Film alumnus directs teen blockbuster

Director Hayley MacFarlane on the set of Swimming for Gold

A teen blockbuster directed byGriffith Film School alumnus Hayley MacFarlanehits cinemas this week.

Hayley McFarlane directing on location at South Bank.

Swimming for Gold is the latest feature film from The Steve Jaggi Company (Rip Tide, Back of the Net), a local production company founded by fellow Griffith Film School (GFS) graduate Steve Jaggi.

The film was shot entirely on location in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, stars American actor Peyton List and features cameos from Australian swimming icons Susie O’Neill, Ariarne Titmus and Ellie Cole.

The opportunity of a lifetime

Hayley said she was keen for audiences to enjoy the film on the big screen, after a delayed release due to COVID-19.

Director Hayley McFarlane (centre) with her crew on location.

“This film was the opportunity of a lifetime and a lot of fun to bring to life,” she said.

“I’m really looking forward to audiences being able to enjoy this inspiring story of courage and friendship on the big screen.

“We were privileged to be able to make a film that speaks to what audiences of women and girls want right now.”

International success

After graduating from Griffith Film School, Hayley moved to London where she began working on Big Brother UK – taking on a directing role at just 23 years old.

Hayley was one of the genre’s few female directors and has continued to helm some of the UK’s and Australia’s most popular reality shows, from Love Island to I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

“Big Brother was my first TV directing gig and it was a huge learning curve for me,” she said.

“I have worked on many reality shows where I have been the only female control room director, particularly in Australia.

“It’s a high-pressure environment which I love. You’ve got producers and execs in your ear, you’re managing everyone in the room, you’re handling vision, mixing and calling shots – it’s an adrenaline rush.

“Some people turn up their noses at reality TV, but it’s gone from strength to strength, and as a director it allows you to work with great crews and travel the world.”

Building a career in the screen industry

Hayley credits her time at Griffith Film School with providing a solid foundation for a career in the screen industry.

“I did a lot of acting when I was young, and I knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry, so it was a natural progression to go behind the camera,” she said.

“I loved my time at Griffith – getting to constantly create stuff was exciting and the collaboration and teamwork was invaluable.

“I started shooting music videos and shorts at uni and my grad film ended up on the international film festival circuit – I left with a really strong portfolio of work behind me.”

Film alumni take their place on the world stage

Professor Herman Van Eyken

Head of Griffith Film School Professor Herman Van Eyken said Hayley was one of many GFS alumni enjoying international success in the film industry.

“It is wonderful to see our graduates stepping up and taking on projects for the world’s biggest studios,” he said.

“The fact that this movie was directed and produced by Griffith Film School alumni right here in Queensland speaks to the talent we are helping to nurture and our reputation as a global screen hub.”

Swimming for Gold is supported by Screen Queensland and will screen nationwide from 17 September. The film has also been acquired by Universal Pictures for international release.