SCREEN QUEENSLAND CEO TRACEY VIEIRA RESETS THE STAGE FOR FILM SUCCESS
Written on the 10 January 2017 by James Perkins
TRACEY VIEIRA has led Screen Queensland to three of its best years since taking over as CEO in 2014, bringing the organisation out of a malaise that had set in amid bullying claims and the resignations of two CEOs.
You began your role as CEO of Screen Queensland at a chaotic time for the organisation. How did you change its culture in such a short period?
When I came in, the headline on the front page of the paper had been: Lights, camera, inaction.
The second was really getting everybody to understand that we were on one boat going forward, not 20 different little boats paddling to get to the same place, but on our own, so it was about bringing the team together.
It was understanding from industry what they perceived as success and listening to them about what they needed.
We did independent focus groups, and the questions were all about looking forwards, not backwards, because I can't change what happened before me.
All I can do is change going forward.
We did a probity review, so again, we had an external company come in and do that probity review and that was to ensure all our processes and systems were transparent and defensible.
We are giving out public money, so we really need to make sure when that it is done in a way that people could see was fair and they could see that was equitable. So, it was a complete overhaul of every process, every guideline, and taking the industry and the team on that journey forward.
Through that, there was a lot of trust built. But it was also doing new things and thinking outside of the box. Some of those things were engaging with YouTube, doing things with virtual reality, understanding that we hadn't had a lot of funding from the national body and getting things in place to get our industry to a place where it got funded.
Here we are in year three of my time in this role and we have record local production happening and that, for me, is a bigger success than what is happening with international production, because now we have a local industry that is getting commissioned by local broadcasters and that is getting feature films up with international distribution.
How did you get the team on board with your vision?
They were all ready. They had been to the bottom and really were keen to be empowered to do their job and for me it was really about that - it was about giving them freedom and creativity to succeed at what they were doing.
In your speech, you said, 'the key thing in a career is building meaningful relationships'. In the film industry, you are making those relationships with rich and famous people. Do you have insights you can share into how you build those relationships?
So yes, a lot of my business relationship building is often not focused on getting what I want out of the business part of it, because that comes in the long term.
It is all about how you maintain that contact in an authentic way, and I think that is what drives meaningful relationships in business.
What is next for Screen Queensland?
This year is really going to set the bar, and it is already setting the bar. What is exciting is that we are having more local success than we have ever had before. This is the start of a real shift for Queensland: our stuff is being commissioned, and our movies are interesting, because, globally, people now want Queensland product and that does not signal a one year shift, but one we will see continuing going forward.
The other thing is, I am very aware of the shift in terms of how audiences are watching content and we have been taking our industry on that journey for the last three years and I am really interested to see how that continues to grow moving forward.
Can you tell us about some of the local producers who are having this success?
Hoodlum is a fantastic example. Hoodlum is a Brisbane-based company that did Secrets and Lies, which was on Ten. It didn't have great success in Australia but they sold it to the US and one of the partners went over and produced it in the US, where it has gone to a second series.