ADG’s new exec director will champion female and other under-represented directors

Diana Burnett.

Diana Burnett, the incoming executive director of the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG), cites supporting female and other under-represented directors and helping directors to get more work internationally as among her objectives.

A Screen Australia executive for nearly 10 years, Burnett also lists building the guild’s presence in Canberra and continuing the industrial advocacy so ably handled by the ADG’s outgoing CEO Kingston Anderson as other priorities.

One of her first tasks will be to form a committee comprising the guild’s foundation members including Phil Noyce, Gillian Armstrong and Donald Crombie.

A ground-breaking industrial agreement for TV drama directors which Anderson has negotiated with Screen Producers Australia is expected to be unveiled at Screen Forever next month. Anderson tells IF he hopes that will be followed by deals covering factual directors and feature directors.

Currently Screen Australia’s senior manager, business partnerships and corporate development, she starts in the role on October 21 and will spend a week in handover from Anderson, who is returning to producing documentaries with his partner Claire Haywood after eight years as CEO.

“This is an exciting time for directors with a lot of opportunities here and overseas,” she tells IF. “I intend to promote the work of our directors internationally to help them get more work.

“I am honoured to represent Australian directors through the ADG and build on the fantastic work Kingston has achieved over the years.”

ADG president Samantha Lang said: “Diana presented an aligned strategic vision for the director’s guild that, alongside her understanding of policy and government relations and her passion for the director’s craft, will provide the leadership the ADG needs moving forward.”

Burnett is still working on the details of the foundation committee, which she intends to launch in Canberra and says will provide leadership as well as being a “powerful” asset for the directors’ community.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason observed: “Australian directors are having well deserved successes here and internationally, such as Rachel Griffiths, whose feature directing debut Ride Like A Girl has become the highest grossing Australian film of 2019, Rachel Perkins with both Mystery Road and Total Control, and Shannon Murphy, who moved from her acclaimed feature debut Babyteeth to work on the Killing Eve series.

“ADG has been an invaluable partner over the years to help the sector grow, most recently with Gender Matters, and I am thrilled that Diana will be leading the guild into the next phase and look forward to continuing our strong relationship.”

A former animator, Burnett worked as manager of story at Animal Logic and in Los Angeles as a production co-ordinator at DreamWorks Animation, associate production manager at Sony Pictures Animation and after-effects animator for the Walt Disney Studios. She joined Screen Australia in 2010 as manager, production.