Screen production is a responsibility usually only granted to those with great experience. Madison Siegertsz (BCreatArts(Screen) ’20) has defied this trend, using her ability, enthusiasm and determination to create an important public television program that has provided opportunities for a vast number of budding local screen industry workers.
Three years after Madison took up a Flinders University student placement at Channel 44, she developed a project called Couch 44 that has become a fully-fledged TV show that has run for two seasons. Designed as an inclusive youth-focused chat show program that is also made by youths, Couch 44 has explored a broad range of topics across arts, culture, politics, science, plus LGBTQA+ and women’s issues.
As series producer for the 2022 season of Couch 44, Madison aimed to bring more young Adelaide talent in front of the camera and featured a range of Flinders graduates as talent, including emerging Aboriginal artist Mali Isabel, and the co-founders of the CRAM Collective, all of whom are Flinders Drama graduates.
Madison also helped develop the skills of young South Australians behind the scenes, with more than 20 Flinders students and alumni among the production crew and presenters.
It proved a winning formula, as Season 2 of Couch 44 became one of the most-watched programs on community TV streaming platform CTV+, receiving nine nominations at the 2023 Antenna Awards.
Madison says the sum of doing many things outside of university in addition to her formal screen studies set her on a path to expand her skills and influence in screen production. This included work in various crew roles on feature films, television and commercial productions, building a network of industry contacts that now has her primed to take on larger independent production roles.
“I want to pursue a career in producing television and unscripted content that can make a positive impact and contribute towards nurturing a new generation of filmmakers that accurately depict and give voice to Australia’s multicultural, LGBTQIA+ and neurodiverse communities,” she says.
Madison is also passionate about presenting a stronger and more accurate representation of neurodiverse communities on screen, and within screen crews. Madison has Autism, and when she was profiled in 2021 by the SA Film Corporation for International Day of People with Disability, she said, “I’ve had my moments of doubt and imposter syndrome, but I’m proving that I can do work of the highest standard. I have Autism and I understand how hard it is to get your foot in the door, so I’m going to help provide any opportunity to others that I can.”
“When an industry is changing to be more inclusive of different disabilities, it makes me want to be a part of that change.”
Madison Siegertsz was awarded a 2023 Early Career Alumni Award for her significant contribution to the creative industries sector, showcasing South Australian talent and ensuring accurate representation of neurodiverse communities on screen.