Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten named cinema pioneers of the year

Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten. (Photo: Alex Brown)

Transmission Films managing directors Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten were honoured as the joint recipients of the Australian Cinema Pioneer of the Year Award yesterday evening at the 90th anniversary dinner of the Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers.

It was also announced that Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia executive director Lori Flekser will be the organisation’s next president, succeeding Studiocanal head of sales and acquisitions and development manager Greg Denning after a two year term.

Both Payten and Mackie have worked in the industry for 35 years, with Payten starting his career at Chauvel Cinemas in publicity and Mackie at Greater Union as an assistant film programmer.

They first met at Ronin Films, where Payten was general manager and Mackie a publicist; it was the beginning of an enduring partnership.

Their first venture was distributor The Globe Film Co., established in 1993 to handle publicity and marketing for clients like PolyGram, Becker Entertainment and Paramount. They also then founded their own distribution label, acquiring titles such as Secrets and Lies, Dead Man, Lost Highway, Mullet, Praise, The Tracker, Underground and Love Serenade and establishing an output deal with major production company CiBy.

In 2001 Globe was then acquired by Becker Entertainment. Payten and Mackie became joint MDs of the film division encompassing Becker and Dendy Films, where they acquired and released such films as The Motorcycle Diaries, Good Night and Good Luck, Super Size Me, Strange Bedfellows, Swimming Pool, The Story of The Weeping Camel, Control, and The World’s Fastest Indian. At Becker they also co-founded MovieMeasure, an audience research business.

In 2007, they then formed independent distributor Transmission Films and co-founded See-Saw Films in partnership with Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Transmission was started as a partnership with Paramount Pictures under Mike Selwyn, and its roster of releases has included films such as Brooklyn, Quartet, An Education, Living, Book Club, Calvary, Carol, The Railway Man, Boy, Beneath Hill 60, Danger Close, The Guard, Amour, Love And Friendship, Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Suffragette, I Am Woman, Tea With The Dames, Their Finest, Viceroy’s House, The Painted Veil and Volver in addition to Lion and The King’s Speech.

Previous winners of the Australian Cinema Pioneer of the Year Award, first established in 1969, include cinematographer Russell Boyd, producers Jill Robb and Patricia Lovell, distributor and exhibitor Natalie Miller, and Animal Logic co-founder Zareh Nalbandian.

Outgoing president Denning called Mackie and Payten “true pioneers” who “embody the very spirit of the society.”

Similarly, he welcomed Flekser to her new role, noting her passion, enthusiasm and experience would serve the organisation well into its next chapter.

Greg Denning and Lori Flekser. (Photo: Alex Brown)

“It’s been my absolute pleasure to serve as president of thesociety these past two years ushering in the milestone 90th year,” he said.

“The society remains a vital institution that draws together the three pillars of cinema – exhibition, distribution and production, and honours those who have forged 20+ year careers in our great industry.”

Of her appointment, Flekser said: “The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers embodies the celebration of the enormous achievements of each and every one of its members from production, distribution and exhibition, who have not only built an industry that directly contributes over $6 billion to the Australian GDP and employs more than 55,000 people, but also one that entertains, delights and informs every Australian, every day.

“So, to simply say what an honour it is to take on the role of National President of the Australian Cinema Pioneers feels very inadequate. I am deeply grateful for the trust given to me to build on the brilliant work of my predecessors, in particular outgoing president Greg Denning – whose leadership and dedication will be a hard act to follow.”