Smith & Nasht

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Smith & Nasht is an Australian media production company formed by technology entrepreneur Dick Smith and filmmaker Simon Nasht. The company was established in 2010 and has specialized in "global issue" films. As of 2015, topics have included energy, climate change, over-population and others. Smith&Nasht’s first film – I Can Change Your Mind About Climate – aired on the ABC in 2012 and was followed by a high‐rating episode of the TV discussion show, Q&A.[1]

Simon Nasht[edit]

Nasht is a film producer and former journalist. Honours garnered by his work include Prix Jules Verne for international history film of the year in 2002, a Logie and Australian Writer’s Guild and Director’s Guild awards. In 2009, he received a shared Eureka Prize for Science Journalism. Nasht has written and directed some of the highest rated documentaries for the year for the ABC, including a film about the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Dick Smith’s Population Puzzle. The hour-long Q&A panel that followed the latter was the highest rating show of its kind on Australian television, according to the ABC.[1] Nasht's films have raised the profile of several Australians, including The Man Who Made History, Frank Hurley, and Tasmanian Devil, which focused respectively on Frank Hurley and Errol Flynn, and Voyage of the Nautilus, which focused on Sir Hubert Wilkins about whom he also authored two books: The Last Explorer and No More Beyond.[2]

In 2014, Nasht criticised Government cuts to documentary funding through Screen Australia stating:,"Documentary has been hit with a totally unjustified cut of more than $2 million while feature film remains a protected species mired in failure."[3]

Howard on Menzies (2016)[edit]

In March 2015 Nasht announced he would work with Stuart Menzies (the former head of ABC TV Content and Creative Development)[4] and former Prime Minister John Howard on a two part series for ABC TV entitled Howard on Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia.[5] Stuart Menzies brought the concept to Nasht and the pair then approached Howard with it. Nasht has said of the project:

“Howard is very hands on, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the era and the personalities and has an absolute passion for the art of politics. It is a true collaboration but ultimately the opinions being expressed are Mr Howard's.”[6]

Film productions by topic[edit]

Environmental films[edit]

I can change your mind about climate (2012)[edit]

I can change your mind about climate was an ABC1 TV event designed to kick-start a national conversation about climate change. Representing two extremes of position on the topic and separated by a generation, the documentary featured conservative former Liberal party senator Nick Minchin and climate activist, founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and author, Anna Rose as competing protagonists. They shared a "journey of mutual discovery" to see if they could change each other’s mind about climate change, its causes and impacts. The one-hour long documentary was followed by a live studio audience discussion on the ABC TV program, Q&A.[7] The production was directed by Max Bourke, produced by Kate Hodges and Simon Nasht and partnered with ABC TV, Screen Australia and Screen NSW.[8]

The film attracted criticism from environmentalists and scientists[9][10] who stated that climate change is not scientifically controversial, and that the format of the show was read "directly from the denialist strategic playbook."[9] Graham Redfearn said of the program: "If I were a climate sceptic activist or a fossil fuel lobbyist designing a format for a TV show, this show is what I’d probably come up with."[10] Simon Nasht defended the choice of format by saying "We set out to see who Nick relies on and who Anna relies on. That’s a valid approach.”[11]

Defendant 5 (2014)[edit]

Documentary filmmaker Heidi Douglas went to Tasmania to investigate the old-growth forest logging industry by Gunns Ltd. After discovering that locals were up in arms about the woodchipping of the island’s ancient forests, Douglas was shocked when she and 19 other critics were sued by Gunns in a $6.4 million lawsuit. Douglas’ ten-year journey, a battle between a corporation and community activists was condensed down to a half-hour documentary film. It was directed by Heidi Douglas and produced by Ruth Cross. Executive Producers were Trish Lake and Simon Nasht. The production partnered with ABC TV, Al Jazeera English, Screen Tasmania, Screen Australia and Metro Screen.[12]

Frackman (2015)[edit]

Frackman is a feature-length documentary film which follows anti-coal seam gas activist Dayne Pratzky through his personal investigation of the industry's impact on rural Australian communities. The film was directed by Richard Todd, co-directed by Jonathan Stack, produced by Richard Todd, Simon Nasht and Trish Lake and was co-produced by Kate Hodges and Daniel Lake.[13] The film premiered in March 2015 and commenced a touring program of cinema screenings in regional Australian towns.

