/News 30.10.23

Q&A with Disney Studios Australia’s Joe Petty

This month we sat down with Joe Petty, the Production Operations Manager at Disney Studios Australia to gain some insights into his job, and his experience working on some world-renowned productions. With a career spanning over 20 years, Joe is the one-stop shop for all things productions at Disney Studios.


Tell us a bit about your current position as Production Operations Manager, what led you to this role?

I have been with Disney Studios Australia, formerly Fox Studios Australia, for 11 years. In my current role, I work closely with filmmakers at all levels, whether it’s producers, production managers, art directors, runners or film executives to ensure they receive the highest level of satisfaction during the whole production process.

I support every aspect of a production from initial enquiries, tours, scheduling, onboarding, ensuring our facilities are flexible, state-of-the-art & functional, as well as any day-to-day operational matters. I understand the needs of a production and enjoy helping problem solve and find solutions to ensure they receive a first-class experience at the studio. Whatever a production requires, I am there to make sure it’s taken care of, so they can focus on making great film and television.

My career in the film and TV industry started as a cast driver, then runner, evolving into working with the production teams across multiple features and TV shows. Prior to starting with the Studio, I was working on the lot with the production crew for Australia and The Great Gatsby, which led to the opportunity to join the Studios team.

Joe standing in one of Disney Studios Australia’s sound stages

What do you love about working at Disney Studios Australia?

The site itself is very unique with a great history, and holds special nostalgic memories for me – the Easter Show visits as a kid were a regular highlight of my childhood! I love being a small part of the big process that is film and TV production. The creativity and dedication of all the departments never fails to amaze me and it’s an honour to experience regardless of the scale of the production.

What drew you to working in film?

Film is a family affair! My father is a filmmaker, among other things, my mother is a film critic, and my brother found passion in sound design. I also have many friends within the industry and ultimately got a start through them.

What was your favourite production you’ve worked on at Disney Studios?

Amongst the other big features, Baz Luhrmann productions hold a special place for me, having worked on both Australia and The Great Gatsby, Baz’s productions are always a wild ride. I was lucky to be part of the Australia production from the start to the final days in editorial, it was great to see and be part of the whole process.

“I have known Joe quite a long time, most recently in his role at Disney Studios.  He understands the industry and goes out of his way to ensure we are taken care of.

He is totally respected by everyone on the production, from the crew members to the executives! I wouldn’t want to do a production without Joe.”

Jen Cornwell, UPM on Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and Thor: Love & Thunder

What is something you’re proud of accomplishing in the time you’ve spent in the industry?

My proudest accomplishment I would say, is the connections and relationships I have made over my 20 years in the industry. Working for the Studio, I am often looking after multiple shows and I am able to connect with crew at all levels of production.

Working for Disney Studios in its current and past incarnations for over 10 years, how has the industry changed in that time?

This industry is definitely not without its changes, especially with the advancements in technology exploding over the years with LED lighting, camera technology (we still have a Kodak cool-room for film storage if anyone needs it) and the recent volume stages have been amazing to see.

With the Federal Government committing to the 30% Location Offset, and news that the NSW Government will continue to support the screen industry, these incentives have placed the sector in a strong position. I look forward to seeing a consistent stream of international and domestic productions coming through.

Joe and colleagues from Disney Lighting provide a tour for film school AFTRS

What advice would you give to international productions wanting to shoot at Disney Studios Australia?

Come on down-under! We have a world-class studio facility which is big enough to cater for a large tentpole feature, or for any small projects. We’re located in the heart of one of the greatest cities, Sydney. We have the best crew here, they are some of the most talented in the world, and we will certainly look after you.

What’s your favourite movie or TV series?

I do like a bit of Marvel action and the intertwining universe, took a few movies to get up to speed but I think I’m there. Ted Lasso is also a big favourite at home. Recently found Snatch while flicking through the channels too, that was a great one!

Tell us about the lifestyle in Sydney and how do you spend your time when not at work?

Despite a few years spent in Melbourne, Sydney has always been home. I love spending time with friends and family, either out and about or just a BBQ at home – which often lead to impromptu events with the neighbours!

I do enjoy a bit of weekend sport, either watching from the comfort of the couch (or pub), and enjoy coaching my son Max in soccer. I do try and keep the body moving with Baseball.

Joe and family