(Short biography )
Dr Janet Merewether is a film-maker, digital media artist and academic who founded Go Girl Productions in 1996 and Screen Culture Pty Limited in 2007 for the production of creative documentaries, films and digital media.
In 2007 she completed a doctoral research degree (DCA) at UTS Sydney on the subject of innovative design and performance in hybrid documentary.
Her award winning short films and videos, including ‘Cheap Blonde’, ‘Contemporary Case Studies’, and ‘Short Before the Movie’ have screened in numerous festivals internationally, including the 2001 New York Film Festival, Tampere Film Festival and the 2003 New Directors/New Films at MoMA New York. Her titles design work features in significant Australian films such as The Boys, Walking on Water, and The Diplomat, and she was production designer of the first series of the top rated ABC series Redesign My Brain with Todd Sampson.
Janet’s short film, ‘Palermo – ‘History’ Standing Still’ received a Dendy Award (General) at the 2004 Sydney Film Festival, as well as being nominated for an ATOM Award (Best Experimental), AFI Award (Best Editing in a Non-Feature) and FCCA Award (Best Short Film). ‘Palermo – ‘History’ Standing Still’ was also selected for the 2005 Tampere International Short Film Festival in Finland and the 2004 New York Film Festival Avant-garde programme. Janet’s short digital video video, ‘Knit-Face’, screened in the ACMI/National Gallery of Victoria ‘2004 – Australian Culture Now’ exhibition, as part of the ACMI/SBSI ‘ARTV’ series. This video also screened at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery in Sydney as part of the ‘Face Value – video portraiture from the Pacific’ exhibition in April 2005, at the Museum of Brisbane and University of Auckland.
In 2005 Janet completed the 52 minute documentary entitled ‘Jabe Babe – A Heightened Life’, which she wrote, directed and co-produced, with the support of SBS Independent, the Australian Film Commission and the New South Wales Film and Television Office. This hybrid documentary was selected for the Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Munich International Film Festivals, as well as DOK Leipzig, Sheffield Int’l Documentary festival, Taiwan Int’l Documentary festival, London Australian Film Festival amongst others.
At the end of 2007 Janet wrote, directed and produced the 52 minute documentary ‘Maverick Mother’, commissioned by SBSi and financed by the FFC and NSWFTO. This documentary, produced by her company Screen Culture Pty Limited, screened at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival where it received the a July special mention and Audience Award.
In Australia, ‘Maverick Mother’ was the WINNER Best Australian Documentary (General) ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards 2008 and, WINNER Best Australian Documentary (Human Interest) ATOM Awards 2008, as well as receiving a NOMINATION for Best Direction in Documentary – ADG Australian Screen Directors’ Awards 2008, plus a NOMINATION for Best Editing Documentary – Australian Screen Editors’ Awards 2008.
Janet’s first feature documentary, ‘Reindeer in my Saami Heart’ has been nominated for two ATOM Awards for Best Documentary – Biography, and Best Indigenous Resource, as well as Best Documentary Script at the Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Awards 2016. ‘Reindeer in my Saami Heart’ had its World Premiere and national cinema release at Palace Cinemas’ Scandinavian Film Festival, and its international premiere at the influential Margaret Mead Film Festival New York in October 2016 where it was in the running for the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award. The documentary has now been selected as a NSW HSC Standard English text from 2019-2023. Janet is currently publishing the film’s screenplay, and has just completed a new feature documentary on youth football in Australia and Europe entitled ‘O-LYM-PIC – Football Dreams’.
Commissions and sales include SBS, ABC, RTP, Sundance Channel, TVE, Arte/ZDF.
Retrospectives of Janet Merewether’s film and media art work have been screened at the Arsenal Cinema (Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek) Berlin, 2002, the Boston Cinematheque, 2001, and the Women Make Waves Festival Taipei, 2003, Chauvel Cinema Sydney in the Sydney Intermedia Network’s ‘Animated Moments’ event 1993.
Collections and exhibitions
AUSTRALIAN SCREEN ONLINE
NATIONAL LENDING LIBRARY COLLECTION AUSTRALIA, NSFA
‘Jabe Babe – A Heightened Life’, ‘Cheap Blonde’, ‘Surplus Government Asset’, ‘Contemporary Case Studies’, ‘Tourette’s Tics’, ‘A Square’s Safari’, ‘Making Out in Japan’.
2022 Archiving Australian Media Arts, Swinburne University, research by academics including Leonie Cooper, inclusion of Ezi-Babe
2021 NFSA National Film and Sound Archive, Feminist Films Curated Collection, Inclusion of Cheap Blonde in collection of key Australian Feminist Films selected by Kate Matthews.
2017 Red Green Blue: A History of Australian Video Art Griffith University Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland, curators Perkins, M and Wilson A., inclusion of Tourette’s Tics in RED – Everything is Political collection and exhibition
2017 Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Sydney, Reindeer in my Saami Heart screening, Q&A
2016 Femflix – Feminist Screen Culture from the 90s, Cheap Blonde included in exhibition and retrospective curated by Dr Jacqueline Millner, Jane Schneider and Deborah Szapiro,Sydney College of the Arts Gallery, The University of Sydney
2015 Scanlines – Four Decades of Australian New Media Art curated by DLux Media Arts, Short before the Movie included in 2014-2016 touring exhibitions at:
Artspace McKay Qld, Tamworth Regional Gallery NSW, Western Plains Cultural Centre NSW, Kickarts Cairns Qld, Riddoch Art Gallery SA, Logan Art Gallery Qld, Burnie Regional Gallery Tasmania, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Qld, Deakin University Art Gallery Victoria, Orange Regional Art Gallery NSW, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery NSW, Grace Cossington Smith Gallery Sydney.
