• Search Keywords

  • Year

  • Production Status

  • Genre

  • Co-production

  • SA Supported

  • Indigenous creative

  • Length

  • Technique

Draft Program Guidelines

Comments received Friday 14 November

From ACT Filmmakers' Network

Comments submitted via PDF document


From Louise Alston

Hello,

I think that fully funded short films are a little elitist anyway and I really like the opportunities with low budget tv. (The Kingdom, Flight of the Concords etc etc)

I would welcome the chance to make alliances with experienced producers, provided that the arrangement was mutually beneficial.

Thanks, Louise


From Animators, prepared by Lucinda Clutterbuck (Piccolo films)

Comments available via PDF document


From artsACT

Comments available via PDF document


From Australasian Natural History Unit

Comments sent via PDF document


From Australian Children's Television Foundation

Comments available via PDF document


From Australian Directors Guild

Comments available via PDF document


From Australian Writers’ Guild

Comments available via PDF document


From Stephen Boyle

Screen Australia ought to publish the research and the policy that underpins these Guidelines.

If the goal is to empower the industry then Screen Australia needs to share its knowledge.

Stephen Boyle


From Liam Branagan

I would like to add my support to the submission by Angie Fielder and others on November 10. In addition I submit further comment on the decision to cut funding for short drama production from the perspective of an emerging producer, which I believe is pertinent to the general discussion regarding‘experience’.

Having produced a 9 minute short film funded by the NSW FTO Young Filmmakers
Fund, and a 21 minute AFC funded short, I want to highlight the difference in terms of professional development that I gained from the fully funded AFC short.

The smaller FTO budget was appropriate to the scope of the 9 minute script, and as such was achieved (if you ignore the wages issue) more or less for the budget provided. However, the AFC short included stunts, children, animals and a dangerous and expensive location and was not a film that could have been achieved on a smaller budget - without full funding it would not have been made.

As a filmmaker develops it is important that the scope of their films do as well, and so I think it is appropriate to move from student/amateur to part-funded, and then fully funded films, gaining professional development along the way. This progression from amateur to professional is not just limited to producers and directors, but also to designers, cinematographers, composers, editors etc.

There are also broader issues concerning industry practice that are addressed with funded short films. It’s all very well for people to work for nothing on your early shorts, but there comes a time to stop asking for endless favours from cast, crew, organisations, facilities and equipment suppliers – and establish relationships on a professional footing (and perhaps provide some payback). Issues such as overtime, legal/insurance cover and safety are all too easily compromised when there is the excuse of ‘no money’. A properly funded short deals with these issues ethically, creating a professional and supportive working environment, as well as providing producers with the experience of administering within the budget, dealing with funding bodies, and taking ‘real’ financial decisions.

Screen Australia’s new guidelines place great emphasis on the need for ‘experienced’ producers. With no structured training system in place for producers, and very few opportunities in television drama, cutting short film funding eliminates one of the key paths to gaining producing experience, making the step up to features even harder.

Liam Branagan


From Liz Burke

Comments available via Word document


From Lucinda Clutterbuck

Comments available via PDF document


From Aaran Creece

Comments available via PDF document


From EDNA (Emerging Doco-makers Network of Australia)

Comments available via PDF document


From Dustin Feneley

Comments available via PDF document


From Angie Fielder (on behalf of signatories of the statement)

This statement of response was posted on the Screen Australia website earlier this week. Due to an enthusiastic response resulting in further names being added to the list of signatories, we would like to post it again.

Many thanks,

Angie Fielder (on behalf of signatories of the statement)

Comments available via PDF document


From Mel Flanagan

More considered responses to aspects of the guidelines, particularly in relation to innovation and all development criteria, are required before approval of draft guidelines.

Mel Flanagan

Comments available via Word document


From Flickerfest

Comments available via PDF document


From Free TV Australia

Comments submitted via PDF document


From Graham Gall

Good morning

I am a professional actor and budding Director and film maker of mature age (60yrs).
I share fellow film makers concerns about the direction being pursued in these draft guidelines.

