Originally from São Paulo in Brazil, Maria moved to Australia with a goal to learn English and work on international film and television projects. Maria shares her story of working as an assistant director on a Brazilian Netflix series and her experience as an international student studying screen and media with TAFE International Western Australia.
Making the decision to move
Back home in Brazil, Maria had an established career, working as an assistant director in the Brazilian film and television industry.
“I studied communication and media in Brazil, and I worked in TV. I’ve done advertisements, series, short movies, and I used to work on radio stations as well.”
It was only when Maria missed out on a big career opportunity because she didn’t speak English that she decided to move to Australia and learn the language.
“Brazil is a very beautiful country and there are very good professionals, so a lot of international projects are filmed there. I didn’t speak English at all, and I was losing opportunities. An episode of Black Mirror was filmed in Brazil and I couldn’t apply for the opportunity because I didn’t speak English, and I was so disappointed. I decided to stop my life and learn English here in Australia and then focus on working on international projects.”
A balanced life in Perth, Western Australia
Maria already had a close friend living in Perth when she arrived, and it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the coastal city.
“I think here it’s easy to find a balance between a professional life and a personal life. We have job opportunities here but we also have beautiful places. That’s what I was looking for in Brazil. I used to work like crazy there, but here we can find jobs and at the same time we can have a personal life. That’s perfect.”
Studying Screen and Media with TAFE International Western Australia in Perth
While Maria’s main goal in Australia was to learn English, she was also eager to expand her knowledge and skill set in her field. To do so, Maria decided to enrol in the CUA51015 Diploma of Screen and Media – Film & Television.
“My class was a mix of Australian students and international students, which was wonderful,” says Maria. “I loved the experience because you can learn a lot from the other students. The classes are so practical. For me, there’s no better way to learn than by doing. For example, we have camera class and on the first day we were learning how to carry a camera and how to use it.”
Maria has found that studying her TAFE course in Perth, Western Australia has given her a better understanding of how international film and television projects operate.
“In Brazil, we have one way to work. Here at TAFE, I have learned how to work on international projects. I’ve learned how the project and crew are different, and how the career path is different.”
From storytelling to directing
Maria is extremely passionate about working in screen and media, having discovered a love for stories as a child.
“I love writing. I love telling stories. I love people. As a child, I wrote every day. I don’t remember when I started but that’s always been my occupation. It’s been my whole life. For me, communication can change your life; you can make one day better for someone.”
Maria has tried out a few different roles in the industry, and her favourite so far is directing.
“Before I became assistant director, I used to work as a producer. As a producer you just solve problems, but as an assistant director you’re thinking about the scene and thinking about the script.”
Working with Netflix
One of Maria’s most impressive career achievements has been working as an assistant director on the Brazilian Netflix series 3% with the Academy Award-nominated director César Charlone.
“It was amazing. Especially because it was the first Brazilian Netflix series. The series is so amazing because it talks about our reality and how people are selfish when they need to survive. We had so many good professionals working together,” she says. “My director was César Charlone, who is the director of photography of a lot of movies, such as The Two Popes on Netflix. Then I had three more directors. They are so special because they create the project, so they are so in love with it. It was a mix of love and professionalism.”
Now armed with excellent English-speaking skills, Maria is looking forward to gaining more work in her industry. Until then, Maria is enjoying life in Perth.
“When I came to Australia, I thought I would stay for six months. But now I love Perth and I really want to stay here. If I find a job here, then I will stay for sure. But if I don’t, that’s okay. I will go back to Brazil happy and grateful for everything I lived here.”
Chasing your career dream in screen and media
Pursuing a career in the film and television industry doesn’t come without its challenges. Having moved countries and learned a new language at the age of 32, Maria has faced plenty of them. She advises future students with a passion for this career path to let go of their hesitation.
“Do it. I think if we overthink a lot we don’t do anything. If you love it then you have to try. Don’t think, just do it.”
TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) is the registered training organisation (RTO) and Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) provider, for the delivery of training to international students, enrolled in TAFE courses in Western Australia. These nationally recognised courses are delivered by Western Australian TAFE colleges on TIWA’s behalf. TIWA retains responsibility for the quality of the training and assessment delivered by the TAFE colleges and for the issue of certification documentation to students.
Visit the TAFE International Western Australia website for information on course offerings for international students.