Jennie’s entertaining career

By Callie Morgan

Sam Worthington, Toni Collette, David Wenham, and Bryan Brown are just a handful of Australian film stars Jennie Hughes has worked alongside.

After working in the entertainment industry for 25 years she has not only seen her fair share of celebrities at work but has helped morph them into the household names they are today.

“I actually worked as producer on Sam’s first major film role,” she casually said.

And if that wasn’t impressive enough ... “Originally I started off at Sony Music years ago working with Midnight Oil and Peter Garrett.”

Jennie has been the executive producer of six feature films, including AFI award-winning Gettin’ Square, Dirty Deeds and Crackerjack and has held senior positions at enormous companies such as Sony, Warner, EMI, Virgin and Macquarie Bank.

While she had forged an established, successful and reliable name for herself in Sydney, she jumped at the opportunity to work at Open Channel, Docklands’ screen-industry training program located in Shed 4, Victoria Harbour.

For the past seven months Ms Hughes has been helping Open Channel grow into one of Docklands’ most unique businesses.

“I only joined Open Channel in July last year so I’m relatively new but it’s been very exciting because it’s currently at a really exciting time where it is growing incredibly,” she said.

“Basically I’m the executive director, so I run the whole organisation and manage the different divisions.”

Open Channel, unlike most schools, puts a great emphasis on ensuring its pupils find work after their training is complete.

“Open Channel has been here for about seven years now and what it primarily does is provide pathways to industry for emerging screen practitioners,” Ms Hughes said.

“It’s about giving them that experience so we can really have outcomes rather than just training people and going ‘well, good luck’.”

Ms Hughes said she had seen Open Channel graduates move on to projects such as I, Frankenstein, starring Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy, and Killer Elite, which stars Jason Statham and Clive Owen.

To add to her huge workload and regular meetings, Ms Hughes still makes time to commute back to Sydney to visit her family.

“I go back once a month because I’ve still got family in Sydney and then I come back down here to work,” she said.

While life would probably be a lot easier if Open Channel was based in Sydney, Ms Hughes loves her Docklands workplace.

“I love Docklands but who wouldn’t love looking out over the water?” she said. “It’s a very tranquil place. It’s just fantastic.”

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