Nominees announced for 2021 Australian Director’s Guild Awards

These 20 Awards cover a wide span from commercials to music vids, features and interactive titles. Here are the 2021 nominees.

In the latest event in Australia’s screen industry awards season, the Australian Director’s Guild (ADG) has announced the 2021 ADG Awards nominees.

The winners of the Awards, across 20 categories, will be announced at a gala luncheon ceremony on Friday December 3 at the Actor’s Centre in Leichhardt, Sydney.

The following week, some of these directors, like Robert Connolly and Glendyn Ivin, will be will going to the AACTA Awards, but the ADG Awards celebrate a much wider selection of directing categories, including music videos and student films.

According to Alaric McAusland, Executive Director of the ADG, there were ‘a record number of nominations this year from our members – up 50% on the previous year. It’s thrilling to see the breadth and depth of Australian directorial talent across such a range of productions.’

The ADG Awards recognise excellence in the craft and art of directing, as well as honouring individual contributions by Australian screen directors to the screen industry. They are the only opportunity for Australian directors and their work to be acknowledged by their directing peers, and cover the breadth of screen directing with categories across feature film, documentary, television, subscription video on demand, commercial, short film, animation, online, music video and interactive media.

This year, Wayne Blair has been nominated for two ADG Awards, with co-director Nel Minchin for Best Direction in a Feature Documentary for Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra and for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Series episode for Mystery Road, Series 2 Episode 4. 

Read: 2021 AACTA Awards Announced

Shannon Murphy has also been nominated twice, for Best Direction in a Feature Film for Babyteeth and for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Series episode for an episode of Killing Eve (Series 3, Episode 5), which is notably not an Australian production.

Other directors to receive two nominations are Daniel Nettheim for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Series episode for Halifax: Retribution, Series 1 Episode 7 and for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Miniseries Episode for Line of Duty Series 6 Episode 1; Tennika Smith for Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Serial episode for episodes of Neighbours and The Heights; and Jonathan Brough, nominated twice in the same category – Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Comedy Program episode – for Rosehaven and Aftertaste.

In the Best Direction in a Documentary Feature category, Catherine Dwyer has been nominated for Brazen Hussies, Wayne Blair and Nel Minchin for Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, Christopher Amos for Hating Peter Tatchell, Matthew Walker for I’m Wanita and Kriv Stenders for Slim & I.

In surely the most experimental category, ADG president Samantha Lang is up for an award this year, nominated for Best Direction in an Interactive or Immersive Title, for her work Boumiera (Brown Lake). She’s competing with Aaron Wilso (IOPIU), Zoe Pepper (Sun Runners), and Matthew Sleeth (The First Cut is the Deepest).

In Short Film, the nominees are strong, especially Lucy Knox for the devastating Hot Mother. She’s competing with Cloudy Rhodes for Beautiful They, Jordan Giusti for Grevillea, Alisha Hnatjuk for Jean, and Jasmin Tarasin for The Story of Lee Ping.


1. Best Direction in a Feature Film (Budget $1M or over)

  • Seth Larney – 2067
  • Shannon Murphy – Babyteeth
  • Maziar Lahooti – Below
  • Robert Connolly – The Dry
  • Unjoo Moon – I Am Woman
  • Glendyn Ivin – Penguin Bloom

2. Best Direction in a Feature Film (Budget under $1M)

  • Serhat Caradee – A Lion Returns
  • David O’Donnell – Under My Skin
  • Thomas Wilson – White The Greenhouse
  • Catherine Hill – Some Happy Day
  • Michael Bentham – Disclosure

3. Best Direction in a Short Film

  • Cloudy Rhodes – Beautiful They
  • Jordan Giusti – Grevillea
  • Lucy Knox – Hot Mother
  • Alisha Hnatjuk – Jean
  • Jasmin Tarasin – The Story of Lee Ping

4. Best Direction in a Student Film

  • Mariella S. Solano – Alba
  • Stephanie Begg – Echo Pines
  • Andréas Giannopoulos – Friends of Mine
  • Marko Cvijanovic – Kafana
  • Jenny Hicks – The Stranger

5. Best Direction in a Documentary Feature

  • Catherine Dwyer – Brazen Hussies
  • Wayne Blair & Nel Minchin – Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra
  • Christopher Amos – Hating Peter Tatchell
  • Matthew Walker – I’m Wanita
  • Kriv Stenders – Slim & I

6. Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Documentary Series Episode or Documentary One-Off (TV one-hour)

  • Laurence Billiet – Freeman
  • Cathy Henkel & Sam Lara – Laura’s Choice
  • Cian O’Clery – Love on the Spectrum
  • Nial Fulton – Revelation
  • Tosca Looby – See What You Made Me Do

7. Best Direction in a Documentary Short Subject (Under 45 mins)

  • Rachel Lane – Faithfully Me
  • Derek Ho – Forgiveness Day
  • Jaina Kalifa and Amelia Paxman – Lost Contact
  • Sophie Raymond – Recorder Queen
  • AP Pobjoy – Why Did She Have to Tell the World?

