ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Meet the 12 industry experts helping AIDC develop a conference that addresses international trends and challenges.

Diane Weyermann (USA)
President of Documentary Film & Television, Participant Media

Diane Weyermann is responsible for the documentary feature film and television slate of Participant, a company dedicated to storytelling that inspires and accelerates social change. In addition to the upcoming films Sing me a Song, Slay the Dragon and Watson, Participant’s recent documentary projects include American Factory, Aquarela, America to Me, RBG, The Price of Free, Foster, Far From the Tree, Human Flow and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. Previous releases include the Oscar®-winning films CitizenFour and An Inconvenient Truth, as well as Oscar®-nominees The Look of Silence, The Square and Food, Inc. Prior to joining Participant in 2005, Weyermann was the director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program where she was responsible for the Sundance Documentary Fund – a program supporting documentary films dealing with contemporary human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and freedom of expression from around the world.

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Shane Smith (Canada)
Director of Programming, Hot Docs

Shane Smith is director of programming at Hot Docs, North America’s largest festival and market for documentary film. Smith previously worked at the Toronto International Film Festival as director of special projects and director of public programs. Prior to TIFF he worked as director of programming at Channel Zero Inc, director of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, short film programmer for Sundance Film Festival and programming director for Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. Smith has served on juries or participated on panels at events around the world including Sundance, Cannes, TIFF, Sheffield Doc Fest, DocNYC, IDA, DMZ Docs, IDFA, Tokyo Docs, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Guadalajara International Film Festival and Bangkok International Film Festival.

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Victoria Noble (UK)
Vice President, Original Content, Factual, Discovery

Victoria Noble is the vice president of original content and factual for Discovery. Based in London, Noble commissions content for Quest and Discovery Channel, and develops and executive produces some of Discovery’s most successful factual and specialist factual programming for its male-skewing networks including Discovery Channel, which reaches 445 million households in more than 220 countries and territories around the globe. Noble’s recent credits include Ed Stafford: First Man Out, Idris Elba: Fighter, Aussie Gold Hunters, Outback Opal Hunters, Slider: Ice Warrior Challenge, Fifth Gear, Salvage Hunters, Goblin Works Garage, and global hit returning series Wheeler Dealers.

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Jason Ryle (Canada)
Executive Director, imagineNATIVE

Jason Ryle is Anishinabe from the Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba, and is the executive director of imagineNATIVE, an Indigenous-run organisation mandated to support Indigenous media artists. One of Canada’s most significant arts organisations, imagineNATIVE presents the annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the imagineNATIVE Film + VR Tour, and professional development activities through the imagineNATIVE Institute. Jason joined imagineNATIVE’s Board of Directors and Programming Team in 2002 and served on the Board to 2010 when he became executive director, overseeing operations and artistic. Jason is also an advisor for Indigenous films at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) and is part of the Indigenous Advisory for the National Film Board of Canada.

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Andrew Farrell
Head of Factual, CJZ Productions

Andrew Farrell is the head of factual at CJZ productions with 35 years experience in the media. As a writer and producer in Australia his shows have aired on all commercial networks and the ABC. He has also worked as a writer, series producer and executive producer on international series and documentaries such as Mythbusters and Shark Island for Discovery. As head of factual at CJZ he has been directly involved in the development and production of series for Foxtel, Seven and SBS, and was the executive producer of AACTA-nominated feature documentary Jimmy Barnes – Working Class Boy and Logie Award-winning Foxtel series Ron Iddles: The Good Cop.

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Elissa McKeand
Executive Producer, Unscripted Development, Foxtel

Elissa currently runs Foxtel’s unscripted development slate with its focus on brand-defining content for History, Crime & Investigation and Lifestyle. In her role she also develops and produces shows in-house, works closely with external producers to co-develop new productions, as well as executive produces across a slate of external productions. In 2019 Elissa created and produced two podcast series to support the launch of Foxtel’s major factual series. In 2017 Elissa took a 15-month hiatus to executive produce a series she created and developed with her company SkinnyDip Pictures: Aussie Inventions That Changed the World. This original history series aired in June 2019 and broke numerous records including delivering the History Channel its highest channel share on the platform since 2009. 

