Like many people, the unexpected pause during lockdown gave Imogen Gardam the opportunity to reflect on what she wanted to be doing. Having worked full-time as a theatre producer at Griffin Theatre Company during the pandemic, Imogen found herself craving a framework to think deeply about the questions you can sometimes only skate over in day-to-day work in the creative industries.
She realised that she missed the academic engagement in film studies and decided to enrol in a Master of Arts (Research) at the University of Sydney.
“I chose to go back to the University of Sydney because I really loved my time with the Film Studies department and the academics there. It’s been a real pleasure to come back to study in a postgraduate capacity and to work and think in a deeper, more sustained way.”
Imogen’s research explores how audiences are conceived by film distributors as discursive objects and how that process of conceptualisation has evolved alongside changes in how films are distributed and consumed in a digital environment.
Imogen is also the inaugural recipient of the Milan Malesevic Award in Film Studies. The $1500 scholarship was established in memory of Milan Malesevic, a graduate of the University of Sydney who passed away at the age of 23. Dedicated to Milan’s love of research and creative practice in film, the award supports postgraduate research students in Film Studies with expenses such as fieldwork or conference attendance.
Winning the scholarship has had a hugely positive impact on Imogen and will facilitate her attendance at the MIFF 37°South Market.
“The Milan Malesevic Award in Film Studies is an incredible opportunity for me to undertake some very specific field research in support of this research, allowing me to attend an industry market to see some of the discourses, operations and forces I’m studying in action. I couldn’t afford the fees and associated costs to attend without the Award. It’s truly a game changer for me.”
With previous jobs at Entertainment One/Hopscotch Features and Bell Shakespeare, Imogen’s work has always circled around stories and audiences.
“I grew up in a small country town in remote NSW, so stories and storytelling – whether through books, film, television or music – were my way of connecting with the world beyond.”
Soon after Imogen’s pivot from theatre into film studies, Imogen landed a job at Screen Australia as Development Executive. In this role, she assesses applications for story development funding and works with filmmakers to support that development across feature films, television series and online projects. Her work supports Screen Australia’s initiatives in developing marginalised voices and creating opportunities for emerging and mid-career writers.
Imogen’s tertiary studies have also helped shape the way she approaches her role.
“The critical faculties and thinking developed and maintained through my studies, undergraduate and postgraduate, have played a huge role in the way I approach this work. The sort of deep thinking and analysis that I do as a Development Executive is very much the same muscle as the work I do in my studies.”
When asked about managing work and study concurrently, Imogen credits the supportive academic staff at the University of Sydney.
“It’s still a balancing act, especially with full-time work, and there’s definitely still a lot of noise to manage, but my supervisors and the Film Studies discipline more generally have been incredible in their support and generosity of spirit."
Banner image credit: Brett Boardman
Over the next 3 years, Dr Nicole Wegner will examine popular assumptions about the “ideal soldier” and how cultural myths shape military policies and priorities in Australia and abroad.