I have just finished shooting a short feature that I have funded myself and in doing so was amazed at the assistance and cooperation I received in the ACT from businesses, schools and community groups all of whom provided locations and facilities free of charge because they believed in me, my cast and crew, the script and because they just want to help emerging film makers in Australia. As many others have said the only way we can get experience and prove what we can do is to beg borrow and steal to get a production off the ground and to make short films to prove we have what it takes. Look at how Jane Campion started as a classic example. Please have at least one sub-programme that offers support for the production of short films (even short features would be better than nothing) and that has guidelines that allow for people to take risks and experiment. The Australian mainstream feature film industry is floundering - but the independent industry is booming. In the last year several great films have been produced in and around Canberra - some with a little help from the ACT Government but most have had to rely on private funding. This is the arts and it deserves to be funded at all levels and experience from shorts to first time features just the same as music or theatre or art. Also developing producers should be supported - insisting that only experienced producers be used does not develop an industry it stagnates it - you must encourage new talent not stifle it. We need the opportunity to cut our teeth on shorts - shorts that are funded - so when we are finally able to make a feature we have the skills necessary to justify the investment required to make a product that will be satisfying to potential audiences.

I agree with Simon Weaving (Canberra Times 14 November) who says axing short film funding will have 'serious longer term consequences' for the industry - please reconsider this policy direction. I have just shot a 45 mins short feature and it involved all of the same resources, skills and equipment that making a 100 min feature would. I would have very much appreciated the opportunity to get some funds e.g to hire a crane or to pay pro makeup artists or to hire a great location or a pro sound mixer - any small amount of assistance would be great. And we need to be able to access it quickly and with minimal bureaucracy - it is not always possible to know a year ahead what small piece of equipment you might need to hire - we need flexible accessible funds for short film makers - please reconsider. And why do you want to fund short animation and not films with real locations and actors? - this is discriminatory and unfair. Also Australian script writers need short film makers to be able to practise and develop their talents. My script was written by a great emerging Australian script writer who is starting to get nibbles in Hollywood and of all places in New Zealand. The only way she could get this particular script onto the screen in Australia is through my believing in her and using my own hard earned cash to make it happen - its a crying shame! I along with my sponsors in business and community groups are happy to do this - but wouldn't it be nice to get a little bit of Govt assistance (Federal as well as State) - talk to us and you will find there are a lot of little things you could do to make a big difference.

Regards
Graham Gall


From Goalpost Pictures

Comments available via PDF document


From Rhys Graham

Comments available via PDF document


From "The Guilds" (Australian Cinematographers Society, Australian Guild of Screen Composers, Australian Screen Editors & Australian Screen Sound Guild)

Comments sent via PDF document.


From Hoodlum

1. Business Enterprise Program
We wondered here if there could be more clarity in relation to what this funding could cover.
From our discussions with you we understand that Screen Australia would be willing to consider funding business based proposals and under this scheme. However we thought there could be more clarity around 'the business' in the guidelines- making it clearer that you would consider funding to develop business infrastructure, for example around finance and legal issues fundamental to growth.

2. Games companies
In the innovation programs you have included online and console games as eligible for funding and we thought it would be good to clarify what type of games are included here.  If its not clear then there could be an influx of all kinds of games companies coming to Screen Australia. Perhaps just clarifying that the key is a narrative based story to the game to make it eligible?

3. 360 degree commissioning (in the TV, film and documentary production funding guidelines)
Overall we felt that the guidelines weren't perhaps 'setting the agenda' as much as they could be.  It feels like the references to multi-platform are tacked on as an after thought rather than being an integral part of the production funding process. It doesn't feel like it is all the one format/ programme / funding decision at the moment or that producers must take a whole package (where appropriate) to Screen Australia in order to be considered for production funding. The only program which mentions the amount of funding to be allocated to multi-platform is in documentary which allocates $10k to domestic projects and $15k to international. Noting the amounts (which are also very low) only encourages the idea that the multi-platform components are an add on rather than an integral part of the production and budget and limits the way producers will look to exploit business opportunities involved.

