Griffith Film School lecturer Ashley Burgess has received the 2018 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUAD) Innovative Teaching Award.
The national award recognises innovative teaching methods by emerging art and design academics, and focuses on the design and delivery of one course.
Learning off campus
Mr Burgess was nominated for the popular ‘Outback Filmmaking Bootcamp’ program he has pioneered, which has seen Griffith Film School partner with the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival in Winton.
The brief is simple – students are given two weeks to pitch, write, shoot, edit and screen a short film.
As part of the course, Mr Burgess has established the Vision Splendid Film Institute, which involves students from Griffith Film School, the Queensland Conservatorium and the Queensland College of Art.
As the program has grown, Griffith has also partnered with the Beijing Film Academy in China and the Film and Television Institute of India, to attract top international film students to Queensland for the intensive course.
Mr Burgess said he was honoured to be recognised by the Australian Council of University Art and Design. The national award follows a Griffith Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“I’ve spent the past five years working on this project, and it feels great to receive validation that you’re on the right track,” he said.
“I also think this award honours the approach we take at Griffith Film School, which is to offer our students these partnerships and industry experiences.”
Mr Burgess advocates experiential learning, and has structured his course to replicate the experience of being on a film set.
“We throw the students in at the deep end, and they are transformed by the end of the two weeks – their whole perspective on filmmaking changes,” he said.
“They are learning by doing and are totally immersed in the experience.”
A gifted and dedicated teacher
Head of Griffith Film School Professor Herman Van Eyken said the award acknowledged Mr Burgess’s innovative approach to course design and delivery.
“He is a gifted and dedicated teacher and this award is well-deserved,” he said.
“The strength of Ashley’s contribution is not just in his natural leadership or innovative course designs, but in his capacity to tailor his approach and methods to achieve the best learning outcomes for students.
“His courses are consistently described by students as ‘amazing’, ‘transformative’ and ‘invaluable’.
“Based on the success of his course in outback Queensland and the model he has developed, Ashley now runs similar programs in India, Thailand and Vanuatu, where our students make documentaries and engage heavily with local communities.”
Mr Burgess is currently helping design a Masters in International Screen Production in partnership with other top film schools in the Asia-Pacific region, using the Outback Filmmaking Bootcamps as a model.