Indigenous culture is rooted in authenticity, community and passing on stories from one generation to the next. Tony Briggs and Damienne Pradier hope to continue these values for a contemporary era through Typecast Entertainment, a collaborative Film, Television and Events Production house committed to connecting audiences with diverse stories.
Damienne and Tony – you’re already life partners, what made you want to become business partners and start Typecast?
Tony: Typecast was born out of frustration for me. I had so many more things that I knew I could offer apart from acting. I just wasn’t sure how to compile all of them. I wanted to control my destiny, create and have ownership over my work. Damienne and I pulled all these ideas together and structured the vision into something workable that could make a difference for us. It was about taking control of our future. It is about making sure our creative voice is heard in the way we want it to be heard whilst aiming to help facilitate the muffled voices out there. If we can ever help in any way, that’s what we’re going to do.
Damienne: Top line for us is giving Indigenous creatives and people of colour an opportunity to tell their stories authentically and own their IP once the project has finished. For us it has always been about creating a strong foundation so that we can help other filmmakers come through and tell their stories, but also tell our own stories. They’re not all Indigenous-themed projects, some are non-Indigenous. A lot of what we do is collaboration and working with other organisations to bring in the next generation and help them give them a leg up.
Like with the Birrarangga Festival, we screen Indigenous films from across the globe and a lot of these films are world-class films that have won awards all over the world that just don’t get to be seen on the big screen, so it’s also about showing these works, not only helping facilitate it, but also exhibiting the work of people that don’t get the opportunity. And some of these filmmakers make films in remote places, they don’t have all the equipment and they’re just doing incredible work, so we really want to help share their stories.
What inspires you both to keep building Typecast?
Damienne: Working with the people that I get to work with and telling the stories we want to tell. For example, we recently worked on this amazing project about Aboriginal women with disability in sport. And it was to educate sporting communities to be more inclusive. We got to interview eight incredible women. I just loved working on it. And it is not even something that is going to be broadcast, it’s just being used educationally, but doing those sorts of jobs to me is so meaningful because they inspire me. I feel very privileged, and it’s not all just driven by dollars.
Tony: What drives me is being able to create and leave a legacy for our kids. I couldn’t think of a better way than telling stories that have meaning to people of colour worldwide and showing the youth that our stories are vital for their future. It’s essential to let our children see this and understand this as they get older.
How is technology, specifically Lumi, helping?
Tony: Technology helps us to facilitate what we do in a much more efficient way.
Damienne: Before we came across Lumi we felt like everything was a mess and everywhere. We run multiple projects simultaneously and I struggled to keep track of it all with emails – rough cuts of films, my notes, etc. We wanted something user-friendly that was also secure enough to hold sensitive information. With our festival, everything was in my head and on email, but not available to staff, so this helped consolidate it all and make it easy for everyone to access.
Lumi was a revelation for us at Typecast Entertainment. It was invaluable for our Birrarangga Film Festival team as it provided a platform where all our Festival Information could sit in one place. It gave our team a clear and fluid communication process. It was instrumental in achieving exceptional organisational processes. We love Lumi and highly recommend it to anyone in the Film and TV Production Industry.
What’s your best advice for aspiring young filmmakers?
Damienne: Fight for your IP and for what you believe in. When we held our first Blak Master Classes in collaboration with Compton School and Youthworx, the whole first part of the course was about IP. What constitutes a good idea? We also focused on mental health, which is very important to us in our Company. We had a psychologist, Dr Chris Stevens come and talk to the students about staying mentally well when you get setbacks in this industry. Say you put a funding application in and you don’t get it? And you’re devastated. If you hold onto that, you can’t move forward. You have to put that behind you and look for the next thing. Don’t take the setbacks personally. Always look for another opportunity. Think outside the square to get your project up and get funding, and never give up.
Tony: I’ve been in this business since I was 19 years old, I’m 54 now, and I still don’t understand it fully! It can be challenging in this industry where you are constantly being judged and questioned. Even in our own business, moving forward requires initiative and being dogged in your approach.
Damienne: Also try and get really good mentors. We’ve had amazing mentors and we still have amazing mentors that see our vision and believe in us and have helped us enormously to achieve our goals.
Tony: I agree, mentors are vital. And always back yourself. Sometimes it’s smart to put a project up on the shelf. Just don’t forget where you put it on the shelf! Put it up on the shelf and focus on something else. Just make sure to keep the creative juices moving all the time, and it will keep you focused. It’s important to do that and not sitting around in no-man’s-land and being stagnant because the second you do that is the second you lose focus on everything. Focus on the love.
What’s next for Typecast Entertainment?
Damienne: Tony and I are constantly working on building a solid foundation. We’re working toward the next Birrarangga Festival for 2023. We have a slate of other projects we’re developing including a very exciting film adaptation of the novel ‘The White Girl’ by acclaimed author Tony Birch. We would love within the next 12 months to get to a point where we can employ more people so we’re creating more employment within the industry. We are excited about the future of Typecast and the Birrarangga Film Festival and can’t wait to share it with everyone.