Who we are
Creative Director - Service Designer - Film Producer - Writer - Researcher - Content Strategist - Maker - Mentor - Resource Wrangler
Mel is a pioneer in producing collaborative open government projects and designing data narratives to drive community and industry engagement.
She started out in entertainment marketing and the music industry before immersing herself in the world of musical theatre with Cameron Mackintosh Sydney, working on; Cats, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Five Guys Named Mo, and Miss Saigon.
In London she freelanced in the advertising, TV series and feature film production for the BBC and Film Four, and as an agent representing film technicians at ICM.
On return to Sydney at Fox Icon and Working Title Films she worked across story development and production on the films; Oscar & Lucinda, Two Hands, Strange Fits Of Passion, Ned Kelly, Gettin’ Square, The Square, The Three Stooges, New Zealand film NO.2. During the eight years she worked with Producer Tim White, she managed a slate of over 20 films and assessed over 7000 projects.
In 2005, Mel decided she’d spent enough time with imaginary people in fictional circumstances. So, she shifted her focus to real world problems, factual media, and documentaries - enhancing her skills to develop cross-media stories, engage and connect audiences using digital technology.
Since then she has: managed a small boutique arts hotel (Regents Court) where she created and curated an artist/writers residency supporting 23 projects, designed their community focussed web site, and established sponsorships with Sydney Opera House, Company B and other arts organisations ; made independent theatre; produced a mobile TV show and online content for Vodafone; assisted arts and travel enterprises with online and marketing strategies; built teams for VFX, animation and interactive digital media companies (Dr D Studios, Rising Sun Pictures, Spinifex); produced documentaries; absorbed herself in the environmental sustainability sector; shared resources, and saved lots of almost-wasted-resources going to landfill.
A few years back she got in touch with her inner geek. She's spent her time making useful productivity and knowledge sharing software tools and researching ways to make and fund cross media projects and an interactive online series of short stories.
Mel is dedicated to designing and developing open government / engagment tools, open data and storytelling initiatives, and finding ways to help governments engage with us citizens and better connect with stakeholders and audiences. She introduced participatory design and a collaborative making approach to the NSW Government back in 2012, has a passion for visualising processes and lifecycle stories, and using her storytelling skills for social good. She loves leading our mob of like-minded makers, being an open government advocate, and a not-so-secret procurement nerd.
Creative Strategist - Digital Maven - Producer - Resource Wrangler – Geek - Nomad
Originally from Sydney, early on Michelle decided to follow her head for adventure which led her to travel to 38 countries. She now calls London home.
Michelle has an eclectic career path. Starting out in the uber corporate worlds of Australian Consolidated Press, Coca-Cola and banking. She escaped to Tokyo, where she taught English and got immersed into Japanese culture. A move to London and a fortuitous opportunity to take over her twin sister’s job, led to a gig at Viacom, one of the world’s largest entertainment organisations.
With a flair for talent negotiations and producing, Michelle spent 12 years working for MTV Networks Europe which allowed her passion for music, talent and creativity to collide. During this time Michelle launched the UK’s first interactive TV channel MTV Hits, negotiated access to the world’s biggest artists and up and coming talent, travelled the world and survived fluoro attire.
Before heading off to the Big Apple, Michelle summited Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Aged Concern and conquer her fear of heights. She raised money but is still scared of heights.
After a stint in New York working for Cablevision, Michelle moved back to Europe to launch Dailymotion UK, a collaborative community of makers and creators known as Motion Makers. This digital journey led her to become Director of Digital Media, Western Europe for Discovery Networks Europe Limited overseeing the digital strategy and development of multilingual websites, social channels and interactives. Michelle also learnt a lot about why men love shows that have a lot of facts about cars, motorbikes, wilderness and more cars.
Jamie Oliver was looking for a digital shakeup so Michelle helped him design and relaunch his websites, his recipe app and his Food Foundation charity sites. Her highlight was helping get 1 million kids cooking on Food Revolution Day for Jamie’s Guinness Book of World Records attempt. Michelle left Jamie’s a better cook and healthier eater.
Since then she has produced a live music award show for The National Citizenship Service in conjunction with Channel 4, a series of “Live Labs” for Grant Thornton Limited across the UK’s major cities, and launched Samsung America's Galaxy S8 phone, identify a new network of creators and makers to use their products to tell beautiful stories.
Nook has given Michelle the opportunity to explore her inner geek. At the Nook she works across new product and tool development as well as wrangling creators, makers and government collaborators to make meaningful content come to life. Whilst in Sydney if Michelle’s not with the Nook mob you will find her in the ocean. When in Europe, she flies the Nook flag and constantly on the move working on fabulously fun projects under her company moniker Lyra Productions. She is currently in Switzerland working on the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Advocate - Researcher - Service Designer - Systems Thinker - Nomad - Radiant - Facilitator
May is an independent advocate and researcher with a focus on open government and corporate transparency.
She recently returned to Australia from the United States where she was the Director, Governance and Transparency at The B Team, a not-for-profit initiative formed by a global group of business and civic leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business, for the wellbeing of people and the planet. She worked internationally with business and civic leaders on beneficial ownership transparency, open contracting, responsible taxation and civic rights.
