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Review of programs and guidelines
Draft Program Guidelines
Industry comments

Comments received Thursday 6 November

From Phil Barker

Unfortunately the funding system will still be controlled by intellectuals, talking heads, bureaucrats and established companies already embedded in the funding food chain. I see nothing that will assist any new filmmakers without connections to professional production companies or experienced filmmakers. As long as the funding and the decision making bodies are controlled by these established, self interest groups, I hold little hope for any dynamic, enthusiastic new filmmakers.

Phil Barker

From Stuart Parkyn

To omit fully funded short drama from Screen Australia’s programs would be a great mistake. I accept that SA is not a training organisation, but in my experience short films are both an invaluable stepping stone medium for the creative team, crew and cast, and a significant cultural entity in their own right. In the past twenty years it has become increasingly important for directors, producers and writers to use short films as a pathway to longer projects, and as a means to build their profile. The international achievements of many Australian shorts in recent years has been a sign of a healthy film culture, and Government agencies have been quite right to trumpet this success as an indicator of Australia’s filmmaking talent.

In my own experience without having properly funded short film as a means of developing my producing skills and experience it would have been extremely difficult to make the transition from film school to longer form projects. Amateur, no-budget short filmmaking is no substitute for the real world experience of a professionally funded short film.

Stuart Parkyn
Park Films

From Emile Sherman

The Screen Australia Program Guidelines should go a long way to establishing stronger Australian production companies and, in turn, to enabling films with greater local and international audience reach and acclaim. I also welcome the more flexible production finance system.

The guidelines don't address if there will be a change in the total amount of money made available to feature film financing, ie. The internal balance within Screen Australia between Development, Marketing, Finance etc. I would like to stress that the Production Offset, without any Screen Australia support, is NOT sufficient to realistically enable films to be financed. It delivers under 30% net to productions, after taking into account QAPE, finance costs and the amount that producers can borrow (generally the bonded amount). This means that Screen Australia is still needed as an essential part of pretty much all Australian films.

As such, film financing needs to remain the overriding priority of the agency and money should not be diverted.

A final point relates to co productions. Although it may have been part of the old FFC guidelines, the requirement for co productions to have three major territory presales (one to each of the co producing countries and one to a third country) is not in the interest of the industry. We need to encourage co productions, and this requirement makes co productions significantly harder to mount than non co productions. Assuming a film qualifies as an official co production, there is no justification for requiring a third country major territory presale if there are presales to the co producing countries.

Kind regards,

Emile Sherman
See-Saw Films