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Review of programs and operations
Draft Statement of Intent 2008/09
industry comments

Comments received Wednesday 17 September

10.15am from Kym Houghton

It absolutely sucks that SCREEN AUSTRALIA provides no way for people like me to get into film making funding applications are addressed exclusively to people who've already achieved something!

i can see that this is a filtering mechanism to try to guarantee a level of success in a context where funds are highly constrained (and the whole
idea of funding films was frowned upon), but - really - it's both mean and short-sighted

what kind of succession planning, what kind of development, can occur when bringing new people into the field is forbidden?

there needs to be both more fnding in total and much more funding for entry level writers (like me) to get some money to do our work.

warmest regards
Kym Houghton.

6:56pm from Martin Cooper

Other than the brief reference to cross media platforms in a paragraph early on page 4 there is no reference in the Statement to the interplay between the film industry and the video games industry. Such an omission would appear to be almost willful ignorance given the tidal wave that is the games industry and which is capturing the film audience.

The distinction between traditional film culture and games culture is artificial as a technical matter and, I suggest, as a cultural one. Both media tell stories through visual images-what does it matter how these images are accessed by the audience?

It is of urgent importance that the Australian Film Industry understands the impact upon it that the Games Industry is already having and will have in the years to come. One need look no further than the new generation of digital films like” the 400”, “Beowulf” and “Avatar” and the fact that directors like Michael Jackson, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg are accepting commissions to make Video Games.

The present generation of games consoles is capable of near virtual reality and the next certainly will be-these are less than 7 years away.

Once a game console with Blu-ray capacity can provide a “real” experience the impact on traditional film will be enormous and may be fatal.

Currently, major advances in motion capture are being made such that full facial expression and textures such as clothing fabric can be captured. Actors are being trained in the techniques of “capture acting” and it will become a standard part of the actor’s repertoire in the near future.

Put simply, the suppliers of resources to the Film Industry have already “gone over to the devil’-writers, actors, effects suppliers, sound mixers and a host of other suppliers such as casting agencies are already servicing the Games Industry and more realise the potential every day. Soon the Film Industry will have to compete on price for these services and given that game budgets are now pushing through A$40m in Australia it does not take imagination to figure who will win the competition for available resources. For example, a current game production in Sydney is paying some 30 actors to do capture work at rates very considerably higher than the equivalent film day rate.

For the Australian Film Industry to pretend this is not happening is foolishness of Canute like proportions and will be very detrimental to the livelihoods of current stakeholders.
What should be done?

  1. abandon the term “film” and substitute “visual content” in the SOI. Avoid the concept of “film going through cameras” which is often not the case anymore anyway.
  2. allow the definition of the businesses being supported to include the video games industry
  3. encompass in the SOI funding for motion capture and computer generation technologies and practitioners
  4. eschew the distinction between “Film” and “New Media”-they are all one in being means of making and delivering to an audience the” visual content”
  5. strategise to move totally to a combined industry within 5-7 years by recognizing the common elements of story, visuals, acting and effects.
  6. work with the games industry not in competition with it
  7. open up to the notion that SA might fund video games! This may require legislative change, but it should be promoted by the Film Industry not forced upon it

We are all engaged in providing a visual entertainment to the public and given the internationalization of film and games it would seem obvious to stand united against the global forces rather than divided. Film practitioners and business techniques have much to teach game developers but to date an attitude of superiority has prevented much cross-pollination. I suggest the Film Industry should now reach out to the Games Industry as a matter of life preservation as well as of common sense.

The SA SOI is a good starting point. The current document is merely a repeat of the charter of the agencies that have gone before and using the same tired language-now is the time to embrace fundamental change not just a new financing mechanism.

Martin Cooper

Midnight from James Scott Mitchell

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