Teaching Art/Film


Sean O’Keeffe is a secondary high school teacher in Visual Arts who also teachers film making and is a practicing artist.

For over 20 years Sean has taught a self developed stand alone film program with secondary school students. Ranging across a spectrum of film practices his students have won awards a screened film all over the world.

Prior to working at Lithgow he taught in Broken Hill, Outback NSW for almost five years as a visual arts teacher and later co-ordinating the running of the schools independent learning centre which had a strong film making focus. During his time there his students worked collaboratively with Regional ABC, and a number of film and television productions, including dramatised re-enactments and some camera work for the Mike Rubbo documentary “All about Olive” which was screened on the ABC. Students also produced a number of their own films including commissioned work for the School of the Air and the Broken Hill regional Art Gallery.

He has been involved in a number of activities, roles and responsibilities additional to his teaching load, including working as a year seven and year eight year advisor as part of the school welfare team for two consecutive years.

Sean has been actively involved in the promotion and development of film making as both a stand alone subject choice and as part of the Visual Arts curriculum. Part of this development has been to co-ordinate “real world context” projects that students have participated in to develop film making experiences and skills. This has resulted in students distinguishing themselves in a number of ways.

  • In 2006 He co-ordinated the commissioned production of a NSWDET video resource documenting a presentation by Michael Carr-Gregg , clinical psychologist and leading authority on adolescents. The production was filmed and edited by Lithgow High School students and distributed as a resource to NSWDET schools.
  • In 2007 Lithgow film making students produced an award winning 30 second community service announcement about drugs which was broadcast on all major commercial networks nationally for the Youth Off the Streets charity. Later that year they were featured on SBS televisions youth program “The Crew” in a segment that was also shot by the students themselves. The students would go on to produce another two segments for the program in 2008.
  • In 2008 Lithgow High School students won three awards including the major award at the Prestigious Robyn Anderson Film Awards and directors choice at Newtown Flick Film Festival for the film “Mercury Vapour”.
  • In 2008  He began a collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW Public Programs Department on a project called PEER 2 PEER.  students particpated in the production of a series of interviews with professional artists engaged in a forum with senior Visual Arts Students. Structured around the NSW Visual Arts Syllabus this resource was developed for wider distribution through The Art Gallery of NSW.  Starting with Art Express, finishing with  an Interview with the then Director of the AGNSW Edmund Capon, PEER 2 PEER  was an initiative in which school students interviewed significant people in the Art world, from artists to curators. The videos were Vodcast through the AGNSW web site and were part of the public programs resources at the gallery.
  • Between 2008 and 2010 Sean was a member of the Critical Friends advisory group which is a group of six high school teachers who meet with public programs to advise, confer and generate ideas for innovative programs.
  • In 2009 Sean presented a lecture on Peer 2 Peer at the Art Express teachers day at the AGNSW.
  • In 2009 Students produced a Kate Miller Hiedke music video for a MySpace Anti Bullying competition. Although it did not win the clip scored over 15 thousand hits on You Tube.
  • In 2009 Sean was the co-ordinator of the Panasonic KWN program in which Panasonic sponsors the production of video content. This competitive imitative saw students produce a documentary about wind farming. The film went on to win over $15000 in sponsored equipment, won numerous awards, screened nationally and internationally and was referred to in NSW State Parliament.
  • In 2009 Lithgow High school works with Zig Zag Public school on a NSW Department of Education and Training Curriculum Directorate program to develop primary school resources for English.
  • From  2007 to 2010 Sean worked on the Kaldor MOVE- Video Art in Schools. A collection of Video art works distributed to NSW Public Schools by Kaldor Projects. Sean wrote some of the educational support documents for this innovative project.
  • In 2006-09 Sean worked collaboratively with NSW Department of Education and Training Curriculum Directorate and Visual Arts consultant Wendy Ramsay on a number of projects including the development of Visual Arts resources for the teaching of Time Based and Video Media in Visual Arts.
  • In 2009 Sean worked collaboratively on a stage 4 Visual Arts textbook for McGraw Hill Publishing called Making  Art Connections.
  • In 2009 Sean presented at the NSW English teachers conference about film making in schools.
  • In 2010 Lithgow High Visual Arts faculty was presented with the William Dobel award for excellence in Visual Arts teaching.
  • In 2011 Sean was the recipient of the NSW Premiers Scholarship. He used the scholarship to visit education programs units at art galleries in Europe, the UK and the U.S.
  •  In 2012 Lithgow High School Visual Arts Faculty formed a cultural exchange Program with Palo Alto High School in California
  • Since 2017 Sean has worked with Katoomba High School students on a number of award winning moving image projects.