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Meet the Adelaide Studios tenant: 57 Films

02 December 2021

The SAFC’s Adelaide Studios isn’t just a screen production facility, it’s a creative hub that’s home to 28 South Australian screen businesses and screen practitioners. In this ongoing series of SAFC interview profiles we invite you to meet the tenants and get to know their work.

Adelaide Studios tenant 57 Films, team photo, supplied
The team from 57 Films on location in Port Adelaide for SAFC supported documentary feature This is Port Adelaide currently streaming on Stan.
L-R: Isaac Walgos, Matt Gierke, James Moody, Will Sheridan, Nicole Miller and Paul Ryan, image supplied.

57 Films is a full service production company committed to sharing exceptional stories and delivering high-quality productions for a range of clients across television and film, as well as the corporate and educational sectors. 

Established by Director and Producer Paul Ryan in 2010 the company has an impressive track record of productions including SAFC supported documentary This Is Port Adelaide, TV series Chef Exchange featuring renowned Adelaide chef Jock Zonfrillo and Shandong chef Qu Jianmin, and SBS short film Deafinition.

We asked 57 Films CEO Paul Ryan to tell us a bit more about his business.

How would you describe what you do in your role as CEO at 57 Films?

I provide overall leadership for the business, contributing to the creative development of our own IP and Originals slate. I’m also responsible for business development and general oversight of the business as a CEO. What I really enjoy is being involve

ed in hands-on production, being on location working with our team and larger freelance network. 

How did 57 Films start? What’s your background?

I started out in children’s television back in the 1980s after I trained as a teacher. Before that, I’d studied marketing and then worked for a newspaper for a number of years. After being a Producer at Channel 9, I worked at the SA Film Corporation at Hendon, and then as a freelance producer/director largely with KOJO Productions.

57 Films was developed after winning a large resources sector account; this account required full-time support and our team grew from just myself to 15 people in a short space of time. It was efficient to have our own team to produce and post-produce large volumes of content.

This built a business with unique and bespoke capabilities. It is also rewarding having your own team that you know, understand and trust. 

How many people are in your team?

Currently we have seven in our team, a wonderful collective of people with a wide skill set across producing, directing, writing, editing, graphic design, social media and various other technical, organisational and communication skills. And I’m very proud that we have such a long-standing team.

What are some of your favourite productions you have been involved with?

Most recently Barefoot Through Australia, working with an international production company based in Berlin and Australian cast – Aaron Pederson and Uncle Moogy Sumner – and crew in regional South Australia. 

Chef Exchange was another highlight, working with Jock Zonfrillo and Chinese Chef Qu Jianmin. The program was about two chefs travelling throughout China and Australia, learning about each other’s food and culture and as a producer, I was living that journey with them. 

But of course, I still miss the days in the studio at Channel 9 producing Humphrey!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve come up against in your work?

Providing consistency of projects and securing funding. 

Paul Ryan, CEO of 57 Films
Paul Ryan, CEO of 57 Films

What qualities or skills do you need to work in this field?

As a producer, the most important aspect is communication and a genuine interest in people. The mindset needed to see a project through to post-production requires a considerable amount of determination and focus – and a lot of good luck!  

What’s the best thing about being a part of the SA screen industry?

The people and the level of talent that we’re surrounded by is remarkable and often comes with a terrific sense of camaraderie. We also have amazing filming locations and a supportive screen agency in the South Australian Film Corporation which makes working around South Australia an absolute delight.

What’s the best thing about having your business located at Adelaide Studios?

There’s many benefits to having an office here. Firstly you’re part of a creative hub of different businesses that often have complementary skills and opportunities for collaboration.

It’s also great to have proximity to the Adelaide Studios; there’s been a number of occasions where we’ve needed access to the screening theatre, stages and production offices and having state-of-the-art facilities at our fingertips has been a huge asset. 

There’s a screen boom happening in SA and Australia right now – what has that meant for your business?

It has encouraged us to focus more on our originals projects as there is a greater appetite for Australian content. We’re excited about the opportunities that have emerged through our strategic partnership Wildbear Entertainment on a number of factual projects. Market/buyer access is always a big challenge in growing and WildBear are now one of Australia’s most successful production houses, focusing on unscripted originals. They will provide this access and help develop our capabilities to ensure we make the most of it. 

We’re very hopeful that, post COVID-19, our strong international relationships – particularly with China and the broader Asian region – we can further collaborate and work on more inbound and co-production opportunities. 

What’s in the future for 57 Films?

We’re continuing to focus on feature and television documentaries as well as our scripted content. We have several documentaries in development with WildBear Entertainment which we anticipate will be in production early in the new year. 

We are in development of a very interesting and important project with First Nations performer and cultural ambassador Uncle Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner.

We also have a children’s television drama with local writers and fellow Adelaide Studios tenants Word Ninjas, and a collaboration with Beyond Content on an “outback noir” feature film which are both very exciting projects to be a part of.

We’re always open to new challenges and opportunities, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas – I love collaborating with writers and producers of different backgrounds.

What is your advice to anyone looking to get into your line of work?

Get as much work experience as you can. There are always networking events happening which are a great way to meet the right people. Get as many skills as you can – whether you get them through formal education or YouTube self-paced learning. Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing, so making your own content and practicing your skills with whatever resources you have is the best way to start out. Our industry loves people that are adaptable and creative problem solvers – no matter what role you end up in.

And finally, what is your favourite South Australian screen production?

One of my all-time favourites is Shine. I was actually working at the South Australian Film Corporation at the time of production and remember the wonderful excitement around it.

Currently, I’m very excited to see Firebite, which is in production here in the Adelaide Studios. I’ve been very impressed with Warwick Thornton’s work in the past, with Samson and Delilah and Sweet Country particularly, so I’m very keen to see what he’s created with Firebite

By Jerri Phillips

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