The Federal Government is keen to stress that applications for the $140 million Location Incentive Program are still being accepted – although only $18 million remains to be allocated.
That figure was revealed by Dr Stephen Arnott, First Assistant Secretary, Arts, at a Senate estimates hearing, raising concerns among facilities houses and other stakeholders who benefit from international productions that shoot here.
The fund runs until June 30 2023 and unless there is a government top-up there are fears the Hollywood studios and other international producers will look elsewhere and the flow of offshore production will slow to a trickle.
Ausfilm CEO Kate Marks welcomed Screen Australia’s annual Drama Report which showed the foreign production spend in Australia in 2018/19 was $411 million, three times bigger than the previous year and the second highest on record.
Marks said: “Whilst the Location Incentive has been delivering significant work for Australia’s film and TV industry, it is not a long-term solution. A permanent and certain increase must be made to the existing 16.5 per cent Location Offset so that a consistent pipeline of work can be secured for Australia and our screen industry and its associated businesses can invest in new infrastructure, increase new jobs and develop highly skilled technical talent. “
Noting that Ausfilm’s membership of 49 screens businesses have long advocated raising the Offset to 30 per cent, Marks concluded: “Without a globally competitive Offset, international production and the millions of dollars’ worth of investment and thousands of jobs it brings to Australia, could be at risk. “
Among the latest recipients of the Location Incentive Program are Dick Cook Studios Australia’s Rangers’ Apprentice and The Alchemyst, NBC Universal/Matchbox Pictures/ Netflix’s Clickbait, Paramount Pictures TV/Apple TV’s Shantaram and Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Thor: Love & Thunder.
A spokesman for Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, tells IF: “Applications are still being accepted for the Location Incentive. Extending the Location Incentive will be a matter for Government to consider through the normal Budget processes.
“Together, the 10 productions supported through the Incentive so far will spend over $970 million in Australia, directly employ over 8,300 Australian cast and crew, offer over 16,800 days of work for Australian extras, and use the services of nearly 8,000 Australian businesses.
“These productions will provide a steady pipeline of work for the Australian screen production industry to the end of 2021.”