By Brendan Swift

Screen Australia’s abrupt decision to slash its investment cap jeopardised the production of several local films and overruled the recommendations of the agency’s investment committee.

The June board decision to lower Screen Australia’s maximum feature film investment from $5 million to $3 million per project was made in the wake of government funding cuts, with the Producer Offset tax rebate expected to take up the slack.

However, it is understood that the agency’s investment committee had already informed several productions – including French-Australian co-production The Tree – that they would be receiving higher funding allocations from Screen Australia.

A Screen Australia spokeswoman declined to comment.

The decision represents a more active involvement of the national funding agency’s board, which has traditionally supported the investment committee’s judgement and only implemented major changes to its guidelines after lengthy industry negotiations.

The Tree, currently filming in Queensland, was in pre-production when the decision was made, forcing the producers to hastily re-jig their financing arrangements. Co-producer Sue Taylor declined to comment.

Several other films were also almost scuttled by the decision, with Stuart Beattie’s Tomorrow, When the War Began understood to also be affected.

Industry sources have raised concerns about the lack of consultation by Screen Australia, with another round of changes to its funding guidelines expected to be released shortly.

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