Screen scholar Adrian the ‘drop out who made good’

Adrian Martin's life sounds like a screen lovers' dream – living in Spain as a freelance writer and film critic, spending his days watching films and TV series.

Adrian, also an Adjunct academic with Monash's Film and TV Studies unit, says he has led an “unusual life and career path” since dropping out of his undergraduate studies and later pursuing his PhD.

Here is his profile…

Adrian Martin.

Name: Adrian Martin

Course: I taught Film and TV Studies at Monash between 2007 and 2015; I received my Doctor of Philosophy from Monash Art and Design in 2006.

Campus: Caulfield/Clayton (and even Berwick)

Year graduated: 2006

Current position: Adjunct Professor, Media, Film & Journalism (Monash)

What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more ‘who you know’ than ‘what you know’?

In my case, it was definitely ‘what I knew’ – and what I had already done! I spent over 25 years as a freelance writer on the arts before joining the team at Monash. I built up my profile in print (I was a film critic at The Age newspaper for 11 years), in the media (radio and TV), and as a public speaker. I had also written three books, and co-edited two others, before my Monash appointment. I have been a prolific worker since my teen years!

What is a ‘day in the life’ of your current role?

Currently I live in Spain, and have returned to my daily role as (mainly) a freelance writer, as well as keeping my tie as an Adjunct to Monash. So, from day to day, I am watching films and TV series, taking notes, developing and composing essays, working on my website ( – and also collaborating on making ‘video essays’ with my partner, Cristina Álvarez López, which is a new extension of my work as a film and media critic/analyst.

What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your current work?

I learned a great deal about how to do in-depth scholarly research using international library resources, and at the same time how to be able to ‘translate’ that material in order to make it accessible, teachable and transmissable at undergraduate, Honours and postgraduate levels. These are valuable lessons for all my working situations.

If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?

I have had an unusual life and career path, in that I never completed a conventional undergraduate degree; it was my own amassed work as a writer that enabled me to eventually enter Monash’s PhD program. I am the model of a ‘drop out’ who made good! But if I was an undergraduate again I would definitely explore the internship option, which I believe can be immensely valuable; I would also take any possible opportunity to travel aboard for a conference, special residency or research task.

What skill (or skills) would you recommend students touch up on before getting into the industry?

I firmly believe that all students should develop good skills in both written and spoken communication. The Australian education system does not place enough emphasis on the latter: everyone should be able to confidently stand up and coherently address a room full of people, whether peers or strangers. And any chance you have to learn another language, do it. We all need to be more cosmopolitan these days.

When you were little, what was your dream job?

To be a singer-songwriter, like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen.

What is your dream job now?

To be a video artist curated into one of the big art shows like Documenta or the Venice Biennale, and to be supported by a rich patron.

Who do you look up to most in the industry?

My heroes have always been people who have done things their own way and retained their own voice, even when they were working ‘inside the system’: writers and thinkers such as Meaghan Morris, Philip Brophy and Lesley Stern.

Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?

Yes, some of those I met when I did my PhD at Monash became fellow staff members in Film and TV studies, such as Claire Perkins.

What’s your coffee order?

Café latte.

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