Photo from “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". Production Design: Owen Paterson
”Ten years ago, the Australian Production Design Guild (APDG) was born out of outrage felt by the film design community when our leading film school dropped its production design course.
We needed an organisation that gave designers a voice in the film industry. For too long, we had remained silent. As our industry in Australia is small in size, we invited our colleagues from live performance, events and interactive industries to join us. This made up a critical mass that has enabled the guild to thrive and prosper. On that stormy night a decade ago, a group of designers got together and established the guild on funds that were generously donated by some of our high-profile film and live performance designers. Bless them.
Since that inaugural meeting, we have grown from an initial 60 members to a national membership of over 400 today. Our aims are to: A. Represent designers and their associates in screen, live performance, events, interactivity and animation across Australia. B. Recognise and nurture excellence in design through awards, mentoring and accreditation. C. Raise the profile of stage and screen design and facilitate a vibrant design community.
We are an organisation that continues to grow and develop as a force for good in the screen and live performance industries. We operate with a part-time paid administrator and several committed volunteer committees. The screen and live performance committees have worked hard in producing manifestos that seek to aid designers in their contract negotiations, to ensure appropriate remuneration and working conditions. Although we are not a union and cannot compel companies to abide by our manifestos, we hope that as a professional guild with standing in our various industries, we can apply moral pressure and get a fairer deal for our members. Our manifestos can be seen on our website here.
Not only do we advocate for our members, but we also nourish designers and design professionals by celebrating the amazing work they produce. To recognise excellence, we mount our APDG Awards annually and delight in the beautiful designs created by our members. Our Awards also recognise the unsung heroes of the design process, the multitude of talented creative artisans. Without their talent and commitment, designers would not be able to realise their vision. The Awards are a time when we get together to enjoy each other’s work. The event binds us together as a design community and most importantly, we have fun.
An initiative we are very proud of is our MENTORAPDG program, which is in its third year. Our emerging designers are teamed with established designers and embark on a year’s mentorship. This program has proved very popular with our members. There is always healthy competition for places. The guild’s support of emerging designers is part of its raison d’etre.
In global terms, we in Australia are a small community of designers, however we have historically produced award-winning designers from the golden age of Hollywood in the 30s with designers like Orry Kelly through to contemporary times with the likes of Oscar and BAFTA winners, Catherine Martin, Bev Dunn, Colin Gibson, Lesley Vanderwalt and Deb Riley. Our live performance designers are also highly esteemed on the world stage, such as Tony Award winning costume and set designer, Roger Kirk, and multi-award winning costume and set designer, Michael Scott-Mitchell, for his work with Opera Australia. Our designers with indigenous dance theatre company, Bangarra, continue to wow international audiences and illuminate performances from the world’s oldest continuing culture. For a relatively small design guild, we punch above our weight. Who can forget "Priscilla Queen of the Desert", "Moulin Rouge", "Mad Max: Fury Road" or the amazing design of "The Matrix"? We love design and are dedicated to ensuring its place at the heart of the creative process of any stage or screen production. We salute our international colleagues and look forward to a close and productive partnership."
George Liddle APDG
President Australian Production Design Guild
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