Bethany, please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?
I’m the Chief Operating Officer of the newly branded Mushroom Studios, which is part of the Mushroom Group.
Having a lifelong passion for music and the arts, I studied Arts/Law majoring in Theatre at Newcastle University which allowed me to pursue my passion and a career. I was lucky to land a role as a Music Lawyer at Media Arts Lawyers in Melbourne after finishing uni. I later moved in-house for Mushroom Group, and soon gravitated to Mushroom Pictures as a Producer and Head of Business Affairs.
It was here that my love of music and screen came together, producing the hit television documentary MOLLY: THE REAL THING and co-producing the award-winning two-part television mini-series MOLLY based on Molly Meldrum’s life. I also co-produced the feature film BOYS IN THE TREES with Mushroom, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
In 2017 I left Mushroom – but as everyone knows, most people return to Mushroom and I’m no exception. I wanted to broaden my knowledge of screen projects and was lucky that the first Virtual Reality project I produced, premiered at Venice Film Festival and won Best International VR Experience at Adelaide Film Festival. I continued to produce while working with Matchbox Pictures and Princess Pictures.
Before too long I returned to Mushroom to run Mushroom Studios and I couldn’t be happier. Mushroom really is like one big family and it’s a special place to work.
What does your day-to-day entail?
From the minutiae of budgets, schedules and contracts, expanding out to scripts, stories, and big ideas. I have a lot of variety in my day-to-day work, am on the phone a lot, and work with so many great people.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so, how did you approach them?
Of course! No career isn’t without hurdles. Sometimes I’ve been able to jump over those hurdles, other times I’ve required a lift over.
Having the right people around you is paramount. It’s important to have a brain trust who are willing to give you advice, honest opinions and have your back. I love working as part of a team that supports each other and is willing to learn together.
Do you have a single piece of advice that you can share, that has helped you in your career?
“Don’t tell me it can’t be done unless you’ve tried”.
While working on a production, the director gave the crew a clear direction. He said that he would accept if something couldn’t be done because of budget or schedule, but he expected that everyone first find out if the idea was possible.
I think of this advice daily. Find the motivation, put in that extra bit of effort, and you’ll be surprised at what you may be able to achieve when conventional thinking says, ‘it can’t be done’.
What does the rest of 2023 hold for you? Anything exciting you can tell us about?
I’m very excited for the upcoming release of Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story documentary. It’s in cinemas nationally on 31 August.
It covers Michael Gudinski’s career, and the birth and evolution of Australian music over 50 years. Featuring artists such as Kylie Minogue, Ed Sheeran, Vika & Linda Bull, Mark Seymour, Bruce Springsteen, Garbage, Sting, Billy Joel, Neil & Tim Finn and Paul Kelly. If you are a music lover, you have to see it.
Let’s talk about the highs vs the lows of your career, what is your greatest achievement?
Being invited to the Venice Film Festival was an incredible feeling, but the true achievement is to have an idea – for a song, an event, or a film or whatever – and attract all the elements to bring the idea to fruition. It takes time, grit, courage, and serious motivation to make things happen and I think that anyone who can achieve that, at whatever scale, should be incredibly proud of themselves. The lows are often part of that process.
Who has been your greatest champion in your career, who has helped you along the way?
My parents, siblings and partner are incredibly supportive with advice, encouragement, and constructive opinions, in good times and difficult times. I’m part of a large family so have lots of people who are willing to push me along.
There are so many people who have helped me along the way, but Matt Gudinski, Michael Gudinski, Joanne Weatherstone, Cara McDonald, Emma Fitzsimons, and Julie Eckersley are some people that have influenced and inspire me – they all demonstrate tenacity, resilience, and strong work ethics in their respective fields and who have believed in me.
What do you think is the biggest threat to artists or the industry and what would you do to change it?
We work in a creative industry that has always been at the forefront of innovation. The innovation in media has created a golden age for audiences who now, through many different channels, have access to so much art and entertainment. It’s an exciting time and presents many opportunities for finding niche markets, but audience segmentation also creates challenges.
With audiences becoming more siloed, it takes time and/or significant promotion and marketing muscle to really ‘cut through’ on scale which will amplify and sustain new artists and ideas. We can’t just rely on algorithms to recommend for us, and instead need to think of dynamics ways to showcase and promote our incredible emerging talent. Live music and cinema experiences perfectly create the electrifying feeling of being connected with an audience. I think that audiences are looking for unique experiences to feel connected. This is a great opportunity for us to think creatively about connecting audiences outside the digital engagement.
Any tips for a quick ‘pick me up’ if you’re having a bad day?
When things are feeling especially tough, I ask myself the question: “What are three things I’m grateful for?” It’s a sure-fire way of putting things into perspective.
What is your go-to Karaoke song?
The Lovecats by The Cure – it just makes me want to dance, dance, dance.