Organizations, businesses and creative individuals alike are experiencing a shift to the "new normal" and our Creative SCOPE team are uncovering what the future of the creative industries will look like as the future unfolds.

Denise Eriksen, the Co-Founder of Media Mentors Australia, caught up with our Melbourne SCOPE Representative Joe to give us all some good news, the future is looking bright!

As someone who's career in the television industry has taken her from strength to strength, Denise isn't slowing down any time soon. With a commitment to helping creatives find their way in this sometimes difficult, mostly vibrant and always exciting industry through Media Mentors, she is translating her advice into action to "not hesitate if this industry is your passion, just do it!". Check out our chat with Denise below...

Meet Denise Erikson

Can you tell us about Media Mentors and a bit about yourself?

I’m co-founder of Media Mentors with my daughter-in-law, Esther [Coleman-Hawkins], and we’ve set up this company as a way to help people create. Whatever the creating is that they’re doing, we find that there’s a real big need to get support to the people who want to tell stories.  

My career goes back a million years, to when I was trained as a journalist in New Zealand and it was the most brilliant training course because I learnt how to tell stories. From there, I moved into journalism, then got sucked into the world of factual television (documentaries etc.) which eventually led to an executive producer role at ABC and ABC news. I also worked for Beyond Productions (Myth Busters), Head of Factual at ABC, Head of Current Affairs at ABC and Head of Production & Development at SBS. I've covered my creative bases.

Do you have any advice for people, particularly those leaving high-school, embarking on their creative journey? 

Creative industries have always been an ‘edgy’ career path in some ways because the very nature of creativity is that it is changing. Over my time, I’ve seen enormous amounts of change. What I would say to people is, if you’re busting to tell stories and its your passion and you’re willing to work hard, then of course do it. That advice hasn’t changed for me since I started my career. It’s an evolving world and it’s a great world – don’t hesitate if it’s your passion. 

What about your advice to teachers, careers practitioners or parents supporting a creative child? 

There’s ways in which you can support them. Be practical, encourage them to learn a new skill that they might not have learned before. Get together as a family or with a group of friends, on zoom, and write a script together and shoot it and cut it – just for fun. Encourage the creativity!

Media Mentors Australia

What are the growth areas and current initiatives in the screen industry? 

One of the great things that’s come out of COVID is the federal government initiatives. There’s been two that I’d talk to: one of them is the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund and its designed to help producers who have had to delay production because of COVID – and that’s a very expensive process – so that fund is fantastic. 

There’s also the $400 million Location Incentive Fund which will increase production in Australia. Around the world, Australia is being seen as an increasingly attractive place to film [including big Hollywood productions] and what this does is it brings in an enormous amount of money. This is great news for crews and it can often mean people starting out in their careers will get a break as a runner or production assistant. Any big production is usually good news for Australian crews.

What are the emerging roles and skills in the screen industry and what does the future look like? 

Ten years ago we wouldn’t have thought that you could tell whole stories on your phone that look really good. Emerging filmmakers need to obtain as many skills as they can and be embracing of technology. There’s jobs coming along that we haven’t even thought of and technology is making rapid changes. 

Being multi-skilled is absolutely the way to go. I look at good videographers for example and they’re incredibly versatile. There’s so many jobs open to videographers that weren’t there before. Videographers with strong storytelling skills are highly in-demand and they’ll become more in demand in the future.

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How do new practitioners sell their ideas and sell themselves as a creative? 

I think it’s one of the most important skills that you need – that is to pitch yourself and to pitch your ideas. You need to have worked out who you are, what skills you have that someone might want, and you need to have done your research on the sort of company that you’re planning to work for, the story you want to make and where it’s going to play. 

Have a great showreel. If you’ve directed or produced or written something, anything, be it a high-school production or a film-school production, have it ready to show. Combine that with a LinkedIn profile and a good-looking CV. Be really careful about your Facebook and your social media accounts. The first thing people will think of when they’re thinking about hiring you is to go to your social pages. Keep it clean.

And finally, will people go back to the cinema after COVID?

I reckon people are busting to get back to the cinema. There’s absolutely no replacement to a great big screen and fabulous sound to watch a well-produced movie. It’s about being sociable too, with your friends, having a glass of wine, it’s about the experience. I can sit in front of my telly and watch the latest film but that’s not the point of cinema – it’s just not as good!