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Review of programs and guidelines
Draft Program Guidelines
Industry comments

Comments received Tuesday 11 November

From Richard Bradley

Comments submitted via PDF document

From Carolyn Johnson

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From Donna McRae

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From Media Access Australia

Media Access Australia congratulates Screen Australia on the initiative, introduced in July 2007, to include captioning as a requirement for feature films.  MAA would encourage a similar initiative to be introduced in funding guidelines for audio description for the blind and vision impaired. 

Audio description is a serivce where additional commentary is provided to narrate the visual elements of a film.  It guides the listener with concise, objective descriptions of new scenes, settings, costumes, body language, and 'sight gags', all spoken between existing portions of dialogue. 

Audio described cinema will be introduced to Australian cinemas in 2009 through the Office of Ageing's 'Helping Older Australians Enjoy the Movies: Accessible Cinema' program.  Blind and vision impaired audience members will not be able to enjoy Australian content if there are no films produced with audio description; they will only be able to access films that have been imported from international sources with this service.

It is also becoming an exporting expectation that films from other markets will have captioning and audio description, and this should also become an expectation of Australian content, potentially introduced through Screen Australia's funding guidelines. 

It is commonplace for films in the UK and USA to be produced with both captions and audio description.  For example:
In the UK since 2002 over 700 films have been produced with both these access features. 
In 2007, 46 of the top 50 films in the UK (92%) were captioned and audio described.

MAA therefore recommends a complementary guideline be included in the Production Financing Guidelines to include audio description for feature films.

From Robert Stephenson

It is noted that this is the lowest ceiling in production funding in the current guidelines. (The Special Documentary Program, which also has no market attachments, has a ceiling of $250k) .

$80K is a very low ceiling on production funding and I suggest it needs to be reviewed. This does not accurately reflect the true cost of creating a high quality professionally animated short film with broadcast and distribution aspirations.  Although many good films can and have be squeezed out with this budget it should be recognised that animators, crew and suppliers will be working at heavily discounted rates and using favours that do not appear in the budget. This makes it very difficult for the team to set the creative and technical bar very high.  Most will be unable to work on this project without sourcing other forms of income to help subsidise their occupation during production.This will affect the quality, the timeline and the delivery. I am hoping that Screen Australia will consider putting budgets available up to mid-100k.

A budget for the development of an animation project is missing. Where do animators and their producers look for development support? (Innovative Media Development can apply for up to $30k). Development funding will encourage greater risk taking in the early stages as well as aid in refining screenplays, production design and use of current and emerging technology.

In the Assessment Criteria, there needs to be a better definition of ‘whether the project is ready to go into production’. It is worth considering that there could be some further additional development time between approval and actual production. I think this would be beneficial to the filmmakers and to Screen Australia to reflect on and address any issues that may have arisen during the formal discussions between Screen Australia’s project managers and the filmmakers. There may be useful feedback from industry specialists who evaluated the project that can help modify the project.

I think it is good for their to be teams, but I believe that applications should be joint; producer and animator. It is beneficial for Screen Australia to have direct relationship with the key creative, being the animator.

All the best

Robert Stephenson
Lecturer in Animation
University of Melbourne
Victorian College of the Arts

From Greg Woodland

Comments submitted via Word document