While times may change, the keys to success rarely do. No one knows that better than Rikki Lea Bestall, whose passion for film took her from Perth to LA and then back again as CEO of Screenwest, helping to fund and support the development and production of film, television and interactive projects in WA.

Rikki Lea Bestell

Rikki’s advice is clear. If you are looking to break into film, go for gold and never give up or turn down any opportunity.

“It’s the fear of failure that stops most people.”

Growing up, Rikki had a passion for the creative industries. She was also a keen activist, protesting for environmental organisations such as Save the Forests. During that time, Rikki gained an understanding of the positive influence film can have on an audience, and decided to pursue a career in film.

When Rikki graduated from high school, she enrolled in the Arts Management degree at WAAPA. Rikki remembers WAAPA as an ideal environment for learning, growth and meeting other like-minded individuals, creating invaluable opportunities for the future.

“It provides a framework for the future and sets you up for what you might need to know,” she says.

During her time at WAAPA, Rikki also undertook extensive work experience assisting on the sets of a number of TV shows during university holidays. In her final year of study, Rikki completed her secondment at Film Victoria in Melbourne, where she wrote her thesis on runaway production and tax incentives for the film industry.

Rikki Lea Bestell

Rikki on the set of Jub Clerc’s feature film debut, ‘Sweet As’ in the Pilbara, 2021

After graduation, Rikki was offered a job in Melbourne working in the accounts department of Ned Kelly, the 2003 feature film starring Heath Ledger. Rikki worked her way from accounts to production management for projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland and then a position assisting in the production of kids TV shows for Disney in Sydney.

After working on a Marvel film with an LA-based producer in Melbourne, Rikki moved to LA to oversee the creative side of his company and worked on both TV and feature films.

Rikki returned to Perth and worked at Screenwest as Head of Development & Production, as well as an independent producer, developing and producing a number of WA projects, before being appointed as Screenwest CEO in June 2021.

Rikki remains optimistic about the film industry in Western Australia and notes there is a big push to diversify the local economy through the creative industries and for film to come to Perth.

“We are in a prime position to grow Perth’s film industry exponentially. Back in the ’80s when the industry took off the focus was around kids TV. Over the last decade, we’ve started producing feature films, documentaries and TV series in Western Australia,” says Rikki.

Rikki’s final word of advice for students aspiring to enter the film industry:

“If you want to get into the film industry you can’t expect it to come to you. Relationships and networking are key.”

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