SQ News

Spotlight: Mitch Stanley for NAIDOC Week 2024

For NAIDOC Week, we reached out to chat to No Coincidence Media‘s Mitch Stanley to chat about his experiences in the industry, the 2024 theme of “Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud” and what advice he would give for up-and-coming First Nations screen practitioners.

What drew you to screen storytelling and how did you get to where you are now?

I started out in my late teens studying acting up until my early twenties, however, I chose a different path entirely. I learnt business and finance in the banking sector and then was fortunate enough to use these skills to be selected for a role with NITV in their very early days, eventually heading up Acquisitions. I then studied with Metro Screen in Sydney, did a few short courses with AFTRS, before working with Screen NSW as a producer intern, and then working with Vibe Australia on Move It Mob Style before producing my own work.

Image: Mitch Stanley (centre) behind the scenes on We Are Still Here by Jackson Finter.
What does the 2024 theme for NAIDOC Week “Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud” mean to you as a filmmaker? 

This year’s theme resonates with me in the way that encourages Indigenous filmmakers to continue to tell our stories, share our truths, and have them delivered to the world. Be courageous to tell our stories the way we know them, without compromise and be proud of them. 

How is screen storytelling important in the fight to ‘keep the fire burning’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities?

Using screen as a medium to distribute our stories through film, television, web series, shorter form and news, helps us connect to one another within our communities, from one community to the next, and abroad. Our people have had many things taken from us but one thing that still remains with us are our stories. It’s important that we continue to share them and connect.

What are the types of First Nations-led scripted and factual stories that you want to see on screen in the coming years?   

I read many scripts and see many shows where the Aboriginal or Indigenous person is cast as the supporting role, or, their indigeneity is a baseline to show that they’re different or they’re the outcast. We’re moving in the right direction where we’re the leading characters and we are the ‘norm’. I think this is partially due to the fact that our stories are being authored by us now more than ever, and to the future I hope to see even more. I’d like to see that our stories about us are done with us or by us.

Image: Mitch Stanley (right) behind the scenes on Between Two Lines (2019), by John Paillé
What is your advice for emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander filmmakers looking to follow  your footsteps into the screen industry?

Work hard and be kind to yourself as there are challenges ahead of you that may not be so kind. It takes a lot of time and dedication to start realising your efforts and seeing your work on screen. We begin as students and learn the pathway from the bottom up, so it’s important to surround yourself with a network of people who are supportive and will help you achieve your goals. Lastly, no one has all the answers so if you’re in doubt then remember that you’re not the only one, don’t be hard on yourself for that, we’re always learning. 

What is next for you and No Coincidence Media?

No Coincidence Media is growing with some new staff members joining who are due to be announced soon. With such growth we look to continue developing factual and narrative stories in television and features, perhaps a few shorter forms of content as well. We strive in working with Indigenous creatives, so we look forward to meeting and working with those who want to develop and produce with us.

Visit nocmedia.com.au to find out more about No Coincidence Media and watch Screen Queensland-supported We Are Still Here on SBS OnDemand and other local streaming services.

Dena Curtis and Murray Lui on set of We Are Still Here

Spotlight: Dena Curtis for NAIDOC Week 2024

Deborah Mailman plays Alex Irving in TOTAL CONTROL. In the image she is looking series while on a phone call in a corridor

2023 NAIDOC Week Watchlist