Management team

Hallie Mckeig is the Director of Filmbites having founded it in 2003.  After completing a graduate diploma in film at Curtin University and a bachelor in Communications minoring in screenwriting, Hallie worked as a director at Channel 9 before leaving to work in Taiwan then Canada, where she worked on many major motion pictures and TV series. She had the pleasure of teaching students filmmaking during her stay in Taiwan and on her return to Perth, Hallie created Filmbites. Hallie’s commitment to providing the very best learning opportunities for young people has seen Filmbites grow to an industry leading and well-respected screen skills school with over 5 branches as well as a talent agency with a reputation for the excellence and screen readiness of its actors. 

Hallie continues to be an active member of the screen industry and is currently on the board of WIFT, Women in Film and Television.

 

Shanta Surendran is Filmbites’ Head of Screen Acting. She has trained actors since 2005 and has worked with both youth and adults at a range of levels from beginner to elite. Shanta is the creator, writer and head trainer of the acting curriculum. She also trains adults as part of the core training team at Nicholson’s Academy of Screen Acting. Shanta was also one of the key training team for the Diploma of Screen Acting at FTI which trained 2015 Heath Ledger Scholarship Winner, Cody Fern. In addition to acting training Shanta has worked with Jane Norris Casting as an acting coach.

Shanta‘s students have achieved many levels of success in their acting from confidence to self discovery to honing skills to success in industry. Industry outcomes have included entry into high caliber acting schools in Perth, the eastern states and internationally. Her students have also had success in getting high level audition call-backs and short lists (both nationally and internationally), as well as winning roles on commercials, web series, TV series and feature films. 

 

Ben Andrews is Filmbites Head of Filmmaking, Production Manager, and Head Writer. After working several years in youth services in Australia, Ben moved to Taiwan in the late ’90s to study Chinese and teach English. There he began writing and performing before being cast in a nationally syndicated TV program that was broadcast three times a day across China and Taiwan. After this minor brush with fame, he leveraged an opportunity to move behind the camera and has worked in film and video production ever since. Ben writes, produces and directs many of our senior-level productions as well as teaches acting and film-making across all levels at Filmbites.

 

Peta Kalaitzis is Filmbites’ Projects Manager, organising the community division’s workshops, Screen Academy events, marketing and partnerships, and making the occasional bowl of popcorn. After completing a secondment at ABC TV and graduating from WAAPA in Arts Management, Peta has worked almost exclusively in the arts in events, marketing, policy, partnerships and research roles at the Department for the Arts, Film and Television Institute WA, Sunset Cinema Kings Park, WA Screen Awards and Prospero Productions.  She also enjoyed a few years as a Project Officer at The Department of Premier and Cabinet.  Peta was selected to join the Perth Festival’s Film Review Panel in 2016/17. Peta also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Drama.

 

Filmbites Screen Academy Instructors

Jennah Bannear (Screen Acting) is a Performing Arts Graduate from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. She majored in Performance Making and attained skills such as movement and voice fundamentals, clowning, puppetry, script writing, directing, producing, marketing and critical analysis.

This formal training compliments 26 years of performance experience ranging from musical theatre, stand up comedy and traditional stage acting through to screen acting. For Jennah, Filmbites has been a great place to both share with and learn from enthusiastic young actors. 

 

Tim Green (Film-making, Green Screen VFX & Beginner Acting) has been making movies for longer than he could remember. He got his first video camera at eight and never really stopped. He started training at Filmbites in 2008, graduated from Murdoch University with a Bachelor of Media in Screen Production in 2015, and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Media Production in 2016. He has directed numerous short films, including Bodhi which was selected to screen at Cinefest Oz, and worked in the photography, production sound and editorial departments on a variety of projects.

 

Hermione Gehle started acting as a child and after graduating from the Actors College of Theatre and Television in 1999, continued to work as an actor in Sydney and America on stage, television and film for the following ten years. Hermione has taught acting skills to children since 1994 and then teens and young adults in Sydney from 2001. Upon returning to WA, Hermione graduated from a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performing Arts in 2011 before embarking on a Masters by Research degree in Performing Arts, Directing Stream at WAAPA in 2012, completing with the highest grade achievable in March 2015. Hermione assistant directed several productions and directed four of her own productions at WAAPA, including a short film with the Screen Academy. Her first contribution to Perth’s Fringe Festival in 2015 was nominated for the Artrage Theatre Award. For the following two and a half years Hermione taught acting skills for stage and screen, directed and wrote original devised pieces with The Actor’s Hub students, winning Most Innovative Performance and Adjudicators Award for Most Powerful Devised Script at the 2015 Independent Theatre awards. This year Hermione is thrilled to come on board with the Filmbites crew and be part of such a nurturing creative team.

