Luke McGregor's Sex Education

Luke McGregor's Sex Education

You wouldn’t think that the solution to overcoming sexual inexperience and anxiety would be to make a television show about it. But that’s what Luke McGregor has done, and Luke Warm Sex is the result. In this new ABC TV series the Tasmanian-born, Melbourne-based comedian tries to improve his lovemaking by consulting various “sexperts” and bemused members of the public. For all of its cringe-inducing moments (including a chat with McGregor’s parents about their sex lives), Luke Warm Sex is adorably awkward and quite informative.

Sex Will Never Be The Same Again

Sex Will Never Be The Same Again

There's something to be said about getting your education on all things sex from a complete stranger. No emotional attachment, less embarrassment, the opportunity to ask questions and even if judged know you may never see them again.

Then there's the chance to challenge your anxieties about intimacy, touch and all things sex on national TV. If that's not confronting then I'll walk naked through the Bourke Street Mall.

Welcome to LUKE WARM SEX.

Podcast: TV series Changing Minds returns to fight the taboo

The harmful stigma surrounding mental health may still remain in some areas, but an ambitious television series is tackling that head on. The second season of Changing Minds will begin on ABC tomorrow night, to fight the taboo that often shroudes mental health.

The three-part series follows 11 patients in the locked mental health units of Sydney's Campbelltown Hospital and in the homes of patients cared for by community mental health teams.

We were joined by Dr Mark Cross, psychiatrist at Campbelltown Hospital, to chat more about this ground-breaking series and the issue of mental health.

Listen to the radio interview here

Podcast: Behind the Scenes

Changing Minds, series two, follows a group of ten young Australians facing mental health issues and we see how our mental health system copes with caring for them. The first series picked up an Australian Director’s Guild Award for Best Directing in a Documentary Series for director Cian O’Clery. He joined us on the phone today to talk about the new series and how they went about filming people in the most vulnerable point in their life.“Changing Minds” will broadcast on ABC on 6, 7, 8 October for Mental Health Week.

Visit the Radio Adelaide link to listen to the podcast episode with Cian O'Clery

Switched On review of Changing Minds


Joel, 18, has a problem. "This may sound crazy, but I can speak to spirits and that," he tells Dr Mark Cross. The shrink is ready for him. "Look, I'm a psychiatrist, I can cope with crazy."

Joel is in society's most at-risk group for mental illness, 17-24, one of the patients at Campbelltown Hospital's Mental Health Unit who have agreed to be filmed for the second season of this riveting series. Dr Cross and team can help in different ways, starting with the simple stuff. Joel, who lives in a bush cave, needs a pair of shoes.

Switched On - CM review - 30.09.15

Sydney Morning Herald's 4 Star Review of Changing Minds

This Week: Melinda Houston's TV sides Melinda Houston – SMH - October 4, 2015

CHANGING MINDS Series return ★★★★ Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8.30pm, ABC

Changing Minds tackles mental health issues faced by young people.

This fabulous observational documentary returns for a second season, this time focusing on the mental health problems besetting our teens and twentysomethings. It doesn't sound like a great night's entertainment but the frankness and generosity with which the subject is treated, and the beautiful characters that emerge – diverse, funny, clever, sweet, often challenging but extraordinarily brave – make this completely engaging. Yes, hopefully it will change your mind about mental illness – but you will also by thoroughly engaged along the way.

Steve Barnes sees through the illness and gives young people hope

Steve Barnes is often the last hope for many young people who suffer with mental health problems. As a clinical nurse consultant, the Austral mother of three has spent 30 years working in drug, health and mental illness.

She is one of the faces on ABC’s Changing Minds: The Inside Story, which is run over three episodes. Episode one is on tonight.

Changing Minds: journey from mental illness

Pick of the day: Changing Minds: The Inside Story, 8.30pm, ABC. This three-part series screens tonight and the next two evenings, a key focus of a week of programming on mental illness, health and wellbeing across television, radio and online.

Producer Jenni Wilks and director Cian O’Clery take us on a journey with young mentally ill patients on their road to recovery, from breaking point to rehabilitation in the locked mental health units of Sydney’s Campbelltown Hospital.

