Here’s what happened on Monday, October 16.
The Power of Podcasting: Cracking the Code in a Crowded Soundscape
By Tess Connery
For a handful of early risers, Monday started off with a session called The Power of Podcasting: Cracking the Code in a Crowded Soundscape. Held at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum – in WPP House – guests were invited to put headphones on linked to the microphones, so that the session wouldn’t disturb people visiting the museum.
The session was hosted by Rose Herceg, WPP President AUS & NZ, who spoke with ARN’s Content Director Stephanie Coombs and host of Two Doting Dads, Matty J.
With roughly 2,800 new podcasts launched every single day, around the world, what makes a good podcast?
“The funny thing is, it’s just a sense,” said Coombs. “It’s a gut feeling when you watch a movie, or you listen to a song, and there’s that fizz of excitement. Sometimes it’s immediate – one of the shows that we did, Two Good Sports, the hosts just immediately had chemistry and that fizzle. I was like, I know that we’re onto something here. Sometimes it’s a slower burn for some of our other shows, we’ve had to work for a little bit longer and develop it and develop it. But it is almost like a North Star, you can feel it when it’s right.”
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
By Jasper Baumann
SXSW Sydney attendees were treated to an inside look at Hollywood through the lens of an Aussie, with panellists Jason Clarke, Phillip Noyce, Charmaine Bingwa and Amy Wang sharing their Hollywood insights, what they have learned and how Australian nature and culture doesn’t always cut it in Tinseltown.
Director Phillip Noyce revealed that when he made the trek to LA in the 90s to enter the studio film system, he’d make a bad joke and everyone would laugh.
“I wondered, what the hell is going on. Then I realised, it was the Hogan effect. People would look at you and expect you to sort of wave your fingers and come up with magic. So really, Paul opened a lot of doors for all of us,” he said.
He then went on to express that back then, the struggles that are most cliched nowadays for a struggling director, writer or actor wanting to get into Hollywood were non-existent, for him at least.
“To be completely honest, I didn’t live on anyone’s couch when I arrived in Hollywood. The studio paid for everything. Literally everything. It was like a dream, it was very seductive.”
When asked how Jason Clarke got into acting and eventually, Hollywood, he revealed humble beginnings, saying that like most aspiring Aussie actors he did the usual Blue Heelers and Home and Away appearances, with a funny story featuring the man who directed the most recent film Clarke appeared in.
“I did Home and Away back in the day and Christopher Nolan was mocking me for it recently when I was filming Oppenheimer. He actually found the episodes I was in and watched them and was going around getting all the crew to watch as well, it was great,” he said.
The main takeaway from the panel was that there’s always a creative or financial cost going to Hollywood, it’s never linear. But, the panellists stressed that it’s hard to do Hollywood alone, saying at the end of the day, “it’s a people-based business”.
By Tess Connery
In the heart of Tumbalong Park, Seven House sits and looks over the festival site and the Sydney city skyline. Entering the house, everything is decorated in red, and a combination of aircon, phone chargers, and free water makes it a welcome stop for people who have been exploring in the sun all day.
On the bottom level, there are two VR experiences that guests can try out. The HTC VIVE VR headsets see visitors transported into a 360° experience of Home and Away, and SAS Australia.
In Summer Bay, Home and Away’s Alf welcomes you to the Bay. The other headset brings you right into the middle of an SAS Australia mission aboard a moving train.
Seven Network Director – Digital Marketing and Innovation, Lucio Ribeiro, said: “At Seven House, we’re showcasing the future of entertainment, game-changing innovation and how Seven are doing things differently exploring the future of screens content consumption.
“HTC VIVE’s state-of-the-art headsets will deliver a truly unique viewing experience, transporting people onto the sundrenched set of Home and Away’s Summer Bay, where they will come face-to-face with much-loved characters including Alf [Ray Meagher], or whisked onto the SAS Australia course to pass selection alongside Chief Instructor Ant Middleton. It’s a massive experience not to be missed.”
HTC VIVE Head of Sales ANZ, Ian Walls, said: “We’re excited to partner with the Seven Network to bring audiences a new way to experience their favourite programs while showcasing the incredible power of the HTC VIVE XR Elite headset.
“If you’re down at SXSW Sydney this week, head over to the Seven House and experience the exhilarating, high-definition future of entertainment. Our state-of-the-art technology takes audiences into the heart of the action like never before, bringing Seven’s hit shows to life in an immersive and unforgettable way.”
Upstairs, an event space held sessions such as It starts With Yes with Optus’ Cam Luby. The session saw Luby discuss his role as Head of Consumer Marketing at Optus, and what the last year has been like between the data breach and the Matildas’ winning streak.
By Tess Connery
Right at the main entrance to Tumbalong Park is Porsche House. It’s hard to miss, with the flashy blue car parked in prime position, drawing attention from every corner of the crowd.
Along with being able to grab a coffee and a pastry, visitors to Porche House were also able to get inked, with Fine Line Tattoos Melbourne visiting on the Monday and Tuesday – an opportunity too good for your intrepid reporter to pass up.
Amy Webb in Conversation
By Jasper Baumann
Futurist and CEO of the Future Today Institute, Amy Webb next graced the stage with host Adam Spencer to dive into emerging tech trends and discuss what’s on the edge of tomorrow.
Of course, the topic on the lips of all attendees is the use of AI and how that will shape future work, and Webb is a leading figure in that space, discussing how to not get to the point of catastrophe in the future when it comes to the use of AI.
