Step up to be a creative leader

Karina Libbey.

After working in the screen industry for more than 15 years, including various roles at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia and the Sydney Film Festival, Karina Libbey had started to feel restless about the next steps in her career.

Going back to study hadn’t really crossed her mind, but she decided to attend an online information night regarding the AFTRS Master of Arts Screen: Business (MASB) degree.

She was impressed by the diverse cohort of previous graduates, who were from different professional backgrounds and working across various sectors of the industry – it wasn’t a course simply for filmmakers. It focused in on technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and creative leadership, and was designed to arm students with the skills to lead businesses, such as an understanding of policy, ethics and governance.

Alumni of the course are varied, from Madman Entertainment CEO and co-founder Paul Wiegard and Jungle Entertainment partner and COO Chloe Rickard, through to Screen Australia head of First Nations Angela Bates, producer Sue Maslin and Screen Audience Research Australia CEO Peter Drinkwater.

“The course offered a broad look at the screen industry and the different ways that you can approach it, not just as a filmmaker or craftsperson,” Libbey says.

“It’s entrepreneurial-focused. It’s getting you to think about where the current trends are in the screen industry and where it’s going in the future.”

Libbey is still completing her MASB, but it has felt like the perfect next step and provided her with a variety of connections and new perspectives.

“I felt so laser focused in what I had been working on, and the course takes a big thinking approach. That was so beneficial to me to be able to change the way I thought about and approached things, and to take a broad look at the whole ecosystem and how it all fits together. It really shook up my thinking.”

One of the key advantages of the course for the Canberra-based Libbey is that it could be completed remotely and was designed to fit around full-time work. Students can study on campus, online, or a combination of both, choosing between 1-4 subjects per semester. The degree can be completed full-time in one year, or part-time over two years.

During the MASB course, students also have opportunity to travel to Asia for a week to understand business practices within the region; the current cohort are in Singapore.

Libbey is still completing the MASB, but it has already led to her starting her own screen consultancy business this year, focusing on audience development and screen culture.

“As there is a lot of focus in the course around starting your own business, it got me thinking about what I love about the screen industry and what I’m good at. It absolutely inspired me to start my own consulting business,” she says.

“I left my job to go and do that full-time. It was really rewarding and liberating to exact in on: these are the things that I love doing, these are the areas I am a specialist in, and want to carve out a niche for myself.

“The course gave me the confidence– and of course the skills – to do that and really back myself.”

Applications for the 2024 intake for the MASB close November 27. Learn more.