Lismore local Joey Swepson began their studies at Southern Cross wanting to elevate their practice as a painter and visual artist.
Immersed in Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Art and Design, Joey’s practice has taken a new and exciting direction.
“I started my degree as a painter and I have come such a long way! Now I am a videographer with a photographic and extended reality (XR) practice, thanks to excellent lecturers who encouraged me to push myself in directions I had not even considered possible,” they said.
They chose to study in Lismore due to its thriving art scene.
“I wanted to live in Lismore because the arts scene is so strong and there are such reputable artists in the Northern Rivers. The Lismore Regional Gallery is an exceptional gallery in terms of contemporary art, Elevator ARI provides for emerging artists encouraging group exhibitions, and Screenworks is doing great things for regional towns. Who wouldn’t want to live with that kind of culture on your doorstep!” Joey said
As recipient of the New Colombo Plan scholarship in 2019, Joey travelled to Italy with a small group of art and design students to attend the Venice Art Biennale, an experience which they describe as life-changing.
When students were invited to apply for a mentorship program through Southern Cross University’s industry partnership with Screenworks, Joey jumped at the opportunity.
Paired up with industry mentor Susie Forster, a filmmaker with Byron Bay Multimedia, Joey engaged in a series of one-hour mentorship sessions with Susie about working in the film and media industry.
“Susie was so incredibly generous and has such a wealth of knowledge. She has helped me with my own videography in terms of elevating my work to a professional level and she has really shown me about the rhythm and power of editing,” Joey said.
Following their one-on-one sessions, Susie encouraged Joey to apply for a position on the set of a local feature film. Joey submitted an application and shortly after found themselves on set of an exciting production by award-winning filmmaker Darius Devas.
“It was the most incredible hands-on opportunity I could have imagined. I was on set for days (they were really long days) in a wide range of locations. I was a runner. And I had the chance to talk to the director, the assistant director, the sound team, the producer, the director of photography and all of the assistants. I got to see behind the scenes to understand what really goes into making a feature film, and I even got cast as an extra, playing the role of a paramedic. It was exhilarating,” Joey said.
A glimpse behind the scenes of a local feature film production
Reflecting on working with Joey through the mentorship program, filmmaker Susie Forster said they show the right kind of aptitude for the film industry.
“Mentoring Joey has been a real pleasure. While we still haven’t been able to actually meet up in person due to lockdowns, they are very keen to follow up leads and opportunities and show exactly the right kind of aptitude for the film industry – keen, smart, well-mannered and reliable. Through a connection I had, they jumped onto the narrative feature shoot with Darius Devas and applied themselves to the variety of tasks,” Susie said.
So would Joey recommend other Southern Cross University students apply for the mentorship?
“Yes! Being mentored by Byron Bay Multimedia and supported by Screenworks comes pretty close to being the best thing I have ever done!”
Screenworks is a registered charity that provides support, leadership and vision for the regional screen industries in Australia. It has a particular focus on the industry cluster in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Southern Cross partners with Screenworks to offer mentoring opportunities to students with established professionals in the creative industries.