Graeme Mason has warned there will be permanent job losses in the entertainment industry once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
The Screen Australia CEO said some employees “will not be here on the other side of this crisis,” highlighting widespread stand-downs as TV drama productions halted, the loss of 17,000 jobs after cinemas closed and mass lay-offs at Fox Studios Australia-based firms.
“There were a lot of people in screen businesses who were already hurting. It would be unrealistic to think, come 2021, that everyone will be shining and happy,” he said.
“Our job is to figure out how to make the best of what this might be coming out the other end, by working as collaboratively as we can.”
Mason was speaking online last Friday via Zoom with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner, who said 79 screen productions have been halted or delayed.
However, Mason forecast that if self-isolation measures work then Australia may emerge from the pandemic earlier than the US and countries in Europe. In that case, he said Australia would look at introducing incentives to get international productions to shoot in Oz, and quickly.
Mason reassured creatives that Screen Australia is continuing to process applications, with funding rounds continuing as normal.
And he flagged a “supercharged” increase in development funding, focusing on projects that are at an advanced stage and already have market interest, with the aim of making them production ready.
Meanwhile, Network 10 has assured viewers its schedule is in good shape despite the COVID-19 crisis. Endemol Shine Australia’s MasterChef Australia returns for its 12th season on April 13, which will be followed by Warner Bros. Australia’s Bachelor In Paradise, which is already in the can.
Lingo Pictures’ psychological thriller The Secret She Keeps and Working Dog Productions’ game show Have You Been Paying Attention? will premiere on 10 soon.
The second season of Pablo Pictures and Princess Pictures’ comedy How to Stay Married dropped on streaming platform 10 Play on Thursday ahead of the broadcaster premiere, followed by Eureka Productions’ comedy Drunk History Australia.
‘Drunk History Australia.’
The latter sees well-oiled entertainers recount 12 stories across six episodes, from cannibal convicts to a female Indigenous bush rangers and the first Miss Australia to the country’s darkest political moment, the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
However, Fremantle/10’s soap Neighbours brought forward its planned Easter break by one week to last Friday and filming will resume on April 14.
A Fremantle representative said this would allow the company to “refine” the production model in light of the government restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people and the requirement to ensure social distancing.
Fremantle/Foxtel’s Wentworth also went on early hiatus and is due to restart on April 27.
At the ABC production has paused on Jungle Entertainment and BBC Studios’ Wakefield, season 3 of Hoodlum Entertainment’s Harrow and CKOL’s Why Are You Like This? while filming of Closer Productions’ Yes, Chef! is on hold.
An ABC spokesman tells IF: “We are monitoring the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation and are in ongoing discussions with external producers about their continuity and contingency plans now and into the future.
“Further impacts on productions and our slate are inevitable. Our focus for now is providing whatever support we can to the Australian production industry, in conjunction with SPA and screen agencies. Work on our existing development slate is ongoing across all genres and we will continue to assess new content ideas.”
The Seven Network said Extreme Weddings, First Dates, Mates on a Mission, Farmer Wants a Wife, Crime Investigation Australia: Most Infamous, Wife Swap Australia and All New Monty Guys and Gals have all been completed.