Screenworks is managed by a board of volunteer directors that provide industry, management and screen industry knowledge and experience.  To help you get to know our board members a bit better  we will do a profile a board members in the Newsletter each month.

This month we are talking to J’aimee Skippon-Volke, our Vice Chairperson and one of our longest standing board member.  J’amiee is Director of the Byron Bay Film Festival and we thought it a good time to get to find out more about what she is working on with the BBFF coming up in mid Oct and they are calling out for volunteers.

SW: What is your role on Screenworks board?

J SV: I am Vice-Chair, this on the whole consists of attending Board Meetings, where we work together to provide guidance and support for the staff and Screenworks programs and also this role for me includes  identifying when it’s appropriate to ‘wear my Screenworks hat’ – and represent the organisation and its interests in the wider film world. Through my role at the Film Festival I’m familiar with the work of a number local filmmakers who are actively producing and seeking exposure/audiences, and so I also occasionally provide assessments and then recommendations for Screenworks programs which have multiple applicants vying for just a few spots.

SW:How long have you been a Screenworks board members?

J SV: I believe I’m the longest standing Board Member having joined in 2008, we’re very fortunate though to have a Founding Member on the board (Lois Randall) as well as someone who was a staff member in the very early days (Deb McBride), their extensive insight into the organisations past – and the good intentions from which is built provides a really solid base from which to grow.

SW: Why did you join Screenworks board?

J SV:I was asked by the then Secretary Aliison Kelly to take over her role as Secretary, Aliison has spent many years managing a Lismore focused organisation called North Coast C.A.M.E.R.A. Aliison explained that Secretary was a great position to really make a difference (through paperwork) and provide support.

SW: What Screenworks initiative have you been most proud of supporting/driving and why?

J SV:There are really so many great initiatives which have been spawned out of Screenworks – I think 2 of my favourites include  the Creatability Series which armed local filmmakers with a small budget but also an all-important Broadcast credit with the ABC which goes a long way for future funding applications. I also think that the Regional Producer Elevator Program which provided tailored professional development and placement opportunities for two local producers whilst also integrating them into ScreenForever’s Ones to Watch program, provided some really solid opportunities for learning and two-way exposure into and to the industry…

SW: Tell us a bit about what you do in the Screen Industry and how you got involved.

J SV: I was literally born into it, my mother had come from a film background in New York, working in the Production Office and also for the Director’s Guild of America, my father was a CBS Director. When they moved to Australia he worked for Reg Grundy and Channel 9 before we relocated to New Zealand where he set up the first ever Post Production Studio VidCom which for a while was NZ’s fastest growing company and was rated as one of the World’s Best… I liken it to the Weta of the 70’s except the special effects were blue screens and trails. My mother was a female director, back when the percentage ratio would have been 99 to 1. We then continued on to the UK where they both pioneered Video, my Dad consulted for Satellite TV and was brought in to help set up TV-AM. Childhood memories seeing the Muppets get filmed (the Spike Milligan/Sam the American Eagle Sketch), meeting Jim Henson and more importantly Scooter, and visiting my mother as she prepared to film Pink Floyd’s The Wall Concert at Earls Court (I didn’t get to see the show because the themes were too adult… crushed).

My mother’s Home Office meant that I had access to computers which she insured we understood how to write basic code for, we also had a u-matic to record our favourite shows and when she had a project on she’d hire in an off-line editing kit and I’d stay up late and play. I bounced around working on crews, in the Production Office and in post in London but I knew I really wanted to work in Computer Graphics and I was fascinated by Virtual Reality. So cutting past a few fun production, crewing and post gigs we fast forward to today where the help of a great team, and my Partner Osvaldo C. Alfaro I run the Byron Bay International Film Festival, and also have a few of VR projects under my belt and in stages of pre and post production.

SW: What’s the project you have most enjoyed working on, and why?

I’d have to say the Byron Bay Film Festival – because it’s such a whirlwind and so much fun. Each year I seem to make at least 1 new friend for life and I know the same is true for many of the other team members – and the attending filmmakers. My initial motivation to get involved was to create an event that celebrated our unique community through the medium of film. As the festival’s evolved so has our focus, community and our audience will always be at the heart of the festival but creating a strong internationally recognised event that provides opportunity, networking and growth for our local film talent has become a driver. BBFF really is a 10 day celebration and exploration of film, and we’ve been able to incorporate VR into the program of events, which just makes me love it even more. I’ve been able to bring Byron Bay Film Festival to the Cannes Film Festival through presenting content there under the BBFF Banner but the festival also brings the film world here.

SW:What is important to you in running a successful and creative regional business/ working regionally?

J SV: We’ve been up here 20 years, and it was a real struggle in the beginning to find the kind of work that we wanted to do. I guess our solution was to create the projects ourselves. It’s really very easy to find yourself in a Byron bubble, which can really work for some people but if you want to work in an Industry you have to go out and be part of it. Luckily for those who have to stay put you have Screenworks and BBFF bringing the Industry to you.

SW: Tell us a bit about what you have been working on most recently?

J SV: We’ve been working hard to bring together a spectacular program for 2018. Besides BBFF we’ve got a VR project which we’ve been developing Moments, it’s a very ambitious project combining animation, live action and archival assets. Last year I launched my own VR Production Company – Collective Reality. Its focus is on Creative Projects and Curation. I’m very fortunate to be armed with an amazing animation/camera/VR talent – being Ossie (Osvaldo) who set up GreenhouseFX 3DVR here 20 years ago. We’ve got complimenting skill-sets, a shared passion and a similar focus on setting the bar high.

SW:Is there anything else that you would like to share with us about you and your work?

J SV: The Film Festival is always looking for volunteers – because many hands make light work. Right now for BBFF we need cluey people who can work in a team, roll-up their sleeves, take on whatever’s priority and still have a laugh along the way- all traits you’ll find with a great film crew…

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