Pictured above: The Far North and North Queensland Screen Advisory Committee. 
Top Row L-R: Jan Cattoni, John Baker, Riannon Belcher, Rowena Billard, Gabriel Deveraux.
Bottom Row L-R: Aaron Fa’Aoso, Karen Jackson, Daniel Mulvihill, Caden Pearson, Tamera Simpson.

Screen Queensland and Screenworks today announced the members of the newly formed Far North and North Queensland Screen Advisory Committee to support Screen Queensland’s multi-year $4 million North Queensland Regional Program.  

Delivered in partnership with Screenworks, the program is designed to build the production capacity of the local screen industry across North Queensland and Far North Queensland through targeted skills development.

The 10 members of the committee offer vast industry expertise across a range of disciplines including screenwriting, directing, cinematography and production. Over the next three years they will provide recommendations to help shape the impact and benefits of the program in the region.

Chair of the Far North Queensland Studios Implementation Group and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said that the appointment of the new Far North and North Queensland Advisory Committee was the next step in securing a robust screen production industry.

“Forging a new multi-million dollar industry based in Far North Queensland is more than just building a sound stage and production studio,” said Pitt.

“It was always my intent that we engage and work with local industry practitioners, to ensure the longevity of the industry and authenticity of local and First Nations content.

“The committee will ensure that we continue to develop the educational components associated with production, to ensure that we’re not only providing great locations, but can back that up with access to screen practitioners and production experts.”

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said the primary goal of the North Queensland Regional Program is to increase screen production opportunities for the region, through locally produced projects as well as those attracted from interstate and overseas.

“We have proudly appointed a committee of diverse and accomplished local practitioners with the knowledge and perspectives to inform a rigorous, strategic program focused specifically on nurturing local production talent,” said Munnich.

“Not only do we want to see more Queensland-made productions telling authentic regional stories, but also it’s essential that we create a strong local crew-base, primed to work on a range of productions, including those that will occupy Screen Queensland Studios: Cairns from 2023.”

Screenworks CEO Ken Crouch said that next year’s opening of the studios will mark an exciting new era for the screen industry in the north of the state.

“The inaugural members of our Advisory Committee have a wide range and depth of experience in the sector and we’re confident their insights and advice will be invaluable in helping guide the North Queensland Regional Program,” said Crouch.

“This will ensure that crews in the region are appropriately skilled and ready for the anticipated production boom.”

Productions recently supported by the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland in North and Far North Queensland include U.S. feature film Wizards!, Stan Original documentary Revealed: Reefshot, Stan Original drama Black Snow, reality series Australian Survivor: Blood V Water and Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy Ticket to Paradise, which opens in cinemas next month.

Nominations for the Far North and North Queensland Screen Advisory Committee opened in May 2022 and the call for applications was followed by a detailed selection process to appoint the 10 representatives, drawn from a broad cross-section of the region’s screen sector.

(Listed in alphabetical order) 

Jan Cattoni – CQUniversity Representative 
Jan Cattoni’s professional career spans a range of disciplines including filmmaker, academic and paediatric intensive care nurse. Jan has woven these disciplines into a kind of hybrid career in ethical filmmaking, often working to facilitate storytelling in marginalised and communities.

Jan’s broadcast credits are as a writer-director and producer of short dramas, documentary and factual series for ABC, SBS and RTE (Ireland). After moving back to North Queensland from Brisbane a decade ago, Jan has developed a particular interest in collaborative scripting as a process for creating authentic opportunities for the representation and diversity on screen. Jan has a Doctor of Visual Arts from Griffith Film School and currently teaches Digital Media at CQUniversity, Cairns.

John Baker – Committee Member 
With a background deeply rooted in Queensland and Papua New Guinea (PNG), John Baker has been working in the advertising, media and creative industries for three decades, holding Senior Management roles in Broadcast Television and Advertising.  As a part owner/director of Mak Advertising and then BSL Savi, John helped build and steer the North’s biggest and most successful advertising agencies of their time, while making a significant contribution to the local industry and the regional economies it serves. John’s clients have included such high-profile brands as Coca-Cola South East Asia, Mars Corporation, Colgate Palmolive, James Cook University and Forty Winks. John also runs FilmCrewNQ — the only gripping and lighting facility of its kind north of Brisbane. He is a passionate campaigner for local industry and employment, leveraging his lifelong networks to help foster greater collaboration, deliver jobs and encourage an entrepreneurial culture for the North Queensland film industry.

Riannon Belcher – Screenworks Representative 
Riannon joined the Screenworks team in 2022, after moving back to her hometown of Cairns in 2019, following several years working in the screen industry interstate. With over 16 years in the industry, Riannon has extensive experience in all aspects of content development from pre-production through to delivery in post. Throughout her career, she has worked with broadcasters, Network Seven, Nine Network, ABC and Channel Ten along with various production companies to produce House Rules, MKR, Travel Guides, Big Brother, Dive Club, Australian Survivor and many more.

Rowena Billard – Screen Queensland Representative 
As the Screen Culture & Community Director at Screen Queensland, Rowena is responsible for the grant assessment and partnership management of over 30 film festivals, screenings, conferences and other industry-related events, across metropolitan and regional Queensland.  She has sat on judging/jury panels of multiple film festivals, including Brisbane International Film Festival, Gold Coast Film Festival, West End Film Festival, Australian Teachers of Media and the Noosa International Film Festival. Rowena also administrates Screen Queensland development and production initiatives, such as short film initiatives SCREAM Queensland and RIDE Shorts and the Stowe Story Labs Screenwriting Fellowship. In particular, a key aspect to Rowena’s remit is to oversee the delivery of the Far North Queensland Screen Production Strategic Plan and North Queensland Regional Program.  This involves liaising with key stakeholders to roll-out production initiatives, workshops and events to engage and empower the local screen community and boost overall production capacity in the regions.

