Few spaces are adapting to the new world like the screen business. We speak to AFTRS’ Peter Herbert, a TV maestro, about where the industry is headed from here.
A writer, producer and executive producer who’s been in the industry for three decades, Peter Herbert has seen the world television transform a million times over. Adaptability is key to this business, and he feels privileged to now be in a position where he can pass the torch to the next generation of screen enthusiasts.
Currently the Head of Screen Business at the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School (AFTRS), Herbert’s job is as much about anticipating the next big change in the industry as it is teaching his students how to run with these shifts.
To find out more about the screen business course he runs and where he anticipates the industry will go in the next few years, we caught up with Herbert to take five.
HAPPY: Hey Peter, thanks for taking the time. Could you introduce yourself and your role at AFTRS?
PETER: My background is writing and producing in the screen industry with numerous television credits and a quite a lot of international work. I’ve taught at AFTRS on several occasions, particularly as Head of Producing and now Head of Screen Business. Teaching is terrific. I really enjoy it. Apart from the engagement with the students, is it is a profession where there is constant learning. And that is a wonderful thing
HAPPY: How does the Master of Arts Screen: Business deviate from the more creative-focused screen and filmmaking programs out there?
PETER: The MAS is the creative-focussed side of our Masters program. It is discipline orientated and recognisable for its classic coursework in writing, directing, producing, cinematography and so. This is the place for highly skilled creatives and AFTRS has a fantastic track record for training some of the best and most influential storytellers in the business. A lot of that is about jobs. Working on productions. If I was to make a distinction with Screen Business, though, it wouldn’t be taking ‘creative’ out of the mix. On the contrary. Our MASB targets the growth of the creative screen media industries. It’s about creating jobs, growing the sector, creating new business and career opportunities.
HAPPY: What kind of screen professionals do you think will get most out of the course?
PETER: People who want to advance their careers in screen media, start a business, or change direction. It is, above all, a transformative course.
HAPPY: The TV industry has obviously changed dramatically in recent times, how has the course adapted in turn?
PETER: Technology, strategic innovation, international engagement, these are all key to productive participation in the contemporary screen media industry.
HAPPY: Do you attempt to future proof yourselves in making these changes? As in, try to anticipate the directions the industry is going?
PETER: The future is what we do.
HAPPY: Can you tell me a little more about the Capstone element of the course? It sounds super interesting.
PETER: This is, as the name suggests, the final project of the course, intended to draw together all the elements of the course into a whole. We put a huge amount of effort into each project and they reflect each student’s interests and passions. They are developed in such a way that they are presentable to industry as viable projects. And, yes, it is super interesting!
HAPPY: On that, what big changes do you think will come to TV in the next five years or so?
PETER: Streaming will dominate. Market niches will be created in smaller markets such as ours. Some high tech will revolutionise how we communicate, and, with that, communication and content will be more and more on the same platforms – your phone.
HAPPY: Who are some of the students you’ve seen through the course?
PETER: We’ve had many. The program has been running for over ten years. In a talk coming up we have Paul Wiegard from Madman, Chloe Rickard from Jungle, and Nathan Anderson from Start TV. And then there’s Angela Bates from Screen Australia Indigenous and Aaron Fa’Aoso from Lonestar up in Queensland. And many more.
Find out more about the Masters of Arts: Screen Business at AFTRS here.