Finally, its not clear from the guidelines how multi-platform projects can be funded - for eg: if a project comes into the Innovative Media Production fund and is allocated the maximum $200,000 but it is also part of the marketing/ cross platform component of a feature being funded under the Feature Production scheme is it also eligible to be funded partly from there (as part of the marketing allocation for example)?
Or if a project has accessed funding from one area it is no longer eligible for the other?

Best regards,
Kerrin (on behalf of the Hoodlum team).


From Dr Ross Howden

I strongly oppose Screen Australia’s view that producers who are “credentialed” or have a theatrically released film are the only members of Australia society who can create enterprising businesses, conduct professional story development and execute production
projects. Please explain to the industry and the tax paying public why this small group of the people have been selected.

The eligibility for most of the programs needs to be reviewed, but particularly the Enterprise program. Let’s be enterprising! Let’s allow fresh business ideas to be presented by talented people who are professional and experienced and want to change the obviously failing business model.

Some may say that being a producer in Australia and a good businessperson are mutually exclusive and if you look at the film industry traditionally then they probably wouldn’t be far wrong. The digital arena is allowing a redefining of the way the film industry interacts with the public. Let’s maximise the chances of getting the best Australian ideas and businesses up and running.

Yes let’s raise the bar, but please let all Australians have a fair go!

Dr Ross Howden
Australian Producer


From Independent Producers' Association (IPI)

Comments received via PDF document


From Anthony Lucas

Dear SA

Thanks for at least including Animation Shorts in the line up. At the last guideline consultation at the SA boardroom in Melbourne it was said by one of the SA committee (possibly by Chris Fitchett) that Animation was kept because “there has been a lot of success in that area”. Yes. But it’s obvious from the ‘plan’ that the SA committee haven’t analyzed how the success happened or understand how to grow Animation (a bastard son of the film industry if ever there was one).

As an experienced producer and director of animated shorts I want to give you a case study of how we found our way to the Oscars and recommendations for the Animated Shorts Program.

Animated shorts can be like a laboratory for an idea, a proof of concept ‘document’ that grows over successive projects. This is the way animators throughout the world have used the short - from Wallace & Grommit to Pixar.

It was certainly true in our case for our Oscar nominated short animation The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.

Animators and animation studios often have a house style or technique. I have been developing a silhouette animation technique off and on for over 20 years.
I had made a slightly narrative, but experimental, silhouette short as a student but at this early stage it was difficult for anyone to see the validity of producing a story with an obscure, antiquated, down-right-creepy animation technique. But like any good producer, I plowed on regardless and developed ideas.

We first used the silhouettes in a commercial context for a 3x20 second Station Identities/Interstitials series for SBS Television which were played at every station break for over a year and a half. Great exposure. After the ‘free to air’ they even had a season at the national gallery in Canberra.

Next we used the silhouette technique to test our ideas out in a drama form with a 6 minute AFC funded short, Holding Your Breath, which went on to be nominated in competition at Cannes. We needed $70k from the AFC to make this short.

We followed up this success with a half hour short feature for SBSi, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello. We needed about $260k from the AFC as part of the production budget, along with investment and presales from SBS and Film Vic. Jasper Morello went on to be nominated for an Oscar and scooped the animation awards worldwide, including The Grand Prix at Annecy. With other shorts we have had two Cannes nominations, two at the BAFTAS, Sundance et al.

These shorts are artist led projects where we produced and controlled the IP. At present we are poised to go to the next stage to make a feature length project using our silhouette technique.

It is vital that Animation companies, led by Animators continue to develop, produce and own their IP. Don’t limit the SA guidelines to the current narrow definitions. It just makes good business sense.

Recommend a ‘Two Tier’ program for Animated Shorts

100k for projects under 15 minutes, this will take care of a wide range of shorts from the more artistic or risky to anything that is TV Pilot-like.

250k for a longer form short/short feature up to a half hour. These projects will most likely have some connection with distribution, TV stations etc and are more the commercial end of town.

