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Coronavirus impact update

A message from CEO Graeme Mason.

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to update you regarding how we are working around the major issues COVID-19 has created sector wide.

EMERGENCY FUNDS

As of Monday 23 March, all Screen Australia funded productions that were in active shoot went into hiatus, and all productions that had an imminent shoot (within 30 days) delayed principal photography.

Over the past fortnight our immediate focus has been working with these productions one-by-one to ensure they were in the best possible position to go on hiatus and able to continue shooting later in the year. An emergency Board meeting occurred this week to agree what resources could be available to assist these productions now, and more broadly, what we will do to keep things moving in the immediate future, and crucially how we best support the return to production. We have also been discussing with local and international partners how we can all work together on this.

Beyond this immediate assistance, we are working with the Office of the Arts to prepare an industry support directory to be on our website next week.

BUSINESS AS (UN)USUAL

The majority of calls Screen Australia is receiving are from creators checking if we are open and taking applications. I need to be very clear on this - the answer to both is ‘yes’.

Our scheduled meeting to look at production funding applications for scripted film and TV occurred this week as usual. The papers on these are being prepared to go to the Board. The successful projects will be processed as usual, working towards closing and funding being committed.

The Indigenous Department had a development round decision meeting this week. They are also still continuing to assess several projects now for production investment.

The Documentary team has a Producer Program and a development round in progress, and these will continue as planned.

The Online team are also working through a huge number of projects and today confirmed to me that their financial year investments will be expended in full.

In Development, understandably it is not possible to put people in placements at this time. However, the unit is continuing to process Story Development Generate and Premium applications as normal.

READY FOR RECOVERY

This time of industry struggle will pass, and when it does the global hunger for content will be great and the need for productions will be large. We want to support Australian creators to be ready for that moment. We are also aware that sources of funding are severely limited at this time. As such from April 2020 we will be focusing on increasing our development investment.

Our goal will be to get projects that are in advanced development and already have market interest, production ready. This should enable producers, writers, directors, showrunners, and some crew to be collectively engaged in an intensive development process. We will be looking initially at how we can back projects that can have the most impact to assist the broader sector. We will announce the full details next week, so please ensure you receive our newsletter.

We are also reviewing all the other industry support measures we currently provide and where these can be enhanced to deliver the most far-reaching sector support.

I am aware of the deep emotional and financial pain many in our industry are facing. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I have never witnessed such hardship, and for that I want to say I’m incredibly sorry. For the country that made the world’s first feature film, our resilience is undeniably being tested.

Screen Australia will continue to evolve our response to how we best deal with the existing and upcoming issues that COVID-19 has wrought on sector. Be assured we are working closely with our industry partners to provide support and assistance.

If I can offer you any certainty at this time, I want to once again give you my assurance Screen Australia remains open for business.

If you have any questions, please reach out to your usual contact, or [email protected] and we can direct you to the best person.

And for anybody outside of the industry reading this, do me a favour? Stay home. And while you’re there, buy, rent, stream and watch Australian content.

Warm regards,

Graeme Mason
CEO, Screen Australia

  • Read the CEO’s earlier statement on COVID-19 here