Vale: David Tiley

Writer and industry colleague David Tiley, best known as a former ScreenHub Editor and documentary screenwriter, has died.

Writer and industry colleague David Tiley, best known as a former ScreenHub Editor and documentary screenwriter, has died.

He died in hospital last night, where he was in palliative care, attended by friends and family.

Tiley was Editor of online trade site ScreenHub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021, with a special interest in policy.

He had previously written scripts for documentary films Trial by Fire, Win Some Lose Some, and later Lionel, Strange Birds in Paradise: A West Papuan Story, The Triangle Wars and The Unlikely Pilgrims.

He was Script Editor on Noise, Breaking the News, John Friedrich: Catch Me if You Can and Motorkite Dreaming. He also worked at the Australian Film Commission after freelancing as a writer for 20 years.

David Tiley joined ScreenHub in 2005 pouring his passion for Australian film into news stories read by subscribers and industry gatekeepers. Championing storytelling and producers he described the role as finding “my place in the world.”

“Those days seem simple and golden to me now, as we had the time and space to explore ideas in detail, the freedom to take risks, and the corporate luxury of basic wages,” he would later reflect.

A self-described ‘rat bag,’ he would often inject snark into his articles whilst still rattling the cages around funding, justice, government red tape and creativity. Over time, when ScreenHub changed management under Artshub Pty Ltd, the tone would shift, and humour became a casualty.

“We built ScreenHub on playfulness, but we have to accept that our audiences now don’t get a lot of those jokes, or even realise that they are not literal. That’s life.”

He remained with ScreenHub until retiring in 2021.

In 2022 Tiley won the $5,000 Stanley Hawes Award at the Australian International Documentary Conference.

In March AIDC CEO / Creative Director Natasha Gadd noted, “David has been an indefatigable champion of documentary and factual production, and one of our most passionate grassroots commentators and a singular voice on screen business in the Australia media.”

Screen Producers Australia also paid tribute to Tiley at the SPA Awards last month.

Today SPA described him as a long-time friend, noting his contributions to policy matters surrounding the Australian screen industry were extensive.

SPA CEO Matt Deaner said, “The sad news of David’s passing today is a huge blow to our screen sector. David’s long career and dedication to promoting and protecting our unique industry made him one of Australia’s most knowledgeable and renowned screen experts.

“SPA thanks David for his support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling, tireless efforts in sharing information about the health of our industry, and being a voice for the industry.”

I was Deputy Editor at ScreenHub when David Tiley joined in 2005.

David wrote with personality, passion and a constant strive for justice. I remember days of him cycling to work, huddling over a cheap heater, tapping madly on a keyboard when he wasn’t battling the infernal computer wiring, and dropping the word “comrade” a lot.

But much of what he taught me you now see in the content here, and some of it he would probably agree in spite of him, given more than a few stories I was pitching were too-TV and not passing the muster for ScreenHub’s film-focus.

Years later we would laugh over the fact he would call me to get the lowdown on a TV story he was trying to get his head around.

Thanks for the knowledge, comrade…

I leave you with some further words of wisdom he wrote when retiring in 2021…

“I have been a peripheral part of Generation Zero in the screen sector, which rescued our storytelling tradition from the post-war rictus of servility and made it a way of defining and inhabiting our culture. I sometimes joke that I was the only screen person who never made a dollar out of 10BA, as I went to London and later pottered happily around in education and community level work until the documentary industry was stabilised and I settled into researching and writing, with a small amount of directing,” said Tiley.

“But I shared a fundamental insight with that ratbag tribe – that everything in our sector was political, and depended on government and could be ruined at a stroke of the pen. That was a burden and a pleasure, because agitating and collective prickliness is fun, but the younger cohorts don’t share that feeling. The sector seems real, stable, made of concrete, just a thing, an entitlement. But they have the same urge to build something new and create opportunities and simply shifted to the internet, which my mob finds difficult to traverse. It is true.”


One Response

  1. Lovely tribute to a wonderful supporter of our business. I will miss seeing him at industry events – while being extremely grateful for everything he brought through his work. RIP David. Seriously, a treasure.

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