The 10 patients — more than 30 were filmed — include Daniel, 20, whose cannabis addiction masks psychotic symptoms; Taileah, 20, a recently graduated nurse whose stress manifests in auditory hallucinations; 24-year-old Nathan, whose schizophrenia allows him to converse with Hitler and Muhammad Ali; and Fabrice, 36, a barrister’s son with persecutory delusions.

They generously agreed to be filmed during the acute phases of their illnesses, their stories not related retrospectively but allowed to unfold in crisis, a serendipitous process hardly within the norms of production schedules and crew call sheets.

It meant there was no guarantee patients would continue to consent as they became increasingly in touch with their real selves — and, as O’Clery says, no guarantee existed that the stories would be engaging to an audience.

Well, they certainly are — this series is not only informative and intensely moving at times, if often uncomfortable viewing, it’s also philosophically profound and often very funny as taboos and stigmas about mental illness are confronted and challenged.

It’s skilfully and compassionately directed by O’Clery with sensual photography from Simon Morris creating a feature film look with a shallow depth of field causing distractions to melt away.

Bravo to all involved, especially the charming and witty Mark Cross, the psychiatrist at the centre of this absorbing, character-driven observational series.

ABC's Mental Health Week gets real with second 'Changing Minds'

ABC’s Mental As… week won plenty of acclaim in 2014 for “shining light” on mental illness, particularly in the centrepiece of the week — a three-part documentary which went inside a mental health unit. Changing Minds is an excellent piece of documentary and thoroughly deserved its accolades, including the Sydney Morning Herald review which named it “one of the most important programs in Australian television history.” 

Northern Pictures strikes the right balance

When David Haslingden decided to return home to Australia a few years ago, he didn’t have a home. After leaving his role as the president and chief operating officer of the US Fox Networks Group, the home to FX, National Geographic, Fox Sports and others, he emerged with a production company with operations in China, New Zealand and Singapore yet “nowhere to sit” in ­Sydney.

The Australian - Review of Changing Minds

Directed with great skill and compassion is the ABC’s startling three-part Changing Minds: The Inside Story, a key component of Mental As, a week of programming across TV, radio and online on mental illness, health and wellbeing. In this second season of the show, producer Jenni Wilks and director Cian O’Clery take us on a rather fantastical journey with a group of young mentally ill patients on their road to recovery in the locked mental health units of Sydney’s Campbelltown Hospital. The 10 patients include 20-year-old Daniel, whose cannabis addiction masks psychotic symptoms; Taileah, a recently graduated 20-year-old nurse whose stress manifests in distressing auditory hallucinations; 24-year-old Nathan, whose schizophrenia allows him to converse with Hitler and Muhammad Ali; and Fabrice, a 36-year-old barrister’s son with persecutory delusions about demons and devils.

They all generously agreed to be filmed during the acute phases of their illnesses, their stories not related retrospectively but allowed to unfold in crisis, a serendipitous process hardly within the norms of production schedules and crew call sheets. It meant there was no guarantee patients would continue to consent as they became increasingly in touch with their real selves — and, as O’Clery says, no certainty existed that the stories found would be engaging to an audience. Well, they certainly are. This series is not only informative and intensely moving at times, if often uncomfortable viewing, it’s also philosophically profound and often very funny as taboos and stigmas about mental illness are confronted and challenged. (For example: mental illness is not a life sentence; not all mental illnesses are the same; mentally ill people are not violent; and some cultural groups are no more likely than others to experience it.)

O’Clery and his director of photography, Simon Morris, filmed the series in a highly cinematic fashion using prime lenses on large sensor cameras, giving the images a feature-film look with a shallow depth of field, causing distractions to melt away, and at times it looks quite sensual. “What I didn’t want was for the series to look ‘raw and gritty’ ”, the director says. “I think that by doing our best to make it look beautiful, it helps present people and their stories in a sensitive and gentle way.”

Bravo to all involved especially the charming and witty Mark Cross, the psychiatrist at the centre of this absorbing character-driven observational series.