Previously May was head of research for Oxfam Australia and led Oxfam International’s 12 country study on the human impacts of the global economic crisis, producing results used by governments and international institutions in their responses. She has advised CEOs, governments and non-profits on public policy and strategy. She serves on the global board of Gender at Work. She has a BA (First Class Honours – Politics and International Relations) and LLB from UNSW and an LLM from New York University.
May currently serves on the Australian Open Government Forum as a civil society member. She is a regular at the Nook, collaborating with us on open government advocacy and open data projects such as open contracting and open process, the Data Sharing and Participation project with NSW’s Chief Data Scientist and Data Analytics Centre, and our story platform Making Open.
When not on the road or at the Nook, May can be found here or hanging out in her tiny tree house.
Producer - Documentary Film Maker
Ruth Cross is a seasoned storyteller and maker. She was producer and head of development for Sydney-based production company Smith&Nasht, founded in 2011.
In late 2017 she became a founding partner and producer of DNX Media, a joint venture bringing together leading Australian producers December Media and Smith&Nasht to produce long-form documentary content for global audiences.
Ruth has delivered high-end documentaries to some of the world’s leading broadcasters and platforms. Her producing credits include The Vasectomist for SBS, CBC, VPRO, DR and its groundbreaking outreach campaign, World Vasectomy Day; a two-part documentary series Howard on Menzies for ABC featuring former Australian Prime Minister John Howard; a one-off documentary for ABC about Indigenous Recognition in the Australian Constitution Recognition: Yes or No? and Joyride, a one-off documentary for ZDF/Arte, CBC, DR, NRK, SVT, ABC, VPRO, DBS, RDI, CDI and Knowledge Network.
Alongside production, Ruth has a background in film programming including for Adelaide Film Festival and the First Factual Films Festival (F4) as part of the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), where she also managed the industry marketplace programs and was seconded to the Sheffield Doc/Fest team to produce the UK MeetMarket.
Ruth holds an MA in Documentary Production from the University of Salford UK where she was selected to participate in an exchange program at the prestigious Cuban film school, Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión (EICTV). She subsequently founded and ran a Manchester-based independent production company for several years during which time she was a recipient of the Channel 4 BRITDOC fund.
Ruth joined the Nook mob to spread her wings and delve into content strategy and content design, whilst still pursuing her own documentary projects.
Designer – Web Dude – Wine Connoisseur - Raconteur
Back in the UK, Mark started out in graphic design, branding and communications.
He spent many moons working direct with clients and on the agency curcuit. He worked with big pharmaceutical companies before moving to Sydney where he spent a wee while at digital agency, Protein-One, working on branding, campaigns, and apps for companies such as Vic's Meats, Victor Churchill, and Westpac.
When not designing, Mark is now Mr Web and product dev. He loves making digital things. He has a great eye and ear for story and figuring hard stuff out.
Illustrator – Designer – Data Storyteller - Traveller - Map Lover
Mike is a designer, artist, photographer, and illustrator from Sydney.
He's into typography, lettering, infographics, data visualisation, maps (illustrated and technical), and coffee. He's usually figuring out a way how to combine some or all these things.
Mike is a bit of a nomad. He’s been to all sorts of wild and wonderful places for work and play. His passion for travel has led to some dream jobs, such as art director of Australian Geographic and International Traveller stories. His most epic journey was during his time at Australian Geographic where he was sent on a month-long journey to Antarctica to write and photograph a story. Cue penguins, whales, and icebergs galore; and a deep appreciation of the world's wild places....
Designer - Illustrator - Tree Hugger
A creative in every sense of the word, Gillian (Gil, to those who know her) will happily put her handiwork wherever, and on whatever you’ll allow her to.
From spending an unhealthy amount of time tinkering with MS paint, to starting a roaring trade selling Spice Girls caricatures in the school yard for $1 - it was apparent from a young age that design was her calling. Gil now comes with ten years industry experience under her belt, a portfolio spanning branding, print, digital, web, app and interaction design, spatial and events, strategy and human-centered design and a strong desire to continue learning and fine tuning her craft. Gil thrives on using her design skills to make positive change in the world, and loves working with likeminded clients to find the best solutions for all their design needs.
Service Designer - Content Designer - Data Visualisation - User Experience Designer
Researcher - Service Designer - Writer - Maker - Educator
Technology Maven – Musician – Excellent Mentor
Leader – Warrior – Genius – Tall
Mover – Shaker – Character Animator – Minstrel – Musician – Composer
Artist – Researcher – Permaculturalist – Open Government Advocate – Civil Society Wrangler
Writer – Producer – Editor – Maker – Educator
Creative Strategist - Digital Producer - Community Engagement Specialist - Clothes Swapper
Writer - Director - Producer - Researcher - Traveller
Content & Stakeholder Coordinator - Sustainability & Social Impact Specialist - Event Producer - Yoga Teacher
Is it you we're looking for?
Are you a creative problem solver, content maker, writer, data analyst, open gov geek, full stack developer, geospatial developer, designer, storyteller or animator?
We're always on the look out for new collaborators. If you'd like to become part of our community and join our Nook mob give us a shout!