P&A support for three Oz movies

19 August, 2015 by Don Groves

Screen Australia’s revamped P&A fund is supporting the theatrical release of three Australian films.

The distributors of Last Cab to Darwin (Icon), The Dressmaker (Universal) and Blinky Bill: The Movie (Studiocanal) are getting a total of $1 million.


Those are non-recourse loans, which means the agency expects to be repaid if the films recoup their release costs but will wipe off the debt if they do not.

However producers and distributors who may be keen to access the revolving fund should know that only $2 million or so is available per year, depending on the rate of returns. Hence only one or two more films are likely to benefit from sizable P&A support this financial year.

On July 1 the fund was renamed P&A Plus and the guidelines were tweaked to be less prescriptive and to make clearer provision to support films that take an alternative distribution path.

Hence the fund will assist eOne’s campaign for Kriv Stenders’ Kill Me Three Times, which will have four Q&A screenings ( two in Sydney and one in Melbourne and Perth) before its September 9 VOD release.

Grants of up to $30,000 are available for films that have a limited theatrical release. Among the beneficiaries have been The Mule, I Am Eleven, Strangerland, Maya the Bee Movie and Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead.

Screen Australia stresses that funds can’t be used to replace a distributor’s pre-existing P&A commitment and only established distributors can apply.

Icon and Universal are getting a total of $800,000 in marketing support for Last Cab to Darwin and The Dressmaker.

Richard Harris, Screen Australia’s head of business and audience, said they were chosen due to their “outstanding” marketing, PR and advertising plans, the talent involved and their compelling story lines.

He tells IF the funds gave Icon the comfort of knowing their P&A risk would be mitigated as they widened the release to more than 220 screens. That strategy has paid off as Jeremy Sims' road movie grossed $3.5 million in its first two weeks and could finish up with $6 million.

Some critics may argue that as a US major Universal should not need the agency’s help on Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker, which opens on October 29.

Harris disagrees, observing, “Universal is a commercial company that has a risk profile. We are investors in the production and we want to help Universal to maximise the audience.

”This is not free money. The funds are structured as loans on reasonable commercial terms.”

Universal MD Mike Baard says, "We are very encouraged that Screen Australia is enabling us to take The Dressmaker wider than we would have done. We are confident the film will reach a wide audience. This support will enhance our campaign." 

Harris says the "elevated" VOD release of Kill Me Three Times will test the model of going straight to DVD and digital platforms after limited theatrical screenings. In this context elevated means the distributor is mounting a theatrical-level campaign to support the physical and digital launches.