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A shake up for 2022 – but make it a creative one

As we move (swiftly) towards the end of another year, are you thinking of shaking up your 9-5? If you’ve been thinking, mulling, pondering a creative career change for a while now, maybe this is the sign to finally take that leap! We sit down with Richie, Head of Creative Industries and Digital Media for TAFE NSW, to get the lowdown on creative courses that have been tailor made, just for you.

Let’s talk creative careers. You know the kind of job that your parents warned you about? The thing you really wanted to study or the career that you really wanted to have, but you were told oh but you’ll never get a job doing that. Or, that’s a great hobby but that’s not going to pay the bills, sweetie. So you took the safe route. You became an accountant, or a lawyer, or something else that people can understand when you tell them what you do for a living. 

And maybe now, however many years on, you’re starting to dread that day called Monday. Maybe you keep coming back to what could have been. You’re probably the kind of person who started a side hustle, and it’s bringing you so much goddamn joy. With the end of the year fast approaching, isn’t it time you did something a little different and took a few steps down the creative path you once thought you left behind?

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role at TAFE NSW

Hello, I’m Richie, and I’m the Head Teacher of Digital Media at TAFE NSW. We look after film, TV, animation and game design. But personally my background is in 3D animation. I worked for myself most of the time throughout my career, and I actually used to do quite a lot for Silverchair back in the day!

So many people, young people in particular, feel quite an intense amount of pressure to go to Uni, even though that might not really be the best place for them. Why is TAFE NSW such a great option, especially for creative careers?

Because we teach transferable and tangible industry skills that are taught by industry professionals. We also have so many different contacts in the industry so our students, especially our best students, tend to hit the ground running from the start.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t call anything we do here a breeze, or go as far as to say that it’s easy to get into the industry, but if you’re willing to put in the work, we’re willing to help you get work.

What kind of creative careers are on offer at TAFE NSW?

There’s so much on offer at TAFE NSW in terms of creative careers! We pretty much have everything from furniture and interior design, to graphic design, film, TV, game design and animation. Creative Arts is a huge, huge sector here. You can find the full list of courses online through our website.

What kind of jobs are you seeing students pursue after they graduate?

It all depends on what course they’re in. But say, for example, in both film and TV, with the rise of streaming services there is just so much work out there right now, especially if you’re someone who is willing to put in the hard yards early on. We’ve got students working here in Newcastle, down in Sydney with big productions, as well as a number of students currently working overseas. These aren’t small, backyard indie films either (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but we have students working on massive shows and productions at the moment and it’s really great to see!

I’m guessing that a lot of the time, people think that creative careers are just for the young? Or even just for people who are looking to leave school. Are you seeing more mature age students enrol in creative courses?

Yeah, for sure! We get such a varied range! You know, kids just leaving school to a few 70-year-olds recently who went through the film program. We actually tend to get a lot more mature age students doing film.

What advice would you give anyone who’s looking to start a creative career?

I’d say that you really need to get some great foundational skills together, and work on building a portfolio. The piece of paper might get you to the interview but your portfolio is what’s going to get you the job. The good thing about studying through TAFE NSW too, is that we have so many connections in the industry, so if you’re putting in the work and really standing out as a student, we will always point you in the right direction, and set you up with something great. Another thing too would be, when you’re first starting out, you kind of have to be ready and willing to do anything to get your foot in the door. As in, you’re probably not going to walk onto a film set on your first day and step straight into the role of director. Be a runner, a PA, or whatever other industry job you can get your hands on and work your way to the job you want. 

Here at TAFE NSW too, we give our students a little taste of everything. Take film for example, it’s not just a straight filmmaking course. You’ll also cover sound design, post production and editing, so you really get a feel for what’s available.

Is there anything else you think our readers would love to know about?

We have a game design course – right here in Newcastle! Most people think they have to go to Sydney to learn something like that! Also, there are so many different ways to study through TAFE NSW. Online, part time, full time, there are so so many different courses and options available.

Words: Laura Kebby | Photography: Zoe Lonergan

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