Life as a digital nomad and masters of creative industries student

Angie Davis is a documentary filmmaker and creativity coach. A self-described digital nomad, she travels the world with her family to pursue her passion and adventure.
Girl sitting in front of multi colour wall

Angie has just been announced as the recipient of the Master of Creative Industries scholarship, we chat with her further about her enviable lifestyle, career and studies as an SAE postgraduate student.

As a working documentary filmmaker, what drives your passion for this medium and how do you choose the subject matter for your films?

I’m driven by stories that invoke empathy and cultivate compassion in the audience. The unsung heroes, are individuals who overcome significant challenges in their lives, stories about the environment and social impact.

I have been travelling extensively for the past four years as a digital nomad, and it’s the people

I meet and the places I visit that inspire the subject matter.

For example, it was a trip to Peru as a travel writer a few years back that inspired my first film Double Barrel; I fell in love with the little surf town Lobitos but saw that it had been overrun by the oil industry for over 100 years, and the locals really needed help in gaining global awareness in order to have a go at preserving the marine environment and developing a sustainable tourism plan. I decided to make the film to help them achieve their goals, and as it happened the film toured globally and contributed to the NGOs raising the funds needed to conduct marine studies which last year finally resulted in a national protection plan for all the surf breaks in that region.

While I was filming Double Barrel, I met Dustin Hollick and Rhian Slapp who came with me on one of those trips to Peru, and through that, we decided to make The Laps Tasmania, based on an idea Dustin had for a decade. It’s really about collaboration and by getting out of our comfort zones to travel, see the world and interact with people we create those opportunities for sharing the lesser-known stories that I like to tell in my films.

Another example is a concept I am currently working on, based on a friend of mine Taki Gold who I met at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival a few years ago. Taki was a child soldier in the Liberian civil war from the age of six, and so we are collaborating together to develop a documentary in virtual reality to tell his story.

Why did you choose to study a Masters of Creative Industries with SAE?

I chose to do the Masters of Creative Industries with SAE because I wanted to really dive deeper in filmmaking and my creative practice.

I don’t have formal qualifications in film studies; I did a Bachelor of Arts at Adelaide University 15 years ago, and a year of journalism before deferring as I began working as a travel writer and producer, and photojournalist and so made a career out of that before falling into a film four years ago when I was asked to write and produce some travel clips for a Tourism Victoria campaign with Yahoo!7 (NZ).

Last year I took my second only corporate job as a Content Marketing Manager at a sustainable fashion brand in Montreal, Canada, but after six months there the company laid off the entire marketing team due to financial troubles so I re-assessed my own career and discovered that I really am not fit for corporate and my greatest passion is with film, documentary, and storytelling. It was a good reminder not to follow your heart not the money and be patient, so I decided that at 36 years old now was as good a time as any to get back into studies with this master’s program and really dive deep into my creative practice.

That's the beauty of the [Postgraduate] program, you don't have to give up your career for a couple of years to participate, rather you can weave in your professional works and I think that's a win-win for most people.

It’s been a fantastic decision and I love the flexibility to be remote – I am still a digital nomad and planning to be back in France for most of this year – and being surrounded by like-minded people from all walks of the creative world is very rewarding.

The mentorship with the Master’s is extremely beneficial and most of the time I feel as though I am collaborating on my real-world projects and contributing to others’, rather than just studying. That’s the beauty of the program, you don’t have to give up your career for a couple of years to participate, rather you can weave in your professional works and I think that’s a win-win for most people.

You also seem to live quite the nomadic lifestyle with your family, how does studying the masters online fit in?

The flexibility of studying the Master’s online is what attracted me to do this program with SAE.

All of my work is done remotely; my team is scattered all over the globe. Being a digital nomad requires a lot of flexibility and this program offers me that.

The webinars bring that face-to-face contact and the screen factor doesn’t hinder that connection at all. This is the future, remote collaboration, and I am particularly excited as we enter into this new age of globalisation of the Internet where communities in developing countries such as India, Africa, and throughout South America, have the same interconnectivity as we do here in the West. We have so much to share with each other and the more global these programs can become, I think the more we can all learn and the better the world can be.

Can you tell us about your major project?

I am incorporating my real-life major projects into the masters.

With the screenwriting module, I am developing a screenplay throughout the two 6-week modules that will enable me to walk away with a full structured outline of the narrative film I want to make, to then go away and write the script.

The major graduate project I am working on is connected to the adventure travel series I have been developing, The Laps TV.

I have a production company Switchboard Media Group with Dustin Hollick, and together we secured funding for a pilot episode a few years ago, which is the film that we just screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. There were film scouts at the festival who came to our screenings and since then my inbox has been buzzing with international interest, and I can’t say too much due to a confidentiality agreement but let’s just say that I’ll be working on marketing assets for the series, such as an international sizzle reel and a series bible.

Girl sits at audio console

Interested in applying for a scholarship at SAE?

The SAE Scholarship program invests in future industry professionals; rewarding creative skills, academic excellence, and strong leadership. SAE Australia offers a range of domestic scholarships to assist students during their studies including full-tuition scholarships, grants, and bursaries.
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