“There is a lot of mystery there because there was a cover up. The family tried to hide who we were.”
On a sunny day fit for sailing, Daniel Daley took his young son out on the twinkling waters of Sydney Harbour. Through the swell of the open ocean and salty spray, the yacht passed by the two heads of the harbour – first South and then North, standing watch like the great Argonath. Daniel passed reassurances to his anxious son to calm him, until… BANG! Their boat struck something in the middle of the water. As the sea parted they found themselves eye to eye with a whale.
Many would be struck by fear and awe, but then, Daniel’s exactly the kind of guy you’d want to have around in a crisis. When it comes to work, he’s practical, unassuming, and there to get the job done.
Since his days studying film and television, Daniel was always eager to try his hand at the technical side of production. It was this enthusiasm that landed him a range of jobs, including working for an early incarnation of Channel 31 on the program Street Noise.
‘That’s where I learned to hold a camera. Didn’t get paid a cent – they paid us in pizza.’ He smiles and admits it was a fun gig, broadcast out of an old house in Whiting Street, Artarmon. The program developed a cult following, and he remembers being swarmed by a crowd of fans on location at a Westfield shopping centre. His early work at Channel 7 offered a number of opportunities as well, including production runner, then assistant, scouting and managing shooting locations.
After deciding to take a gap year of sorts, Daniel found himself living and working overseas, where he travelled to London and through Europe in a Kombi van, collecting experience and skills like glossy postcards. One job during this time involved sorting tapes in a giant bunker-cum-warehouse, deep within the belly of London, once used during World War II to house Roosevelt’s troops.
Daniel’s credits are manifold, testament to his jack-of-all-trades attitude, and include Sky Channel, Molinare, and working on short films. He is particularly proud of the feature film, Acting Out. ‘I put my soul into it,’ he says. The film, which stars Lara Cox of Heartbreak High fame, made it onto the books at Cannes. ‘I put a lot of effort in and we got in and accepted … I liked the team work about that film the most. It was a close knit crew with many friendships built.’
While it’s not something he’s currently focused on, he wouldn’t rule out more film projects in the future. For now, his work at NITV is a fulfilling passion.
‘I’m doing my dream job now. I’m giving back. It’s amazing that I can actually work and feel that it’s contributing to society. It’s incredible. People dream about doing it.’
Daniel currently holds the role of Production & Operations Manager and continues to enjoy working on the technical aspects of television. Though he asserts that ‘being in front of the camera is not something I aspire to,’ he instead considers his ability to support other, more creative types through his technical skills to be his strength.
Once the job’s done though, he’s out the door, racing off to his second job – his kids.
‘They are my priority job at the end of the day,’ he says pragmatically. ‘I love both of my kids but I really love working as well. I’m not going to choose between the two, (but) if push came to shove it would always be the family first.’
Daniel’s early upbringing in Wagga Wagga, tearing up the paddocks on his bicycle and finding adventure with the local kids, paints a carefree picture that belies the secrets of his family history. Previous generations felt the societal pressures of their time keenly.
‘My grandmother would dye all the kids’ hair blonde so they wouldn’t be teased at school. It only made things worse of course.’ The family is still piecing together their past against the struggle of missing birth certificates, lack of documentation and a history of racism and shame. ‘I can see the trauma that it’s caused in the family. And that’s who we are today.’
Yet he hasn’t allowed the displacement, a story that is sadly not unique, to infect his life.
‘There’s a huge amount of injustice in our society and if NITV can get people talking in a main stream capacity about those issues, those issues start getting dealt with on a Federal level, and then we are succeeding.’
He doesn’t do things in halves, whether it’s work or leisure. He’s had two major accidents on his bicycle but those mishaps haven’t dissuaded his love for the outdoor, active lifestyle.
‘I’ve always had this feeling about never going back; moving forward. Be honest, positive and upfront. You don’t want to turn your head through life and be worried about what’s behind your back.’