Debra Richards is leaving Ausfilm at the end of August after nine years as CEO to join Netflix, covering production policy in the Asia Pacific.
Richards’ appointment is good news for Australian producers as she has told industry colleagues that part of her remit is to encourage more Netflix commissions in Australia and regionally.
The Ausfilm board has appointed Kate Marks, Ausfilm executive VP of international production based in Los Angeles, as interim CEO from August 31 while it undertakes the process to appoint a new CEO.
Ausfilm chair Sam Mostyn said: “Debra leaves an extraordinary legacy in transforming the organisation, advocating for and delivering key policy reforms that have benefited our members and the broader industry in attracting major production, VFX and post-production, developing and leading a highly skilled and well-respected team supporting Ausfilm’s membership and clients here and overseas, and nurturing invaluable relationships with government and industry across the spectrum.
“Debra is highly respected, a great leader and the consummate colleague. We will miss her and thank her for that legacy.”
Netflix recently set up an office in Sydney, hiring Sarah Haines as head of publicity for Netflix originals in Australia/New Zealand and Nick O’Donnell as director of public policy.
The streaming giant is resisting a campaign by the Australian screen industry urging the Government to impose local content obligations of more than 10 per cent on streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Stan.
The European Union is introducing quotas on streaming services to ensure they dedicate at least 30 per cent of their on-demand catalogues to local content.
The European Commission is in discussions with stakeholders and member states on how that 30 per cent will be calculated. It aims to complete that process by the end of the year.
In April Richards, who will continue to be based in Sydney, welcomed the Federal Government’s decision on the eve of the budget that Australian shows commissioned by streaming services and produced in Australia would qualify immediately for the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) and Location Offsets.
Before joining Ausfilm, she was CEO of the Australian Subscription Television & Radio Association for nearly 12 years. Previously she was director, program services, at the Australian Broadcasting Authority for 13 years.
Ausfilm said the process for hiring a CEO will not be available until the end of August.