Producers urge review of film funding, distribution
Screen Producers Australia presidewsnt Brian Rosen today called on Screen Australia and government to devise new policies to boost levels of film production and to help local films reach wider audiences.
“The status quo is not sustainable unless we actively change the mechanisms that we now operate under,” Rosen said in his welcoming address at the Screen Forever conference.
The former CEO of the Australian Film Finance Corp. restated the case to lift the 20% producer offset for TV drama, which he said would lessen the need for direct funding for more commercially orientated projects. And he advocated the producer offset be extended to cover the games sector.
Rosen noted the producer offset for features has not facilitated the desired rise in production and said the independent film production sector is suffering in Australia and worldwide.
“The traditional financing and viewing mechanisms of bygone years are anachronistic in this new digital delivery era and we need to take a hard look at what we are trying to achieve in supporting a feature film industry,” he said.
“For the past few years we have been discussing this malaise and the time has come to address this elephant in the room and together with Screen Australia and government come up with a policy direction that will ensure growth in both production and audiences for our feature films.”
He did not make any specific proposals to boost the film sector, perhaps recognising the Liberal/National Party government is unlikely to increase the levels of direct funding or institute any major reforms in its first year in office, particularly while it faces a yawning deficit.
He tacitly acknowledged the inability of many local films to resonate with mainstream audiences, noting that each year we have “one successful film that showcases Australian talent and engages strongly with the audience.”
Rosen welcomed the agency’s recent initiative to support the development of high-end international television drama but said, “The artificial cap that exists at present for television in being unable to close financing without direct funding is hindering our growth. An eloquent solution is to look at the thresholds of the producer offset.
“A higher offset for television will create certainty, deliver a more efficient mechanism of funding to the industry and allow the marketplace to drive production decisions more easily.”
He described 2013 as a year of change with a new federal government, a new Arts Minister in Attorney-General George Brandis and a new CEO at Screen Australia, Graeme Mason.
“With all this change comes a great opportunity for renewal- to make assessments of where our industry stands and how best we can all work together towards an even more successful future."