Screen Australia chairman Glen Boreham says the government agency has helped shift the focus of the local feature film industry from “auteur expression” to audience-driven content over the past three years.
Boreham, writing in Screen Australia’s recently-released 2010-11 annual report, said audience outcomes were a top priority when the government agency was set up three years ago.
“Although television audiences for drama and documentary alike were very healthy (and continue to be so), the conversation around the performance of subsidised features was less focused on audience than on auteur expression,” he wrote in the report. “Screen Australia has driven change in this area from multiple angles.”
He pointed to Screen Australia’s increased support for writers and a clear statement of expected outcomes (talent development, commercial and/or cultural) which is attached to feature film funding, instilling a sense of accountability.
While the local industry has had a number of box office successes since Screen Australia was created from three predecessor organisations on July 1, 2008, local films' proportion of the total box office has remained at about 4-5 per cent. It is currently slightly below the 4 per cent mark for 2011 although next year promises to be significantly bigger with blockbusters such as Happy Feet 2 on the horizon.
Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley said the agency had a strong year and was now moving beyond many of the issues it dealt with after the merger.
“Our major energies have moved from dealing with merger issues to managing an agenda of developmental and transformational change. There are still efficiencies to be achieved from the merger but they will evolve over the next year in the background, while the foreground will feature convergence in many different forms across the agency’s activities and those of the wider industry.”
The annual report showed the agency received $89.4 million in total government funding last financial year. Screen Australia's operating expenses declined by 5.9 per cent to $22.1 million and it is forecasting a further $600,000 cost reduction in 2011-12.
It committed just over $63 million in production funds to film and television projects (leveraging in excess of $277 million in total budgets). That amount was split across 17 feature films ($23 million), 15 TV dramas ($20 million), 64 documentaries ($17 million). It also committed $2.5 million to
projects through the Indigenous department and $700,000 to six interactive digital projects under the Innovation Program.
Screen Australia’s largest feature film production investments were: Mental ($2.5 million), The Sapphires ($2.43 million), Drift ($2.41 million), The Kath & Kim Fillum ($2.3 million) and Dead Europe ($2.18 million).
Screen Australia's largest TV production investments were: Dance Academy ($2.98 million), Lightning Point ($2.55 million), Wild Boys ($2.5 million), Spirited ($1.75 million) and Resistance ($1.63 million).
The total remuneration received by Screen Australia’s nine board members rose by almost 16.3 per cent to $302,827.
Total senior executive remuneration rose by less than 1 per cent to $2.05 million (although this figure did not include acting and part-time service where remuneration was less than $150,000).
There are now eight senior executives within Screen Australia who are paid more than $150,000 a year compared to six last fiscal year (the extra two were in the lowest salary band).
The highest paid Screen Australia executive received a base salary of $287,975 and a bonus of $38,163, which represents 13.25 per cent of the maximum 15 per cent.