Trading the big, Hollywood sets for a cute, country barn full of hopeful makers is Australian Emmy-winning production designer and art director, Deborah Riley. Alongside her is boundary-breaking, paper engineer Benja Harney.
Together, they're going to judge some of the craziest creations ever seen on Australian TV, while sharing insight into their own expertise along the way.
Want to find out more about the judges of Making It Australia? We've compiled every little detail.
Deborah Riley is best known for her award-winning work as the Production Designer on one of the most popular television series of all time, Game Of Thrones. Her role in helping bring the epic medieval fantasy to life earned her four consecutive Emmy awards, three Art Directors Guild Awards and a BAFTA.
Deborah originally studied architecture in her hometown of Brisbane, graduating with a Bachelor of Design Studies (Architecture) at the University of Queensland in 1993. After a Tim Burton film inspired her to change paths and pursue stage design, Deborah enrolled at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and graduated three years later with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Design).
Deborah’s rise to prominence in the art department of film came with her breakthrough work as a set designer on the 1999 box-office smash hit The Matrix. She went on to work on a number of high-profile films and special events, including Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony.
She has spoken about design in the United States Congress at the Creative Future Caucus, The Smithsonian Institute (Washington D.C), V&A Museum (London), Pixar Animation Studios (California) and Film Schools across America and in Australia.
In 2019, Deborah was awarded the G’Day USA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film and Television and in 2020 was named in the Alumni Excellence Awards at the University of Queensland.
Benja Harney is renowned as a pioneer in his field, having worked both in Australia and internationally as a professional creative, artist and educator in the medium of paper.
Through his studio Paperform, Benja has engineered bespoke paper constructions for some of the world’s leading brands including Google, Nike, Facebook and Hermès. Not to mention two of Australia’s most successful music exports – Kylie Minogue and SIA.
From pop-up books, paper sculpture, installation, illustration, packaging, fine art, fashion, animation, set design – Benja makes anything and everything possible within this endlessly inventive material.
Benja has spoken about paper illustration at the University Of Sydney (UTS), the Museum Of Contemporary Art (Sydney), and the National Gallery Of Victoria (Melbourne). He has conducted international workshops at the World Pop-Up Exhibition (South Korea), Graphika Design Conference (Manila) and Semi-Permanent Design Conference (Auckland).
His eye for detail and a vision for the big picture led to his work as the featured artist for the City of Sydney’ New Year’s campaign in 2016-2017. Most recently Benja was commissioned by the Australian Olympics Committee to create a welcome art piece for their Olympic Village at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.