Alumnus creates new opportunities for emerging filmmakers

Griffith film alumnus Leigh McGrath on the set of his hit ABC series Harrow

Griffith film alumnus Leigh McGrath, the creative force behind some of Australia’s best-loved television series, including Harrow, Tidelands and Secrets & Lies, has launched a production company in a bid to support local talent and crew.

Leigh McGrath (R) on set

Leigh graduated from Griffith University in 1994. Along with his producing partner Stephen M. Irwin, he has created a new Brisbane-based production powerhouse, Moving Floor Entertainment, which already has a slate of 35 projects in development.

Projects underway include feature films, TV series and new media content, encompassing everything from crime thrillers and comedy to adult animation.

The pair say they are on a mission to create global content right here in Queensland – and helping nurture the next generation of screen creatives.

“We’re creating content for international audiences, written and produced entirely in Queensland,” Leigh said.

“We want to provide projects that allow up and coming writers to hone their craft and, in the longer term, foster local showrunning talent who use Queensland as a global launchpad.”

Leigh has worked in London and Los Angeles, and is using his international connections to attract interest and investment from networks and streaming services in the UK and US.

Leigh was one of a handful of Queensland-based screen entrepreneurs who recently received a share of almost $1 million in Screen Queensland (SQ) support as part of a $3.3 million COVID Support Package for the local film industry.

Griffith Film School alumnus Leigh McGrath. Photo: Sheona Beach

He said Queensland was perfectly poised to consolidate its reputation as a global screen hub post-pandemic.

“A lot of American companies are looking to shoot stuff in Queensland because so many productions have been halted by COVID in the US,” he said.

Leigh said his film studies at Griffith helped prepare him for a career in the industry.

“Since I’ve graduated, I’ve worked for the BBC, pitched in Hollywood, helmed my own shows here in Australia… it’s been a long journey, but it all started at Griffith,” he said.

“When I studied, everything was analogue and we were shooting on 16mm film, but my time at uni taught me everything I needed to know – cutting, shooting, editing, producing,” he said.

“Brisbane was a very different place back then and you had to leave to further your career.

“Now we’re able to compete on the world stage – we’re producing some of the world’s best drama and kids television right here in Brisbane.”

Leigh said he was keen to offer internships and graduate opportunities to local filmmakers. His advice to current students is simple: follow your passion and don’t give up.

“It’s about knowing what you want, and pushing for that,” he said.

“Tenacity and resilience is really important in this industry – you will get rejected for jobs, but it’s about making your own luck.”

Professor Herman Van Eyken

Head of Griffith Film School Professor Herman van Eyken said it was gratifying to see alumni give back to the local screen industry and provide opportunities for emerging film talent.

“We are lucky to have a network of alumni here in Brisbane creating remarkable opportunities for our students and graduates,” he said.

“They are helping establish Brisbane as a screen hub and giving emerging filmmakers invaluable hands-on experience.”

For more information about studying film, animation and gaming, visit Griffith Film School.