‘A Slice of Life or the Crumbs of Existence’, ‘Tourette’s Tics’.
EUROPEAN MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL – Internationaler Experimentalfilm Workshop, Osnabrück, Germany – ‘Cheap Blonde’, ‘Contemporary Case Studies’ and ‘Short Before the Movie’ held in touring/permanent collection.
FORUM DES IMAGES VIDEOTHEQUE DE PARIS held A Slice of Life or the Crumbs of Existence in its collection for over 20 years.
Janet has also curated a number of screen programmes:
‘TRANSVIDEO‘ – Contemporary video art from South America (1997)
‘SERIOUS ART OF THE UNSERIOUS’ experimental comedy program (1995)
‘SHORTENZ’– short film and video work from Aotearoa/New Zealand’ (1994) – (Co-curated with the Moving Image Centre NZ)
‘EYE FOR IDEA’ – short experimental film and documentary works by Australian women directors. Curated for the Tampere Short Film Festival + Berlin Kinemathek (2002)
Janet Merewether has worked in the Australian film industry as a motion graphics and film titles designer, graphic designer, production designer and print designer.
She graduated from Sydney College of the Arts then the Australian Film Television and Radio School with a BA, specialising in Production Design and writing and directing several short films.
Her titles design work features in significant Australian feature films such as The Boys, Walking on Water, and City Loop, as well as documentaries such as The Diplomat and A Calcutta Christmas. She has also designed titles for numerous award winning short films such as Two Bob Mermaid and Three Chords and a Wardrobe. Television design work includes the Film Australia series Everyday Brave, and SBS television’s 2001 Insight programme, where she designed the titles, interstitials and digital sets. In 2012 Janet production designed the highly successful ABC series Redesign My Brain featuring Todd Sampson.
Janet has taught Documentary and Drama production, Broadcast Design, Production Design and animation at the AFTRS, UTS, Western Sydney University and Macquarie University as well as publishing in the fields of design, screenwriting and hybrid documentary.
Articles and Publications
Book chapter by Janet Merewether:
Womenvision – Women and the Moving Image in Australia 2003 (Ed. Lisa French)
Chapter – ‘F*ck the Mainstream – Let’s Make Art’ – women and experimental screen arts in Australia (writer: Janet Merewether) Damned Publishing.
Articles by Janet Merewether include:
Focus – Aust. Doctor Magazine Nov 2005 – Article by Merewether on Marfan Syndrome and her documentary Jabe Babe – A Heightened Life
Reed Business Information, Sydney, pp. 24-29.
Metro Magazine Spring 2004 #142, pp. 108-113 – ‘The Beginning Before the Beginning’ –
Article written by Janet Merewether’s on her work as a film titles and motion graphics designer for Australian films. Australian Teachers of Media.
Cantrills Filmnotes p. 63, January 2000 No 93-100
Article by Janet Merewether – ‘Hunting Shooting and Gathering’
Peer reviewed Articles by Janet Merewether include:
Merewether, J. 2015, “Shaping The Documentary Subject: Writing and visualizing the documentary and media art script” in JOS Journal of Screenwriting 6.1, Intellect, pp.89-113
Merewether, J. 2012, “Autobiographical and historical representations of maternal embodiment and the single mother in the hybrid documentary Maverick Mother.” Expanding Documentary 2011: VIIIth Biennial Conference, Auckland: Vol.1, No. 2, December 2011
Merewether, J. 2010, “Maverick Mother – From Social Pariah to Social Progressive” Hecate 36, 1 & 2 University of Queensland, Brisbane, pp. 101-118.
Merewether, J. 2009, “Shaping The Real: Directorial imagination and the visualisation of evidence in the hybrid documentary”, SCAN- Online journal of media arts and culture, Vol. 6 Number 3, December 2009, Macquarie University, Sydney.
Articles on short films, videos, film titles and broadcast/motion graphics designs.
Women Make Waves festival programme – Introduction to Janet Merewether retrospective programme, written by Taiwanese film/media lecturer Kuo Li-Hsin.
Realtime – various articles written about Janet Merewether’s work
see: Featured artist article June 2002 (wr: Cassi Plate) – Artificial Showrooms of Emotion
Review of Contemporary Case Studies OnScreen#43, June/July 2001 p18 (wr: Mireille Juchau) Young Filmmakers’ Erections and Reflections (FTO Young Filmmakers’ Fund Fest’l)
Review of Cheap Blonde OnScreen#26, August 1998 (wr: Virginia Baxter)
Village Voice – review by Amy Taubin –
Contemporary Case Studies (at NYFF)
p112, Oct 2, 2001 Vol XLVI No.39
Uppsala Film Festival Program – review of films
by Janet Merewether (wr: Lina Kalmteg) for
20th anniversary newsletter of the festival 2001 p 16 (Sweden) ‘Om jag hade en pistol’
Berlin Kinemathek (Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek program) March 2002
Article on Janet Merewether RETROSPECTIVE, and EYE FOR IDEA experimental/documentary film programme curated by Janet Merewether for Tampere and Berlin screenings