Change seems to be in the air. So change the animation area for the better don’t just maintain the status quo. Empower the people with the expertise who have spent their lives dedicated to the medium, don’t hand it to the dilettante who may have a vague desire “to get involved in animation”. Take the Animators seriously.

Anthony Lucas, Oscar Nominee,
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello


From Catherine Marciniak

Comments available via PDF document


From Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Comments available via PDF document


From David Nerlich

Having made one one of the more successful and also one of the cheaper film exports of recent years it's disappointing to see no analog to the Indivsion program that allowed it to happen. I can't help feeling uncomfortable with the apparent asumption that fewer films with somewhat larger budgets promise better films.

It's nice to be paid well up front on a movie but this is where a lot of the higher budgets will be absorbed. Higher budgets don’t necessarily wind up on the screen. For quality production the incentive should be success from sales not from a comfortable wage on the job - which can even dilute incentive for commercial success. It's a business not a job.

Finance structures that allow for risk and reward for all involved may not represent an ideal world but will allow unexpected and potentially great things to happen - if only by allowing more things to happen.

David Nerlich (Dir: Black Water)


From John Nikolakopoulos

Comments available via PDF document


From Hugo O’Connor

Thank you for providing this forum with the opportunity to comment on the draft guidelines.

Emerging Talent Overlooked:
I concur with my esteemed colleagues who have expressed their concerns that these draft guidelines have overlooked emerging talent.

Remove proposed eligibility requirements:
In principle, I believe that competition fosters excellence. By limiting the number of applicants eligible for development and production strands, competition for funding will be diminished. Experience does not necessarily correlate with talent. There have been many irrelevant and failed films produced, distributed and exhibited in this country contributing to the experience of those involved and little else.
All funding should be open to applicants of all experience levels, with the track record of the applicants a weighted component of the assessment.

Concerns with The Enterprise Program:
I am concerned that the funding for the enterprise program may be abused and squandered. I am concerned that the concepts of enterprise and handouts are mutually exclusive. I am also concerned that the program may coerce monopolies, unfairly disadvantaging companies who miss out on the funding.
I recommend to mandate that at least 5% cash spend of enterprise program funding go toward initiatives to develop emerging talent, through mentorships, paid internships and short film production.

The omission of short film funding:
I DO NOT agree with the complaints from emerging and entry level practitioners concerning the omission of the short film fund.
Funding $250 000 for short film as a creative exercise is obscenity and madness. Felix Mustermann has kindly offered to bankroll a short story fund. He will supply a sharp 2HB pencil and a writing pad of the finest quality to anyone wanting of creative exercise.
If a $250 000 short film is a 'showreel piece' to trigger long-form production funding, then those funding feature films need more imagination. There are just as many examples of directors who have made terrific award-winning short-films only to follow with an abysmal feature debut, as there are otherwise.
If a fully funded short film is an exercise in contracting at a professional level etc. and these are valuable skills, then SA or the state agencies should provide training of this ilk or provide support staff who have expertise in this area. I believe these skills can be acquired on no-budget short films. I'd argue that short films with budgets less than $5000 force producers to best manage the resources available to them.
The difference between a $250 000 dollar short-film and a $5000 dollar short-film, is production slickness and $245 000.
I propose that these monies are best spent on the production of long-form projects.

Low Budget TV drama:
I commend this initiative. I would like to see more low-budget film and TV funding opportunities in the stead of feature draft development funds.

Indigenous Programs:
I feel uncomfortable with any arts policy that suggests storytellers should stick to stories from their cultural milieu.
If the intent of this funding is to make the indigenous representation in film and television more equitable (which I concur is a noble and necessary step in order to address the inherent inequalities), then funding should be open to non-indigenous persons who wish to embark on projects dealing with indigenous stories. By only funding indigenous persons to produce 'indigenous' content, it fosters a destructive dichotomy that essentially puts indigenous and non-indigenous people on two entirely different playing fields, perpetuating an "us" and "them" mentality that the arts, among its loftier aims, should attempt to alleviate.