A big talking point of Webb’s keynote was her concern regarding how news organisations will exist and function as AI becomes smarter and more intuitive.
“For example, there’s an AI search engine that will change your search so that you just get the answer. So say you type in cats, it just spits out everything that you could possibly want to know, which is great on the surface, it’s much better for people who want information fast,” she said.
“This is terrible for news organisations.”
“I have been saying this now for decades. The issue is we are just going to get answers. You have to be a special type of person to take the many additional steps to go in and figure out where those answers came from.”
Ultimately, Webb expressed that the depiction that AI is going to end mankind and take all jobs doesn’t really work.
“The analogy that I think works better is a papercut,” she said.
“If you get one paper cut, it’s painful, annoying, it might distract you a little bit during the day but you get through it and it eventually heals. You get a couple of papercuts, it’s kind of on your mind a little bit more. Imagine for a moment, your entire body is covered in say 5,000 paper cuts. Picture it, your hands, your feet, your face, everywhere. Yes, you’re still alive, you are not going to bleed out, but life is absolutely nothing like it was before.
“That’s what I think the dystopian scenario really looks like. No, robots aren’t going to murder us in our sleep, but we will not be living the same type of lives that we were.”
Non-Obvious Podcast: The Future Of Exploration
By Tess Connery
Rohit Bhargava sat down for a live podcast recording with digital behavior expert Dr Joanne Orlando and investigative humorist Dan Illic.
Diving into the impact that technology has on our lives, the trio discussed the value of simply being bored.
“I do fill my time relentlessly with things like Twitter and social media, in the shower I listen to podcasts,” said Illic.
“I was talking to a favourite podcaster of mine the other day, David Roberts. I interviewed him, I said, David, this is such a thrilling interview. Usually I’m listening to you in the shower! It’s such a weird thing that I have to fill my time with that stuff, because I feel like otherwise I’m being unproductive.”
Creating Inclusive Film and TV – Both Onscreen and Off
By Jasper Baumann
2022 Australian of the Year, Dylan Alcott was joined on stage by actress Chloé Hayden, Fremantle Australia Head of Unscripted Josie Mason Campbell and Bus Stop Employment GM Sarah Jane Johnson to discuss how the Aussie media industry is pushing to ensure what we see on screens is reflective of the Australian population.
The panel discussed how the industry should ensure sets are safe and inclusive for cast and crew alike with disabilities, whether that be in front of or behind the camera. The panel also revealed what the best practices should be moving forward, stating that a person’s disability shouldn’t be the focus of a character in a piece of media, it should just be about inclusivity.
“I deeply struggled growing up with a lack of representation of what I could do and what I could be, and I will never forget how lucky I truly am to be where I am today and to live the life that I live. I’ve had so many opportunities because of my disability, but not everybody with a disability feels the same way that I do, and I want to change that with my new foundation and the Shift 20 initiative,” Dylan Alcott said.
“I feel my purpose is to change perceptions of all people with disabilities around the world and encourage them to get out and live the lives that they deserve to live. That’s why I get out of bed every morning.”
Chloe Hayden revealed that she also helped write her character Quinnie in Netflix’s reboot of Heartbreak High, stating that the process was rewarding and special for someone like her who is neurodivergent.
“You can tell in the character of Quinnie that she is written by neurodivergent people and it goes to show how important it is to have disabled people not just in front of the camera, for your diversity tick, but behind the camera as well, because the stories that are being told are so authentic and come from lived experiences,” she said.
Sport as a Metaphor for Life
By Tess Connery
As the afternoon set in, Cockle Bay room filled up with people waiting for the session Sport as a Metaphor for Life.
The lineup included no shortage of Australian legends – Cathy Freeman OAM, surfer and Olympic qualifier for 2024 Jack Robinson, rugby league and union superstar Ruan Sims, and Australia’s most decorated Paralympian Ellie Cole, with the discussion moderated by Sports Journalist of the year Konrad Marshall.
Recounting how she got her start in sport, Freeman said that “I think back to that five year old kid hiding in the toilets. My Maltese teacher had to come and pry me out of these toilets because I was so painfully shy. But she understood the benefits of sport, and she saw that this shy kid could do alright, if she only could get her to the start line. As soon as I started that very first step, I think that that was it. It was all over, that’s where my life was.”
The Joy And Power Of Play – One Brick At A Time
A growing view in Australia is that play time is a waste of time or something a child must earn as a reward. Nine journalist Allison Langdon hosted the panel with LegoMaster’s Brickman, internationally awarded academic Professor Pasi Sahlberg and SuperConnect creator Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie, all leaders in play, all Lego connected, and all creative and academic thinkers, who explored the power of play at any age to positively impact our development.
The participants emphasised the significance of play as a human rights issue and an essential part of life. They discussed how play allowed individuals, especially children, to explore their creativity and discover their passions. The conversation touched on the decline of play worldwide, particularly in countries like Australia and North America, due to various factors, including busy lifestyles and formal education systems.
The panel acknowledged the need to reevaluate the education system, emphasising the importance of incorporating more playtime for young children in schools. They shared examples of how schools in Europe had successfully restructured their schedules to include more play and break time.
The participants also highlighted the value of play for adults, noting that it promoted creativity, resilience, and the ability to learn from failure. They discussed how play could be integrated into workplaces, making work environments more innovative and enjoyable. They encouraged adults to find opportunities for play and not view it as a waste of time.