Northern Pictures spotlights mental health, sex

Documentaries on mental health, artist Brett Whiteley, the environmental threat to our seas, the secret life of pearls and how to have better sex are in the works from Northern Pictures. Managing director Sue Clothier and head of factual Karina Holden are driving the eclectic slate for broadcasters including National Geographic Channels International and the ABC and distributor Transmission Films.

The second series of Changing Minds: The Inside Story will screen on three consecutive nights from October 6 as part of Mental As..., the ABC’s week-long initiative in support of Mental Health Week.

While last year’s series was filmed inside Western Sydney's Liverpool Hospital’s psychiatric ward, the sequel follows daily life in the locked mental health units of Campbelltown Hospital and in the homes of patients cared for by community mental health teams.

Good Pitch 2 Australia generated philanthropic funding for six projects including two Northern Pictures feature docs. Whiteley is a portrait of the life and legacy of the celebrated artist Brett Whiteley, funded in the first round of Screen Australia’s documentary producer program.

Produced by Clothier, the doc is being directed by James Bogle, who is co-writing with Victor Gentile. “We will tell the story in Brett’s own voice, using archival material, and there will be some dramatic re-enactments,” Clothier tells IF.

The late artist’s wife Wendy Whiteley is co-operating. Distributor Transmission will arrange event screenings and the release will be marketed via major arts institutions.

Blue will examine efforts to safeguard the waters surrounding the continent from industrial scale fishing, habitat destruction, species loss and pollution.

Filming is due to start in early 2016, with Holden as the director/writer and Sarah Beard as the “impact” producer, who will pursue various models of distribution.

Blue will tap into the 700 hours of underwater footage filmed in the past few years by Northern Pictures, most of it in 4K, including the 3-part series Life on the Reef which screened on ABC, PBS, Arte, Discovery UK and National Geographic Channels International (NGCI).

NGCI has commissioned Secret Life of Pearls, a one-off doc which explains how man and nature work together to forge the ocean’s most desired treasure. The director is Nick Robinson, whose credits include Life on the Reef and Kakadu.

Holden is producing Lukewarm Sex, a six-part doc for the ABC created by actor/writer Luke McGregor (now on screen in Working Dog’s Utopia) and the director Hayden Guppy.

The series will follow McGregor’s efforts to get better at sex with help from experts who aim to coach him to go from being lukewarm to red hot.

Clothier says viewers will have to watch the show on the ABC next year to see how that mission turns out.

ABC’s mental health week gets real with second ‘Changing Minds’

Producer Jenni Wilks talks us through the second series of ABC’s acclaimed ‘Changing Minds’, which chronicles the happenings of one of Australia’s busiest Mental Health Units. 3f52a142c355b83772c2

In Australia, mental illness is the third leading cause of disability. Statistically each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience some form of debilitating mental illness.

Yet in spite of how prevalent it may be, there remains a huge degree of stigma attached to those with mental illnesses, deeply entrenched negative perceptions held by the wider community.

A 2006 study reported by the Western Australia Mental Health Commission found that one in four people felt depression to be a sign of weakness and would not employ a person with depression; one in five said if they had depression they would not tell anyone; a third would not vote for any politician that had depression; and 42% thought people with depression were unpredictable.

Changing Minds: The Inside Story is a documentary series by Northern Pictures in collaboration with the ABC. About to enter its second season, the program – whose Oct 6 premiere coincides with Mental Health Week - not only attempts to challenge the perceptions we might hold about the mentally ill, it seeks to elicit a compassionate attitude by following the lives of several real patients inside a South Western Sydney hospital. Both touching and confronting, it emphasises the common humanity we can too easily forget we share with those less fortunate.

“There has not been another documentary before Changing Minds that has captured the reality of the experience for people who suffer,” says series producer Jenni Wilks. “I hope the audience comes to understand what it is really like for people and their families to live and deal with mental illness, which in turn will reduce the stigma associated with it.”

Wilks is certainly as qualified as anyone to pronounce on the subject. A formerly registered nurse, whose husband is a psychiatrist, she says it is her interest in health, medicine and social issues which draws her to medical documentaries.

For seventeen years, she was the supervising producer on RPA, where, she explains “mental illness was the only area of medicine never covered in a series that ran for seventeen years! I made several attempts to include mental illness in the series but there was resistance from medical staff and my own production peers.”

