collaborations of my career. 

5.  You’ve worked on a lot of big projects, which was your favourite

     and why?

Don’t dwell on the losses.  Keep your eye on the prize and stay away from negative people.

6.  Filmmaking is an all-consuming career. What do you do to avoid

     burnout and stay passionate?

I’d like the conversation to shift away from the ‘worthy’ aspects of addressing gender inequality and notice the loss of talent that discrimination causes.  Essentially, for the industry to start adopting the attitudes that successful corporations took on years ago. 

7.  What is a practical step you would like to see this new generation

     of filmmakers take to address gender inequality in the film industry?

If you can do anything else and be happy, you should probably do that.  If not, then this is the best job in the world and your love for it and the people you work with will get you through the tough times.

8.  You are very much involved in educating aspiring filmmakers.

     What’s the most important piece of advice you could give a

     filmmaker who’s just starting out?

No, it’s not.  What matters are ideas, relationships and determination.

9.  Is film school essential, or can you get there without it?

As a director, nothing – the director’s vision is what makes the film great.  As an observer, “Sophie’s Choice” directed by Alan J. Pakula because I would love to see how Pakula, Meryl Streep and the wonderful cast of that film built the performances they did and also how a film with such historic scope and technical challenges could feel so intimate.

10.  What one film in cinema history would you have loved to have

       worked on and why?

Sian Davies

This week’s filmmaker...

Director – The Ex-PM, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Feature on a Filmmaker

Every week we talk to an industry pro and ask

them 10 questions about their work, how they got

started, plus advice they might have for aspiring filmmakers!