Screen media graduate transforms passion into producer success | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Claudio Cellie

Passion for film produces success

Claudio Cellie first fell in love at the age of 14… with the magical world of film and TV. So studying creative industries in screen and media was a no-brainer. Now, he’s found his perfect place in film – in production – where the foundation of every film starts, grows, and ends.

Claudio always knew he wanted to be part of the entertainment industry, but never knew “what exactly.” Born in Italy to an Italian dad and Hungarian mum, and raised between Italy, Hungary, Dubai and finally Australia, Claudio had plenty of adventures growing up to draw from.

“When I was 14, I visited my uncle's post-production studio in Budapest, Hungary, and got a glimpse into the magical world of film.

“Like most consumers of films, I’d never thought about how it was made, or who makes it happen, until I saw it in action… and from that day onwards I fell in love with the world of film and TV.”

Throughout his teenage years, whenever Claudio thought seriously about entering the film industry, he was never sure what he wanted to do – outside of directing.

“Everyone wants to be a director, but just watch an entire credit screen at the end of a movie and you'll see there are hundreds of roles," he said.

“But I didn’t have much exposure to those roles, so like everyone else, I decided to pursue directing.” 

Claudio enrolled at UniSC to study a Bachelor of Creative Industries, majoring in animation and visualisation design. In his second year of study, determined to get a foot in the door, Claudio approached one of his professors to see if they had any contacts he could reach out to.

Claudio Cellie during a film production

He connected with Pluggas, a Sunshine Coast based filmmaking company, and cinematographer Fisch Rasy who gave Claudio the opportunity to work on a few documentaries.

“I didn’t start seeing success immediately, like everything it happened over time,” he said.

“I originally worked with Fisch as a production runner, which eventually led me to being an assistant director and production manager.”

Claudio spent two years with Pluggas, working on projects like Netflix's 'Boy Swallows Universe’ as a location PA (production assistant) and as a PA on SBS's 'In Our Blood'.

“Being given the opportunity to work on Netflix’s ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ was surreal... seeing the calibre of famous talent on set, and how they worked with the director, AD (assistant director) and DOP (director of photography) was very eye opening."

Ever since falling in love with the film industry, Claudio had remained focussed on working as a director. He’d directed various short films, music videos, and corporate documentaries, but said it “just wasn't clicking.”

One serendipitous day, Claudio was given the opportunity to work alongside a “very talented” 1st AD (assistant director) as his 2nd AD, which introduced him to a “whole new world in film” called ‘production.’

“It’s where your assistant directors, production managers, production coordinators, and producers work… logistics, financing, contracts, scheduling, literally the foundation and pillars of every film starts here, grows here, and ends here.

“I fell in love immediately.”

A couple of months later, in the middle of the night, Claudio received a phone call from the 1st AD he’d worked with at Pluggas, asking him to drive eight hours north to help him 2nd AD a feature film. Of course, Claudio said ‘Yes!’

Claudio Cellie working on set

“I got to work in the production office for four weeks alongside some of the most talented individuals, which allowed me to talk to the producers directly,” Claudio said.

“Once I understood what they did exactly, I was hooked, as they managed projects from beginning to end and got to live some of the craziest experiences.”

One thing led to another, and Claudio landed his first role as a full-time producer at SPRY Films in April 2023, while finishing his degree at UniSC.

“I’ve had the opportunity to produce some amazing work both nationally and globally, including producing commercials for Ladbrokes, Chemist Warehouse, and international commercials for clients in The United Arab Emirates and England,” he said.

“Each project is different and must be tackled with a different mindset, though it is very rewarding to see my work on screen after many weeks of hard work.

“Every day on the job seems too good to be true at the moment.”

Dr Phoebe Macrossan lectures in screen media at UniSC, and said Claudio is a "great example of how hard work, determination and a willingness to try anything can get you far in the screen industry."

"Like Claudio says, if you want to be a writer or director that’s great, but you can also play to your strengths in practical business and organisation skills in a wide range of production roles," Dr Macrossan said.

"Studying screen media and doing the internships we offer at UniSC will give you the training, experience and connections you need to make a great start in an expanding industry... screen production is booming in Queensland and now’s a great time to get started!”

Now, having graduated from UniSC and continuing to work as a producer with Spry Films, Claudio has some advice for students who want to enter the industry.

Claudio Cellie
“This is not a creative industry (crazy, I know)… it is business, logistics and financing, three aspects that must be met before you can start incorporating the creative aspects."

“Before thinking about the pretty picture on the screen, think about meeting new people who can help finance your film and introduce you to other talented individuals who will make it happen.

“Let go of your ego and start networking, because as hard as it is to admit, there are people out there better than you and with more experience.

"Use this as encouragement to meet new people and start collaborating and working under them. You’ll be surprised where you can get to in just six months.

“Stop wanting to be 'The Director' and start by doing the simple jobs. I have carried coffees and completed the most mundane tasks (I sometimes still do) before being given an opportunity.

“Finally, the right time doesn’t exist, start now. I worked part-time, studied full-time and still found time to drive to Brisbane/ Gold Coast to get industry experience on small jobs.

“It won’t find its way to you magically, but people want to help people – all you need to do is reach out.”

Bachelor of Creative Industries

With UniSC’s Bachelor of Creative Industries, you will develop specialist technical and creative skills along with an entrepreneurial mindset. Combine a wide range of study areas, including theatre and performance, creative writing and publishing, screen media, music, fashion studies, creative advertising, animation and visual design, visual communication and interactive and UX design, social media, game design.

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