While Wilks argues this as another example of stigma towards mental illness, she reports that “ABC TV executives were very open to supporting the series,” and including it as part of their ‘Mental As…’ week of programming about Mental Health.

“With a filmmakers hat on I could see how the nature and impact of mental illnesses could engage an audience, particularly in an observational format,” says Wilks.

However, given the nature of the program, strict protocols were in place at all times during filming “ensuring patient’s welfare was paramount, our consent process was rigorous and the stories would be told respectfully,” as she explains.

Accordingly, nothing filmed for the series took place without the approval of a doctor, and no patient was approached without the agreement of a clinician. While all the patients who appear on screen gave consent, there were also follow up meetings afterwards to ensure they were still comfortable with the decision; doctors who assessed their capacity to make those decisions; and further reviews by family members and clinical staff of the filmed footage to ensure the process was one hundred percent ethically responsible.

“At the meetings we described exactly how the patients would appear in the program,” says Wilks, “when well and unwell, and who else would speak about them and their illness.”

However, what struck Wilks most about the people who agreed to be featured in the series “both the first and this series, is how strongly they and their families wanted to advocate for people who suffer from mental illness and their motivation to help others by telling their own story.”

What distinguishes Changing Minds according to Wilks, from other documentaries on the same subject, is that the patients’ stories are unfolding in real time and not being told retrospectively.

“What has not been seen before,” she says, “and therefore is poorly understood, is a person actually experiencing an acute phase of mental illness, seeing it as it happens. The audience actually see and learn what it is like for people to be mentally unwell. It was important to us to always separate the illness from the person and therefore it was crucial that we not only filmed people when unwell, but also when they had recovered. Thereby, providing the basics of storytelling with a beginning, middle, and end.”

Changing Minds: The Inside Story – Series 2 will premiere nationally Oct 6th on the ABC.

Six Aussie films snag $4.2 million in philanthropic funding

Six Australian films have secured $4.2 million in philanthropic funding through Good Pitch 2 Australia at the Sydney Opera House. The films forged more than 60 new strategic partnerships across both the not-for-profit and business communities.

Along with funds committed, these partnerships, will support production, build audiences and ensure the lasting positive impact of the films.

The power of Good Pitch has been demonstrated following last year’s inaugural event, with three films so far presented in 2014 – That Sugar Film, Gayby Baby and Frackman – garnering large audiences and influencing policy and social change.

That Sugar Film has become the highest grossing Australian documentary of all time at the Australian box office (excluding IMAX).

Good Pitch, an international forum for documentary filmmaking, brings together filmmakers with foundations, not-for-profits, campaigners, philanthropists, policymakers, broadcasters and key players in the film industry, around leading social and environmental issues, to forge coalitions and campaigns that are good for all these partners, good for the films and good for society.

Good Pitch in Australia is hosted by Ian Darling's Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia Foundation.

The event was established by the BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute in 2008.

The six high-impact, feature-length documentary projects touch on issues around the arts, disability, men’s mental health, sexual assault and the environment.

Films include: On Richard's Side (Director/Producer, Andrew Wiseman; Impact Producer, Marylou Verberne); Blue (Director/Producer, Karina Holden; Impact Producer, Sarah Beard), Whiteley (Director, James Bogle; Producer, Sue Clothier); Prison Songs (Director, Kelrick Martin; Producer, Harry Bardwell; Impact Producer, Susie Meagher); Happy Sad Man (Director/Producer, Genevieve Bailey; Producer, Henrik Nordstron; Executive Producer, Rebecca Barry) and The Hunting Ground (Director, Kirby Dick; Producer Amy Ziering; Impact Producer, Allison Henry)

Good Pitch 2 is brought to Australia by the Shark Island Institute and Documentary Australia Foundation, with the support of Community Partners Philanthropy Australia and Pro Bono Australia.

Changing Minds win at MHS Awards

Northern Pictures, the team behind Changing Minds: The Inside Story, have been recognised at the 2015 TheMHS conference for their work in Mental Health journalism. In a ceremony in Canberra this week, The Hon Dr Kay Patterson presented the award as part of the 2015 TheMHS Learning Network Conference, an event that brings together people interested in improving mental health care and systems in Australia and New Zealand.