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John Godfrey
Head of Unscripted, SBS

John Godfrey worked for 10 years in the UK series/executive-producing for Channel 4 and BBC2 before moving to Australia, where he has spent the last 17 years. In that time he became Head of SBS Documentaries and is now Head of SBS Unscripted, overseeing documentaries, factual entertainment, food and entertainment. He has been responsible for some of SBS’s highest rating and best-known shows, including Go Back To Where You Came From, First Contact, Struggle Street, and Filthy Rich and Homeless.

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Sarah Thornton
Executive Producer, Network Ten

Sarah Thornton has two decades of experience in the programming industry and is a specialist in establishing new formats and re-formatting existing shows. She is currently an Executive Producer at Network Ten for The Project, with other recent credits including Ambulance Australia and The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds. Thornton began her career in News and Current Affairs at the Nine Network before moving to the UK for 15 years, where she spent eight years as head of production and development at Discovery Networks, developed hit returning series including Say Yes to the Dress UK, and oversaw numerous successful adaptations of top global formats including Bake Off, Four Weddings, Don’t tell the Bride, Snog Marry Avoid, Top Chef and Kitchen Nightmares

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Dean Gibson
Director, Bacon Factory Films

Dean Gibson is an Aboriginal filmmaker with over 12 years’ experience in creating, writing, directing, editing and producing content. His work has screened on ABC3, ABC1, SBS and NITV, and includes children’s television, documentary and drama. In the documentary space Dean was the writer and director of Wik vs Queensland, which world-premiered at the 2018 Sydney International Film Festival. The film went on to win the 2018 ATOM Award for Best History Documentary and the Best Long Documentary at the 2018 First Nations Media Awards. Dean also co-directed the 50-minute feature documentary A War of Hope, which screened on NITV on ANZAC Day. He also created and directed the ABC documentary From the Ashes, following the Australian Indigenous cricket team as they toured the UK and discovered the history of Aboriginal cricket in Australia.

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Maya Newell
Director, Gayby Baby / In My Blood It Runs

Maya is a director with a focus on social justice. Her career includes award-winning short documentaries Two, which screened at Slamdance, and Growing Up Gayby for ABC’s Opening Shot. In 2015 she made Gayby Baby with Charlotte Mars, which screened at festivals internationally including Hot Docs, London BFI, Doc NYC and Dok Leipzig. It was selected for GoodPitch² Australia 2014, broke cinema-on-demand records, was nominated for an AACTA Award and an AWGIE, and won Best Documentary at the ATOM awards. The film sparked a national debate after it was banned from being screened in Australian schools and was significant in the movement for marriage and adoption equality in Australia. Her new feature documentary, In My Blood It Runs, was selected for GoodPitch Australia and the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. It premiered at Hot Docs 2019 and will be released theatrically in February 2020.

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Matthew Bate
Director, Closer Productions

Matthew Bate is a multi-award-winning writer, director and producer. His 2011 feature Shut Up Little Man! premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival before screening theatrically across the US and being picked up by Netflix. His follow up feature Sam Klemke’s Time Machine premiered at the 2015 Sundance New Frontiers Program and won the Doc Aviv Artistic Spirit Award. Matthew has created television series and one-off films for SBS, ABC, Al Jazeera and The New York Times. In 2013 Mathew wrote and directed the hybrid film I Want to Dance Better At Parties which won the 2013 Dendy Award, and that same year was the recipient of the David and Joan Williams Fellowship. He has been nominated for two AACTA Awards and is an AWGIE Award winning screenwriter. Matthew is a founding director of Closer Productions.

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Katy Morrison
Producer, VRTOV

Katy Morrison is a producer using immersive technologies to put audiences at the centre of extraordinary stories. Co-founder of critically-acclaimed Australian virtual reality studio, VRTOV, her VR projects have been honoured at the Webby’s, the Lovies, the Google Play Awards and festivals around the world including Sundance, Tribeca, Sheffield and IDFA. In 2015 Katy produced the BBC’s first VR commission, Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel, followed by the multi-award-winning VR fairy tale The Turning Forest, also for the BBC, and A Thin Black Line for SBS. She was a VR-artist-in-residence at the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio and was recently commissioned by the University of Bristol, UWE, Universities of Bath and Watershed as part of the Virtual Realities: Immersive Documentary Encounters research project.

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