Screen Forever: A pathway for business opportunities and partnerships

16 November, 2018 by Don Groves

Matt Deaner.

Next week’s Screen Forever conference offers attendees more opportunities to network and do business with international streaming networks and producers than ever before.


That’s according to Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner, who is excited about the line-up of keynote speakers and sessions including those modeled on the ABC’s Q&A and You Can’t Ask That.

This year the organisers made it a priority to invite overseas-based producers in the hopes of helping to generate co-productions or other forms of collaboration. Hence the participation of English showrunner Dominic Minghella; Sascha Rothchild, co-executive producer and writer of Netflix’s GLOW; Eden Gaha, CEO of LA-based Mother Media Group, who previously served as president, unscripted TV at Endemol Shine North America; and Tim King, head of production at Sweden’s SF Studio.

The Netflix team headed by director of content acquisition Lauren Smith, YouTube Originals scripted executive Amanda Barclay and AMC and Sundance TV VP, international programming Chris Loveall should provide a lot of valuable insights into how to deal with their companies.

Agnes Augustin, president/CEO of the Shaw Rocket Fund which supports Canadian children’s and youth programming, could be a new partner for collaboration with Australian producers.

Deaner sees the four main pillars of the event as educational, inspirational, business-building and serving as a “pressure-release valve” for the industry, allowing it to reunify and recharge after what has been a chaotic, challenging year for creating content.

At the conference a cross-section of SPA members, distributors, financiers and government who are serving on a screen industry working party will take soundings on key issues including the flailing model of distributing Australian films theatrically.

That group was formed after the fifth annual Prism forum convened by SPA at Fox Studios Australia in July, which canvassed the views of federal and state screen agencies, producers, distributors and exhibitors.

“We will finalise the points we are looking at and then launch a paper with a list of recommendations to government,” Deaner says.

Another key element is the continuing quest for gender equality, greater diversity and correcting power imbalances. In that vein the Screen Diversity Inclusion Network’s session You Can’t Ask That will tackle issues surrounding inclusivity in and around screen production.

Leah Purcell, who is developing a feature based on her play The Drover’s Wife, will be the first Indigenous woman to deliver the Hector Crawford Memorial Lecture.

To break down the silos between producers and other segments of the screen industry, for most sessions the Convention Centre will be divided into smaller rooms. There will also be the informal setting of the Unplugged Sessions featuring Amanda Barclay, Sean Barclay, co-head of the TV department at the Gersh Agency, Craig Reucassel, Sophia Zachariou, Lee Lin Chin and Chris Leben.

The organisers are aiming to enhance creative partnerships by inviting groups such as 18 directors via the Australian Directors Guild.

Matchbox Pictures co-founder and executive chairman Michael McMahon is the popular recipient of this year’s SPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.