The ABC was also recognised for its exceptional services to Mental Health for its Mental As... broadcast initiative.

How we're protecting 'Life on the Reef' - PBS series chronicles conservation efforts in Australia's iconic ecosystem.

LifeOnTheReefGreenSeaTurtleSwimsInGreatBarreirReef.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smartA green sea turtle swims in the Great Barrier Reef in this image from 'Life on the Reef.' The three-part documentary that focuses on the coral habitat premieres July 22 on PBS. (Photo: Jon Shaw/Eye Spy Productions Trading as Northern Pictures)

It stretches 1,500 miles, is visible from space and is home to thousands of the planet's fish, plant and animal species, many of them endangered. It's Australia's Great Barrier Reef — actually 3,000 individual reefs that make up this World Heritage Marine Park — and efforts to protect it are the subject of the three-part PBS series "Life on the Reef," premiering July 22.

Humpback whales, green sea turtles, tiger sharks and manta rays are just a few of the species showcased in the series, which also focuses on scientists, conservationists, rescue squads and emergency teams that spring into action during cyclones, oil spill disasters and other crises.

Director Nick Robinson, who also served as one of the cinematographers, spent a year gathering 200 hours of footage for the series. He shared his insights about the series and this special place.

MNN: Why is The Great Barrier Reef so important to Earth's ecosystem?

Nick Robinson: As the world's largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a Noah's Ark for reef biodiversity at a time where we have already lost about 50 percent of the worlds coral reefs. Many species travel to and from the reef as part of their life cycle. Losing the GBR would mean losing a large number of species from the Pacific Ocean as a whole. If left unchecked, man-made climate change, pollution and overfishing will almost certainly wipe this vital marine ecosystem from our planet within our kids' lifetimes. We humans can decide to intervene to halt the decline, and the motivation to do so is growing stronger every day. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park realistically represents our best chance of preserving a large and functioning coral reef system. It's also the epicenter of reef conservation science, a place where we as a species are learning how to best look after our marine environments. Vital knowledge is being created every day that will hopefully be used in the near future to save the world's remaining coral reef habitats.

What was your approach to the special? What did you want to convey?

We made this series to give people insight into how extraordinary the reef is and how we as humans can help to protect it. We wanted to include the human story that is so often overlooked in wildlife films. We humans are the biggest predator/threat to the survival of most creatures on the planet so we thought it would be appropriate to highlight that friction point. It was also an opportunity to celebrate some of the great work being done to protect the reef and a chance motivate more people to get involved with marine conservation.

The Great Barrier Reef should become a great role model for the creation of other marine parks. It was also the perfect place to look at the complex environmental dynamic of balancing our needs with those of the natural world.

LifeOnTheReefLionFishSwimsInGreatBarrierReef.jpg.838x0_q80 A lionfish swims in the Great Barrier Reef in this image from 'Life on the Reef.' (Photo: Nick Robinson and Luke Peterson/Eye Spy Productions Trading as Northern Pictures)

What challenges did you face during the shoot?

The big challenges were logistical. The GBR is huge and much of the coast is hard to access by road so getting where you want to be at the right time of year was a permanent headache. Most of the barrier reef also lies at least twenty miles or further off shore. Weather, boats, camping on islands and finally finding the animals made for some great adventures. In most cases, however, we were following scientists that had a deep understanding of their subjects and that took a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. The creatures were generally where they said they would be and quite accommodating when it came to being filmed!

There are many spectacular sequences—which stand out to you?

I guess my favorite material is all the work we did on Raine Island. It's a restricted access island that very few people are ever allowed to visit because it's home to the largest green sea turtle rookery on the planet. Being on that small island with twenty thousand turtles in a single evening was nothing short of mind blowing. There were tiger sharks, hundreds of thousands of seabirds and some fantastic scientists doing an incredible job trying to find solutions to save this beautiful endangered species. The whole experience of being out there and seeing conservation work being conducted in its purest form was quite inspiring. It was also a place that drummed home the central theme to the series: connectivity.

