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Review of programs and guidelines
Draft Program Guidelines 2008/09
Industry Comments

Comments received Monday 27 October

From Desmond Bishop

(1) These guidelines seem clear and comprehensive, especially on the third reading. I should explain that I am accessing this material from internet shops in Thailand.

(2) From my point of view they address real need. I have worked as a fulltime director/writer with the ABC; Capital TV in Canberra; SATV and ZTV. However I am way out of the loop now and I have never pitched from outside a network. So working an an independant can be daunting, specially when I have been sitting on a treatment that is a dead cert cracker.

Look forward to dipping my toe into your funding stream.

Yours faithfully
Desmond Bishop

From Eve Spence

Dear SA
I would like to support the expansion of workshops for the development of feature projects for 'Emerging Filmmakers'. I feel this initiative addresses a development 'gap' that I have experienced. Traditional development funding which involves working with a Script Editor is not ideal when you are writing your first feature - as you are learning to write as well as developing a project - and a Script Editor is not a teacher. Long, university based courses are also not appropriate - as many filmmakers have already attended undergraduate and graduate courses and are no longer willing to submit to the the institutional basis of these courses. Also, they do not specifically address the needs of the current project in development. Paid for - and as such non-competitive - courses are also not much use. Having done courses at AFTRS, and in London at the 'Script Factory' and at 'London Film School', I have found that they often suffer from a too great variety of talent, experience and motivation to be really useful.

Personally, I would like one to see programs that span an extended time limit - say 3 months - involving enough finance for the writer to develop a further draft whilst continuing to attend the workshop/course on a part-time basis. It would be good to include Producers and Directors within that framework on a flexible structure (similar to the Binger and Aurora workshops), and to have at least 5 teams participating to provide a variety of critical feedback.

Eve Spence

From Andrew Traucki

To whom it may concern

Having just been through the process of writing, getting funding, directing, producing and helping distribute a feature film I can honestly say that whilst none of it was easy the most difficult, frustrating and galling part of the process was actually getting my film seen by the Australian public.

The state of exhibition of Australian feature films on the big screen in this country is dire. Reviewing your guidelines it is apparent a lot of thought has gone into development and production but I see no evidence of thinking about distribution and exhibition.

I appreciate that this is not an easy problem to solve. The usual arguements of let the market decide, exhibition is changing or we can't compete with Hollywood will no doubt be trotted out but its no time to give up.

My film sold to 76 countries and was shown theatrically in the UK, Mexico, Poland and Malaysia, yet here in Australia we could only secure 15 regional screens. There are extenuating circumstances surrounding the release of my film but never the less it was extremely disappointing to see that a film that has had world wide critical acclaim and sales couldn't be seen by Australians in the capital cities on the big screen.

There needs to be some serious critical thinking about this issue. There needs to be a positive review of possible strategies and there needs to be some clever thinking implemented.

Ignoring the problem with exhibition in this country is sort of like saying we'll never have a sustainable industry. No one trying to be commercial with a product says lets forget about how we sell this thing. This is not just about improving development and production of Australian films, its about getting good Australian films seen.

If Australians can't see Australian films what is the point of funding them? What is the point of Screen Australia? If Australian's do get to see Australian films then money will flow back into the industry.

Please make the area of exhibition and distribution of Australian films both here and overseas an essential, central, pivotal part of this review. Please put some serious thinking into helping our films to be seen, not just developed and produced.

Many thanks

Andrew Traucki
Black Water