The Federal Government has appointed WildBrain chief operating officer Deirdre Brennan as the successor to Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason, who departs the agency in November.
It marks a return to the Australian industry for Brennan after seven years abroad, during which she was VP of Content at Corus Entertainment, before joining NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment as general manager of Universal Kids, followed by a move to WildBrain, where she has been for the past four years.
In Australia, Brennan worked as head of children’s at the ABC from 2013-16, prior to which she was director of content/general manager for BBC Worldwide Australia, managing BBC’s branded services and content development across drama, entertainment and factual, as well as regional IP management and audience strategy. Her experience also includes serving as director of programming for Nickelodeon.
Speaking about the new role, Brennan said she would strive to be a “passionate advocate and partner for our creators, storytellers, and emerging talent”.
“I am excited to return to Australia to lead such an important organisation, focusing on building a sustainable future for the creative industry amidst evolving technologies, competitive pressures and expanding platforms,” she said.
Arts Minister Tony Burke said Brennan’s experience and knowledge of the screen sector was well suited to the agency.
“Australia’s screen industry is so important to how we see ourselves, learn about each other, and let the world get to know us,” he said.
“Screen Australia is integral to that. I know that this appointment will strengthen the telling of uniquely Australian stories and I can’t wait to see Ms Brennan’s role in that.”
Mason announced at the start of the year he would be departing the agency in November, following ten years in the top job.
Screen Australia chair Nicholas Moore paid tribute to Mason for his “remarkable tenure”.
“Since 2013, Graeme has led the agency through a period of rapid change and the sector has been strengthened by his dedication, passion and leadership,” he said.
“On behalf of the board and the Screen Australia team, I would like to express my profound gratitude to Graeme, and I congratulate him on all that he has achieved.”
Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner also thanked Mason for his contributions to the industry and said the organisation was looking forward to working with Brennan, a previous member of the Screen Forever advisory board.
“There is much work to be done to address the decline of stability for our sector’s local screen businesses and creators, given the increasing challenge of unreasonable commissioning deals and difficulty retaining intellectual property in the works that we create,” he said.
“However, this is also a time of optimism and opportunity for the sector, with industry seeking to work closely with Screen Australia and the Federal Government to help generate the right policies, research, and programs to deliver sustained growth and a stronger and clearer global brand, as well as develop and enhance export earnings, soft diplomacy, and the cultural returns that screen content delivers to our nation and its citizens.
“It is time to set a clear and joined-up strategy for the future of film, television and games content that sees local production grow and be rewarded for its risks and efforts.”
Brennan will commence the role on January 8, 2024.