Why was it important to emphasize the connectivity and conservation aspects?

Connectivity is the foundation of marine ecosystems and the more scientists learn about these environments the more we realize how important the big picture is. When you talk about the necessity of maintaining a marine park the size of France many people might think that's a little overkill, surely it could be a little smaller. Land-based national parks are nowhere near that big, so it's a fair question and we felt it deserved some answers in the series. We opened this series with the story of the east coast humpback whales. They travel thousands of miles every year from the edge of the ice in the Antarctic to calve up in the warm waters around the Great Barrier Reef. They need the Antarctic krill to survive but equally they need the warm safe place to give birth. Compromise either of these habitats and the species is doomed.

The humpback story is similar to so many other creatures in the sea: what happens on the reef has an impact all over the Pacific Ocean. Turtles, tiger sharks, marlin, tuna, seabirds the list goes on and on of creatures that roam the Pacific far and wide in their seasonal migrations. We also chose to open with the humpbacks because they are one of the great environmental success stories. Only fifty years ago these animals were disappearing through whaling. Less than 500 animals survived the slaughter on Australia's east coast. But since protection was introduced for them they have made a steady recovery. Over twenty thousand humpbacks visited the Great Barrier Reef in 2014, majestic proof that when we care enough we can strike a balance between our needs and those of the natural world.

LifeOnTheReefLiszardIsland.jpg.838x0_q80 Lizard Island is home to the Lizard Island Research Station, a facility dedicated to studying the Great Barrier Reef and other coral habitats. (Photo: Nick Robinson and Luke Peterson/Eye Spy Productions Trading as Northern Pictures)

Was there anything you wanted to include but couldn't get?

Not really. When things didn't work out we would have another go later on, but some of the best moments just popped up. Things like a cuttlefish laying its eggs or the aerial battle between frigate birds and boobies can be hard to predict, yet they all happened in front of our cameras while we were out looking for something completely different. Having a year to produce the program also meant we could be opportunistic and capture things like a cyclone that trashed a small town and a reef complete with before and after shots. Time was our friend on this series and I think the quality of the program is largely due to the time spent creating it.

What do you hope viewers take away?

I guess the overriding message is simple: This planet of ours is awe-inspiring and provides us with everything we need to survive. Looking after it is an investment in our future as a species. This series is about a small but vital part of our planet's marine ecosystem, but it provides a wonderful micro-world through which we hope viewers will garner a greater understanding of the big picture challenges our marine environments face. We also hope the series gives them the hope and confidence to believe that we humans do have the means to look after our oceans.

Alexandra Hodgkinson joins Northern Pictures

Alexandra Hodgkinson has been appointed as co-head of factual at David Haslingden's Northern Pictures. She was a producer and senior journalist at the Seven Network's Sunday Night program. Before that she served as a producer and later as supervising producer at the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes and as series producer or EP of factual series such as Bush Doctors, Beyond the Darklands, Pride of Australia and Young Doctors.

“Alexandra is a first-class television producer and vibrant creative thinker with a substantial track record in factual television. She has spent more than two decades at the coal face of current affairs television and will bring immense energy, intelligence and experience to her role at Northern Pictures,” MD Sue Clothier said.

“Alexandra, along with Karina Holden who moves from head of production and development to head of factual, will be looking for opportunities to create factual programs for the international marketplace, as well as Australia.

"Northern Pictures and its affiliates have offices in Singapore, Beijing, New Zealand and Washington as well as Sydney, which gives us a unique competitive advantage in identifying programming opportunities with broadcasters.”

Northern Pictures is part of Haslingden’s RACAT, a global network of TV production companies: NHNZ based out of the Washington (US), Dunedin (NZ) and Beijing (China), Beach House Pictures in Singapore and Taiwan, and Northern Pictures.

Keshet Australia is a joint venture between Keshet International and RACAT; the latter produces more than 200 hours of programming for broadcasters including Discovery, National Geographic, History Channel, A&E Networks, NHK, ABC and TVNZ.

Recent programming highlights for Northern Pictures include the landmark series Kakadu, Life on the Reef and Changing Minds.