Breaking ranks with Screen Producers Australia, the Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) opposes two of SPA’s key policy proposals as well as making the case to rename the Producer Offset to the Creative Offset.
The ADG disagrees with SPA’s calls to make light entertainment programs eligible for an increased 30 per cent Producer Offset and to combine the Producer, Location and PDV Offsets, arguing: “Different rules and regulations apply to each Offset and [they] should remain separate.
In its submission to the government’s ‘Supporting Australian Stories on Our Screens’ options paper review, the guild says: “The intention of the Offset is to support market failure in vulnerable content and this is even more important today with the overwhelming competition in the marketplace.”
Most controversially, it contends the Producer Offset should be renamed the Creative Offset, which would mean IP would remain with the creator of the project and his or her production company, which may not be the producer.
It advocates a stricter and clearer 30 per cent Significant Australian Content test with a 10 per cent cultural uplift, which must include an Australian director and all Australian key creatives, heads of department, crew and cast (excluding executive producers).
The Creative Offset would have a percentage threshold for higher budget productions and a new pathway to audience assessment that meets current viewing habits across platforms.
“Creative industries need to be driven by creatives,” ADG executive director Diana Burnett tells IF. “Therefore, by changing the name of the Producer Offset to a Creative Offset acknowledges our creator-led industry. You don’t have to be a producer to apply for the Producer Offset anyway and direct funding mechanisms now support any creative who holds the IP, so why not align with the current standards?
“Further, a 30 per cent flat rate with a 10 per cent cultural uplift that strictly goes to all Australian key creatives excluding executive producers will ensure taxpayer funds go directly to Australians, especially Australian directors, and back into our economy.”
The ADG delegation at Screen Forever last year.
In most other respects, its submission endorses SPA’s paper which would require all delivery platforms to invest a minimum percentage of their Australian revenues into local scripted content, with annual sub-quotas for drama, documentary and children’s programs.
It also wants a fixed number of hours across platforms to be set by the ACMA for scripted drama, documentary and children’s content, so the overall volume of production made under the current quotas does not decline.
In addition, the ADG advocates that at least 5-7 per cent of all service providers’ revenues should be invested in new Australian scripted content, proportionate to their business model. That would pump an estimated $200 million – $400 million into the sector.
Further, if a service provider does not meet its annual revenue quota, the remaining revenue would go to a new Creative Fund for development, production and industry innovation, supporting the most vulnerable areas of the industry that can’t rely on market-based decisions. This fund would be managed by Screen Australia, with decisions made by external industry experts.
Further contributions to Australian content from Internet Service Providers and other digital platforms should be considered, and there should be additional funding for government screen agencies to support the development of Australian scripted content and screen businesses in meeting the additional demand across all platforms.
It also calls for a more streamlined process for direct production investment across state and federal agencies.