Screenhub’s best career articles 2020

Maintaining sanity was a key theme in this year's most popular career articles as we pivoted, pirouetted and battled Zoom-exhaustion. Nurturing tender creative shoots and backing ourselves with good PR was also essential.

What a year! The best-laid screen career plans went up in (bushfire) smoke some time between January 2020 and now. Whether you’ve had to shelter in place, cancel travel plans and film shoots, or ‘pivot’ to interminable Zoom sessions, you will have drawn on deep wells of grit, determination and creativity in order to survive the binfire of 2020.

Not surprisingly, these were all inner qualities praised in our most popular career articles from the year. And while we hope 2021 will be a little easier, the advice remains relevant.

Most of our articles here at Screenhub qualify as ‘career’ articles, even if they’re not tagged that way. Whether we’re interviewing a director, composer or games developer, or profiling producers and CEOs, we’re always asking them for their tips and strategies for navigating, advancing and creating within the industry.

On a broad level, one of our enduring favourite career advice maxims is this one by US tennis great Arthur Ashe, who grew up during the period of segregation: ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’ It never gets old.

‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’

– Arthur Ashe

Ask the Mentor

We first learnt of Media Mentors’ Esther Coleman-Hawkins in March, when together with business partner Denise Eriksen she started up the Running Free Online Skills Workshops for freelancers in the screen industry as a response to the pandemic shutdown. Since then, Esther has written a terrific series of brisk and useful no-nonsense advice columns for us, with a focus on positivity, pragmatics and pulling yourself out from under the doona of depression. Here are a few of the most popular:

Don’t Panic: Quick tips and skills for freelancers

From writing that screenplay to learning a new skill and avoiding doomsday scrolling, the advice here is to DO something and fight helplessness.

How do I stay motivated after rejection?

In this Ask the Mentor column, advice included reassessing goals, getting feedback from experts, and networking, even if it had to be on Zoom. 

How do I break my COVID creative drought?

Find people to spark your joy, go back to the things you love, and remove the pressure to create so you can ‘play’ for a while.

Should I reinvent myself in my 50s?

Complete reinvention comes with a cost, physically, emotionally and economically, so the advice here was to be financially realistic as well as finding ways of filling your creative bucket.

The Career Coach’s advice 

A Career Coach’s Guide to Self Care and Positivity for the long haul

Veteran Emmy and AACTA Award-winning producer Ellenor Cox is a coach and mentor who shared with us her survival strategies for staying sane and focused as COVID-19 dragged on. This included focusing on the basics of what you can and can’t control, as well as tips for productivity and self-compassion.

Focus on the present, while planning for the future

Using COVID-19 as a refresh and refocus opportunity, Cox talked about creating motivation and momentum, as well as committing to three acts each day that connect you to your desired future.

Promoting yourself and your work

Three killer mistakes women make in promoting their work

Highly skilled and experienced people in the screen industry still feel reticent to promote themselves. Publicist, strategist and talent manager Karen Eck offers great advice here, including changing your concept of ‘promoting yourself’ to ‘backing yourself’. A very relevant article, whatever your gender, and this was a big hit with our readers.

Know Your Rights! How to turn a publishing deal into a feature film

Maggie Thompson, rights manager at publisher Allen and Unwin, gave us the skinny on contracts, adaptations, and making your rights work for you.

Inspiring Careers & New Directions

Three approaches to thriving in Hollywood

Travelling on their musical skills, three creative Australians, Ashley Irwin, Charmaine Bingwa and Pru Montin, told us how they crossed the Pacific and prospered.

Be bold, be real, be rigorous: Samantha Lang on creativity and change in this weird moment

The writer, director and ADG President reflected on the stories we’re going to need and the challenges facing the industry.

Give Female DPs a Go: Carolyn Constantine ACS

As one of the few women to be accredited by the Australian Cinematographers Society, Constantine is working hard to advocate for the health and status of the whole profession.

Maya Newell: Don’t be afraid of doing things differently

The documentary filmmaker behind Gayby Baby and In My Blood it Runs explains a truly collaborative and consultative approach with big impacts in mind.

Where do all Australia’s senior game developers go?

Despite Australia’s vibrant creative games culture, studios are struggling to hire expert talent.

Bus Stop Films and Taste Creative have launched The Inclusive Filmmaking Toolkit

Decades of experience and campaigning has gone into learning just how the arts community can create important (and unique) work with people with disabilities.

Travelling light: A solo shooter’s gear guide

Filmmaker Markus Stone looked at how to film without a crew by assembling a mobile travel kit of cameras, lights and sound equipment. This one is technically from 2019 but it continues to be popular with our readers as the solo shooter and producer-director role emerges as an important job trend.

Still looking for more general career advice and motivation? Check out the Most Popular Career Articles from 2020 over at ArtsHub.

About the Author
ScreenHub​ is the online home for emerging and experienced Australian screen professionals.