24 Mar 2019

How Creative Freedom Helped Me Succeed

At AFTT, we pride ourselves on being one of the most hands-on and creatively free courses in Australia. Just ask recent film grad, Riley Maguire.


Riley completed the Advanced Diploma last year and has been keeping himself extremely busy with a range of projects since leaving. We tracked him down to have a chat about what exactly he has been up to and how AFTT helped him become the filmmaker he is today.

Tell us a little bit about what you have been up to since graduating from AFTT.

I’ve been lucky enough to be very busy! I’ve been working full time as a producer, creating and managing content for a range of fantastic companies, usually in an advertising capacity. Through this job I’ve been able to manage and maintain a team to create a range of content, writing, directing and editing individual videos as well as organising the projects at large. That’s not all though, I’ve been lucky enough to launch one of my films into a festival campaign and even been able to participate in some secret projects! Life certainly has been eventful since leaving AFTT.

What did you want to do when you started at AFTT and how is it different to what you are doing now?

When I went to AFTT I really had my heart set on doing the holy trinity of writing, directing and producing, because that’s what I had done for all my little backyard projects before that. Although I’ve had some wonderful experiences in the last two years in the writing and directing department, I’ve found myself working as a producer. Of course, that allows me to do some writing and directing, but for the most part I’ve been producing and managing content which wasn’t necessarily a direction I anticipated, but thankfully was prepared for by AFTT.

What are some of your personal favourite projects that you have worked on?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on a lot of passion projects, not only my own, but on a lot of good friends as well. However, I can narrow it down to the three projects that I did in the Advance Diploma, the Stalker, the TVC and the Major.

The Stalker is a super interesting project that lets you make a movie in the style of a filmmaker you admire. I did a thriller short named Blue Rose, based on the work of David Lynch which I’m immensely proud of and has been performing well in the festival circuit so far. The TVC lets you go through the process of creating a full commercial for a fake product. I was lucky enough to find an actual corporate partner in DNA Organics and made the commercial for them. It was an amazing day I won’t soon forget. The final project would be the Major, which lets you make anything you want, which is an insane amount of freedom. I chose to make a crazy LGBT drama about Samurai, and I think I’ll leave it at that.

What is your favourite part of working in the film industry?

I think my favourite part would definitely be being able to sit back at the end of a project and look at this awesome film that you made with your own hands. You get to get up every day and go somewhere new and exciting and have this amazing adventure with good friends. It’s extremely gratifying and I feel very lucky in all honesty.

What was your favourite thing about studying at AFTT?

I have a great deal of respect for the way that AFTT lets you study. Rather than restricting our learning with a strict regiment that constricted our creativity, AFTT enables students to explode into accomplished filmmakers. AFTT gives you several major projects over the course of the Diploma and Advance Diploma and directly gives you the keys to tackle and explore the task in any way you see fit, which is an enormous amount of creative freedom.

Take it from me, I had some fairly insane ideas for my projects at AFTT, and there was never a point where I felt discouraged, it was quite the opposite in fact. I’m very grateful for the freedom AFTT afforded me.

What advice would you have for anyone thinking about studying film?

I think that if you have that passion for film in your blood then you shouldn’t waste any more time. The world is craving stories more than ever and, in my opinion, we can use every unique storytelling voice we can find. An education in film is a fantastic way to start a career and I would heartily recommend it to everyone considering it; take control and make the first step.

To learn more about studying film at AFTT, click here.