The coal seam gas industry criticised the film, and public funds being used to produce documentaries of its kind.[14][15]

Energy[edit]

Ten bucks a litre (2013)[edit]

Ten Bucks a Litre, is a one-hour documentary film which sets out to investigate the different options available for addressing Australia's energy export and domestic production future. The film starred and was narrated by Dick Smith, and was colloquially described as a "dick-umentary" by producer, Simon Nasht. On receipt of government funding via Screen Australia, the film's synopsis described Dick's intention "to separate the facts from the hot air" as he asked "What are Australia’s options as we enter the age of energy disruption?"[16] The film was directed by Max Bourke and produced by Simon Nasht and Kate Hodges. The film premiered on ABC on 1 August 2013.[17][18]

The film discusses topics like energy efficiency, the affordability of solar panels and battery storage, coal seam gas extraction and the potential for nuclear power in Australia. While Dick Smith and Ziggy Switkowski (profiled in the film) have advocated for nuclear power, strong opposition exists in Australia.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Canberra Confidential (2013)[edit]

Presented by Annabel Crabb, Canberra Confidential is a one-hour documentary film which explores forgotten secrets and scandals from Australia's capital city. The film was directed by Ian Walker and produced by Kate Hodges, Anna Cater and Simon Nasht. It was produced in partnership with ABC TV, Screen Australia and Screen ACT.[19]

Natural history[edit]

Life on us (2014)[edit]

Life on us investigates the microscopic world of organisms which live on and inside human bodies. It featured innovative moving image electron microscopy and super-macro filming techniques. The work took the shape of a two part series, each a two-hour episode. It was written and directed by Anna-maria Talas and produced by Simon Nasht. It premiered in April 2014 on Australian broadcaster, SBS. The production partnered with co-producers Mona Lisa Production (France), SBS, ARTE France and Screen Australia.[20]

Overpopulation[edit]

Dick Smith's Population Puzzle (2010)[edit]

Dick Smith's Population Puzzle (2010) was Smith's first collaboration with Nasht, though it was not released as an official Smith&Nasht production. It attracted media attention due to the public and private sector contributions to its financing, which included public funding via the ABC and a personal contribution of Dick Smith's time and approximately $50,000 in cash.[21] Following the film's premiere on ABC television, the discussion show Q&A picked up the program's topic. This programming format and partnership with Q&A set a precedent that later Smith & Nasht productions would follow.

The Vasectomist (2013)[edit]

The Vasectomist is a one-hour documentary which follows Dr Doug Stein, a urologist as he travels the world conducting vasectomies. He is motivated by his concerns for over-population, climate change and the carrying capacity of the earth and the film is intended to prompt conversations around these themes. The film was directed by Jonathan Stark and produced by Ruth Cross. Simon Nasht and Dick Smith were the executive producers. Film production partners included SBS, CBC, DR, VPRO, Screen Australia and Screen NSW, and the film premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2013.[22] Dick Smith has long been concerned with the issue of overpopulation, as evidenced in his first film, Dick Smith's Population Puzzle.