8. Best Direction in a Movie Made for TV or SVOD

  • Christiaan Van Vuuren – A Sunburnt Christmas
  • Chrys Phillips – Madison and the Happiness Jar
  • Rosie Lourde – Romance on the Menu

9. Best Direction in a Children’s TV or SVOD Drama Program Episode

  • Richard Jeffery – Bluey – Sleepytime
  • Peter Andrikidis – The New Legends of Monkey
  • Hayley MacFarlane – Dive Club
  • Darren Ashton – Hardball – Staties!
  • Guy Edmonds – Hardball – You’re A Star

10. Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Series episode

  • Shannon Murphy – Killing Eve, Series 3 Episode 5
  • Jocelyn Moorhouse – Wakefield, Series 1 Episode 8
  • Nash Edgerton – Mr Inbetween, Series 3 Episode 1
  • Daniel Nettheim – Halifax: Retribution, Series 1 Episode 7
  • Wayne Blair – Mystery Road, Series 2 Episode 4
  • Gracie Otto –Bump, Series 1 Episode 6

11. Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Drama Serial episode

  • David Gould – Home and Away – E7591
  • Scott Major – Neighbours – E8573
  • Tenika Smith – Neighbours – E8490
  • Tenika Smith – The Heights – S2 E24

12. Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Miniseries Episode

  • Daniel Nettheim – Line of Duty – S6 E1
  • Natalie Bailey – Run – E5
  • Kate Woods – The Good Lord Bird – E6
  • Claire McCarthy – The Luminaries – E2
  • Natalie Bailey – The Unusual Suspects – E3

13. Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Comedy Program episode

  • Jonathan Brough – Aftertaste S1 E1
  • Max Miller – Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun – S1 E1
  • Helena Brooks – Drunk History: Australia – S1 E3
  • Jonathan Brough – Rosehaven – S4 E1
  • Jessie Oldfield and Adam Murfet – Why Are You Like This? – E3
  • Shaun Wilson – The Young Offenders – S3 E3

14. Best Direction in a Web/Online Comedy Series Episode

  • Megan Riakos – Deadhouse Dark – E2
  • Libby Butler – Loving Captivity E5
  • Logan Mucha – Scattered – E33
  • Stevie Cruz-Martin – The Tailings – S1 E5 
  • Hannah Lehmann – Two Sides – S2 E8

15. Best Direction in a Web/Online Drama Series Episode

  • Henry Stone – A Life in Questions: Wisdom School with Aaron Chen
  • Joelene Crnogorac – All the Way to the Top – E1
  • Grace Feng Fang Juan – Girl, Interpreted
  • Joshua Longhurst – Ding Dong I’m Gay S1 E6
  • Nick Kozakis – Earners
  • Jenna Owen & Vic Zerbst – The War on 2020

16. Best Direction in an Animation Project

  • Alexs Stadermann – 100% Wolf
  • Jacquie Trowell – 100% Wolf: Legend of the Moonstone – S1 E22
  • Jake Duczynski – Cooked
  • David Webster – Kangaroo Beach
  • Sarah Harper – LEGO: Monkie Kid – S2 E10
  • Pablo de la Torre – SPACE NOVA – S1 E7

17. Best Direction in Commercial Content

  • Jemma Cotter – Respectful Intimate Relationships
  • Gemma Lee – Live Liberated
  • Matisse Ruby – Love and Transfiguration
  • Toby Morris – Space: A Skate Odyssey
  • Stef Smith – Shower Talk with Celeste Barber

18. Best Direction in a Commercial Advertisement

  • Michael Spiccia – Aware Super: Brand 90′
  • Sanjay De Silva – Flybuys: Give a Flybuys
  • Sanjay De Silva – Google: Helping You Help Others
  • Michael Spiccia – Hyundai Santa Fe: Little Angels
  • Tim Bullock – Toyota Highlander: Heroes

19. Best Direction in a Music Video

  • Riley Blakeway – ‘Gold Chains’ by Genesis Owusu
  • Chloe de Brito – ‘Keep It Up’ by Sonny Grin
  • Mick Soiza – ‘Miracles’ by Jarryd James
  • James Chappell – ‘Supermarket Riots’ by LUPA J
  • Sanjay De Silva – ‘Times Up’ by Sampa The Great

20. Best Direction in an Interactive or Immersive Title

  • Samantha Lang – Boumiera (Brown Lake)
  • Aaron Wilson – IOPU
  • Zoe Pepper – Sun Runners
  • Matthew Sleeth – The First Cut Is the Deepest

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram