In addition to producing stars, Flinders also attracts them… acclaimed director and producer Richard Jasek is undertaking his PhD at Flinders University, so we caught up to find out why he’s chosen this time in his stellar career to dive back into study.
What is the focus of your PhD and what are you working on right now?
My PhD will look at the ramifications for local content of the changes underway in Australia’s screen industry. I’m going to incorporate my recently-broadcast ABC documentary: Getting Their Acts Together, to look at the pressures these changed industrial circumstances presently put on filmmakers.
Why did you decide to pursue a PhD?
Several reasons really. After 35 years in the industry it felt like a moment to take stock, reflect, and hopefully to give back. Also at 55 it’s not a bad way to preserve neuroplasticity!
Why did you choose Flinders?
Flinders has a long tradition of arts scholarship. I’ve taught here in various capacities over the years and always felt very welcome here.
How are you finding fitting in your PhD with work?
I wasn’t, which is why I’m technically on intermission until September! First I had to finish the doco. Then COVID-19 struck, meaning other work options dried up. You’d think that would make it easier, but alas I don’t seem to qualify for a scholarship, so I have to focus on deriving income from other sources for a few months to bankroll my PhD. The way scholarship applications are assessed is problematic for people like me, who don’t have the academic background to score sufficient points. It’s a definite disincentive to attracting people from industry.
What is an aspect of your work that you are proud of?
That’s hard! I have directed and produced over 1,000 hours of content so far, but am yet to make anything I’m 100% happy with. Perhaps that’s common to all artists; we don’t work in a domain blessed with right/wrong binaries that facilitate easy assessment. But I love the opportunities I’ve had to hold a mirror up to the society I live in, reflecting back its flaws as well as celebrating its strengths.
How do you tackle the big challenges?
It’s the old joke about how you eat an elephant. One bite at a time!
Can you share any advice for up and coming creatives?
Just be persistent. I had to knock on hundreds of doors before one opened. Sometimes it may feel like you’re wading through warm mud, but have faith you’ll find your niche. Everybody has something unique to offer.