The first steps towards creating a co-operative scheme to share information on Australian films’ costs and global revenues modelled on the Sundance Transparency Project will happen in Sydney this week.
One of the architects of the plan, Andrea Buck, will lay out the groundwork for the start-up phase at AFTRS on April 30.
Buck will present her paper, Power in Numbers, How Filmmakers Can Benefit from Sharing Information, at an AFTRS Centre for Screen Business social and learning event at AFTRS Theatre 1 at 5.30 pm.
Attendees will be invited to complete a short questionnaire and register their interest in joining the scheme.
Information on film releases, costs, revenues and finances will be collated and shared between filmmakers, agencies and distributors.
Data would be aggregated to show the effects of budget, genre, cast level, production quality, P&A spend and windowing on revenues, rather than revealing how much individual films make.
Data would be reported via each method of distribution, not by named distributors or platforms, so it doesn't expose the business model of any specific distributor.
Those provisions would address privacy concerns, including those related to the producer offset, which were raised when IF canvassed the opinions of funding agencies and filmmakers.
Buck, a recent AFTRS Masters graduate, and David Court, founding head of the Centre for Screen Business, first floated the proposal earlier this year.
“This is an idea whose time has come,” Buck says. “Collaboration, cooperation, sharing and using information and knowledge to drive productivity and innovation are where the strength for the future of filmmaking lies.
“Sundance’s Transparency Project offers inspiration for us to create our own transparency project and then affiliate with them to become part of a global independent film culture.”
She contends Australian B.O. results are an inaccurate measure of independent film and digital revenues are hidden, so it's impossible to figure out the total earnings.
Filmmakers working alone or in small teams are unable to accumulate significant market intelligence. Without that, most base their investor pitches and development and distribution decisions on anecdotes and hearsay, she says.
They can’t design the most effective releases without being able to see what has worked and not worked for other films’ releases. Nor can they provide investors with the information needed to make informed investment decisions.
“The film industry is faced with disrupted business models, an ever-changing distribution landscape, ever-splintering markets and rampant piracy,” she says in a paper to be presented at the event.
“In this whirlpool, small producers scramble in the dark, wasting time, effort and money.”
Her plan entails forming a small collaborative group/ working party to manage the start-up phase. That would be followed by a broad survey of filmmakers and key stakeholders to discover their attitudes to the idea of a transparency project and what kind of data they want to access.
After agreement is reached on an information-sharing protocol, tools to gather and process info would be developed. Thereafter a legal structure for a not-for-profit entity would be created and the industry would be invited to join.
Funds would be raised to cover the costs of a technical build for the tool to gather and analyse data, and for management and maintenance.
Industry-trend data would be published from time to time.