Screen Musicians’ awards to chase away the plague

Multicultural, multidimensional, talented and above all real – the Australian screen musicians are having a party in the real world.
Hosts of the APRA AMCOS screen music Awards

COVID-19 has turned every public screen event into a logistical battlefield, a mess of alternate plans, pencil bookings and online invitations. Worst of all, we can decide in a hot flush of hope to attend an actual physical event to find ourselves imprisoned for two weeks in a quarantine hotel where people will actually trade sex with a guard for a chance to leave.

This is not an exaggeration. There are probably writers who have workshopped and drafted entire television series as they camped in tents on the Queensland border, waiting for months to go home to Rockhampton.

It’s been a tough year, as we know, and hugely political. According to Dean Ormston, the CEO of APRA AMCOS, ‘This year, we will also celebrate an extraordinary year of advocacy with APRA AMCOS and the AGSC fighting hard for new legislation that will see a significant boost to local screen production to enhance the livelihoods of screen composers, the unsung heroes of our country’s screen industry.’

Fingers crossed on that.

We always think that the Screen Music Awards from APRA AMCOS and the Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC) is the best prize gig on the calendar, with all due respects to the excellent nights provided by all the guilds. It’s just that the musos guarantee that someone can sing. It also has the poignant fact that music performed by the orchestra may be the one and only time that composers hear their work on real instruments.

We always think that the Screen Music Awards from APRA AMCOS is the best prize gig on the calendar…

The Australian Screen Music Awards were due in November 2021, and were delayed for many trillion obvious but invisible reasons. Now they will occur on 22 February 2022. They will endeavour to cheer up Melbourne, the city which is most battered by COVID-19. The state government might yet raffle off the leases to empty coffee shops to get visitors to come.

The venue is The Forum, which has the trickiest stairs in town – steep, irregular and very, very public if you go arse over bassoon as you rush to collect an award.

The legendary Uncle Jack Charles will preside, as a Living National Treasure.

Also hosting is Nakkia Lui, described as ‘a writer/actor and Gamillaroi/Torres Strait Islander woman whose stage and screen credits include ABC’s Black Comedy and Preppers; television series Kiki and Kitty and her award-winning play Black is the New White.’

Singer and actor Akina Edmonds ‘has appeared in high-profile theatre productions including
Hairspray, An Officer and a Gentleman and Disney’s The Lion King. Akina is currently playing Angelica
Schuyler in the Australian production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.’

That is a bland way of describing a magnetic New Zealand musicals star, here at home in New Plymouth opening Sister Act, the Musical.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Martin Armiger, a key figure in the development of screen music in Australia and a pioneering activist for the Australian Guild of Screen Composers. I have written many obituaries over the years in Screenhub, but this was the hardest.

Read: Vale Martin Armiger, screen composer and cultural inspiration

Interviews with composers are always a joy. Here are a few of the most recent:

As always, composer and arranger Jessica Wells will bring a scratch gang of prime musicians together in a frenzied period of rehearsal to perform four pieces from feature films along with medleys based on the nominations. Here is a longer piece from her broader life.

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.