2018 ADG Gender Matters: Commercial & Content Directoring Mentorship Recipients Announced


L-R:  Karen Bryson, Kyra Bartley, Aimée-Lee X. Curran, Stef Smith, Samantha Lang, Gillian Armstrong, Vanessa Gazy, Eugenie Muggleton, Giulietta Amato, Alyssa McClelland.


Now in its second year, the ADG's Commercial & Content Directing Mentorship program announced its next round of eight mentoree recipients, at a special event held last night at FINCH, Sydney and attended by members of the screen and advertising industries.

Acclaimed director, and ADG President, Samantha Lang, and highly acclaimed director, Gillian Armstrong, jointly announced each of the recipients at the event.

The recipients of the 2018 ADG Commercial & Content Directing Mentorship are:

  • Aimée-Lee X. Curran – Photoplay (NSW)
  • Emily Avila – Taxi Film Production (QLD)
  • Eugenie Muggleton – The Otto Empire (VIC)
  • Giulietta Amato – Goodoil Films (NSW)
  • Kyra Bartley – FINCH (NSW)
  • Roxanne Halley – The Sweetshop Films (VIC)
  • Stef Smith – Photoplay (NSW)
  • Vanessa Gazy – Scoundrel Films (NSW)

More details about each mentoree is available below. 

Funded by Screen Australia’s Gender Matters: Brilliant Careers initiative, the Commercial & Content Directing Mentorship pairs emerging female directors with commercial production companies to gain an insight into life as a director in the commercial space.

The programme is jointly designed and implemented by the Australian Directors’ Guild, The Communications Council, and the Commercial Producers Council

Last year’s inaugural mentorship program year was very successful, with two mentorees being signed to the rosters of their mentoring production companies, and all mentorees receiving meetings with production companies, advertising agencies and clients to pitch for jobs.

Bree Billington, was mentored by Kate Downie from Beautiful Pictures and was shadowing director Renee Webster in WA last year, said - “It was wonderful to see her process and the way she treated the commercial from the initial brief with the client to the treatment and then the final edit. I’d never been in the room with another director to be able to see how someone else would approach a project was valuable insight into the commercial directing process. Directors rarely have the opportunity to see another director’s process.”

Kingston Anderson, Australian Directors’ Guild CEO, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event and said, “We are extremely excited by the success of this program and the willingness of the commercial producers to mentor talented female directors. We are also pleased to welcome our first Queensland company to the program. We look forward to seeing these directors as major leaders in commercial content in the future.”

Senior Development Executive at Screen Australia, Nerida Moore said, “It’s fantastic to see the success of these mentorships in securing career opportunities for recipients, and we’re incredibly proud to support the work of this program. I look forward to following the careers of this year’s talented recipients, as they make their mark on the industry.”

Karen Bryson, CPC Co-Chair, Executive Producer FINCH said, “The CPC is very excited to support this year's eight exceptionally talented young female directors. CPC members have long played a pivotal role in identifying, nurturing and supporting the next generation of talent. We also champion diversity as a critical part of commercial growth and prosperity. Because diversity breeds innovation and innovation breeds business success. Congratulations to our 2018 recipients.”

As part of the mentorship program, the recipients will spend several months with producers and directors from the production company they have been placed with, to get a firsthand look at all facets of commercial content production, meet potential clients and advertising agency representatives, and continue to work on their craft as directors. 

Applications for the 2019 Commercial & Content Directing Mentorships will be open later this year. 



Contact: Belinda Button (ADG - Professional Development Coordinator)

Phone: (02) 9555 7045

Email: development@adg.org.au



For information about each recipient, please see their approved biography and head shot attached below.


About Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG)

The Australian Directors’ Guild is a registered industry association representing the industrial interests of film, television, commercial, digital, documentary and animation directors throughout Australia.



About Screen Australia’s Gender Matters: Brilliant Careers

Screen Australia’s Gender Matters: Brilliant Careers initiative aims to generate sustainable careers in the screen industry for women. Funding received from the initiative will be administered by the ADG to the successful applicants as stipends in undertaking the mentorships.



About The Communications Council 

The Communications Council is the peak professional body representing companies in the Australian advertising industry. Our diverse member base spans more than 160 agencies, which operate in the areas of creative, digital, strategic planning, promotion, direct marketing, PR, design, production, and healthcare advertising.



About the Commercial Producers Council

The Commercial Producers Council (CPC) is a member-based organisation representing the interests of production companies working in marketing communications. Members are engaged in commercial production, post-production, editing, music and animation, working with creative and media communications agencies in the delivery of audio-visual expertise.







Aimee-Lee X Curran AIMÉE-LEE X. CURRAN | NSW

Born in London to a Chinese mum and an Irish dad, Aimée-Lee Xu Hsien Curran is a Writer/Director who now calls Sydney home. She has a wicked sense of humour and a flair for telling powerful, emotive stories; working closely and collaboratively with actors to craft truthful and nuanced performances. Her short films, music videos and commercial works are unified by a bold visual style that reflects Aimée-Lee's meticulous attention to detail and love of production design.

Aimée-Lee has directed commercial work for clients such as CommBank and PayPal, along with music videos for artists including Ruby Boots, The Laurels, and Aria Award winners, Thundamentals. She also directed Season 2 of the award-winning web-series, SYD2030.

In 2013, Aimée-Lee's short film Jump won Best Short Film at the Academy Award-accredited Palm Springs International ShortFest, the Provincetown International Film Fest and Blue Mountains Film Fest. It has since screened at over 25 festivals around the world, including Flickerfest and Cleveland International Film Fest, and was selected by Tribeca Film Festival and Flickerfest for inclusion on their United Airlines and Virgin Australia in-flight entertainment channels.

Aimée-Lee's follow-up short, The Palace That I Live In (starring Hunter Page-Lochard from TV's Cleverman, and Writer/Actress Lâle Teoman) was selected for Palm Springs Int'l ShortFest 2014, the New York Indie Film Fest and Edinburgh Short Film Fest, among others.

Aimée-Lee has worked as a Writer's Assistant for Glen Mazzara (former showrunner for The Walking Dead, Damien) and in 2014 was the Director's Attachment on Kim Farrant's feature film Strangerland, starring Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes. 

Currently Aimée-Lee has two short films in the works, one in collaboration with Writer/Actor, Benedict Hardie (Hacksaw Ridge, The Water Diviner, The Light Between Oceans) and Producer, Rebecca Janek. Aimée-Lee also shares her passion for knowledge by teaching Writing & Directing at the Academy of Film, Television & Theatre, Sydney.  

She is always on the look out for the next commercial, music video or film collaboration.


Emily Avila


Emily Avila is a director based in Brisbane; and the current artistic director of one of Australia’s largest short film festivals, the Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival. She has worked extensively for various Australian production companies & film festivals including as assistant to Oscar-winning producer Emile Sherman at See-Saw Films in Sydney, and most recently in scripted development at Essential Media & Entertainment (QLD).

Since turning her attention to directing, she has made two short films. In a Cane Field (17min, 2016) - a meditative murder mystery shot on Super 16 in the sugarcane fields of south-east Queensland which premiered at the Brisbane Asia-Pacific Film Festival and won Best Cinematography at Flickerfest and Best Short Film at Byron All Shorts; and Fitting (13min, 2018) - a story between two women that plays out entirely within a fitting room. Emily was awarded the Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship to make this film, which will premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2018.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Fine Art (Film) and a Postgraduate Diploma of Education, both from Queensland University of Technology.


Eugenie Muggleton


Eugénie is an emerging scriptwriter and director whose award-winning shorts have screened at film festivals in Australia, Europe and the United States.  Her stories, from naturalistic dramas to sci-fi dystopias, tug at the invisible strings that hold us together and tie us to the things we can’t live without. 

Eugénie has a strong focus on creating complex and diverse female characters, often in strange new environments that represent the conflict within.  She graduated with a BA of Film and Television (Honours) from Swinburne University of Technology; and currently works as a freelance writer and director in Melbourne.  Her sci-fi short Twenty Forty Three gained her an Australian Directors’ Guild Award nomination, as well as taking her to Spain for the Sitges International Fantasy Film Festival. 

Her short drama Small Hands took the Best Director and Best Actor Awards at Made in Melbourne 2016.  Eugénie’s latest dystopian short Blue Games recently had its World Premiere at Flickerfest 2018, to a brilliant reception.


Gulietta Amato


Giulietta Elizabeth Ann Amato has a very long name. Most people call her G$.

G$ grew up in the coastal town of Forster–Tuncurry (or to those in the know, Porpoise Spit).

As a child, she excelled in drama at the local Eisteddfod. A prodigious acting talent was born. Having conquered the stage, she then turned her attention to film.

G$ has worked in and around film for the last 15 years as everything from a data wrangler, baby wrangler, camera assistant and on set stand-in for child actors.  

A design kid at CoFA, an Ad kid at AWARD school and an attendee at the Future of Storytelling Summit in NY, she has been a director’s assistant for over 10 years for some of the most sought after national and international directors. 

G$ has directed and edited music videos and short films, and has been involved in award-winning work, from webbys to pencils, not to forget the prestigious Taree District Eisteddfod Junior Drama Championship Cup.

Though short in stature, G$ has big ideas and an eye for craft….film craft that is.


Kyra Bartley


With a background in commercial animation and design, Kyra has recently crossed over into the world of live action directing.  

She has a passion for bold ideas that challenge perceptions, evident in her film Love is Love, a global collaborative animation project which earned her a spot on the shortlist for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lions in 2017.

Kyra has always been interested in exploring creative opportunities in unexpected places, culminating in a three-year stint in Cambodia where she was instrumental in setting up the country’s first professional animation studio and training their original recruits.  

Following this, she returned to Australia to work as a Senior Art Director at Heckler, as well as directing TV, online and experiential projects for Sixty40.

As a participant in the Commercial & Content Directors Mentorship program for 2018, Kyra will be drawing on the strong visual style she has developed in animation, as she transitions into live action directing at FINCH.


Roxanne Halley


Roxanne Halley is a writer and director based in Melbourne. She graduated with a Bachelor of Film and TV from Swinburne University in 2012. 

Roxanne began creating short films to hone her craft as a writer and director, and has screened in the Cannes Film Festival Court Métrage, Made in Melbourne, and ReelGood Film Festival. 

She currently works as a freelance commercial director and has worked with clients such as Medibank, Qantas, Cricket Australia, Intimo Lingerie and Skin+Pepper.

A versatile filmmaker, Roxanne produced, directed and edited the web series Have You Got That Right, funded by Monash University. In 2017, she produced and directed a multi-channel video installation as part of the Creative Producers Hub at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI).

With support from Miller and Røde, Roxanne shot, directed and edited a dynamic, street-cast fashion film for local Bangkok label, Loco Mosquito. Her short for Project Anon’s “Trailer Music II”, a live film and music collaboration, was screened at Melbourne Music Week and St Kilda Film Festival 2017.

Since joining Melbourne production company Eye Sea Films, Roxanne has established herself as a music video director with a uniquely playful and intimate visual style. 

Her music videos have featured in Rolling Stone Australia, on ABC Rage and in the official selection at the Australian Music Week Film Festival.

Roxanne’s energetic and imaginative work is heavily influenced by her background in comedy and performance. 

Her current focus is creating content with strong female protagonists that engage audiences through humour and play.


Stef Smith


Stef Smith is a director and writer who has worked within television, film and commercial across many genres. 

Stef is the recipient for Create NSW 2017 Generator: Emerging Filmmaker’s Fund for her short film Joy Boy as Writer/Director. Stef directed and produced ABC iView sketch comedy series The Lost Tapes funded by ABC and Screen Australia, as part of their Fresh Blood initiative; and completed a 6-week Director’s Attachment for the ABC/Netflix series The Letdown with Director Trent O’Donnell. 

Commercially, Stef has directed an observational documentary campaign series for National Disability Services, a mockumentary comedy series for Westpac, an inclusion and diversity campaign for Commonwealth Bank, and factual campaigns for Down Syndrome Australia and Family Planning Australia.

Stef has worked frequently in the diversity and inclusion sector and has a knack for finding heart and humour with authentic storytelling. 

Stef has a cinematic sensibility and a twisted sense of humour.  

She is also mother to two humans aged five and three, so knows how to wrangle a child or two.  

Stef proudly tutors at Bus Stop Films - the not-for-profit filmmaking school for young adults with an intellectual disability.


Vanessa Gazy


Vanessa Gazy is an award-winning Australian writer/director. 

She completed her Masters in Directing at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 2014, winning the school’s prestigious Kenneth B. Myer Award for Exceptional Talent, upon graduating.  

Her first short film Foal, based on her Shoalhaven Literary Award-winning short story Adam's Window, was nominated for both Australian Directors’ Guild and Australian Writers’ Guild (AWGIE) Awards in 2015. It has screened at numerous festivals both in Australia and internationally.  

Vanessa’s second short film Highway has been an official selection at the BFI London Film Festival in 2016, the Warsaw Film Festival (2016), Palm Springs Shortfest (2017), Hollyshorts (2017), Fantastic Fest (2017), Flickerfest (2017), Cleveland International Film Festival (2018) and Razor Reel Flanders Film Festival (2017), among others. 

Vanessa is now developing Highway into an exciting high-concept feature.  

In 2017, Vanessa was one of five applicants selected from 935 to develop her psychological thriller mini-series concept Id with Endemol Shine as part of the Screen Australia Gender Matters initiative ‘Smart For A Girl’.  

Vanessa is represented by Matt Rosen (Grandview LA) and Roger Green (WME).