Screen Australia to eventually accept online applications only
By 2013, if things go to plan, all funding applications to Screen Australia will have to be submitted via the Screen Australia website.
The move is effectively the final stage of building one single government agency — and all its required systems — out of three: the Film Finance Corporation, the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia.
“We are nearly four years old and, ultimately, we aim to go online with all applications but that is a very big technological leap,” said Screen Australian chief operating officer Fiona Cameron. Her hope is that the system will be up and running by year end.
Two teams are now in place that are integral to receiving and processing applications in a streamlined fashion – and also undertaking the legals around the successful applicants — with the program operations team headed by Charlotte Seymour and the contract management team by Martien Coucke. Each team includes five or six people.
“About 70 per cent of what we do is high volume low risk,” Cameron noted, referring to the contracts that flow through Screen Australia and the legal work around them.
IF Magazine got in touch with Screen Australia because of rumours about firings and rehirings but Cameron said that the net job loss from this restructuring was only two and, in both cases, contracts expired and were not renewed. “Four or five people have also put up their hands for voluntary redundancy,” she added.
Screen Australia has 110 staff and she estimates that 30-40 per cent are on three to six-year fixed-term contracts, including senior development and production investment staff. Those in permanent jobs are generally in back-of-house roles covering finance, legal, administration, human resources and so on.
In another big change at Screen Australia, head of production investment Ross Matthews, recently moved to Sydney from Melbourne.
“I love a conspiracy theory but it was for personal reasons," said Cameron. Matthews and his wife apparently wanted to be near their two daughters and a new grandchild: "Ross is the happiest grandfather on the planet."
“The Melbourne office will always be important to Screen Australia. It will probably only ever have 10 or 12 staff but it is very important," said Cameron.
Screen Australia is expected to issue a revised set of feature film guidelines tomorrow, and to also reveal how it will replace its two external part-time feature film consultants – Victoria Treole and Matthew Dabner – whose contracts are due to expire shortly. It is understood that a bigger pool of people might be used.