 

Jessica Hegarty (Screen Acting & Screen Presenting) has been teaching at Filmbites for almost 10 years, starting as a student back in Filmbites early days and then progressing her training at the Film and Television Institute with a Screen Acting Diploma. Jess draws on her own onset experience and the numerous films she’s made at Filmbites to ensure the students get a professional and enriching learning experience. 

Jess loves seeing students developing confidence in their own abilities and empowering them to make creative choices whether in improvisation or working with script.

 

Clara Kotai is a secondary Drama and English teacher, a graduate of WAAPA’s Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts – Directing and also holds a BA in Media. Clara regularly acts and directs with local theatre companies in the South-West and is looking forward to working with young actors at our new Busselton venue!

In a past life Lyam Overington (2D Animation, 3D Animation and Gaming) was a Filmbites animation student. He went on to study 2D and 3D animation and game design at both TAFE and university and earned a Bachelor in Creative Industries from ECU.  He now teaches Filmbites’ 2D Animation, 3D Animation and Game Design term and holiday classes. 

Lyam is famous at Filmbites for his gentle manner and never-ending patience with his enthusiastic students.

 

Emma Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Performance Studies) in 2014 from Curtin University. During her time here she acted, directed and stage-managed plays including an adaptation of Virgina Woolfe’s Orlando, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love and Light. In 2015 she began a Diploma in Secondary Teaching, specializing in the areas of Drama and Media. As a pre-service teacher she worked with children from Year 7 through to Year 12 and in 2016 she graduated with the top mark of Double Outstanding. For the past 3 years Emma has run her own Out of School Hours Care service where she has worked with BeyondBlue and White Balloon, addressing mental health in schools as well as St. John of God Health Care. Emma continues to have an interest in film acting, running her own YouTube channel as a film reviewer. 

Taye Wickland has been acting, teaching and creating films for over 10 years. She began acting in 2011 at her repertory club in her home town of Manjimup, but after being accepted into John Curtin College of the Arts in 2013, Taye set her eyes on studying film. Currently studying film at University, Taye still acts and often directors other actors in her films. 

 

 

Filmbites Community Instructors 

As well as the above instructors, these lovely screen industry professionals join us when they are available to run courses and workshops for local government councils, community groups and schools…

Cody Cameron-Brown (Film-making). After graduating from the WA Screen Academy, Cody was one of ten directors selected worldwide to attend Judith Weston’s Director’s Studio in Toronto. He applied his newly acquired skills to directing two short films, Outline and Watchdog, the latter being funded by Screenwest’s Elevate program and earning him a nomination for Young Australian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2017 Byron Bay Film Festival.  In 2014, Cody  won Best Tertiary Film at the WA Screen Awards and was nominated for Best Music Video for Words From Robin To Batman by The Kill Devil Hills.

 

Deanna Cooney (Screen Acting & Screen Presenting) began training in performance in 1999. She has been a professional, working actor for 18 years, primarily focused on voice work (most recently Deanna was the voice of season 2 of Struggle Street for SBS).

Deanna has worked in all performance mediums across her career. Storytelling is embedded in her acting work, and she also applies her knowledge of acting and the industry as a casting headshot photographer.

 

Stephanie Davis (Makeup SFX) practically kills actors for a living. Having trained in London in film and television make-up and special effects make-up, Stephanie returned home to Perth in 2011 and works as a make-up artist on many local films. 

She is also a successful producer, having been awarded ScreenWest funding, and applies her film knowledge not only on her film sets but also when teaching SFX to her students during her  gory yet super enjoyable Filmbites workshops.

 

Tim Galloway (Film-making) is a Bachelor of Arts (Writing and Communications) graduate and qualified Media teacher. 

Tim spent three summers delivering music video, short film and claymation workshops at a US performing arts camp and works in community-services, where he uses filmmaking and arts as a youth engagement tool.

He has created advertising and educational resources for the state government and a range of not-for-profit organisations.