Regarding the approval process:
SA staff should take ownership for their decisions, be made visible, accountable, and share in the glory of successful projects.
Funding should be held in surplus if none of the submitted projects are deemed to be worthy of support.
Introduce an interview component for shortlisted applicants across all strands.
Projects that get funded for ticking the right boxes will be doomed.

Other comments:
I would like to see 20% SA funding open to filmmakers from around the world.
It is worth mentioning that I feel extremely privileged and grateful for the government funding that makes Screen Australia and the state film agencies. I do not believe this entitlement to be my birthright.

Regards,
Hugo O’Connor


From Porchlight Films (Anita Sheehan)

Comments available via PDF document


From Premium Movie Partnership (PMP)

Comments available via Word document


From David Rusanow

Dear Screen Australia

As a filmmaker who has made a film through the Raw Nerve initiative (through Qpix in Queensland) I am completely appalled that you have decided to cease funding this vital area of Australia's film culture. I'm guessing the board of Screen Australia didn't even bother to watch any of the films made through this initiative? Otherwise they would have seen the extraordinary talent that this initiative nurtures and sustains. Most of these films have been made under extremely tight budgets with experienced and inexperienced crews, under tight shooting schedules, what better way to prepare yourself for working in the film industry in Australia?

These films have created film making teams that have gone on to bigger and better things. Also many of these films have gone on to win awards in national and international festivals, just call the screen resource centres and I'm sure they could give you an endless stream of success stories.

Raw Nerve is a great stepping stone for many young filmmakers and generally there first contact with the film funding boards. Please reconsider your decision to cut the funding from this necessary area of film culture in Australia.

David Rusanow


From SBS

Comments available via PDF document


From Screen Services Association of Victoria

Attached is a submission from Screen Services Association of Victoria responding to the guidelines recently put forward. Screen Services Association represents key industry infrastructure & services in Victoria. Membership includes Central City Studios, Digital Pictures, Soundfirm, Complete Post, Lemac, Cinevex laboratories, law firms and many more.

Regards
Kerri

Kerri Schwarze
COO/Executive Producer
Complete Post Australia

Comments submitted via PDF document


From Frank Shields

Thought I’d be another last minute Charlie with my comments, garnered over looking hard at what is offered and listening to what feedback there has been so far.

EMERGING FILMMAKER: This voice has been the loudest and rightly so, they represent the new generation of filmmaking talent in this country (both drama and documentary) and they are represented least in the present guidelines. They have to be addressed in the new guidelines.

ENTERPRISE: I first thought there should be some evenness about this funding agenda, evenly spread between the larger production companies to the boutique company with little or no staff to even a couple of umbrella companies composed of a more experienced producer and a number of emerging producers, all working and owning their own slate of projects under the one roof. In the end though, it should come down to the worthiness of the projects.

One suggestion which in essence is a variation of existing guidelines: Instead of just dolling the funding out to companies, all slates of projects from producers, both experienced and emerging, should be assessed on their merit, both culturally and/or revenue ability, plus a business plan for their company and how the slate of films will be developed and a distribution strategy for each. It is the best of these slates of proposed films that should be awarded an enterprise agreement. A good slate of projects will find a home with the proper funding no matter what (maybe some slates represent several producers or should be encouraged to do so). If an emerging producer (or producers) has/have the goods and is/are only missing some guidance, then let them come up with or be offered an experienced producer they could work with and not threaten the IP of the projects. The other win in approaching the funding this way will be that Screen Australia sees what is out there at one go – and I truly believe it will astound them.

ANIMATION: This genre was virtually overlooked in the guidelines. We have a history of animation in this country and it should be sustained with proper funding. Now with the rapid progress of technology, we should be also attempting to make a feature CGI animation film through Screen Australia, which was beyond us only a few years back. We have the talent to do so. For the cost of a hi-end feature film we could produce a worthy independent CGI animation film because animation features perform statistically better at the box office, have a better record in the international marketplace and have a longer shelf life. We should be ambitious here as the odds are more in favour of success than not.

