James guided countless productions running an independent studio for 20 years. Within the studio he usually works as a Writer and/or Director with a bit of producing in the mix as well. James’ work is always design driven, fusing great stories with new and hybrid techniques. He is passionate about stories that deal with identity, technology, psychology and how humans relate to the natural world. Over the years James has Produced and Directed content for Channel 4 in the UK, ABC, SBS and Channel 10.
Writing is big part of James’ role at Studio Gilay, with projects varying from comedy, drama, education and factual writing. These genres may become animation or live-action, James and the studio look to the brief and the story to guide the technique. James thoroughly enjoys collaboration of all kinds and since working as Studio Gilay with Jake Duczynski, he has learned a lot about consultation and story development with Indigenous communities.
There is always development of original IP happening at Studio Gilay, Jake and James are the driving force behind most of those projects. Studio Gilay has recently hosted several writer’s rooms and development session on new exciting projects… stay tuned.
Jake Duczynski is a proud Gomeroi and Mandandanji writer and director who is committed to First Nations representation on-screen and fortifying a space for Indigenous voices in the Australian animation industry. In 2021 Duczynski launched Studio Gilay in partnership with James Hackett alongside a diverse team of talented creatives, bringing thought-provoking stories to the screen.
Jake co-wrote and Directed the ground breaking series COOKED (2021). This animated series used comedy and satire to explore the lived Indigenous Australian experience and hit home some hard truths. Later in 2021, Duczynski Directed two animated dream sequences in the Netflix film BACK TO THE OUTBACK (2021), Directed by Harry Cripps and Clare Knight. Jake lead the consultation between Netflix and East Kimberley artists from Waringarri Arts Centre.
Duczynski co-directed an animated Documentary UNLOCKED (2022), for NITV and SBS VICELAND. Launching late in 2022, Jake and Studio Gilay collaborated with Maori artist Lisa Reihana, assisting her to deliver her cross-cultural futuristic work GROUNDLOOP for the Sydney Modern gallery. Consultation was a big part of this job, Jake contacted and liaised with many artist, dancers and knowledge keepers, helping this project take shape across both sides of the Tasman Sea.
In 2024, Duczynski had the honour of Directing ABC’s Ninganah Lullaby, performed by and in collaboration with Troy Cassar-Daley. Every night the lullaby is the last thing to go to air for the kids block of programming on terrestrial TV.
Close collaboration is a key component to Jake’s process, working meaningfully with fine artists, communities, composers and companies to give each project a unique design presence and honest perspective. Duczynski’s approach has won multiple accolades, from Walkely’s & Webby’s, to Best Direction at the ADG awards. His work has been projected across the sails of the Sydney Opera House, installed at the AGNSW & MCA, broadcast on the ABC, SBS/NITV and streamed on Netflix. Jake and Studio Gilay have multiple new and exciting projects in development. Stay tuned.
Cathy graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from UNSW. She started her career in the corporate world, but has loved the shift to working with smaller, creative businesses. Cathy has worked with James for over 10 years, and with Jake since the launch of Studio Gilay.
Director / Animator / Designer
Jonathon is a Woppaburra Illustrator and 2D animator based in Darwin. He graduated with Honours in Fine Art at CDU, and has exhibited his artwork across Australia and internationally. Jonathon has over 10 years of experience working in the Indigenous Art industry. He also undertook an internship at Fox Studio Australia working on Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant, assisting the Art Department and providing illustrations for use in the film. Using the knowledge and skills from his experiences, he created and directed the award winning animated superhero web series Zero-Point Season Zero.
2D Animator / Designer
Genevieve Stewart is a Kuku Yalanji and Wemba Wemba woman residing on Gadigal land. She is a 2D generalist at Studio Gilay and has an honours degree in Animation at UTS. She is also known for her cultural response to colonisation in an illustrative piece titled ‘Weaving Woman.’ This had been showcased at the Australian Museum’s exhibition: ‘Unsettled’.
Animator / Designer
Zoë is a Bachelor of Animation graduate from SAE Creative Institute, Sydney. She has an interest and proficiency in both 2D and 3D mediums. Zoë has always had a passion for art and endeavours to embrace any creative opportunity that comes her way.
3D Animator / Designer
Emily is an artist who enjoys collaborating with others to create compelling visual narratives. She’s worked on various films, animated shorts, projections, and a variety of web media. She’s a graduate from UTS Animation (honours) where she was a co-director on the 3D animated short ‘Backfire,’ which received an excellence award and became a finalist in the 2022 Rookie Awards. Learning is a priority for Emily. She enjoys taking online classes and exploring the natural world to develop her storytelling skills further.
Jalamara is a proud Wiradjuri man, with a passion for storytelling through animation. He began working at Studio Gilay whilst studying a Bachelor of Design in Animation at UTS. He’s had his hands on projects such as ‘Cooked,’ ‘Un-locked,’ television content and multiple art installations, including projections for the Sydney Opera House 50th anniversary. He is always striving to challenge himself to improve his skills, and continues to produce work that is intriguing, informative and inspirational.
Melissa Azizi spent the last decade in Los Angeles helping to produce Oscar-winning and nominated films such as THE DANISH GIRL and NEWS OF THE WORLD. She has a knack for finding great IP, having sourced the Mick Herron SLOW HORSES crime book-series which currently airs on Apple TV+ starring Gary Oldman. Melissa is a Sundance Producers Lab finalist and has produced short narrative films which have screened in over 100 film festivals worldwide. Melissa received a Bachelor of Arts First Class Honours from the University of Sydney followed by a Masters in Media Arts and Production from UTS. At both universities, she was presented awards for her directing work. Melissa also graduated from UCLA’s Professional Producing Program. She is awesome.
Sabina comes to us all the way from the great state of Texas y’all! She is our American boomerang, returning back to us from maternity leave. She was a gun Senior Producer at former Studio Hackett and a Development Producer on Cooked. She comes with a wealth of content agency and account management experience, working with clients such as Sydney Opera House, Deloitte, Volkswagon, United Airlines (US), & Cancer Council. From TVCs to magazines, Sabina has worked with brands strategically to create meaningful content that does everything from educate to entertain. She has always been a world traveller, calling Argentina & the UK home for brief stints and finally settling in Byron Bay.