APDG winners – some interesting choices

The Australian Production Design Guild annual awards cover the whole range of production design. There's a lot to like.

The winners of the 2019 APDG Awards held in Melbourne’s Spielgeltent on Sunday December 1 are nicely laid out on the guild’s website, as we would expect. Once you have visual taste you can’t unlearn it. 

Live performance

Jennifer Irwin APDG won the Jennie Tate Award for costume design for a live performance for her work on ’30 Years of 65 Thousand Years’, a Bangarra Dance Theatre production of three separate pieces to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary.

The lighting design award for a live performance went to Verity Hampson for Death of a Salesman, working on the QPAC production directed by Jason Klarwein.

Design for a live event went to Aura, Bunjil Story, part of Sovereign Hill’s Sound and Light Show in Ballarat. The crew is a true gang – Nicholas Tory, Director of Projection Show and Design Director: Andrew Walsh, Artistic Director: Jonathan Nix, Director of Animation: Oliver Abbott, Senior Designer, Animator: Julian Reinhold, Senior Designer Animator: Atticus Gough, Designer Animator: Kieran Kenny, 3D Scan & Prelim Design Template Build.

Set design for a live performance landed with Madama Butterfly, by Opera Australia. The designer was Michael Scott-Mitchell APDG.

Design for Live Performance was given to Karla Urizar, for Welcome the Bright World, by the State Theatre Company of SA, written by Stephen Sewell, and first performed 35 years ago.


Costume design for a feature film brightened the evening for Edie Kurzer APDG, who costumed Judy and Punch, beating Ladies in Black which must have been a hot contender. 

Instead Ladies.. did take the set decoration award, given jointly to Katie Sharrock, Set Decorator: Felicity Abbott APDG Production Designer: Sophie Nash, Art Director: Joanna Pullen, Property Master: Tania Einberg, Senior Buyer Dresser.

The TV equivalent went to Maria Pattison for Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.

Production design for TV drama or web series found A Place to Call Home, Series 6, with production designer Fiona Donovan and set decorator Diana Robertson.

Production design for a feature film went to Hotel Mumbai, with Steven Jones-Evans APDG, Production Designer: Nicki Gardiner APDG, Set Decorator: Marita Musset, Art Director: Dilip Moore, Art Director. 

Make-up and hair design was open to all art forms and went to the year’s most elegant evocation of slim, mud, sweat and blood in Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan. Cited were Tess Natoli, Make-up, Hair and Make-up Effects Designer:
Sean Genders, Key Make-up Effects: Anita Morgan, Key Make-up and Hair.

They managed to spread those awards around very neatly.

Designs you may not remember

The award for design on a commercial went to Enter Asahi, designed by Michael Iacono, Production Designer and Joanna Mae Park, Costume Designer. Produced by In the Thicket, directed by Marco Prestini, masterminded by The Monkeys Melbourne, It is very elegant if a bit um… mannered. 

With a VFX breakdown.

The student and emerging designer award went to Emma Bourke, Production Designer: Sabina Myers, Costume Designer: Barry Jarrot, Art Director for Sweet Tooth.

Emerging designer for live performance is Brianna Russell, the set and costume designer for Wake In Fright.

VFX landed at the feet of Josh Simmonds for Aquaman in an honour from experts.

Animation design for screen turned up with Mario Lendvai, Art Director and Master Illustrator and Vanessa St Pier, Motion Designer and Animator on The Twist. This is a lot of fun from ABC iView, described as ‘an award-winning animated short-form documentary series that brings to life some of Australia’s most intriguing true crime stories. These are complex, real stories with real victims and real perpetrators.

Really worth watching and all on Auntie.

The very moderne title of concept design visualisation was given to Bowen Ellames for Tidelands, who also did I am Mother, which did not win in its own right. 

You would expect title design to be hotly contested though it probably suffers from our production budgets. Who can afford the first two minutes of Game of Thrones? 

Winner was TedX: Legacy created by Scott Geersen, Title Design Director Substance: 3D / Cinematography: Joseph Morris, Editor: Michael Yezerski, Original Music Composition: Dave Robertson, Sound Design. With a gang like that, you want to see it, and here it is. 

The design for a short film or music clip award went to The Egg, with Jacquie Schofield as production designer and Merryn Schofield as set decorator. I will include the cinematographer, Matt Toll, because the lighting and the texture of the images is so lovely. It was written and directed by Jane Cho.

Lifetime Awards 

Canal Road Film Centre Artisan Award for Lifetime Achievement for Screen


Construction Manager, Illusions

Artisan Award for Lifetime Achievement for Live Performance


Costume Designer and Maker, Circus Oz for 39 years. 

Cameron Creswell Award for Outstanding Contribution to Design


Theatre Designer

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.