The fifth annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards are virtually guaranteed of reaching a bigger audience when they are presented on December 9 and telecast on the Seven Network.
AACTA and Seven are developing a new format for the show, which ought to be an improvement on the past three awards shown on Network Ten.
The earlier date also means exposure and promotion for the Australian films being released in December/January. As a result, the cut-off date for eligible films is being brought forward, running from January 1 to October 9.
In a change to the guidelines, eligible features must be publicly exhibited in a commercial cinema for at least seven consecutive days in at least four capital cities including Sydney and Melbourne. The previous stipulation was five capital cities.
Explaining that adjustment, AFI/AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella tells IF, "We've softened the rules a bit because we saw some films struggle last year to reach the five-cities minimum."
On the switch in broadcast partners, Trewhella says, “There was an opportunity to move to Seven which is a strong endorsement for AACTA and a great opportunity for industry to reach new audiences.
“Seven is the No. 1 network so it’s a bigger reach for the industry. And Seven produces some of Australia’s greatest event TV.”
Brad Lyons, Seven’s director of production, said, "We share the same ambitions and commitment to excellence on the screen, regardless of the size of that screen. The annual Awards presentation is a highlight for our industry and we are looking forward to beginning the planning and pre-production with AACTA.”
Unsurprisingly, Russel Howcroft, Ten’s executive general manager, resigned last week from the AFI board.
The AACTA International Awards will continue to be presented in Los Angeles in January and telecast on Foxtel. The AACTA Awards will again be held at The Star in Sydney.
AACTA today called for entries and jurors for the AACTA Awards, which will see more than 40 peer-assessed awards celebrate Australian stories, culture and creativity.
Here are the qualifying release, completion and telecast dates:
• Feature Film – released in Australia for the first time between January 1 2015 and October 15 2015.
• Short Fiction and Short Animation – completed between June 14 2014 and May 8 2015
• Television Drama Series, Telefeature or Mini Series – have had the first episode of the entered series/season broadcast in Australia for the first time between November 14 2014 and October 15 2015.
• Television Comedy Series, Light Entertainment Reality Series and Reality Television Series – have had the first episode of the entered series/season broadcast in Australia for the first time between November 14 2014 and October 15 2015.
• Feature Length Documentary – completed between July 19 2014 and May 12 2015.
• Documentary Television Program – have had the first episode of the entered series/season broadcast in Australia for the first time between November 14 2014 and October 8 2015.
Juries will be assembled for feature film pre-selection; Short Fiction Film & Short Animation; Documentary Television Program; Feature Length Documentary; Television Drama; TV Comedy and Light Entertainment; Reality TV; Children's TV; Documentary Craft; Television Grand Jury; Television Craft Grand Jury; and Visual Effects and Animation.
Jury positions are open to accredited members of AACTA only and applications close on May 6.
AACTA president Geoffrey Rush said, “Our achievements come as a result of industry, public and media support, and we are more than delighted with Channel Seven’s endorsement of AACTA by partnering with us for the next major Awards telecast.
"We thrive on such unwavering support from the media in tandem with that from our industry, the public, and our crucial sponsors. This outstanding and enthusiastic support from Australia’s top rating network ensures this will be our best show yet.”
Trewhella added, “Seven has consistently earned AACTA Award nominations across drama and reality television in recent years, including for its reality juggernaut My Kitchen Rules, Australia’s highest rating show. AACTA Award winning productions for Seven include Packed to the Rafters and The Amazing Race, and we again look forward to healthy competition from Seven and all networks for the 5th AACTA Awards."
Trewhella was keen to talk up the 2015 Australian release slate which includes George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (opening May 14) and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker (October 22) and, from first-time feature directors, Kim Farrant’s Strangerland, Michael Petroni’s Backtrack and Ariel Kleiman’s Partisan.