INNOVATION: This word has been bandied around so much in the various government documents and other correspondence that I truly wonder how "Innovation" will be interpreted by Screen Australia. I suggest Screen Australia study each innovative project presented by meeting with the producers and evaluating their worth in our new and changing film environment. We should be more ambitious here and what’s more, Screen Australia might be surprised of what innovation is on offer out there.

SUMMARY: If the powers that be want a quick fix to make the film industry profitable, then they are kidding themselves for all reasons stated far better than myself in the comments and letters submitted so far to these guidelines. Our problem was we never educated out politicians from the start.

Case in point: I was attending a US Film Market and happened to be in the company of a retired Navy Admiral who was a film consultant for the US Navy. For sake of conversation I asked him how one went about approaching the US Navy for help in a film production. He answered, "How many boats do you want, buddy?" Before I could let this sink in, he came back with, "How many men do want, buddy?" I sort of stammered, " How can you offer so much, so easily?". He looked me in the eye and stated, "Because you’re advertising America."

And here we are with a succession of Prime Ministers and Art Ministers behind us who just never, ever got it. No matter how much the politicians fund the film industry, there is nothing but gain. Because we’re advertising Australia.

Frank Shields
Frontier Films


From Louise Smith

Comments available via PDF document


From Sydney Film Festival

Comments sent via PDF document


From Peter Viska

As a member of Australia’s creative community for 25 years and as head of Victoria’s longest continuously running 2D animation studio I have the following comments to add to your draft proposal.

My concerns are focused primarily on the Development program.

Australia has three main streams of animation production.
The SOLO AUTEUR who writes, designs, directs and animates his /her own short film,
The Auteur TEAM a group version of the solo auteur
INDEPENDENT STUDIOS with Producers, Directors, Designers Animators and Editors creating concepts, series and short films.

ANIMATION is an industry in its own right and should be treated as such. Too often the sentiment is to talk to us as “an animator”.
Development is imperative in all streams.

Over the years my studio has employed, nurtured, mentored, supervised and sponsored scores of animators who have developed their talents to move onto the world stage, their own studio or into training and education positions, helping others to develop.
Year after year graduates pour out of the schools with burning desires to utilise and develop their talents on screen. The talent pool grows and we punch well above our weight globally.

As ideal as it would be not to be aided by government authorities, the playing field is far from even.

While our auteur animation industry has developed with the aid of the AFC and Film Victoria the industrialised Independent Studios sector has been outflanked by generous tax credits in Canada and government cultural support in France through their BNC. In the past 2 years our studio has lost 3 animation projects to Canada or overseas studios.

We aren’t just competing with each other nationally but in the global arena.
Screen Australia must be more innovative with their expertise to harvest more funds for greater re-distribution.

The opening paragraph of the guidelines reads

Screen Australia’s goal is to develop a vibrant, successful and dynamic screen industry, which is responsive to audiences and provides an interpretation of Australian culture both here and overseas.

It is not an easy task to keep all streams of the animation industry alive, but we all need to, and usually do, help each other. It is a very generous industry.
In an industry built on a foundation of HOPE it is imperative that Screen Australia is a solid supporting body with the welfare of this industry firmly in its basket of responsibilities.

SCREEN AUSTRALIA must be strong. We are all in this together.

New animators and animation producers, like other filmmakers must be welcomed, nurtured and encouraged to crawl, toddle, walk and run.
This translates to helping us develop, produce pilots as sales aids here and offshore, and fund production of animated shorts to help teams grow and learn.
The ANIMATION INDUSTRY MUST NOT BE ABANDONED.

Longer form producers who finally get their show to a stage of acceptance face more horrors. Our local networks. They don’t want to pay. So they openly invite NON Screen Australia funded programs to be pitched. We know the DEAL is the thing, but Screen Australia needs to address this disparity urgently.

In the mean time- Here’s a success story.