The People Paradox (2013)[edit]

The People Paradox is a 90-minute documentary film that follows the life and work of Professor Paul Ehrlich as he warns the world of the dangers of human overpopulation. The film is directed by Simon Nasht and Jonathan Stack and is produced by Simon Nasht, Jonathan Stack and Ruth Cross.[23]

Films in development[edit]

Howard on Menzies: The Making of Modern Australia (2016)[edit]

Based on his book The Menzies Era, former Prime Minister John Howard intends to explore the government of Robert Menzies in a two part series commissioned by ABC television. The project is funded by Screen Australia and the two one-hour episodes will air in 2016. The series is produced by Simon Nasht and Ruth Cross and its Executive Producer is Stuart Menzies (no relation to the central subject). Interviewees were to include former prime ministers Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, entertainers Barry Humphries and Clive James, members of the Menzies family and others.[24]

I Can Change your Mind About Recognition (working title) (2015)[edit]

As Australia heads to a referendum on Indigenous recognition, two fiercely opposed advocates travel the nation to see if they can change each other’s mind. The film is being developed as a 1-hour documentary film for broadcast on ABC. It is being written, directed and produced by Simon Nasht. Ruth Cross is also producing. The film received production investment from Screen Australia, announced in November 2014[25] and an additional $51,000 from Screen NSW in production finance.[26] The project had also been listed under the working title I Can Change Your Mind About Racism.[27]

Inside the Inferno – The Science of Bushfires[edit]

To live in Australia is to experience bushfire. As our population grows and as the effects of climate change are felt, will Australia experience its worst bushfire season yet? Inside the Inferno - The Science of Bushfires is a two part series directed by Max Bourke and produced by Marcus Gillezeau, Ellenor Cox as a co-production with Dragon Fly. Simon Nasht is the executive producer, and the production will be broadcast on SBS and BBC. Program sales will be managed by Shine International.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Canberra Confidential - A Century of Spies, Lies and Scandals with Annabel Crabb - Key creatives" (PDF). ABC. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  2. ^ "Books". Trove. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  3. ^ Groves, Don (2014-11-16). "Docs funding guidelines criticised". IF. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  4. ^ Knox, David (2014-08-15). "Stuart Menzies to depart ABC". TV Tonight. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  5. ^ Kembrey, Melanie (2015-03-19). "John Howard to present ABC documentary on Robert Menzies". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  6. ^ Groves, Don (2015-03-19). "John Howard to examine the Menzies era". If.com.au. Retrieved 2015-03-20.
  7. ^ De Zylva, Diane (2012-04-20). "I Can Change Your Mind About…Climate – Documentary". Bluegum Studios Productions. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  8. ^ "I can change your mind about climate". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  9. ^ a b McHugh, Ian (2012-04-27). "'I'd rather slam my cock in a door than debate climate change'". Crickey.com.au. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  10. ^ a b Readfearn, Graham (2012-04-24). "I can engage in a flawed debate about climate change". Graham Readfearn. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  11. ^ Readfearn, Graham (2012-04-30). "Simon Nasht tells me why he made that ABC climate documentary". Graham Readfearn. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  12. ^ "Defendant 5". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  13. ^ "Frackman (2014) Full cast and crew". imdb.com. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  14. ^ "'Frackman', the movie". Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  15. ^ "Frackman facts". Energy Resource Information Centre. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  16. ^ Knox, David (2012-10-03). "ABC, SBS documentary funding approvals". TV Tonight. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  17. ^ "Ten bucks a litre". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  18. ^ "Ten bucks a litre". Youtube.com. Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  19. ^ "Canberra Confidential". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  20. ^ "Life on us". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  21. ^ Quinn, Karl (2010-08-09). "Dick Smith justifies funding 10% of TV documentary". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-02-28.
  22. ^ "The Vasectomist". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-03-01.
  23. ^ "The people paradox". Smith&Nasht. Retrieved 2015-03-03.
  24. ^ "Former PM John Howard to present new ABC series". ABC. ABC. 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  25. ^ "Approvals - Production Investment". Screen Australia. 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
  26. ^ "Funding approvals". Screen NSW. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
  27. ^ "I Can Change Your Mind About Racism (2015)". Screen Australia. Retrieved 2015-03-19.
  28. ^ "Approvals - Production Investment". Screen Australia. 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2015-03-19.