Taking Stock 2014/15
Screen Australia works to support bold, enduring and culturally significant Australian storytelling that resonates with local audiences and succeeds in a global marketplace, created by a skilled and entrepreneurial screen industry.
What we do
- Encourage quality, innovation and cultural value through programs that increase the ambitions, risk-tolerance and diversity of Australian screen projects and businesses.
- Support Australian stories on screen through direct and indirect funding.
- Facilitate industry growth through enterprise funding, market support, international delegations, targeted initiatives and partnerships.
- Resource the industry through research, advice, and expertise.
How we do it
- Provide development and production funding for a diverse range of feature films, television drama, children’s programming, and documentaries.
- Seed innovation by supporting the creation of innovative, risk-taking content for new and evolving platforms.
- Back individuals and businesses to maximise opportunities for success through the provision of enterprise funding, targeted P&A and distribution grants, and international market support.
- Assist proven Australian talent to reach their potential by providing marketplace expertise and facilitating career development.
- Ensure Indigenous content is part of the wider success of the Australian screen industry through supporting Indigenous talent and distinctive stories.
- Set fair and practical terms of trade that create constructive parameters for industry activity.
- Administer, support and promote the Producer Offset and the International Co-production Program.
- Produce regular production statistics, audience data and insights for the benefit of industry and ongoing policy development.
- Promote a vibrant screen culture in Australia through support for key industry events.
Why we do it
- Cultural impacts: Powerful Australian stories deepen our understandings of ourselves and one another, and offer up relatable explorations of universal issues. Our screen stories shape our cultural imagination, contribute to our national belonging, and create a legacy for all Australians now and into the future.
- Audiences: Local screen stories inform, entertain, educate and inspire. Through engaging and immersive viewing experiences they generate responses that can be personal, passionate and transformative. Australian audiences should have access to quality, culturally relevant content on all platforms.
- Craft skills: A productive and healthy sector means creatives and screen industry professionals keep honing their skills and working on projects of varying scales, each with unique creative challenges.
- International resonance: Screen stories project Australia to the world, champion our creative talent and develop lasting impressions of our cultural life, our humanity and our contemporary diversity.
- Economic dividends: A healthy screen-production industry generates returns for businesses and the economy at large. Screen production has spin-off benefits in a range of other industries and sectors of the economy.
Key changes 2014/15
In the context of reduced funding, Screen Australia has reviewed its programs to sharpen the focus on where we add the most value. We have also reviewed how these programs are delivered to find greater efficiencies, reduce overheads and simplify processes. Resulting changes are outlined below.
New terms, effective for applications received from 24 July 2014, will benefit producers:
- All funding up to $500,000 (except P&A loans) will be a grant. This will provide more equity for the producer as well as simplify the contracting process (previously the grant threshold was $200,000, and limited to documentary and some other programs).
- Screen Australia will also relinquish copyright in favour of the producer for all projects up to $500,000, retaining a one per cent share only in projects for which we provide recoupable investment.
These policies will be reflected in revised Terms of Trade, and in program guidelines going forward.
Funding management processes will continue to be streamlined:
- Turnaround times shortened wherever possible
- Feature film Letters of Interest now approved by the CEO
- Applications to be submitted in two stages where possible, requiring fewer initial application materials to limit the burden on applicants
- An online application system to be introduced to make it easier for applicants as well as improve the efficiency of application processing.
Sharpened program focus is reflected across the agency:
- Greater emphasis on business development through the establishment of a Business and Audience department (replacing the previous Marketing department and the State and Industry programs)
- Enterprise funding to target industry attachments, high-level screenwriting development, and industry capacities through new business models and ambitious business plans
- Production funding to sharpen its focus on stories that matter: innovative risk-taking projects that identify and build talent; culturally significant, intrinsically Australian stories that resonate with local audiences; and high-end ambitious projects that reflect Australia to the world
- International festival and market support programs revised to consolidate travel and materials funding, allowing producers to better leverage success at international events as part of release strategies
- Guidelines for the International Co-production Program to be revised to better facilitate international partnerships.
Overall, funds will be retained on screen as much as possible, with the following adjustments:
- a further 10 per cent reduction in staff to 100 FTE personnel (112 at 30 June 2014, down from 190 in 2008), saving approximately $1 million
- a $2–3 million reduction across production investment and project development programs, with the cap on Screen Australia investment in an individual feature project lowered from $2.5 million to $2 million in order to spread funds further
- a decrease in funding for traditional prints and advertising (P&A), saving approximately $500,000
- savings of around $400,000 in talent escalator professional development programs, avoiding duplication with the new Enterprise: People program, and from consolidation of short film programs
- transition away from direct funding of screen resource organisations, while exploring the potential to commission them to deliver professional development activities currently managed inhouse, creating savings of approximately $1–1.6 million
- small savings across other programs.