The former AFC’s current initiative GREAT MOMENTS IN HISTORY is now a wonderful living collection of 13 animated shorts. These have been produced by individuals and teams with additional broadcast support from Telstra BigPond.
The program will be screened nationally on mobile phones and web from Monday week.
These individuals and teams have benefited immensely from the discipline of SA (AFC) budgeting, reporting, production supervision, advice and CARE.
NONE WOULD BE FUNDED UNDER THE NEW PROPOSAL.
Animation is not hard to develop or understand. Despite technological advances it is still a very labour intensive and therefore expensive medium. The resultant MAGIC is what the screen industry is all about.

It shouldn’t be this hard to make animated films and series and sustain an industry.
Screen Australia must nurture, not ignore us.

Let’s not forget, we are all part of this wonderful thing called SHOWBIZ where the formula for success is as elusive as ever to both experienced and inexperienced practitioners alike.

Australia is already at a disadvantage competing with the funding programs in countries like Canada and France. With these new guidelines and their lack of development funding for the animation industry (in both long and short form animation) we are going to fall further behind, and the concern is that we wont have a competitive industry at all.

SCREEN AUSTRALIA MUST NOT OVERLORD THE DEMISE OF OUR FUTURE BUT WORK OUT A WAY TO BE OUR SAVIOUR.

Peter Viska
Director
VISKATOONS Animation.


From Stephen Wallace

Comments available via Word document


From Lee Whitmore

Comments received via PDF document


From Women in Film and Television NSW

Comments to the Draft SCREEN AUSTRALIA PROGRAM GUIDELINES
January to June 2009

By Lindy Monson
President
Women in Film and Television NSW
9357 1490

The draft Guidelines present challenges to women working in the screen industry and also present opportunities for Screen Australia to promote change in the gender inequalities in the industry, both in employment and in the type of screen product produced.

The Get the Picture statistics provided by Screen Australia on gender and employment in the screen industry show that in the 21st century there remains a huge gender imbalance in the screen industry workforce. The statistics are due for renewal shortly, so we now rely on the last published figures of 2001. While WIFT NSW hopes to see improvement in the new figures, in some 'technical' occupations the gender balance worsened in the period leading up to 2001. Put simply, in most roles men far outnumber women.

Women need and want to work in all roles and in all areas of the screen industry including in new media, documentary, animation, short and feature films. WIFT NSW maintains that employment in the screen industry for women is not only a matter of equal opportunity but also impacts on the way stories are told on screen. Women need more opportunities to consolidate in the industry so they can tell screen stories about the world that are made 'through the eyes of women'.

There is a lot of concern with the Draft Guidelines that funding will be only distributed to a handful of production companies, leaving little room for emerging talent at a feature film level. The guidelines may simply shake out a lot of small players from the industry and create barriers to the entry of new players. This may result in fewer low or no-budget productions, which means less chances for crew to gain experience. The value of the short film both as a calling card and as an art form in itself has also been ignored.

It is suggested elsewhere that with women's responsibilities as carers they tend to move in and out of the screen industry workforce more than men due to the pressure of long hours and casual and contract work. Add to this the forthcoming lack of funding for emerging talent and it seems reasonable to conclude that in this environment it will be even harder to gain experience and consolidate a career in the industry, and this may apply more so to women.

However, many of the stated aims of the draft guidelines present Screen Australia with opportunities to help redress the gender imbalances in the industry. The emphasis on mentorships, traineeships, professional development, workshops, fellowships and partnerships between emerging and established filmmakers are all areas that could be defined by Screen Australia to include quotas and programs for women screen practitioners. For example, Screen Australia could develop a program similar to ScreenWest's incentive program for professional attachments to funded productions, tailored to women working in professional roles where there are less women than men eg sound, lighting, editing, directing etc.

Screen Australia's draft guidelines seek to produce outstanding documentary projects and a diverse range of well made, commercially successful Australian feature films. When more work is made from women's viewpoints and using women's voices because more women have stayed in the screen production workforce and been actively supported to enter all production roles in larger numbers, then Australian product will connect and resonate with more audience both locally and internationally.