Industry Snapshot | Meet Noel Smyth
Director / Cinematographer / Photographer.
This month we take another look behind the scenes of the Australian Fashion Industry. Meet Noel Smyth: Freelance Director, Cinematographer, Photographer and wizard behind Melbourne based production company Forward Media.
Describe your role in the Fashion Industry:
I’m a filmmaker and photographer specialising in fine art, portrait, and documentary works. So in the context of the fashion industry I’ve been involved in new collection or brand films, editorial work, behind the scenes documentary, as well as general marketing and content creation. One thing that I think is really starting to increase is labels wanting to tell a more transparent story about who they are, what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So that’s a really exciting space for me as a film maker with more and more labels interested in beautiful, honest portrayals of themselves to their consumers. It feeds really well into my interests in documentary and fine art. It’s also leading to connecting more with the local supply chain for this industry. There are such amazing stories to be told of what’s going on right here in Australia.
What is your Industry background? How did you come to this line of work?
I fell into advertising straight out of school as an assistant/runner, worked my way into a video editing position, started shooting a bit, went out and started assisting other great photographers and filmmakers, and then eventually went out on my own. I’d say it’s been equal parts challenging and rewarding!
What is your favourite part about what you do? What drives you?
I’m going to split this into two things tied for favourite.
First would just be the exploring. I think it’s what originally drew me to photography. Whether I’m scouting for a location or just exploring for the fun of it, there’s something nice about being outside and hoping that life throws you an interesting subject and some beautiful light. It becomes a game.
Second would be collaborating with talented people! Early on in my career I tried to do everything myself (partly because I wanted to learn about everything and partly because of my big stupid head). Now though I’m all about the collaboration. Building on an idea or concept and making it even better. I just think if you know what you do well and you play to that, then engage experts in other areas, you’re building your creative community and putting out better work to ensure return clients. Go team!
Having worked with some amazing fellow creatives, are there any individuals or projects that have particularly stood out for you?
Working with Courtney Holm from Article on her fashion film ‘POP’ was super fun. She’s a brilliant designer who I really respect and although we only had a tiny budget, we were able to make something pretty cool that ended up being a finalist in the Australian Fashion Film Awards.
What projects are you currently working on? What/who should we keep an eye out for?
Lots of projects on the go at the moment! As well as my own freelance practice (which focuses on music, fashion, documentary, portraiture, and all the fun arty stuff), I’m also starting a new business specialising in video content for brands and companies wanting to promote their business. And this is a direct response to what I’ve seen as a growing need just in my own experiences. It’s called ‘Forward Media’. Check it out – www.forwardmedia.com.au (shameless self promotion I know but sometimes you have to get your hustle on)!
What advice would you give to those looking to follow your footsteps?
Stay focused on what you want to do and recognise your skills, as well as who your real target is. There are sooooooooooo many distractions and it’s really easy to head down one path and six months later look back and realise that maybe it wasn’t the best choice for the time. So having some longer term goals on the trajectory can really clarify decisions you make in the now, and help guide you to those ultimate goals… then when you get there, set some more and keep moving forward!
How do you see the current status of the Australian Fashion Industry and future opportunities for Australian talent?
The fashion industry seems to be really similar to the film and photography industries at the moment. And maybe it’s something all creative industries face. But I see a focus on speed and price instead of quality and it’s got potential to really damage the industry from the inside. People are getting undercut at every opportunity and someone suffers as a result of this, whether it’s obvious or not.
I don’t know what the solution is but I think at its core we need to focus on quality and craftsmanship. It’s a complex issue but we seem to have so many skilled individuals and high quality labels in this country and not enough people know about them. Yet. But that’s just an opportunity so it’s an exciting time in any case.
What does ‘Australian Fashion’ mean to you?
Haha I think like a lot of people, I just get around in jeans and t-shirts most days. FAASHUN! So maybe I’m not the best person to ask. But like I mentioned before, I think Australian Fashion has the potential to mean quality and craftsmanship. Because more and more in my work I’m seeing that as the reality of what’s going on here.