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Meet the Adelaide Studios Tenant: Highview Productions

11 August 2022

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.

Lisa Scott of Highview Productions, holding her Golden Nymph Awards for The Tourist.

Highview Productions is a producer of quality scripted drama and comedy, helmed by inimitable South Australian producer Lisa Scott. Since the company’s inception in 2019, despite a global pandemic, Highview has produced two very successful dramas – feature film A Sunburnt Christmas for Stan and TV series The Tourist which premiered on Stan, BBC1 and HBO Max in early 2022 to critical acclaim, smashing ratings records on BBC iplayer. Both productions have scooped up awards, with The Tourist winning three awards, including Best Series, at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival and receiving several Logie nominations, and A Sunburnt Christmas winning Telemovie or Mini Series of the Year at the 2022 Screen Producers Australia SPA Awards – alongside multiple other nominations.

We caught up with Lisa to discuss why she loves making productions in South Australia, her role as producer and her tips for those looking to get started in the industry.

What’s your background – how did you get into the screen industry?

In 1988 I studied at AFTRS, a one-year television production full-time course, getting my first job at the ABC the following year working on the very first series of Media Watch in 1989. I repeatedly hounded the drama department until they finally gave me a job, working my way up through production. In 1998 I left the ABC and have been a producer for over 12 years.

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

Productions that start a conversation such as ANZAC Girls, which examined World War I from a female perspective, Janet King for its diversity in storytelling and casting, South Australian made series The Hunting which explored issues of trust and consent and The Tourist, the largest television production to be made in South Australia, showcasing our state’s stunning locations and talent. On BBC iPlayer The Tourist was the most popular single episode so far this year with viewers streaming the series debut 6.1 million times, and the boxset 32 million times.

The Tourist was the first South Australian production to utilise the Federal Government’s Location offset and Location Incentive funding program. Having a production as big as The Tourist enabled crew to gain more experience on a large scale production – these newly learned skills are then taken onto the next job, benefitting the industry as a whole.

You established Highview Productions in 2019; how many people are in your team? How does your team work?

The amount of people in my team varies from job to job. I like to encourage a collaborative creative space where everyone’s opinion can be heard.

Why did you choose to base your business at Adelaide Studios? What are the advantages of being based in Adelaide Studios?

Adelaide Studios is the creative hub of the screen industries in South Australia, you never know who you might start a conversation with, and where that will take you.

Have you worked in other states or countries? How do they contrast with Adelaide/SA?

I am originally from NSW and I find filming in SA financially more attractive and logistically easier with accessibility to a diverse range of locations. The general public are very supportive of the strong history of film and television production in SA that goes back 50 years, and their support makes our job easier on a practical level. There isn’t a “not in my backyard” mentality, it’s more like “what production are you making and how can I help?”

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

The genuine support for each other across the sector.

What’s your favourite thing about your work?

Every day, and every project, is completely different.

What qualities/skills do you need to succeed in your field?

Being a producer requires entrepreneurial skills in all stages of production – you must have a strong head for story and script development, the ability to understand complex finance structures, with advanced negotiation skills, then it’s the contracting, organisational skills for production, then marketing your project to your audience. Be tenacious. Most of all, remember to listen.

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

Screen production is always about “art versus commerce” so it’s the constant challenge to find the right balance.

What’s in the future for Highview Productions? What can we expect next?

I have recently returned from the UK where there was strong interest in many of my projects. Highview was recently chosen as the SBS Emerging Writers’ Incubator host company run by SBS and Screen Australia and supported by the SAFC, so I am looking forward to discovering underrepresented scripted writing talent in South Australia.

What is your favourite South Australian screen production?

Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, he is a master film maker. 

Learn more about Highview Productions at their website or follow them on LinkedIn here.

By Olivia Butler

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