Sophia Zachariou at the top of the game show

The CEO of award-winning media company Bunya Entertainment (whose work includes the acclaimed series Mystery Roadas well as Australian feature films Heights), had been an artist for 10 years and had studied at the Sydney College of Arts when she entered the world of television in the early 1980s.

Sophia Zachariou took a television course at Sydney University of Technology and also started working for Special Broadcast Service (SBS).

SBS, which had launched in 1979 as Channel 28, with experimental ethnic television shows from Sydney and Melbourne, using ABC facilities, included the World News program anchored by George Donikian.

The young SBS offered unique opportunities for aspiring and experimental filmmakers and Ms. Zachariou thrived in this environment. She left her studies at the University of Technology to focus on her new career.

“I started at SBS in my early twenties as a production assistant and worked on Eat Carpet and produced the show for a few years,” she said. Neos Cosmos.

In each hour-long segment, Eat Carpet featured up to a dozen short films from amateur directors and film students from Australia and around the world. The films varied in their genres, from documentaries to music videos, comedies, dramas and interviews.

“SBS was a great starting point. It was small enough to do whatever you wanted, it was a great creative hub for multicultural communities in Australia and it was also an outlet for Indigenous filmmakers,” Ms Zachariou said. Supporting new talent is a role that has characterized his career in the industry.

In 2004, as an independent, she produced Microfilm, short films made using smart phones – a first in Australia. During her career, she has also developed digital formats for iview.

She moved to the ABC to become executive producer and assistant director of entertainment. During her time with the national broadcaster, she was to command more than 30 award-winning shows, including Gruen, The hunter, Kitchen cabinets, Crazy as hell by Shaun Micallef, Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Dayy, and At the movie theater, to name a few on a long list. She recorded over 400 hours of ABC television.

As executive producer, she was behind a versatile lineup of programming including: “hybrid docu-comedies, quiz-based talk shows, lectures, factual entertainment and comedy”. His role has ranged from creative development, editorial direction, production and program launch.

“In movies, the executive producers raise funds for the project. In television, the executive producer hires and fires people, oversees creative aspects, holds meetings with heads of departments, and is responsible for creative and financial decisions.

“TV is a collaborative business, which means you have to work with different people. You have to be a good collaborator and respect others. It’s about bringing the right people together, scouting the talent to create a good product. You must be a “people person”.

Ms Zachariou left the ABC in 2016 for Screen NSW and was soon appointed head of development and production. While there, she oversaw the commissioning process for award-winning productions such as Warwick Thornton’s sweet countryRachel Perkins Mystery RoadNash Edgerton’s Mr. In-Betweenby Bruce Beresford ladies in black and Jeffrey Walker Riot.

Sophia Zachariou is the CEO of the television arm of award-winning media company Bunya Productions. Photo: Supplied

In 2019, she joined Bunya Productions.

“At SBS and ABC, I was a buyer, now I’m a movie seller,” she said.

Australia’s film and television industry, she says, is in a very healthy position.

“(The industry) absolutely stands on its own merits. We are not just Australian actors in Hollywood, but writers, directors, producers and crew. We have a very robust creative industry.

“It’s a great future with so many opportunities for program creators and also for audiences. They have never had so many varied choices before.

The future of the industry lies in developing local talent and in particular indigenous Australian talent.

“We need to continue to make shows that reflect a modern Australia and also reflect the diversity of who we are – First Nations talent is also very dynamic and important in telling who we are and the real story of our country and its past, ” she says.

“First Nations stories have come into their own and are being told and listened to. Movies such as Heights, sweet country and Upscale wedding are all examples of the diversity of First Nations storytelling.

She grew up in Wagga Wagga and credits her family for some of her drive and early artistic leanings. His father, Vasili, was an avant-garde artist in Athens who made his living painting billboards and film posters. He came to Australia in 1956.

“I have an older brother and we grew up in a big Greek extended family because my mother has a lot of sisters. We are all still very close – cousins, cousins’ children, etc.

“I am married to a woman and she also works in television – she runs the production arm of the BBC studios in Australia. We have three children, all teenagers.

She grew up in a family proud of her Greek origins and also supportive and ambitious.

“All the kids have had a great education and gone to college and we have lawyers and executives as part of that.

“Our parents worked hard to give us the best in education and choice in life and that is a gift from our Greek heritage.”

She said that while First Nations actors, directors and screenwriters would do well in the industry, she said the Greek-Australian community has “great comedians and acting talents – Steen Raskopoulos comes to the spirit and Zoe Terakes”.

Working hard and getting to know people is the key to success in his industry.

“You start as an intern or a racer and get to know the people to work for. Be generous and offer your thoughts and be ready to listen,” she advises those who want to enter the world of television and film.

Karl M. Bailey