Pete Ireland's Return to Lizard Island Documentary Series
Aussie favourite Pete Ireland has had a global career, traveling the world to share his success and skills with others. But that doesn’t stop Pete from returning to what’s really important to him. In his new docu-series Return to Lizard Island, Pete takes a literal journey back to his adventurous roots by retracing the voyage his family took over a quarter of a century ago.
Pete grew up on a yacht, fondly called the Ark, with his parents and five siblings and they sailed along the coast of Queensland. The voyage to Lizard Island was the last voyage the Ark took, and after finding his mother’s diary detailing the journey over 25 years later, Pete knew it was time to retrace the journey that gave him his real sense of adventure all those years ago. And so, with the help of his brother Mick, Pete returns to Lizard Island to recapture the family memories he had growing up.
Return to Lizard Island also gave Pete the opportunity to work with accomplished editor, Douglas Flockhart. Flockhart a multi-talented editor with experience in both commercials and long form broadcast documentaries. He has worked to deliver programs for C4, C5, Sky Sports and others as well as working with independent film makers to show work in the Berlinale, Toronto Film Festival and other international programs.
Recent highlights include the TMT Award for best documentary series and a BAFTA Scotland nomination and New Talent BAFTA award.
The series is a clear testament to who Pete is as a filmmaker. Despite his global success, which has included lecturing in London, a slew of awards, and features at various festivals, Pete has not lost his sense of self, and that sense of self is best reflected through his work. Return to Lizard Island highlights what is truly important to Pete as he returns to the environment that largely contributed to the kind of films he has made throughout his career. It’s clear that Pete’s work as a director and filmmaker uniquely positions him as an industry leader who can advance important social messages through stories. In the case of Return to Lizard Island, Pete clearly shows a propensity for using film to promote messages about protecting the environment. In another, Pete’s work is frequently cited in much the same way as Ryan Murphy’s has been before him with respect to representing LGBTQ people.
Pete Ireland on set directing Dead Letter Chorus lead singer Gabby Huber
And like Ryan Murphy, Pete Ireland has been using his status and influence as he continues his global career to show what’s important to him. Indeed, Pete has been recognized for his work and value, and has been asked to judge at some of the most prestigious festivals and competitions in the industry. In 2014, he served as a judge at the Promax UK Awards, an awards show at which he has been honored for his own work many times prior.
In judging the Promax UK Awards, Pete was able to bring a fresh set of eyes and a truly original perspective to the judge’s table as informed by his past experiences. Growing up in Australia, surrounded by the beautiful as showcased in Return to Lizard Island, is clearly one of those incredibly unique experiences.
“Judging the awards was a real honor for me. As these awards represent the best in the industry I felt so privileged to be able a see the exceptional work my fell ow peers were producing. I was reminded of where I started and just how far I’ve come since then.”
For someone so at home on the beach and who comes across as incredibly modest, it’s hard to believe Pete has been honored so many times by the best in the industry. Of course, when watching his work, the surprise fades. Amongst the trophies Pete has collected throughout the years, in addition to the Promax Awards, are the Festival Director’s Award at the Lady Filmmakers Film Festival and the Best Independent Filmmaker award at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival.
“Being recognized for the work I’ve done has been rewarding because I produce films that have stories I feel need to be told. When these stories resonate with audiences it’s such a great feeling.”
Pete Ireland accepting the Promax BDA Award for Best Promo Campaign
In another avenue of his career that doesn’t quite fit with the image of a down-to-Earth Australian who set sail on a boat to document the nation’s pristine coastline, Pete has been known to be equally at home in the traditional teaching environment of London’s academic set. In 2014 Pete lectured in filmmaking at the Central Saint Martins school in London. To be asked to lecture at such a prestigious university speaks volumes of Pete’s work as a leading filmmaker with diverse international experiences.
Ultimately, not only does his work showcase his unique viewpoint of representing causes that are important to him, such as the environment and supporting the LGBTQ+ community, but it also is of such a high quality that others have deemed it important that budding filmmakers can learn something from him.
“I’ve really enjoyed lecturing because, as a filmmaker, you have the ability to move people and reinform the way they think about an idea and I think it’s really important to help guide the next generation of filmmakers and directors.”
And this may be Pete’s greatest feat: he is one of the few talented directors suited to representing minority groups in a way that contributes to the overall future social benefit of those groups he seeks to support, and he does so in such a way that others are taking note of his endeavors.
So what’s next for the director? Pete is working on an upcoming project entitled Morning After Night about a man that falls in love with trapeze artist and tells the story of how a one night stands turns into so much more. Return to Lizard Island also engaged prolific NZ-BAFTA-nominated editor Doulgas Flockhart to cut the series - himself well-known for working with filmmakers showing films at Berlinale, Toronto Film Festival and other international programs. If that association is any indication, Pete’s next film is sure to be just as true to his adventurous roots and will quickly become another hit.