Gabriel Deveraux – Supplementary Member 
Gabriel is an early-career Technical Director and Cinematographer. His diverse aesthetic and breadth of knowledge as a moving picture technician derives from having spent his youth living remotely in the UK, France, Mexico and Bali, encountering vastly different artforms, landscapes and climates. He has a deep interest in exploring both the philosophy and technical aspects of old and contemporary microwave transmission, LED colorimetry, quantum statistics, imaging acquisition and colour science.

Aaron Fa’aoso – Committee Member 
Aaron Fa’Aoso is a Torres Strait Islander actor, screenwriter, director and producer. Since 2013 he has been the Managing Director of his own production company, Lone Star. Aaron is the producer and presenter of Strait to the Plate, an NITV SBS Food series featuring the culture and culinary traditions of the Torres Strait. Aaron has also starred in films and TV series including RAN: Remote Area Nurse, East West 101, The Straits, Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms, and Goldwater. Aaron currently sits on the Board of Screen Queensland, is part of  the Screen Queensland Studios: Cairns implementation committee and was previously a board member of Media RING – an industry group that developed and enhanced career opportunities for First Nations Australians in the media.

Karen Jackson – Committee Member 

Karen is a writer, producer, inclusive content creator and international multi award-winning short film director hailing from Cairns, Australia.  Karen has a deep, curious love affair with story and craft. She has a Bachelor of Creative Industries and studied a Bachelor of Social Science (Intellectual Disability Studies). Two of Karen’s features have been selected for Screen Queensland development: one of which is currently under Option Agreement with Chris Hilton of Tilt-Media. Karen is currently working on a couple of TV pilots and a book adaption.

Karen worked for eight years in Indigenous communities across Cape York as part of her role with C.A.P.E. PCYC as a Coordinator of Remote Indigenous Recreational Children’s Services. Karen has 20+yrs experience working as a Creative in the Disability Sector and currently leads the ARC Creative Ensemble in Cairns, a talented collective of young adults with a disability whose multi award-winning work spans across stage and screen. Most recently, Karen directed and produced their RADF funded short The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Married, which won Runner Up – Best Australian Short Film at the 2022 Gold Coast Film Festival and has been officially selected for the St Kilda Film Festival, Short Shorts and Asia Film Festival, Far South Film Festival, San Diego Children’s Film Festival and Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival.

Karen also co-wrote and directed their QASP funded theatre production Beyond the Waves, an ARC and Dead Puppets Society collaboration commissioned by Cairns Regional Arts Council. This production had its world premiere in Cairns to sellout shows and rave reviews, is an Arts Queensland Case Study of ‘Inclusion and Collaboration’ and has plans underway for a national tour and film adaption.

Daniel Mulvihill – Supplementary Member 
In 2017, Dan completed co-writing and producing the 6 x10-min online series Sexy Herpes, funded with the assistance of Screen Australia. Sexy Herpes has been acquired by the Nine Network. It recently won Best Ensemble at Dublin Web Fest and continues to be an official selection on the web series festival circuit globally. In 2019, Monsters of Many Worlds was released on SBS via an initiative in collaboration with Screen Queensland. Dan is now developing a new female-driven and culturally diverse online series set in FNQ, called Blood Sisters. The proof of concept for Blood Sisters was shot in late 2019 and backed by Screen Australia and Screen Queensland. Dan is also currently writing a new stage play with co-writer Madeleine Dyer and Kodie Bedford after successful development with La Boite’s HWY program in late 2020.

In 2022, Dan embarked on the development of new Young Adult TV series, Sanctuary, with Sam Carroll, Rachel Griffiths and Madeleine Dyer. Dan will be making his feature film debut co-writing and co-producing A Savage Christmas with Madeleine Dyer and Ben McNeill in late 2022.

Caden Pearson – Committee Member 
Caden is an Indigenous screen practitioner and writer from Cairns in Far North Queensland. Since 2018, he has worked in television writers’ rooms collaborating in the development of drama series. He also wrote, directed, and produced the 2020 NITV half-hour documentary Wawu Divine Hope, supported by Screen Queensland. His career development was supported by Screen Queensland through First Peoples: First Draft (a 2020 writers development initiative), a 2019 SQhub residency in Brisbane, SQ Attachments on SBS show Robbie Hood and US feature film Love and Monsters, an SQ Mentorship, and attendance at domestic and international industry conferences.

Tamera Simpson – Committee Member 
Tamera is a New Zealander, who began working in the Screen Industry in Auckland when she was a teenager. Since then, her career has taken her around the world, where she has worked with production crews in Fiji, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, The UK, France, Spain and USA before settling in Cairns, Far North Queensland. She has diverse experience, working across various departments and has held positions as Production Assistant, Production Coordinator, Production Manager, Agency Electronic Producer and Stills Producer. Throughout her career, Tamera has worked on a wide scope of genres including, TVCs, Shorts, Television Series, both Scripted and Non-Scripted, Outside Broadcast, Live Events, Feature Films, Documentaries, Corporate and Training Videos, and Photographic shoots. Since ingraining herself in the FNQ and NQ Screen Industry, Tamera has been a passionate advocate for the local practitioners, helping and nurturing emerging professionals as they navigate their first steps into the industry. She has worked tirelessly over the last several years to help build a skilled and reliable local crew database for interstate and international productions companies to call upon.


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