Reissues for Oz films and TV titles

29 June, 2015 by Don Groves

Screen Australia’s decision to hand back the rights of 1,200 titles to the producers, effective July 1, will result in the reissue on DVD and pay TV of some films and TV productions that have long been out of circulation.

While few if any producers expect to get rich from regaining the rights, the move has been widely welcomed.


The agency has clarified that the concession applies to all projects, including features, miniseries, series and telemovies funded by the Film Finance Corp. and during Screen Australia’s first year, that were released or broadcast in the seven years prior to December 31 2008.

The handover has been brought forward by six months. All rights minus a 1% copyright fee revert back to producers.

Producer Matt Carroll is looking forward to exploring the potential of new revenue sources for Passion, his 1993 drama about composer Percy Grainger, which starred Richard Roxburgh. Beyond Films handled the film directed by Peter Duncan.

The topic may get a new lease of life after Screen Australia agreed to invest in Blue Rose, a Grainger biopic to be directed by The Sessions’ Ben Lewin.

Producer Helen Leake aims to relicense two films directed by the late Craig Lahiff, Ebbtide and Heaven's Burning, as sales rights for both have expired.

Local and international rights to another Lahiff feature, Black and White, have another 18 months to run. "Older films need to be re-mastered in order to meet contemporary screening and broadcast requirements, and whilst there is a vast demand for streaming content on various platforms, I don’t envisage that the prices for older films will see rivers of revenue flowing to the originators," she tells IF.

Producer Sue Milliken regains the rights to John Duigan’s Sirens (one of only 11 features funded by the FFC that fully recouped their investment) and Bruce Beresford’s Black Robe.

As Milliken notes, producers have long been able to licence their films in Australia and internationally but they had to share the revenues with the agency, depending on the level of government funding.

Milliken said she applauds the decision by Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason and head of business and audience Richard Harris to bring forward the reversion date.

She added, “It’s a very good thing but it should have happened quite a bit earlier, for which I do not hold the current Screen Australia management responsible.”

Lynda House, who produced P. J. Hogan's Muriel's Wedding with Jocelyn Moorhouse, tells IF, "We are delighted we are getting the film back six months early. The nicest thing is that it recognises the work we've done on the film in the 21 years since it was released and three or four years developing it."

The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert producer Rebel Penfold-Russell praised Mason as the "professional businessman in creative arts who understands the deprivation of the moneys that should have been rewarded to producers, let alone producers who were deprived of their own profits."

Producer Tony Buckley will regain ownership of Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil and George Whaley’s Dad & Dave- On Our Selection. Buckley said, "Revenue comes in spasms, but I wouldn't be staying at home waiting for the cheques to bolster the pension."

Producer/distributor Antony I. Ginnane said, “It is good to see these entitlements come back into the private sector and to the producers who created them: it should incentivise the producers of those films that are not currently with a sales agent or under licence to consider ways to get them back out into the marketplace. So well done to SA for following in the footsteps of Film Victoria and others.

”Of course many of these films may have other third party participants still remaining to whom producers may still have to account- but for the more entrepreneurial it could be an opportunity directly or indirectly to strengthen their balance sheet or their cash flows or both whether by dealing themselves with the films directly or by engaging with sales agents or aggregators.”

Ginnane also observed, “Library titles are tricky and their value is a function of whether restoration from original negative to HD for Blu-ray has taken place,  whether original foreign language tracks are available, and the original reactions to the film in various territories."

Recently he restored Brian Trenchard-Smith’s 1980s opus Turkey Shoot to relicense in HD in tandem with Jon Hewitt’s 2015 remake, which was released in US cinemas and on-demand last Friday, retitled Elimination Game.